Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sophomore bump: Cozart helps rally first-teamers to victory in spring game

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart scrambles in for a touchdown against the White Team during the second half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart scrambles in for a touchdown against the White Team during the second half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Charlie Weis disappointed with first-half play of Blue team in spring game

Kansas football coach Charlie Weis was disappointed with the first-half play of KU's first-string Blue team in the spring game, which Blue rallied to win, 20-10, against the second-string White squad.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Keon Stowers: Blue team rallied at halftime

Kansas football senior defensive lineman Keon Stowers says his Blue team rallied at halftime after the White team outplayed the first-stringers in the first two quarters.

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Saturday’s Kansas University spring football game, between the first-string blue squad and the best of the rest on the white team, featured more than a few head-scratching moments in front of roughly 8,000 fans at Memorial Stadium.

While the blue team rallied for a 20-10 victory after trailing 7-0 at halftime, perhaps the biggest shocker came on the first score of the game. White team receiver Tre’ Parmalee hit Andrew Turzilli with a 26-yard touchdown pass on a reverse that put the underdog white squad up late in the second quarter.

Parmalee and his roommate, blue team quarterback Montell Cozart, both played their high school ball at nearby Bishop Miege High. So when the junior receiver threw a touchdown before the sophomore competing to be the Jayhawks’ starting QB, it provided the two with an opportunity to, well, chatter.

They weren’t the only ones. After the game, KU coach Charlie Weis shared what he told the team about Parmalee’s pretty pass, which came after a nice move to get free and with a defender bearing down on him.

“I told ‘em in the locker room, ‘We finally found a Bishop Miege quarterback that could throw,’” Weis joked. “I had some fun with that one.”

Added Cozart: “We had a trick play in high school where he threw it, so I knew he could sling it.”

Asked what he expected to see or hear from Parmalee when he got back to their apartment, Cozart laughed and offered his best guess.

“We’ll see,” he said. “He’ll probably have a blown-up picture of him rolling out hanging on the wall.”

While Parmalee, who also finished with one reception for 11 yards, was the first of the two Miege grads to crack the scoreboard, Cozart’s strong second half made him, by far, the game’s offensive MVP.

Despite running the show for just two complete drives in the final two quarters — senior Jake Heaps handled the others — Cozart finished the day 6-of-10 passing for 58 yards and was the team’s second leading rusher with 70 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Cozart also delivered one of the game’s biggest highlights, a 60-yard scamper on a zone-read play in which he stepped out at the 3-yard line but said, “I definitely think I got in.”

“Right now, I’m really happy we made the decision to play him last year,” Weis said, referencing Cozart’s three starts at the end of 2013. “That was not the easiest decision to make, but right now he looks like a different player.”

He also feels like one. Cozart said his confidence is higher than it was at any point last season, and he played like that throughout Saturday’s second half.

“I was just letting the game come to me,” he said. “I wasn’t forcing anything. Today was a good start.”

Heaps was the first of the two to trot onto the field with the blue team on Saturday and Cozart said he thought the quarterback competition was still even. It might have been at halftime, but in the second half Cozart appeared to distance himself in the race while the rest of the blue squad followed his lead.

“You should’ve seen everyone’s faces in there,” Cozart said of the locker room scene at halftime. “Everyone had their stale face on. We didn’t know what hit us. Being down 7-0 was definitely eye-opening.”

Added senior defensive tackle Keon Stowers, whose eight tackles earned him defensive MVP honors: “I think that the twos looked better than the ones out there. I think the first-team defense picked it up tremendously in the second half. We were lacking in the first half. ... We knew we weren’t playing up to our potential. We had been playing way better than that the whole spring. The leaders — me and (Ben) Heeney — were getting on everybody in the locker room at halftime to just pick it up.”

That turnaround and the fact that the Jayhawks emerged pretty much injury-free, led to Weis calling the spring as a whole a success.

“We still have questions,” Weis said. “But we also have a lot more answers now than we did in the beginning of the spring. We’ve implemented a new offense and we still have a ways to go, but I think it’s positive at this stage. We’ve got to continue raising the bar around here.”


Charlie B. Gonesoon 6 years, 12 months ago

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Jim Jackson 6 years, 12 months ago

They've only had 14 days to install a completely new offense. They need more reps. We will be a much better team this year, barring injury as we will be able to sustain drives and keep our D off the field.

Let's not forget we also have a bunch of impact players getting to campus in May / June with Corey Avery, Olobia, Mosby, Hartzog etc who will all be competing for PT. I think we get 6 win this year.

John Mueller 6 years, 12 months ago


I'm a big fan of your work and always appreciate the insight, but I feel like I am missing the game article?

This is terrible.

Where is the recap of each quarter, good plays by white team, description of yardage, momentum, some description of why blue team was so awful, key plays (offensive or defensive), some comment on running backs, o-line, defensive pressure, coverage, what about our new receiver?

No mention at all of rule 5, no mention of Talib and Harris being in town? I had to read about that in the KC Star?

Apologies if there are three other stories , including a story about the actual game that I missed, but this story, if the objective is to communicate to those who were not there, is awful.

This article is the equivalent of listening to Davis and Gurley and trying to determine what is going on in a KU basketball game?

Btw, I listened to the tourney on Westwood One this year during spring break travel. Brad Sham and Will Perdue call a basketball game for a blind man. Beautiful work! You can see every screen, every defensive switch, every shot from the precise spot on the floor. Just incredible radio.

I appreciate you, but this article is awful.

Matt Tait 6 years, 12 months ago

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but, yes, you did miss "other stories"

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Bryce Landon 6 years, 12 months ago

However good these guys may have looked today, let's remember that they were playing against each other. The important thing is, how are they going to look against other teams like Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, etc.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 12 months ago

What new did we learn:B Cozart will be our QB.

What we hoped for: Receivers & D Harwell can catch the ball and the other receivers are holding onto it as well. Mundine caught the ball but his tendency to let the ball get into his body rather than relying on his hands worries me some. We will probably be able to compete again on D, if the O can stay on the field longer.

What we knew: RB Bourbon, Miller and Cox can run the ball.

Continuing problems: FG/PAT Although Wyman missed the first Blue Team PAT into a strong wind, we still need to convert PAT!

Questions remain: I didn't see anything that looked like a competitive OL

Conclusion: 2-4 win season

Ashwin Rao 6 years, 12 months ago

Agreed. I came back quite unimpressed with the team. After hearing all the positives of the staring lineup (including the QBs), I realized that they are mediocre at best. Heaps may be a nice guy, who gave us a chance, but I believe we need to go with Cozart, so we can get the team's confidence back, instead of whatever transpired for Heaps to come to KU. Our running back is as strong as ever (except for the two spills!). I predict the same story as last year... Defense keeping us in the game, and hopefully with a slightly more effective offense, we may win more than a couple.

Titus Canby 6 years, 12 months ago

Suzi and Ashwin, I'm with you guys. Based on what I saw yesterday, I predict 3 wins, maybe only 2. Things I noticed:

  1. The passing game looked terrible. QBs couldn't find the WRs when they got open.

  2. Running game looked as good as ever. Miller looked awesome. And where did Ed Fink come from? Is he good, or is our DL just horrible?

  3. Harwell looks as good as advertised. Gets open. Catches with his hands. If we just had a QB who could hit him.

  4. Cozart did look confident, but wild on his throws and slow to find the open receiver. He has a heck of an arm though. He hit Harwell (I think) on an out where he threw a bullet about 40 yards across the field.

  5. DL looked like they weren't trying the first half. When they started to hustle in the second half, they looked ok.

  6. Heeney looked as good as ever. He had a couple of tackles for losses where he looked like a man against boys.

  7. Overall, the white team embarrassed the blue team in the first half. The refs even gave the blue team a couple of breaks by not calling the safety on the first drive and not calling the pass interference near the goal line in the second half.

  8. Talib's opening video: I just wanted to yell, "where did you go to school?"

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 12 months ago

So what was the exciting thing Weis did for the game? There was all this talk and apparently I missed it since I couldn't warch the game.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 12 months ago

It didn't happen anyway. The Blue team was primarily first string players and the plan was to flip the score at halftime so that the Blue team would be playing from behind in the second half. Let's say the score at halftime was Blue team 17, White team 3, that score would've been reversed so it would be Blue team 3, White team 17 to start the second half, but the White team was legitimately up 7-0 at halftime so it didn't matter.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 12 months ago

You don't install a brand new offense and expect it to run smoothly after basically 3 weeks of practice, it's just not realistic. There is no substitute for time and in game reps and that's what it's going to take for the new offense to become more effective. The encouraging thing about yesterday was that the offense did look better as the game went along and the players were getting more live reps with it.

This is a not a bowl team unless there is exponential improvement over the summer and fall, but there were enough signs yesterday for me to confidently say the 2014 Kansas Jayhawks will be better the the 2013 Jayhawks. I also expect the offense to be shaky to start the year as they will still be learning it and adjusting to it in real game situations (again, no substitute for this). Having a bye week in the middle of conference play instead of before and then 9 straight games should also help a lot. This will give the team a chance to get healthy for the last 5 games and a chance to add stuff to the offense that wasn't shown in the first 7 games a maybe upset a team or two that way. I think this is a 4 win team with wins over SEMO and CMU along with a couple of upsets in Big 12, I don't know who because the definition of an upset in college football is a win you don't see coming.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 12 months ago

We will probably be picked last in conference this year so no one will see any conference win that we may have coming.

Randy Bombardier 6 years, 12 months ago

Well both teams had the new offense. I have to wonder about this staff's ability to evaluate ability. That seems to have been a constant...not knowing who to play.

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