One day after saying he had no plans to divulge the identity of this week’s starting quarterback, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis released the latest version of his depth chart with true freshman Montell Cozart listed as the first-team quarterback.
Cozart started the past two games in place of Jake Heaps, who started the first nine, but was replaced by Heaps in the third quarter of last week’s 34-0 loss at Iowa State after struggling to get anything going offensively.
The performance was the complete opposite of what took place just one week earlier in Lawrence, where Cozart led the Jayhawks (3-8 overall, 1-7 Big 12) to an upset victory over West Virginia and, in the process, snapped a 27-game conference losing streak and led KU’s struggling offense to its highest point total since Week 1.
Against the Cyclones, on a brutally cold night, Heaps, a junior, came in and threw some of the best balls he had thrown all year. His numbers did not reflect the quality of his throws because KU’s wide receivers offered no help, but his individual performance was impressive enough to merit consideration for the starting nod against the Wildcats (6-5, 4-4).
“I could’ve very easily today handed you a depth chart and put Jake on top,” Weis said. “And, really, no one should question me doing that based off that last (game). But you could shatter somebody doing that, too. And that’s the last thing you want to do is go into the offseason with a guy that you think has a boat-load of talent and put him in the tank before you even get started.”
In many ways, Cozart’s rough outing at Iowa State provided one of those classic teaching moments and Weis took full advantage of every second — from the sideline during the third quarter in Ames to the film room on Sunday in Lawrence and his quarterback meeting Monday night.
“With a young guy, here’s what you do,” Weis said. “Before the game’s over you love him up. Then you hammer him. Then you love him up again. He’s starting on the uptick.”
Asked if hitting rock bottom so soon after his highlight first start could be good for Cozart’s overall development, Weis shuddered at the thought.
“It’s never good,” he said. “There’s never a time when that’s good. Will it be a learning experience? Yes. But you’re gonna have a tough time getting me to ever say, ‘When you play bad, that’s good.’ Just like when I coach bad. I can’t say, ‘Well ...’ When you’re bad, you’re bad. There’s nothing good about it.”