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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

John Fitzgerald 5 months, 3 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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Mike Barnhart 5 months, 3 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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Chris Bailey 5 months, 3 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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Brandon Mahon 5 months, 3 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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Steven Mathew 5 months, 3 weeks ago

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

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Chris Bailey 5 months, 3 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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Randy Glenn 5 months, 4 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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Suzi Marshall 5 months, 4 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 5 months, 4 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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Jim Erickson 5 months, 4 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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Jim Erickson 5 months, 4 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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