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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Keegan

Column: Tackle knows Cozart’s health critical

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An athlete carrying a football is as susceptible to injury as just about any performer in any sport. Losing senior running backs Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox for the season reminded us of that.

So it becomes more important now than ever for quarterback Montell Cozart, a big-play threat as a runner and potentially as a long-ball thrower as well, to stay on his feet. That’s where Larry Mazyck, a 6-foot-8, 360-pound left tackle in his first season at KU after two years of junior-college football, can help.

“It’s like a bodyguard relationship,” Mazyck said of how O-linemen view quarterbacks. “Just got to protect that guy, keep him safe.”

The guys under the spotlight need to be surrounded by strong men in the shadows.

“We’ve just got to keep guys off him,” Mazyck said. “The defense is rushing, and he’s like that one performer on stage we’ve got to protect. That’s how I look at it. You’ve got to keep him safe so he can do his performance, do his job, make plays so we can get us some points on the board.”

Making plays just became more difficult for a KU offense that hasn’t been able to consistently make noise since gunslinger Todd Reesing rode his horse back to Texas, leaving a ghost town in his wake.

The loss of Bourbon and Cox doesn’t necessarily weaken the top two spots of the depth chart — Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann might prove more talented — but the ice just became dangerously thin, which already could be said of quarterback and the offensive line.

The top three running backs on the depth chart — Avery, Mann and true freshman Joe Dineen — have combined for zero carries in Div. I football. The top three quarterbacks — Cozart, Michael Cummings and T.J. Millweard — have combined for four career touchdown passes, all thrown by Cummings.

Suddenly, wide receiver is as deep a position as any on the offense, thanks to newcomers Nick Harwell and Nigel King and returning lettermen Tony Pierson and Rodriguez Coleman.

Cozart has the responsibility of making it all work, getting the most out of the talented receivers and making the defense respect his running ability so much that it creates space for the team’s talented yet inexperienced running backs.

“He can definitely play,” Mazyck said of Cozart. “For him to be so young, his maturity level definitely surprised me. He’s a good kid.”

Suddenly, Cozart will have plenty of young, fast company standing in the backfield with him, counting on the big men up front keeping him safe.

Comments

Keith Hummel 6 years, 3 months ago

I think we're all hoping Big Larry lives up to his potential and helps to fix that left tackle spot. But how good are the running backs at picking up blocks and catching screen passes? The answer to that might be just as important as how well our tackles play. And given yesterday's news about Bourbon and Cox, it's an even bigger question mark.

Jay Beakum 6 years, 3 months ago

A little disheartening to see that Big Larry didn’t beat out Lewski at the LT spot. Everybody was gearing for the big upgrade there, now we’re back to the guy who couldn’t hold it down last year.

Here’s hoping Reagan has done his thing and developed Pat into a legit LT.

Jim Jackson 6 years, 3 months ago

It's not over yet. Pat is starting right now, but with a few more weeks of conditioning and learning, I expect Larry to take over.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 3 months ago

Not disheartening at all. Mazyck didn't go through spring conditioning and it takes time to get in game shape. Aslam Sterling went through the same process when he got here, but KU didn't have the depth to let him transform his body. Mazyck needs to drop the fat and resculpt his body with muscle.

David A. Smith 6 years, 3 months ago

He looked very improved in the spring game. We shall see.

John Randall 6 years, 3 months ago

Just as long as it doesn't come about because of an injury. I'm not deeply in love with either, and would be thrilled if either one has a break-out season. The Jayhawk's season will depend a lot more on O-line and front seven defenders.

Jason Gooch 6 years, 3 months ago

I have faith that Coach Reagan's offensive scheme will hide our sudden lack of depth and inexperience at running back. But i believe it will take above average play at qb, o-line and or wr must have a outstanding year. Catching the damn ball will be a premium/must this year. I have a feeling we are going to be doing a lot of bubble screens and quick slants/out routes to supplement our now below average running game....Will it happen??????, I really dont know, but i will watch every game to find out regardless.

Jay Beakum 6 years, 3 months ago

You think our running game will be below average. I think you have another thing coming.

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