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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weis: Reveal of KU’s starting QB all about timing

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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Five days after naming sophomore Montell Cozart his starting quarterback for the 2014 season, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis shed some light on why he chose to call off the race at the end of spring drills.

“No one forced our hand,” Weis said Tuesday morning during a post-spring Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We didn’t have to say anything. We just felt that it was in the best interest of our quarterbacks and our team to announce it then.”

Cozart’s performance and steady progress throughout the spring were key factors in making the decision, but Weis said the timing had as much to do with it as anything.

“What we didn’t want to do was go into the summertime misleading our players about who the starting quarterback was,” said Weis, who had thought about leaving the position a mystery in order to give KU an advantage over its early opponents. “After the spring game, which was really practice 15, we did post-spring evaluations with the whole team. In the eyes of the coaching staff, Montell had clearly played better than the other quarterbacks on our team.”

All of KU’s offensive coaches, including newcomers John Reagan (offensive coordinator/offensive line) and Eric Kiesau (wide receivers), offered their input and Weis announced the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Cozart as the starter in a press release last Thursday.

Weis said the decision to go with Cozart over the more experienced Jake Heaps gave the younger QB an opportunity to spend the summer developing and improving his skills as both a leader and a quarterback.

“I think it’s important if a guy has won a job, that he should be put as the leader,” Weis said. “And based on 15 practices, not just the spring game, Montell had clearly won the job.”

Weis said moving forward with the question unanswered would have been an unnecessary obstacle for KU’s offense.

“What would have happened was Jake would have been the leader in the summertime, then we would have come back (and) Montell would have gotten the first reps,” Weis said. “We thought we would have misled our team as they prepare for a tough, grueling summer. I think that it’s important for the players to know exactly where they stand.”

Naming Cozart the starting QB serves as the latest sign that Weis and the Jayhawks have shifted away from the pro-style offense of Weis’ first two seasons. In its place is a full-fledged no-huddle spread system similar to the one Reagan ran both at Rice and as an assistant at KU under Mark Mangino.

“Obviously, the biggest transition we’re going through right now is really changing our personality on offense,” Weis said. “I believe it’s for the better or else we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Comments

Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

I'm really surprised Cozart was selected as starter.

If Reagan is going to run a spread, he should have picked up a Texas QB that ran it in high school.

Reesing ran Ed Warriner's offense so well because it was similar to the offense he ran at Lake Travis High.

If I were Heaps and Millweard, I'd be ready to go at any moment, especially when the Big 12 season starts. Cozart did not appear to have the ability to run the same kind of offense that Warriner / Reagan ran in 2006-2009.

Some suggest that he's improved a lot, but that notion won't be known until we take the field in September in live games. Last year, he lacked vision down field and missed seeing open receivers. His throwing accuracy was also problematic, all the while his release was very slow.

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Ashwin Rao 4 months, 1 week ago

I am assuming that you were referring to Millweard. I have not seen him enough to make up my mind on him. I do agree with your points though. Last year, we saw some deficiencies, but it may be attribute to him not being ready (Freshman, no experience etc)

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

Ashwin - Havn't seen Millweard either. You may be right about Cozart, but he had a long way to go from his performance last year. If our O-line improves, that would certainly help.

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Eliott Reeder 4 months, 1 week ago

I think our O-line is a huge question mark, which is why we absolutely have to have a mobile quarterback who can get out of the pocket and make plays on the run.

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Jonathan Allison 4 months, 1 week ago

I liken Cozart to redshirt freshman Kerry Meier. KM had some struggles in the passing game making reads and making throws. He was a good runner. I thought that he was going to develop well as a QB over his career. If sophomore Cozart is as good as freshman Meier then we'll be OK, and I would think that it would bode well for KU football going forward. However, In 2007 I was rooting for Kerry Meier to win the starting QB job, and was disappointed when it was awarded to Reesing. I warmed up to Reesing quickly though, especially after Meier was inserted as a receiver. So if Cozart wants to keep the job then he's going to have to improve.

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Jim Jackson 4 months, 1 week ago

You didn't watch the spring game did you? He was very accurate. Furthermore, Quarterbacks were live and they got hit, a few times, so for his position it wasn't just practice.

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

We talked about how great Crist and Heaps was after their spring games as well.

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Jim Jackson 4 months, 1 week ago

The QBs weren't live in those games and you know they weren't.

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

Our offense knew what to expect for the spring games as far as our defense. They have seen it and knew for the most part what to expect. If you want to anoint Cozart as the next Reesling or next great thing go right ahead, but I need an actual game before I think he has the it factor. I am glad he has shown improvement, but now that he is the starter, he has over 4 months to keep improving and then we can see what he has. As of now, I am not jumping up and down in excitement.

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Jay Beakum 4 months, 1 week ago

Just because it’s a spread, and just because Reagan worked under Warinner doesn’t mean it will look the same as when Reesing was running it.

How many times did you see Reesing run a read-option? Reesing ran for a little over 600 yards his entire career. Cozart could very well surpass that next season alone.

Look at what Warriner is doing at Ohio St. now. He’s setting Big 10 rushing records. Last year they rushed for over 4,300 yards and passed for under 3,000. The QB alone ran for over 1,000. That’s probably more of the ratio we’ll see here this year. And if Kerry Meier had won the job back in ’07, it’s probably the ratio we would’ve seen then, from “Ed Warriner’s offense”.

Last year at Rice, Reagan used “Ed Warriner’s offense” and a dual-threat QB to post a similar ratio (with more realistic numbers) to what we’ll see this year. 2,500 yards passing and 3,200 yards rushing.

Reesing didn’t have the size or speed to consistently run what Warinner would’ve probably preferred. But he was a freakish passing playmaker so he couldn’t pass him up. IMHO.

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

As long as Cozart improves his accuracy and quickens his throwing motion then it can be an improved season. Last year he was a running quarterback that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. We shall see what happens, but I don't want musical QB,s during games either. We just need consistency at the position.

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Jim Stauffer 4 months, 1 week ago

I think everyone would agree, Cozart must be more efficient than he was last year. The problem with Cramer's constant criticisms is he implies it is ridiculous to believe he will be.

He now has an OC who is an expert at running this offense. He has had a full year come September with Spring and Fall practice as the No. 1 guy to improve.

He was successful in High School and it is reasonable to believe he can, with the natural talent he obviously possesses, be successful at this level.

Will he be as good as Todd was in '07. I doubt it. Does that make him a failure. Definitely not.

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Adam Miller 4 months, 1 week ago

Hear, hear. I'm tired of seeing blowhards go after a dude who had some issues when he was thrown into a starting position his freshman year... really, a freshman making "freshman" mistakes? I'm SO confused!

The spoiled, no patience, gotta see results now schmucks that litter the basketball section seem to pop up quite frequently here with the same complaints. It's not happening NOW, why can't I see it NOW.

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Glen Miller 4 months, 1 week ago

I don't know whether to take this announcement as good or really bad. In my mind it's bad.... and here's why. I saw a kid who had a ton of athletic ability, but not a whole lot of Quarterbacking skills. He could run and get us out of trouble, which is what we needed with the line we had and the receivers dropping balls. When it came to throwing the ball.... OMG it was cover your eyes time. I saw him play two games in person and I was not convinced this kid could throw the ball either time. His motion, his awareness and his ability to read a defense were sub par at best. He always locked in on a target and then threw it up for grabs. Against Oklahoma State (a game I was at) he looked awful throwing the ball. I am sure he has gotten better, as he was only a freshman... but unless it is a pretty big step forward, I just don't see him being our starter for very long. Announcing him at QB screams to me that we don't have a Quarterback in house that will win us games and that this Millweard kid isn't as good as we were lead to believe. I maybe/could be/am probably wrong, but I'm done sipping on the Kool-Aid of these off season "success" stories that get me thinking we will be a half way ok team and then watching as we get pounded by 30 week in adn week out because we have no talent or coaching ability. PROVE ME WRONG KID!!!!

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

Don't know about you, but my Kool-Aid has rum.

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Jim Jackson 4 months, 1 week ago

He was very good in the spring game, which was a live hitting game to which he was not protected. I look for big things out of him next year. Your evaluation of him as a True Frosh are spot on, he sucked.

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

I will need to see more of him when the real games start. I am not meaning to be negative, but they see the defense and have some expectations of reads and what the defense is bringing during the spring game, not to mention it is still somewhat of a controlled environment.

I am glad to see improvement, but we need to see how the rest of the lineup reacts when it is truly game time. He may play well, but when the real pressure is on I am curious how the line, the receivers and tight ends do when the light really come on. My Kool-Aid will be spiked this year.

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Micky Baker 4 months, 1 week ago

Yes, you are meaning to be negative. Constructive criticism is one thing, but being negative is a cancer.

I saw a much more mature guy in the Spring Game than I saw last year. You can go ESPN3 and watch the entire Spring Game. You watch that and you tell me that he hasn't taken a big step forward, and I'll say you didn't watch the spring game.

Is he a Heisman candidate? No. He was accurate. He threw some balls away like he should have. Heaps didn't like he should have. Heaps was trying for the home run but he just can't escape. Cozart also ran for 2 TDs in the Spring Game and was clearly the best guy. It's only fair to the team to announce right now. The receivers, linemen, everyone needs to know. No more musical chairs at QB. He's going to make mistakes this year but hey, so did Todd Reesing. His first pass ever. His first pass against K-State in Manhattan in 2007. Then Reesing made a whole lot of mistakes in 2008 and 2009. Both of those years, KU should have been in the top 3 of the league at least. Reesing was why they weren't.

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

Excellent post Glen.

It's definitely a good idea to keep your expectations in check.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

PLEASE BE HONEST, ALL OF YOU.........PLEASE.

Deep in your heart of hearts, do any of you REALLY think it's going to make much difference who plays quarterback for Kansas this season???

Yes, it may mean we score more and we lose by only two touchdowns as opposed to five touchdowns but by the end of the day and the season, we will be looking at another 3-9 season, just as we've averaged the previous five seasons.

I will take the slings and arrows and rocks and whatever else you all wish to throw at me but Kansas football will never be good until we get better coaching and better players...and we are no where near that yet. [I just read Glen's post above after I got done typing and there is nothing he has said that I can disagree with.]

It breaks my heart to feel this way but all I can say is, KANSAS FOOTBALL WILL ONCE AGAIN BE MISERABLE THIS YEAR.......BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH IT!!!!!

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Aaron Paisley 4 months, 1 week ago

Yes, Cozart over Heaps matters for one big reason with the offense, the zone read. I'm not saying that makes a big difference in the final record, I think 4-8, but the zone read adds an extra runner the defense has to account for and Cozart had a couple of big runs on zone reads in the spring game. There are a few defenses in the Big 12 that have a pretty hard time defending the zone read (KU included) and that element of the offense will help give KU a better opportunity to pull some upsets this season.

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Jim Jackson 4 months, 1 week ago

Yes, I REALLY THINK WE WILL BE MUCH BETTER THIS YEAR. IF NOT 6, THEN CLOSE TO 6 WINS.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

That wasn't me...that was my evil twin, Poison Oakville!!

I think KU goes 12-2, goes to a big time bowl, has at least three first team All Americans, Charlie is COY and we get on the cover of the Wheaties Box!!!

Then Calipari takes the Laker job, the NCAA hammers UK who forfiets almost 60 victories and KU takes over the all-time victory lead.

Then the Board of Curators slashes tuition by 50%, Olivia Wilde moves onto campus and Bill Self wins the next three NC,s.

Are you guys happy now??!!

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Jay Beakum 4 months, 1 week ago

You sound like 100 used to. Now we’re talking!

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

Tony I agree. Our coaching selection has been horrid...dating back to 2009.

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Micky Baker 4 months, 1 week ago

Why do you feel it's necessary to type in all caps? Nobody knew Reesing was going to be good either. They named him starter in the Spring though.

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Jim Jackson 4 months, 1 week ago

100% agree. Cramer definitely has at least 2 different alias' on here.

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

Easy there boys. No troll here. I bleed the crimson and blue, and miss those Mangino days when it was a hell of a time to come back to Lawrence and watch football. It was exciting.

Jim I do have two Alias's...the other being "KU_ALUMN_2000". Havn't used that one in years though.

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Micky Baker 4 months, 1 week ago

Yes, especially in 2009 when he lost the last 7 games in a row.

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Bob Bailey 4 months, 1 week ago

Tell me, ,why did it take 2 years for Zenger to find out we needed a new OC???

First year, I bought tickets to the first 4 games. Thereafter, didn't even read the news and comments. Second year, watched TV the first 3 games. My neighbor, a respected prof, didn't go and was at the farm auction instead of the 4th game. A knowlegeable person should have figured it out a lot quicker!

When he finally got it, he may have solved one third of the problem; how about DC and Special Teams?

The best OC KU had in 10 years was Warriner. He learned a lot from Reese, quoting him as saying "You can tell a lot from the position of the Defender. He could defend a receiver over there, but he couldn't defend a receiver over here. So I threw to the receiver he couldn't defend." I've been vitally interested in 'positions' for 70 years, and didn't know positions was that big a clue to the QB. Warriner was on Ohio S staff in 2012. OSU was 12/0. He moved to ND for 2013. Maybe Kelley unlearned him a few things he knew. How could anyone bypass Warriner for anyone?

Maybe Weis salary should be cut back to $1 million, leaving $500,000 for each of 3 Coordinators. The best DC is with Washington's pro team. The best Special Teams was in Cinti till they hired this HC. He moved to Buffalo. His teams were still great, but their OC and DC weren't good enough. He may be too old to still coach.

Weis should be kept as HC He brings a lot to recruiting; KU is getting the best candidates possible under the circumstances. And he brings a lot to KU 's program that AL and his trainees couldn't/wouldn't bring.

The Spring Game this year wasn't well played, It remains to determine whether there is any real improvement. The 'continued' disaster predictors may be right. Everything needs to be corrected, especially tackling and coverage, to show big improvement.

Weis

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Bob Bailey 4 months, 1 week ago

If there is any question about Zenger, read the article about out and out support for Hendrikson in her 11th year!

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Brandon Mahon 4 months, 1 week ago

I think Cozart could bring something special in the no huddle spread them out offense... But at 195, he is going to get hurt, he needs to add more weight before the season even starts

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Jay Beakum 4 months, 1 week ago

I’m pretty sure they’re working on that. He doesn’t need to add too much though. Braxton Miller is running roughshod in the Big 10 at 6’2” and 215.

Would love to see Cozart at 205 this fall, but he doesn’t strike me as frail, even at his current weight.

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Mark Lindrud 4 months, 1 week ago

Maybe not frail, but I don't look forward to him taking a pounding from teams like OU, UT, Baylor and OSU running the ball. He has time to gain some muscle and be able to take a pounding, but it will also depend on how often he runs and how much protection he gets from the line.

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Brandon Mahon 4 months, 1 week ago

Ya and we all saw how Braxton ended the season. The guy gutted out a lot of games, and could hardly walk at the end

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

POISON OAKVILLE:

I truly hope all of you Crimson and Blue shaded, KU Kool-Aid drinking Fanboyz are correct and I am totally full of crap but please, someone...anyone, take a look at our schedule and, honestly and logically show me six victories.....anyone....please!!

SEMO - that's one, @ Duke - no way, Central Michigan - not a gimme, Texas - yeah, right, @ WV - not pretty, OSU - nope, @TT - not this year, @ BU - not likely, ISU - maybe, TCU - we haven't beaten them yet, @ OU - puh-leaze, @KSU - probably not as long as Snyder is there.

PS Cramer can speak for himself.

KU OAKVILLE:

This year we turn it around and surprise some people..including ourselves! We are due for a breakout season.

SEMO - Slam Dunk, @Duke - no way they are as good as last year and we are better than last year, Central Michigan - tough but count it, Texas - down year for the Orange Bevo - we can do it, @WV - sorry, optimism only goes so far, @TT - toss up, OSU - well, why not??, @BU - we'll play them close, at least, ISU - at home, yes!!, TCU - we owe these guys, @OU - well, just don't anybody get hurt, @KSU - revenge is sweet.

PS Cramer needs a hug!!

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Aaron Paisley 4 months, 1 week ago

I think a lot of Cozart's issues last season can be directly traced to him being in the spotlight for the first time and when the adrenaline got going, the game just got too fast for him. The complexity of the playbook last certainly didn't help that and Reagan using a much simpler playbook should help keep Cozart from being overwhelmed with reads to make this year. If the game can slow down for him this year (this is his biggest question mark going into the season in my opinion), Cozart should be able to make plays and not looked overwhelmed.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

OAKVILLE ODDITIES:

Yesterday was yuks and chucks..here's how I really feel:

1] Having a seperate offensive coordinator has got to be an improvement if for nothing else, Charlie can focus on the overall game while the OC can focus on the offense.

2] Cozart is a running QB...a couple of guys with the Seahawks and 49ers have shown that can work.

3] We have a bevy of runners..use them.

4] A ball control, ground game will allow the defense more rest and less exposure.

5] As a former offensive lineman I can vouch that it's a lot easier blocking moving forward for the run than peddling backward for the pass.

6] I think we finally have some guys who can actually catch the ball.

All that being said, KU could end up anywhere from 3-9 to, and this would take max effort and every break in the book, 6-6.

My question to all of you is if, in the third year of the Charlie Weis era, we end up being more competitive but still finish 3-9 or 4-8...is that good enough??????

Honestly, having been beat down by KU football for the last five years, I am almost willing to settle for any ray of sunshine or glimpse of hope.

I would sincerely appreciate your takes..thanks.

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Doug Cramer 4 months, 1 week ago

We go 3-9 this year...possibly 2-10 if we don't pull off a Big 12 game.

Lack of talent in the trenches caps our ability to win games at the Big 12 level. Thats the biggest issue we have...both on offense and defense.

Cozart looked awful last year. I'm not buying into his improvement until we see it on game day.

We have to have a passing game, otherwise Big 12 defenses will stack the box and limit our RB talent.

The only person that has proven to catch the ball on this team is Harwell. Coleman struggled mightily last season.

Can Peirson shake off that concussion ?

My take on Charlie. He seems like one hell of a nice guy, but VERY unproven as a coach. Every national pundit were scratching their heads at that hire, now we know why.

Zenger should have made the move after last season, and brought Ed Warriner in as our head coach.

3-9

P.S. Can I get that hug ? :)

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Micky Baker 4 months, 1 week ago

There was no possible way Warriner would have been interested in being head coach at Kansas. After two more years, he might be interested.

TG did have to go. The team was not disciplined and they were not improving with him as head coach.

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Al Martin 4 months, 1 week ago

I’ve been pondering the same question. The Big 12 is really tough, and 3 to 4 wins is our most likely outcome. So what would constitute acceptable improvement outside of wins? I apologize for posting this horribly depressing data (compiled from teamrankings.com), but it might provide a useful way to measure improvement. I was going to put this in table form, but I’ve never had luck getting table formatted in blogs. Note that there were 120 teams from 2007-2011, but 124 teams in 2012-2013.

Here are our rankings among all FBS teams from 2007 – 2013:

Total Offense: 7, 22, 31, 110, 107, 95, 119

Scoring Offense: 4, 21, 45, 109, 100, 117, 121

Total Defense: 21, 84, 76, 107, 120, 117, 100

Scoring Defense: 6, 86, 90, 109, 120, 109, 95

The last four years have been pretty spectacular, eh? These rankings are why I couldn’t take any talk of last year’s “improvement” very seriously.

I might suggest that seeing these rankings move somewhere closer to the middle of the pack could be seen as reasonable improvement. It would be nice, for instance, if these rankings would place us somewhere higher than, say, the bottom tier of Conference USA like we were last year. I’m setting a pretty low bar, I realize, but we are where we are.

On a different topic, looking at those rankings, how do you think Zenger can really feel about his coaching hire? Weis is supposed to be an offensive guy, and he has produced truly bad offenses. The offensive guru had to replace his choices to coach receiver, offensive line, and offensive coordinator (and quarterbacks coach has to be suspect as well). Regardless of whether Weis eventually turns this around, there’s no way Zenger can feel that Weis was the guy he expected.

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Tony Bandle 4 months, 1 week ago

Gosh I hope you're right...I think I need a hug more than Mr. Cramer does.

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