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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Transfer Millweard ready for KU QB battle

Kansas University quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard speaks to the media on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas University quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard speaks to the media on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

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Kansas University quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard speaks to the media on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Sophomore transfer T.J. Millweard fired the first shot in the Kansas University quarterback race on Wednesday, and it had surprisingly little to do with football.

Speaking with the media for the first time since transferring from UCLA to KU last August, Millweard was asked about any advantages he might see himself having over senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart, the other legs of what promises to be an exciting three-man race for the Jayhawks’ starting job.

Millweard — pronounced Mill-word — deflected all of the attention from the upcoming QB competition by talking about the group as a whole. Each time, he went beyond the three-man list and made sure to include red-shirt freshman Jordan Darling and junior Michael Cummings.

“Yes, we have Jordan tied for first, myself, Jake, Mike and Montell,” he said. “We’re a great group of guys in that room, and we’re working hard every day to get a little bit better.”

A few minutes later, after being asked to dive a little deeper into the upcoming showdown, Millweard cracked and identified one area he thinks he has a clear advantage over the rest of KU’s quarterbacks.

“I think I got ‘em in the beard area,” said the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Millweard, who currently sports a mean patch of sandy blonde, Andrew Luck-esque facial hair.

Millweard said he first started experimenting with the beard as a junior in high school after spending his sophomore year at a school that did not allow facial hair. After that, it kind of became his thing and he’s been wearing some form of it ever since. The beard has no bearing on how he plays quarterback and certainly won’t be a factor in the competition to become KU’s starter. But in the early stages of a battle between three humble guys with different strengths and weaknesses, it’s the only area of clear separation at this point.

A week ago, after announcing this year’s recruiting class, KU coach Charlie Weis said emphatically that Millweard would be in the thick of the competition this spring. From the sound of things, that competition began the day these guys reported to campus following winter break.

“We’re all trying to learn from each other, get a little bit better, push each other in the weight room,” Millweard said. “In the running drills, who’s the quarterback who wins, who’s the quarterback that loses and all that. I’d say the competition’s good right now.”

As for what he views as his best assets at the position, Millweard pointed to his arm and his legs.

“I really like the way I throw the ball,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m perfect. I have a lot to work on in that area, of course. But I like the way I throw the ball and I like my mobility.”

Asked if that mobility was more elude-and-extend or attack-and-assault, Millweard said the notion that he’s a pro style quarterback was off base.

“I have no problem running,” he said. “I like it. I really think it gets a team going when a quarterback breaks it. ... Don’t get me wrong, I’m never gonna be as fast as Montell. I like to tell him I think I can be, but I can’t.”

What he believes he can be is efficient.

“Something I take pride in as a quarterback is just getting first downs,” he said. “That’s your job as an offense. Keep moving the ball, get those first downs, get in the red zone and then cash in and get some points.”

The first chance to do that is 205 days away, and right now there’s no guarantee that Millweard will be given that opportunity. Doesn’t matter. He’s focused on the start of spring practice (March 4) and has been for some time.

“I’ve been counting down for as long as I can (remember),” Millweard said. “UCLA was great, but you never really got the feel of, ‘Hey, this is the year.’ (Here), it’s an open competition and that’s all you can really ask for. Unfortunately only one’s on the field at a time and we have five great quarterbacks in that room that all want to be on the field, so I think it’s going to be a great spring.”

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Comments

Craig Carr 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Please let me be wrong, sounds like the same thing we have been lead to believe every year since Reesing.

Dirk Medema 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"we have five great quarterbacks in that room that all want to be on the field" is the diplomatic thing to say, but it certainly doesn't appear accurate and we're in a world of trouble if there isn't a significant improvement in that position. We'll need improvement at the other positions for the QB, any QB, to be effective, but we're not going anywhere without better QB play.

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

He absolutely has to say that to the media. For one, those guys are his friends and teammates. For two, he seems very respectful of an athlete's role in talking to the media and a coach's role. It's up to the coach to tell us who will play and who won't, not the kids.

I know that doesn't always make for the best quotes, but, especially in college, you're not going to find too many kids who will say otherwise unless it's crystal clear what's happening. And, obviously at QB at KU, it's not.

I do think it'll be a fun battle to cover, though, and I think Cozart, Heaps and Millweard have equal and legit shots of winning the job.

Jim Stauffer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I believe the difference this year is we do have 5 guys to choose from. To believe some of those guys should not be closer to game ready than others is wrong, but to believe that any one of those guys could not emerge as the eventual starter is just as wrong.

New OC has no dog in the race. He will choose the guy who can move the chains.

We also have more experience for Montell and all those who have written him off because of his stats for last year are being completely unfair. No one had good stats last year. The passing game was a debacle for a variety of reasons. That is the reason John Reagan is on the scene.

Who is willing to stand firm in his conviction that the OL, WR and QB play will not all improve this year? Not me.

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is nothing more than my opinion, but I think it's pretty much a three-man race: Cozart, Heaps and Millweard.

Cummings has experience but isn't the answer. And Darling doesn't any experience in live game action and was fourth last year. If he improved a ton in the offseason (which is definitely possible) he could be a long shot, but I'm guessing it's between those three. And I like that they all bring slightly different things to the table.

Going to be an interesting competition, no question.

Dirk Medema 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually, Millweard doesn't have any collegiate experience either, and he's been out of game speed action for 2 years.

One thing he does have going for him though, is that he is the new guy, so he's obviously better - at least for us fans :-)

Also, here's to hoping that OL, WR, and QB all improve, though OL is the most worrisome IMO. We lost 60% of the guys that we finally found capable of playing at a Big12 level - for the second year in a row. Now we're left mostly with the guys who proved last year that they weren't game ready. Hopefully, they improve a lot, b/c the alternative is that they only improve to being mediocre.

Terry N Tom Denner 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The QB can only move the chains as long as the O-Line can open holes and protect him. Until that is accomplished it will be a long year with a 3-9 season again.

David Kemp 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree totally AND we have to have mobility at QB. Heaps is not the answer if we continue to use an option read offense since he is no threat to run and receivers must do better job and get open. Hope that Harwell and maybe a frosh or 2 can break in.

Will Bixenman 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's say that Heaps wins the competition and Cozart and Millweard are 2nd and 3rd string, either way. Do they redshirt the 3rd stringer whether it be Cozart or Millweard and give him another year to progress and let Cummings or Darling be 3rd string?

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

If it's clear that Heaps and Millweard are the top two (and I'm not saying it is, I'm just saying that if that happens) then I think there would be a strong possibility that they would look to red-shirt Montell. Since you don't have to declare who's red-shirting and who isn't, he probably would still work as the No. 3 guy, but there would be no sense in wasting him if that's how it plays out.

That's just one of the many factors that make this an interesting race and one I'm looking forward to covering.

Chris Bailey 8 months, 2 weeks ago

From where i sit doesn't. A lot of who we go with has to do with what the new OC decides we're gonna run? I know he has said we're gonna run first but does he want a running QB? I can't see us NOT improving with the hiring of a legit OC. We should be infinitely better than last year based on that fact alone. I've said it last season and I'll say it again. I don't want any predictions. We have to prove something on the field before I go wishing and hoping. I think your prediction wheels this year should predict how much better we look than last year instead of how many wins that may equate to as well. :)

Dirk Medema 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Millweard has already been in college 2 years. He redshirted his first year at UCLA before transferring and sitting out. He's only got 3 years left regardless - unless he gets injured and is granted a medical redshirt years.

Tony Bandle 8 months, 2 weeks ago

He needs to change the pronunciation of his last name from "word' to "weird" and he has his Heisman catch name...T. J. "The Beard" Millweard!!!

Matt, not being critical, but it may be helpful to let everyone know how much eligibilty he has, although I'm sure it's been mentioned often before...there's always people reading about something for the first time....just a thought.

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The very first word of the article tells you that. He's a sophomore. So three years left.

Brandon Mahon 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Not sure if Millweard could RS because of his transfer sit out might count as a RS... But I think if Montell is 3rd you absolutely redshirt him. I am very happy that Reagan had nothing to do with bringing any of these guys in and will be able to choose who is the best for the job with a clear head and only seeing production on the field.

Like Reagan said in his press conference. The quarterback will depend on how the offensive line comes together and even how the offense looks. This will be a very interesting offense, and as bad as we were last year in the passing and receiving corp I think that we may see a young line up of players (Avery, Hartzog, Hyman, maybe even Patrick (if he runs a 4.3/4.4) or Neal) But hopefully Turzilli, and Coleman show some improvement. But this will be interesting to see what Reagan does with the new and current guys.

Mark Lindrud 8 months, 2 weeks ago

"The first chance to do that is 205 days away, and right now there’s no guarantee that Millweard will be given that opportunity."

This seems like a contradiction to the rest of the article that he won't get a chance to compete for the starting job, unless I am over thinking it. I don't know much about his skill set so I can't say much and I am glad Reagan comes in with a fresh look so he can be unbiased and pick the best man for the job.

Since the offense will be new everyone will be on a level playing field and hopefully we see more of the style we had under Mangino's offense because it had success. Even though I think it was said the offense will be a mix of the stuff they are running and some from before. We shall see.

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Wasn't meant to imply he won't get a chance to compete, rather that the games and points and first downs and all of those things don't really count until the season begins.

Mark Lindrud 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Ok, thanks. I figure with a new OC that it's a three man race and I hope we don't play musical quarterbacks during games because it ruins rhythm and momentum.

Michael Sillman 8 months, 2 weeks ago

If Cummings does have a shot at QB, is there another spot on the field where he can help us?

Matt Tait 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Haven't heard of one and can't think of any off the top of my head... They're stacked at RB, I don't think he's got any experience at WR (and he's probably a little short to play there) and the secondary is loaded, too.

He's a great dude and he played his butt off when he got the chance. Might just wind up being one of those guys that wasn't quite good enough.

Savion Havon 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I would like to know what it is that was seen out of Jake this year compared to Michael that would make you state that. I recall the last time we saw Cummings play qb he threw a td pass. I really see that from the beginning competition is and never was the intent with the qb position. True competition leaves all party's involved feeling as if the best team is being fielded now I do understand that you basically state what's being given to you so I guess a pass is given. I would like to see play makers on the field making plays period. Height as far as comparable to wr we just brought he's same height or taller than 3 of the recruits we just signed. And he looks to weigh over the 210 he's listed at i really doubt there's no place we can utilize a great athlete period. I do remind myself that at one time the skill sets of Nflers Demps and Rainey were at the disposal of our hc and there was very little production

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