Saturday, October 12, 2013


Opinion: It’s time to rip red shirt off QB Montell Cozart

Kansas coach Charlie Weis works on an official to make his point that a TCU player that was out of bounds during Saturday's game in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas coach Charlie Weis works on an official to make his point that a TCU player that was out of bounds during Saturday's game in Fort Worth, Texas.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters after his team's 27-17 loss to TCU on Oct. 12, 2013.

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— The harder I tried to push it out of my brain, the louder the voice grew, like one of those jingles you just can’t seem to quiet: “Rip the red shirt from Montell Cozart. Rip the red shirt from Montell Cozart.” Over and over and over it played, sometimes whispering, sometimes shouting.

Nothing that happened during Kansas University’s 23rd-consecutive Big 12 loss, 27-17, to a butter-fingered TCU squad Saturday in Amon G. Carter Stadium made the voice run away and hide.

Five TCU turnovers. James Sims (81 yards on 23 carries) somehow turning tiny holes into positive yardage. A strong effort from the Kansas University defense, playing most of the game without injured middle linebacker Ben Heeney.

So why didn’t all those factors translate into a long-overdue Big 12 victory for Kansas University’s stuck-in-the-mud football program?

Well, for starters Jake Heaps isn’t the right fit for a team that has an offensive line that can’t protect the quarterback without holding and sometimes even when holding. Mix in a wide receiver crew that has trouble getting open and it’s obvious this team’s best path to success lies with the running game, which again makes Heaps a misfit.

Michael Cummings, who neither passes nor runs as well as Cozart, is not the answer.

Credit Charlie Weis with not mortgaging the future of the KU football program by tossing red shirts into a bonfire without thought, but in the case of Cozart the coach is guilty of being too conservative. This team’s offense needs a jolt the way the Jayhawks’ 2006 squad did. At halftime of a game against Colorado, then-coach Mark Mangino energized the offense by telling Todd Reesing to trade in his red shirt for a game one. Reesing turned a halftime deficit into a victory and the rest became KU record book history.

Reesing had the benefit of spring football going for him, having graduated high school a semester early. Cozart, a 6-foot-2, 189-pound graduate of Bishop Miege High in Shawnee Mission, does not. And it’s a brutal stretch of the schedule, a tough task for a rookie to take on, but now is no time to focus on the negatives of such a move.

Handing the offense over to Cozart, who has impressed with accurate passes and mobility in practice, isn’t so much an indictment of Heaps as it is of the O-line and receivers, but if the quarterback doesn’t fit you must quit putting the game in his hands, at least until the blocks materialize. Why not see if Cozart can make this offense move a little faster?

To win this game, the defense needed to make things happen, force turnovers, even score points. It did all of that. JaCorey Shepherd intercepted a pass and took it to the end zone. He also forced a fumble recovered by Victor Simmons, one of three lost fumbles for TCU. Isaiah Johnson picked off a pass.

The conservative offensive game plan, featuring Sims runs up the middle, kept the clock running, minimized turnovers and kept the score close. But the offense, without its most explosive playmaker, injured Tony Pierson, totaled just 198 yards on 60 plays. Heaps was sacked four times for 34 yards in losses.

Asked if he would consider playing Cozart this season, Weis left the door open to that and explained why he didn’t think Cozart’s talents would have suited attacking TCU’s defense.

“We have been practicing Montell right along,” Weis said. “We have not decided for sure that Montell is going to be down, but I don’t think in this game, putting in somebody just to roll out of the pocket would have made a difference as wide as their defense stretches you. All the option on this defense is inside, it’s not outside, because of how they stretch you horizontally. You saw all our outside runs got blown up. That’s because of the way the defense is playing. That’s not where you want to go against this defense.”

At this point, regardless of the defensive schemes KU faces, giving a young talent a shot to energize KU’s offense, starting next week against Oklahoma, is worth a try.


Joan Kalivoda 6 months ago

Replace Heaps now, why keep him if he isn't doing the job.


Jonathan Allison 6 months ago

I'm not saying that this season's already lost or wasted. But I think that we need to stick to our guns this year. We need to settle on an O-Line and let Jake Heaps play it out this year.

Many posters like to refer to Charlie Weis' strageies as "experiments". The 5th yr Sr/transfer experiment, the JuCo experiment, etc. Burning Cozart's redshirt would be much more of an experiment that anything Weis has done at KU yet. "Let's throw a true freshman in at QB and see how he does." If it turns KU's offense around, then it was a success, but if it shows no improvement then it was a failure, right? Didn't we all expect our running game to be as good as last years? After all, everyone stackd the box against us last year. But we're not half as good at running the ball as we were last year. Sure if we had the threat of a serious passing game that might open up the running game, but it's obvious that our running game has collapsed from what it was last year and it has very little to do with who's handing Sims the football. I don't think that Cozart can save us this season. There are too many problems on offense. OLine play, timing, routes, separation.

I'd be afraid of wasting Cozart's redshirt season by putting him into action now because he still has to compete with Heaps, et al for the job this post-season. Cozart likely wants to play, as any freshman does, but let him compete for and earn the job this spring when he has a full off-season develop chemistry and to prepare to lead what will be a different team next season.


Lance Cheney 6 months ago

I don't get all the people that are against playing Cozart. Right now, we know what we have on offense: a poor line, underwhelming receivers, good RBs that look mediocre at best due to said line, and a QB that isn't as good as billed. Heaps can't run, and the few times he had open receivers on Saturday, he threw it behind them, almost getting it intercepted. Now, with Cozart, just like with Reesing, we don't know what we might get. But we won't know until we try it. And it sounds like he's more mobile, so that right there should cause planning problems for opposing defenses. I think it's worth a shot.


Craig Lang 6 months ago

I wish I could explain it better, but when I see Heaps take the field, I don't see him show the passion that we saw with former QB's like Riesing and even Meiers. Maybe he just does not have the confidence in his offense that a QB should have, but after every 3-and-out, the look on Heaps face seems to be "oh well, bring out our defense."


Jack Jones 6 months ago

Tom ~ It just seems to me that given the fact that Cozart has yet to play a single down in a D-1 game; and given the other issues that we have that directly impact our passing offense ~ replacing Heaps with Cozart so soon in this season just doesn't make sense for a number of reasons. This, by no means, is meant to be a criticism ~ but I recall last year when the speculation was that Jake was going to be the answer to our football success in 2013 ~ something which may have been/will be more correct than not ~ except for the fact that we didn't anticipate, or factor in the absolutely critical impact these other decencies would have on that success. I would much rather take my chances with a QB with considerable D-1 experience, than with one with none. I guess my bottom line is still grounded in the fact that HC Weis also has the experience, and the successful track record to make the correct call in this situation ~ far, far more so than you or I ~ and will do so. What we have to say is simply just conversation between ourselves ~ with the dubious purpose and benefit of that.



Brandon Mahon 6 months ago

Weis is just to close to Heaps.... Just like last year with Crist. They were recruits that he wanted dearly and now he wont give up on them. His pride could cost him the job... I don't know where to even look right now. OC hire now


Ethan Berger 6 months ago

If our defense was horrid, then I would say don't burn it. But you know what? It has been good enough so far. Defense has done good enough for 4 wins. The big12 is horrible this year and we will benefit. Baylor is the only offense that scares me. So I say rip off the redshirt. He runs a 4.5 40 and is a pretty good passer. That alone might be good enough for 10 more Pts per game and extended drives. Our offense will lead us to finish out 2-10. A big change is needed and that happens by hiring an OC and changing the qb.


John Fitzgerald 6 months ago

How many games to we have to lose and how many downs do we have to see our offense struggle before people realize there's a bigger problem than the line? They actually showed improvement this game, Heaps didn't. And yes we can blame the receivers, but does it make more sense to say all 5 of our capable receivers suck or our QB just isn't getting them the ball on time. I think we need a change at QB. At least for half a game. Make Cozart earn his time and make Heaps earn his back.


Jack Joiner 6 months ago

I don't really have a feeling about whether to rip off the red shirt or not. But watching college FB all day I have noticed protection breaks down for everyone. The only difference is that most everyone has a QB that can scramble, find a receiver that has been lost and gotten open or they can run for a 1st down. Heaps can only get sacked.


Joe Ross 6 months ago

No matter what, if Heaps continues to play, CW needs to have him throw 100 defensed passes...every practice. His aim is off completely.


Dyrk Dugan 6 months ago

Yes, it would help Heaps if we played the same offense week in and week out. pro style offense with a single back or an i formation...or spread five wide it doesn't matter, but he needs to be out there for ALL series. you only, only, run the "jayhawk" formation near the goal line, or if it's 4th and 1 or something....not as part of a "package" three series into the game.

Jake Heaps has experience....but right now, he's played two Big 12 games....two. the only way he learns is to play....and play all the time. he's been given no chance at this point, if we pull the RS off of Cozart. another reason why it was different in 2006 is because Barmann had experience already.....he was a Sr. and been in the program for four years.....Heaps hasn't even played half a season yet with KU. Barmann wasn't doing it, and Reesing was ready with the injured Meier unavailable. it was a no brainer to burn the redshirt seven years ago.....this year, it's a no brainer NOT to.


Kevin Crook 6 months ago

What our offense lacks is chemistry and continuity. Our offensive line has shuffled around all season, and they have not played enough together to make each other better and play as a unit. Heaps can really throw the ball and he is a charismatic leader, but he and the receivers are basically six games into their careers at KU together. Heaps hasn't been perfect, and the receivers have dropped too many balls, but a fifth or sixth (I've lost count) starting quarterback in 2 and a half seasons will not make our offense better. I also don't think we have been good enough to have an empty backfield formation with Heaps, and then bring in the Jayhawk formation with a different QB to run the ball either. If we eliminate doubt as to which play, pass or run, is coming the linebackers and safeties don't have that second or so of hesitation that can make all the difference for an offensive play's effectiveness. That idea works better for KSU because they mix up run and pass with each QB and Sams is dynamic running that read option play over and over with the lineman pulling from the other side. That offense is KSU's identity. What is KU's identity? Last week we barely used Sims, this week we were all about Sims. Maybe we could mix some play action featuring a short passing game with running the ball. We seem to be too worried about tendencies and other things that NFL teams gameplan about, but we haven't really developed any strengths to try to build around and from.


Steve Corder 6 months ago

I really like reading these posts now that anonymity has been removed.

Desperate times makes for desperate decisions? Tom, I understand the opinion, but there are so many weaknesses, some glaring while others no so much, that can make any coaching staff crazy with options. I would wager that Charlie & staff have discussed and debated all this.

Fans at TCU (I was in the stands with them) are not exactly in love with their QB, yet he threw some pretty good passes.

Seems most Big 12 QBs are not exactly first rate either. We should be careful how much offensive garbage belongs to our QB.

For now, stick with Heaps...he's in need of confidence that will only come when the receivers make plays. I don't recall seeing any of our "speed" receivers getting separation from TCU corners.


Mike Barnhart 6 months, 1 week ago

As a college QB, Heaps has many shortcomings. So, let's say Cozart starts the next 7 games and improves the offense to the point we win two games, lose two nail-bitters and are competitive in the rest. SIGN ME UP, I'LL TAKE THAT!!!

Good for the team, good for the player and good for the fans!


Clarence Haynes 6 months, 1 week ago

We need a playmaker. Heaps as nice a young man he is, isn't cutting it.


Dale Kroening 6 months, 1 week ago

Im not so sure about ripping the shirt off Cozart. Heaps made some bad throws, but the offensive line is the problem and I agree with those that have said maybe its time for CW to let someone else call the plays.


Jack Jones 6 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Keegan ~ You sound as if you should drop the "by. Tom Keegan" avatar, and start posting on this site like the rest of us. It appears your frustration level has overtaken your 'professional analytical' ability. When I consider the problems we are having with the offensive line, as well as the performance of our receivers in running 'open' routes ~ I have difficulty laying that much fault at the feet of the QB to warrant (a) making a change at that position; and (b) wasting a 'red shirt' for essentially one-half of a season.


Daniel Reinigungsmittel 6 months, 1 week ago

Heaps still has one more year, and I'd rather he play through this year and sharpen his game. This may come as a shock--he's not a bad QB, folks.

Burning Cozart's redshirt at this point in the season makes about as much sense as the fake punt last weekend. No upside at all.

Also... really, switching to a COMPLETELY different style QB at this point is that simple, considering all the other fundamental problems? DUMB idea.

But, still, we're primed to upset OU.


John Fitzgerald 6 months, 1 week ago

Here's the logic y'all. A coaches job every year is to put the best players on the field to win games. They don't think "this season is a lost cause so why waste a players red shirt." If a player can potentially help a team, they will and should be used. It doesn't matter if we finish 12-0 or 1-11 each win is still just as important. Weis has changed the line around, he's changed the receivers around, why not be fair and change the QB around? Heaps didn't sign a contract, we don't owe him anything. It's simple ... Great coaches win because they put their teams in positions to win games. Weis has to put the team in a better position because we've witnessed 5 games of no improvement. I say try Cozart in the first half of next game, see how it works out. And those of you thinking Weis isn't on the hott seat you're crazy, every loss puts every coach on the hott seat. Winning is all that matters. Wining is all that will ever matter. If you can't win, you will always lose.


Ryan Shelton 6 months, 1 week ago

Give the line some time

to gel. Indecision makes

For bad offenses.


Robert Brown 6 months, 1 week ago

I don't see an upside in yanking the redshirt. This season is a lost cause. If Cozart is that good, I'd rather have him for four years starting next year.

It is unlikely we will win the next three games against the Oklahoma schools and UT.

People remember Reesing came in and rallied KU to a win over CU but that was because Kerry Meier was injured. Meier came back the next week and started the last three games. KU did not go to a bowl in 2006 so the red shirt was pretty much wasted. It would have been nice for Reesing to have another year of eligibility.

Another difference is that Mangino was fighting for his job when he pulled Reesing's redshirt. KU had just lost to a pathetic Baylor team and loss to CU would have given KU a 3-6 record. The circumstances are different for Weis. His job is not at stake this year.


Bill Kackley 6 months, 1 week ago

No matter what Heaps has to go.


Adam Gerval 6 months, 1 week ago

Honestly, what's the worst that could happen? We run the ball more often than not, and I'm pretty sure Cozart can hand the ball off. When we do throw, Heaps usually misses the receiver, or they drop it, or he gets sacked. I can deal with Cozart missing a throw, Heaps already does. And if he's getting hurried, Cozart has something Heaps doesn't: speed. Maybe Cozart can revitalize this offense and its morale. It's gonna happen sooner or later, although I don't know how much I'd like to see his debut against OU.

Whatever. At this point, I'm game.


Casey Osburn 6 months, 1 week ago

If I thought doing this would result in more wins, I might be behind it. But with our schedule coming up, I don't think the positives outweigh the negatives.

Tough it out this year, keep trying to improve in all aspects of the program. Next season, we'll have him two full years.


Joe Ross 6 months, 1 week ago

Weis' own words: "...the best players are gonna play."

Does he mean it?


Marc Frey 6 months, 1 week ago

Look at TT and how some walk-on frosh tore us apart. We need talent. If Cozart has more talent, then let Heaps be a backup.


Joe Ross 6 months, 1 week ago

You guys dont understand. Having a bad season is exactly when to rip off a redshirt. They get gametime experience without the pressure of having to win. It's just "go in there and do your best job" kinda thing. There's a lot of the season left to play so its not like the redshirt would be burned and wasted on a handful of games. But if youre gonna do it, the time is now.


Mike Barnhart 6 months, 1 week ago

Is Heaps part of the problem or just a victim of a bad offense? He's a BIG part of the problem! We can all see he's inaccurate but he also stairs down receivers, fails to see wide open receivers, throws short of the marker on third down and fails to audible out of mismatches.

Several times today, TCU moved a linebacker to the line of scrimmage and Heaps RAN A PLAY RIGHT AT THE BLITZ! That's just stupid!


Aaron Paisley 6 months, 1 week ago

I just don't see the upside of burning Cozart's redshirt being big enough to justify doing it. KU in 2006 when Mangino burned Reesing's redshirt was trying to get bowl eligible which they wouldn't have done without that win against Colorado. I guess technically KU could get bowl eligible this year, but does anybody see 4 more wins as a realistic possibility for this team because I sure don't. The upside just isn't there in burning the redshirt just to possibly end a couple of losing streaks and get some game experience when there's no guarantee Cozart will be the guy next year.


Dyrk Dugan 6 months, 1 week ago

take RS off of Montell Cozart? No. absolutely no. this season is nowhere close to being a season where we would benefit from such a 2006, we had no alternative. Barmann wasn't doing the job, and Meier was on again off again injury wise....besides, we were a lot more competitive that year. if we don't blow an 18 point lead at Baylor at 10 minutes to go in the game, the strategery would have worked, and we would have gone bowling. (we also blew the extra point decision at Nebraska...but that's another story altogether).

no way in the world do you take the RS off Cozart. we're a year away anyway....and we could still win a couple of games with the players we have.

Do NOT do it Coach Weis. it would be the wrong move.


Bryce Landon 6 months, 1 week ago

Hey Keegs, more importantly, how about suggesting that Weis give up OC duties to someone who actually knows as much as he claims to know?


Jason Keller 6 months, 1 week ago

Leave the lineup alone. Jake missed some throws today but overall he has played well. When the announcers make a huge deal out of some of the throws Jake makes to covered receivers, most of the time the defenders have their back turned and are face guarding the receiver, you throw that ball every time unless someone else is wide open. His accuracy just wasn't on today like it usually is. I'm not saying he never makes a dangerous throw but he understands positioning really well where it looks dangerous from the sideline but from his view, with his arm strength, it really isn't.

Finally, we have a receiver or two who is willing to fight for the ball. This is no time to take Jake out. Let's give the O-line a little more time, get Pierson back in there and then see what we got. Pulling Cozart's red shirt now would be retarded. Let him earn the spot next spring with 4 years of eligibility.


AzHawk97 6 months, 1 week ago

Keegs - What have you seen from Weis and any of his offenses that makes you think Cozart would somehow yield different results? I would love to see Cozart run Ed Warinner's or Chad Morris' offense, but Cozart probably is not going to transfer to Ohio State or Clemson. Hmmm, if only there was some other way to make this happen...


Steven Mathew 6 months, 1 week ago

Honestly, I think this season is a lost cause. There's no point to rip off a redshirt from someone this year.


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