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Monday, October 21, 2013

More to come: Weis says freshman QB Montell Cozart in the mix

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart takes a snap against Oklahoma during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart takes a snap against Oklahoma during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

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Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart takes a snap against Oklahoma during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

It might have been a small sample size, but Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis saw enough from true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart during Saturday’s 34-19 home loss to Oklahoma to keep him in the mix the rest of the way.

“You can’t say, ‘Well, let’s go play him for nine snaps against Oklahoma,’ and then sit him,” Weis said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “As we go forward, he’ll definitely be in our thoughts. You’ll definitely see him show up in the game (6 p.m. Saturday vs. Baylor).”

Cozart’s playing time last week came as no surprise. Leading up to the game, the 6-foot-2, 189-pound athlete, who last year at this time was calling plays and throwing passes for Bishop Miege High, appeared on the Jayhawks’ depth chart for the first time this season, and Weis said he would not have put him there if he were not a legitimate candidate to play.

Play he did, albeit in limited action. But even though the Jayhawks gained just eight yards and one first down during Cozart’s two drives at quarterback, Weis said the freshman’s time on the field could help him tremendously during the next six games.

“There were a couple of things he could have done a little differently,” Weis said. “But I think the best thing that happened was we got the butterflies out, and he’ll just keep on getting better and better from here.”

Cozart’s teammates, including starting quarterback Jake Heaps, said they were impressed by the young quarterback’s poise in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.

“He’s a very young buck,” tight end Jimmay Mundine said. “But I think he handled it really well. He wasn’t stuttering or anything in the huddle, and he didn’t seem nervous.... It’s exciting to see him out there excited to play. He has a bright future, and we just gotta keep working.”

Added Heaps: “I know he was ready for the moment. Obviously, first college snap’s an exciting time, and I know he was ready for it, and I was very excited for him.”

In some ways, Heaps’ opinion of Cozart might be what matters most here. And it’s obvious that instead of pouting about Weis and the coaching staff looking elsewhere for an offensive spark, Heaps is ready and willing to play the role of veteran mentor for the first-year Jayhawk.

“At the end of the day, I’m in it to win,” Heaps said. “Whatever we gotta do to win. I’m not too concerned about everything else. All I can concern myself with is what I can do to help my team win.”

Weis said he expected Heaps and Cozart to remain in KU’s offensive plans during the upcoming weeks and added he would continue to be up front with both of them about how they would be used from week to week. Typically, Weis meets with his quarterbacks to discuss the upcoming week’s game plan on Monday nights following his “Hawk Talk” radio show. From the sound of it, both Heaps and Cozart have been regular attendees of that meeting lately.

“We told them (last) Monday we were going to do this,” Weis said of playing Cozart against OU. “This wasn’t just something that materialized on game day. We will visit with those guys after we know what we’re doing (this week), and however it plays out, we’ll tell them exactly what the game plan is.”

Comments

Jim Erickson 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I may be in the minority here, but I hate to see guys burn their red shirt unless they have a starting role, or one equivalent to that of a starter. No use taking a year of eligibility away from a guy unless he can make a significant impact as a true freshman. I understand that Cozart's hypothetical 5th year is a long ways away, and planning that far ahead isn't a perfect strategy either, but in general it is a much better situation to have 5 years in the program.

Had Todd Reesing kept his redshirt and played another season instead of playing limited snaps his true freshman year, the program could be in a different position today.

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Matt Tait 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Mangino said often, though, that Reesing getting his feet wet toward the end of that season when his red-shirt was ripped off was what gave him the confidence to win the job over Kerry Meier in the QB competition the following season. So you have to remember that, with things like this, there's more to gain than just wins, losses and points on the scoreboard...

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Jim Erickson 10 months, 2 weeks ago

On the other hand, if Cozart is going to play a major role this season, I'm all for the move.

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Andy Tweedy 10 months, 2 weeks ago

It's really easy to think about the "what ifs" had Reesing had another year. But what if Reesing hadn't "gotten the butterflies out" in 2006? We really don't know if he'd been as incredible as he was in 2007 had he not gotten some time on the field the prior year. In fact, had he had no game experience, who knows...maybe Meier would have kept his starting job and not contributed at wideout. Just sayin'

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 2 weeks ago

You just can't help but root for Heaps based on his consistently team-oriented comments. The guy is a good leader.

My guess on Cozart is that they are trying to get him game time in anticipation of turning over the controls when we hit the slightly softer portion of the schedule later in the season. I just can't see any other logic that makes sense to pull his shirt so late.

We were more competitive last week because we moved the ball and ate the clock. To keep the Baylor game out of the "worst-ever" category, the offense has to play its best game of the season - by a long, long ways.

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Suzi Marshall 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I feel for ALL the QBs with this OL, although the run blocking vs. OU in the first half looked good. Heaps, a good pocket passer, is not a mobile QB which makes him a liabiltity since there is rarely a pocket to pass from. Good pass blocking does not happen overnight. It takes time and teamwork....and players with quick feet.

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Brett McCabe 10 months, 2 weeks ago

One thing that you frequently hear is that line-play also requires chemistry, which has been tough for the team to develop with the constant shuffling of players. Perhaps the line-up for the OL is settled and they can focus on improvement now.

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Randy Glenn 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I dont have a problem with giving Cozart a chance...but we cant put him in just to run and Heaps in just to pass. Better line blocking will make them both look better!!

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Chris Bailey 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't know about everyone else but I'm tired of this crap. Weis makes these desparate changes week after week as though any of it will make a difference. I'll eat my words if it works but really if Cozart were that good why wait until now to put him in the game? In my opinion he looked lost out there kindof deer in the headlights looking. My hope is next year we'll be better but lets face it we've been saying that for 5 off seasons and where are we? Mangino won more his last season than the two coaches since him have won in each of their two seasons. Gill was a terrible higher. Not sure Weis is much better. Sure he cleaned up the program but I just don't see huge improvement on offense. The D is better and we have Campo to thank for that but the offense is terrible. Sims should have rushed for 1000 yards this year and at this rate he'll be lucky to get 600. I'm ready for basketball. I'll watch and cheer for the team but right now all I see is a coach grabbing at straws. Good luck the rest of the way and thanks for the coverage Matt but you may as well stick a fork in us!

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Steven Mathew 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Wasn't playing time the reason why Jake Heaps transferred here from BYU? Could be mistaken though.

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Savion Havon 10 months, 2 weeks ago

That and the fact pressure either makes diamonds or bust pipes. He waited the year HCCW told him the job was his site unseen. I can't believe he was heads over anyone we had already on roster. Cummings has more pocket presence and poise. The few passes he's thrown were on target. At some point in time there has to be real evaluation done and not knee jerk reactions to what a few boosters say should be done. As of right now we have a qb that his last time out went 5/13 for 16 yds one sitting on the bench who's last action resulted in a long sustained drive including a 28 yd td pass in the air not a five yd dump and watch Tony go. So if I'm really trying to win who do I put in ? Going back to last year our offensive genius was coaching to not lose games we were in compared to trying to win. Against Texas tech we had them on the ropes and run zone read to short side of the field with Tony Pierson our game breaker. Why not put him in space? I think our coach is out coaching himself and is dipping into his own kool aid

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Michael Leiker 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm with you on your thinking on Cummings. We seem to be bypassing a somewhat proven, better QB for an unproven, maybe better one. I really question Weis' mental discipline. He just is always out in left field somewhere with his lines of thought.

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Brandon Mahon 10 months, 2 weeks ago

He got buried on the bench because of bad attitude, and his attitude resulted in no playing time. Idk how u break all those BYU freshman records and be so bad now

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Chris Bailey 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Well for one how long have freshman been allowed to play? And how often is a team so bad at a position they find themselves needing to start a freshman? Going back to the 90's not many QB's were ready to play out of high school. To me him at BYU means nothing. Different offense, different team and maybe the players around him masked his short comings. Not really sure but the biggest thing is starting as a freshman now and 20 yrs ago are totally different.

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Mike Barnhart 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Don't blame Charlie, don't blame the line and don't pitty Cozart. If Heaps had played better this wouldn't be an issue. If at any time this season Cozart earns even half the offensive snaps, Heaps career will end with a whimper... and that certainly wasn't anybody's Plan A.

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John Fitzgerald 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree with Tait. And because we're 2-4 many people think our season is lost, but I don't see it that way and nor do our players or coaches. They have to do everything in their power to win, and if that includes taking a redshirt off then so be it. Cozart may not be the fix or he may not be any better than Heaps, but I guarantee you Heaps' mindset is a whole lot different now that he has legitimate competition. He understands the importance of every play that he's in on now and I'm sure we will see better performances from him. And everyone keeps bringing up Todd Reesing. What if he didn't play that season and Mangino didn't take off his redshirt? Would he have beat our Kerry Meier? Would he have had confidence to be as good as he was? There are a lot of angles to look at and how it could hurt us or help us, but truthfully the only angle that matters is will it possibly help us win. I believe the answer is yes, and I applaud Charlie on making stuff like this happen. At some point, things will start gettin better, it's just a matter of time. Have faith my fellow Hawk fans!

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Robert Brown 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I think the Reesing comparison is all speculation. I am in the camp that Reesing would have beaten out Meier with or without burning the redshirt the year before. We will never know. He only played significant minutes in the Colorado game because Meier was hurt.

Clearly, Reesing was an all time great at KU. I would phrase the question differently. What if Reesing has another year of eligibility? Would the program be in better shape today? I doubt there would have been as much of a drop in 2010 regardless of who the coach is.

Let's face, this program started to go downhill as soon as Todd Reesing ran out of eligibility.

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John Fitzgerald 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The program started going backwards his final season. What makes you think the next year, especially with a new coach, would have been any different? Todd Reesing was great, I agree with that, but I have a hard time believing him playing an additional year would put us in a much better spot then we are today. If anything it would have just given Turner Gill another year at coaching because I'm sure Todd would have found a way to squeak out 4 to 5 wins. We all know what type of coach Gill was and it just didn't work out. Him and Lew Perkins are really the biggest reason our program is where it's at right now. Our football program needs to focus on one thing right now, winning. I understand people want to look into the future and plan things out, but when you're not winning, the future means nothing. Also, regardless of what you or I think, Cozart's redshirt is now gone and he's going to play. So to be honest, this back and forth nonsense is pointless and I feel we should start supporting him and hoping he can give our offense the spark it needs. The Todd Reesing era is over, lets focus on this year.

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