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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weis testing KU’s less-experienced quarterbacks; Heaps still in race

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart, left, and Jake Heaps warm up prior to kickoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart, left, and Jake Heaps warm up prior to kickoff against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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John Reagan on spring football, progress of KU's offense

Kansas football offensive coordinator and offensive line coach John Reagan discusses anticipation and development that comes with spring football.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Charlie Weis updates progress of spring football

Kansas coach Charlie Weis updates the progress of spring football practices on Tuesday at Anderson Family Football Complex.

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When the Kansas University football team hit the field Tuesday for the sixth of 15 spring practices, it did so with the knowledge that 2013 starting quarterback Jake Heaps would sit out a significant portion of the competitive drills.

Heaps, a senior who is competing to be the Jayhawks’ starter in 2014, was not being punished. And he had not fallen behind the pace of the four other quarterbacks on the roster. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“He’s one of the leading candidates,” KU coach Charlie Weis said Tuesday during a morning meeting with the media. “But because he’s the most experienced, you fall into that security-blanket mentality. You would expect him to run the operation better than everyone else, just by experience alone. So take him out of the mix and let’s see how everyone else reacts.”

While his 25 career starts figure to give him an advantage, Weis said that Heaps’ past had not been taken into account so far this spring.

“I think there’s been clear separation amongst the multiple quarterbacks,” Weis said, stopping himself before revealing which players fell on which side of the line. “I think the staff, the team and the players themselves kind of see where the separation is. But it’s not like we’re gonna come out and say (who) the starting quarterback (is) right now. We’re nowhere near that.

“It’s solely based off performance,” he continued. “We’ve taken factors like experience and tossed ‘em out the window.”

Heaps’ top competition in the 2014 quarterback race appears to be sophomore Montell Cozart, who started the final three games of 2013, and UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard, a sophomore who came to KU last year but sat out the season.

Weis said the move to sit Heaps during portions of Tuesday’s practice was done to give those two, as well as junior Michael Cummings and red-shirt freshman Jordan Darling, a chance to take more of a leadership role.

“What that does is it kind of forces everyone else’s hand,” Weis said. “It puts more pressure on everyone else. And if you don’t do that you never know how everyone else responds.”

Offensive coordinator John Reagan said he had seen the move done at almost every coaching stop he’s made and added that it should be a shot in the arm for the other candidates.

“You would think,” Reagan said. “And if it’s not, then we need to question that, too.”

Tuesday’s news was not necessarily an indication that Heaps is the current leader. Weis has been highly complimentary of Cozart’s ability throughout his time at KU and had similar praise for Millweard on Tuesday.

“Mentally, T.J. is very, very, very sharp,” Weis said. “T.J. could go run our offense right now. It’s just whether or not he’s the best guy, physically.”

Although no official timetable has been set, Reagan reiterated Tuesday that the coaching staff was confident a decision could come as soon as the end of the spring. A quarterback race that lasts beyond KU’s annual spring game, April 12, isn’t out of the question, either. Both Reagan and Weis said again Tuesday that it was important not to rush things while installing a new offense.

“We’ve had five practices,” Reagan said a couple of hours before practice No. 6. “And sometimes I’ve gotta remind myself of that. We’re one-third through spring ball, yes, but we’re also on practice five. We go out today and it’s the sixth time they’ve run this system, period.”

Comments

Charlie B. Gonesoon 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Fantastic to see that Reagan is going to pretty much clear the chalk board and look at each one of these quarterbacks based on leadership and ability. I feel there's been a blind commitment in each of the first two years because Crist and Heaps had been recruited by Weis and were willing to transfer here. In turn, he felt he owed the starting position to them. Not to say Heaps may not remain the starter but it looks like a thorough evaluation is going to take place this year.

Aaron Paisley 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Cummings and Cozart didn't exactly separate themselves when they had their chances and when ability between players is comparable, experience usually wins out and Crist and Heaps had more experience than Cummings and Cozart.

Savion Havon 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Cummings and Cozart were given limited play books Cozart last year understandable last time Cummings played qb he popped a nice ball out to Turzilli for a td. Heaps is far from cool under pressure. He like Crist handed the job more off who recruited them not about play. Millweard is the latest HCCW recruit this will be a interesting spring game hopefully less scripted and more like a scrimmage

Jim Jackson 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I agree. Personally, I hope it's Millweard who gets the nod. Heaps throws a terrible long ball and is extremely slow.

Michael Maris 8 months, 4 weeks ago

It's really good to see that Coach Weis has trended away from the Notre Dame comfort zone and has brought back former coaches from the successful years of Jayhawk Football. And, I'm excited to see how Eric Kiesau coaches up the WR's unit. And, Coach Reagan has brought back former Jayhawks to assist him with coaching the OL units (as well). I seen another negative comment made (on an article posted in the past 2 days) about Coach Bowen. Coach Bowen BLEEDS Crimson and Blue, and has been affiliated with the program virtually his entire life (minus the idiotic football program moves made by former I'm out to kill my 2nd football program in the State of Kansas Athletic Director).

And, if he was truly that bad of a coach. I'm sure that Coach Campo and Weis would've recognized that (by now) and moved in a different direction by now.

I'm excited to see where the Jayhawks Football program goes from here on out. Big XII Football is tough. So, improvement comes in steps. I remember listening to Coach Glen Mason Coach Radio Program, and he always preached about getting the next guy ready to be prepared to play. Because, the guy on the side line was always one play away from being inserted into the starting lineup.

Coach'em UP and ROCH CHALK!

Jim Jackson 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Bowen is a great coach and is very well respected within the coaching ranks.

Aaron Paisley 8 months, 4 weeks ago

This sounds like a indication that Heaps is comfortably on top of the depth chart right now otherwise they wouldn't basically give him a day off of live drills.

Craig Carr 8 months, 3 weeks ago

If Heaps is the starter this year should be the end for Weis, at least McCay is no longer being tabbed as a difference maker. Without a QB the hope is our new coordinator will run it 80% of the time. Hoping for 5 wins but hard to imagine given the track record of coaches and players.

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