Monday, October 6, 2014

Identity of KU’s starting QB for this week remains a mystery

Bowen: You're gonna earn the right to play

Michael Cummings, left, and Montell Cozart both took snaps at quarterback for Kansas University on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va. Cummings completed eight of 17 passes for 65 yards, and Cozart was 4-for-10 for 42 yards. Cummings also rushed five times for negative-four yards, while Cozart gained five yards on seven carries.

Michael Cummings, left, and Montell Cozart both took snaps at quarterback for Kansas University on Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va. Cummings completed eight of 17 passes for 65 yards, and Cozart was 4-for-10 for 42 yards. Cummings also rushed five times for negative-four yards, while Cozart gained five yards on seven carries.


He now may have one full week and an actual game under his belt as the Kansas University football program's interim head coach, but Clint Bowen stiil sees some of the same issues plaguing the Jayhawks.

The most obvious place where those problems show up is on offense, where Kansas (2-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12) has scored just seven points in the past eight quarters and is coming off of a game in which both sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart and junior back-up Michael Cummings played a half during a 33-14 loss at West Virginia.

The Jayhawks return home to play Oklahoma State at 3 p.m. Saturday, but the identity of KU's starting quarterback remains a mystery for now.

Bowen did not name a starter for this week on Monday morning's Big 12 coaches teleconference but did spell out very clearly what the guy who wins the job would have to do.

“I told the guys on our team that, at every position, you're gonna earn the right to play,” Bowen said. “And if the guy behind you earns it more than you do then that guy's gonna play. You gotta go out and do your job.”

Because of the high visibility of the QB position and all that gets thrown the quarterback's shoulders, people always want to look at that position as the place to start when dissecting an offense. Bowen is aware of that but his goal this week is to get both Cozart and Cummings to worry first and foremost about their jobs.

“I know there are some elements that are out of the QB's hands,” Bowen said. “But we talk about handling what they do control better and that's how you earn your time at quarterback. There are certain things that you control as the QB and whichever guy is controlling those better is the guy we're gonna play. It's not a whole lot different than any other position.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, Bowen said KU first needs to worry about getting more first downs. That, he said, will lead to better efficiency, better consistency and, ultimately, more points.

"We're toward the bottom of the nation in getting first downs,” said Bowen, whose Jayhawks enter the week with 80 first downs in five games, tied for 117th out of 125 FBS teams in that category. “We're going out and getting too many three-and-outs, short drives and not taking time off the clock.”

Regardless of which quarterback wins the starting job or even if they both play, Bowen said Cozart and Cummings were similar enough players to enable Kansas to prepare for either scenario.

“They're just slightly different,” Bowen said. “Montell probably has a little bit more accuracy and, on the flip side, Michael Cummings probably has just a little bit more ability to pull the trigger and make quick decisions.... But in terms of what we have to do offensively, it remains the same with both of them in the game.”

KU plays host to Oklahoma State at 3 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.


Doug Cramer 7 years ago

It's time to bring some knowledge and focus back to Memorial Stadium. Zenger I have confidence that you have the right connections and know what to do regarding our coaching situation.

Do have to say one thing, hell of a job by Dave Campo with this defense. His knowledge and coaching has done wonders with our DBs...more specifically Shepherd, McDonald, Johnson, and Sendish.

Those 4 guys may have a legitimate shot in the NFL.

I think the lack of pressure up front will be a killer going forward with the gauntlet Big 12 schedule. But our secondary is coming together nicely.

Most improved is Shepherd. That guy might be my favorite Jayhawk on this team. He loved being a WR...and showed good performance his freshman year. Just like Kerry Meier...he swallowed his pride for the good of the team, and changed positions, and is making the most of it.

Allison Steen 7 years ago

I'm not sure I want anything more than for Bowen to work out. I love the energy he brings to this team, hes a ku guy through and through. I don't know if he'll be the answer, but I would sure love to not have to worry about finding a football coach for another couple decades. Hope these kids play their hearts out for him. And dear lord, can we please recruit a quarterback???

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

We need to make sure he's the right guy. He's the pretty girl. The shiny new toy. And the hometown hero. None of which make him qualified to coach a team. I'm not saying he isn't qualified I'm saying Zinger MUST get it right this time. He must hire the right coach. The guy who can turn this around. Maybe it's Bowen but maybe it's another guy. Let's not get too wrapped up in Bowen being from Lawrence. Yes it's a great story and yes I want him to do well BUT if he's not the right guy or we can get someone better then we need to make that move. Plus I don't wanna see him get fired as head coach. If so I don't see him getting another head coaching job. Just my two cents.

Raymond Wright 7 years ago

every position on offense should be up for grabs. i really thought they would come out with some fire. Nothing looked different except the guy on the sideline. The fact they played with no emotion on O really worries me.

Jonathan Allison 7 years ago

I disagree. I throught they showed a lot of desire, but sloppy play and poor execution derailed any possible momentum from the emotional week.

Brandon Correll 7 years ago

How can you make a statement like this. "Montell probably has a little bit more accuracy and, on the flip side, Michael Cummings probably has just a little bit more ability to pull the trigger and make quick decisions" Montell is one of the most inaccurate QBs on the planet. If your less accurate than that guy maybe you shouldn't be playing QB.

Jack Joiner 7 years ago

Montell has not missed a linebacker yet. Has hit them right in the numbers.

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

Yeah Cozart is terrible. And Jack is spot on. Has he completed more passes to linebackers than tight ends? Cozart is terrible. Absolutely has no business being quarterback at a major university.

Armen Kurdian 7 years ago

If we had one of the best QBs in the country, we might win 4 or 5 games in a season. There's a lot that is wrong with this offense that needs fixing. Predictability is a big problem. The QB has to be more than simply an accurate passer. Has to be able to read the defense. When you can run with your feet, that becomes even more important to recognize the gap by a blitz, and shoot that gap for a 5-10 yard gain. The defense is actually playing really well I think. The reason they are giving up a lot of points is that they are on the field so much. Can't fault them for that.

Doug Cramer 7 years ago

Was thinking the same thing. It's possible Millweard is awful in practice and isn't even considered. I don't know that for sure...just speculation...but it would be nice to see what Millweard can do. I's not like we have a bowl game at risk here.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 7 years ago

I doubt our O-Line is capable of protecting a drop back passer when that is all he has, i.e no threat to run.

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

Like Cozart is a threat to run. Maybe out of bounds.

Dirk Medema 7 years ago

Bowen said Cozart and Cummings were similar enough players to enable Kansas to prepare for either scenario.

My guess is that they're going make extra effort to get 1 of these 2 working, because the change to Millweard requires a different game plan because of his difference skill set (less mobile).

At some point though, I definitely agree that we need to consider all our options.

Brandon Mahon 7 years ago

I would love to see Millweard get the call this weekend. I saw Vanderbilt run out 3 qbs in one game because it was a close game and the first two were not getting it done. Hell give Cozart and Cummings 3 series each and then go with the successful one of the two or call in TJ

kellerman411 7 years ago

A quarterback is pretty much all that is separating this team from going at least .500 in the Big 12... it really is unbelievable. Our defense was down right salty at times during that WVU game and if they didn't have to play like they have to stop the offense AND score all the points, they would be playing even better!

Blitz Blitz Blitz!!! We CANNOT get pressure with a 3 or 4 man rush.. it has to be 5.. and the offense can't know where number 5 is coming from. Keep them guessing but keep blitzing!

Doug Cramer 7 years ago

Kellerman - I think you make a lot of good points with your posts...and you and Kingfisher seem to be more realistic then other posters.

Though I have to disagree with your hypothesis that a QB is the only thing separating this team from going .500.

If you don't have boys in the trenches, you're not going .500 in this league. You know as well as I do, our offensive line is LITERALLY an FCS...or even a D-2 caliber O-line. We could have a decent QB...but it may not matter because there's too much penetration on EVERY SINGLE PLAY. It's unbelievable how bad this O-line is.

Our D-line is the only thing thats keeping our defense from being a top 3 Big 12 defense. Our secondary rocks, and have to credit Campo's coaching for that. He has taken Shepherd under his wing, and I believe has made him capable of playing in the NFL.

Al Martin 7 years ago

This is no exaggeration about the O-line. They were competitive with SEMO, but certainly not dominant, and were several times overwhelmed with blitzes.

kellerman411 7 years ago

I bet Todd Reesing would go .500 with this O-line. It wouldn't be pretty but he could do it.

Al Martin 7 years ago

It's possible; the guy was magic. But... do you remember the O-line from 2007? They were fantastic. 3rd and 2, we ran up the middle and converted. Every. Damn. Time.

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

Yeah the OLine is bad. But the Quarterback is worse. Much worse. He LITERALLY IS D-2 caliber back-up. He sucks. Plain and simple. Worst QB we've had in years.

Jack Joiner 7 years ago

If Cozart and Cummings can't get it done early on this Sat, it is time to see what TJ can do.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

I too would like to see Millweard, but my guess is he's a lower level version of Jake Heaps. The guy isn't very mobile which will lead to a lot more sacks. If his vision and awareness are much better though, then I think he has a shot. Cozart is an athletic guy and has the potential to make big plays but isn't quite sure how to transfer that athleticism into the QB position. Cummings seems to make quicker decisions but that's probably only because of experience. And his decisions aren't always the best. I think we see Cozart and Cummings this game regardless of who starts.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

"T.J. will happily cash the scholarship checks and receive snaps for extra points."

Wow...Did he tell you this? I'm sure any player that says this is a complete moron. Or are you just assuming? I don't have to tell you what happens to people that ass-u-me do I? Millweard may suck or not work in our system but it won't hurt to at least give him a few possessions if Cummings and Cozart aren't getting the job done. Not like our offense can get much worse.

John Fitzgerald 7 years ago

Fair enough ... I think we all just want to see some points scored.

Jonathan Allison 7 years ago

this ain't the NFL. It's not like he's getting paid $1,000,000 a year to be the holder for the place kicker. These kids came here to play. Some of them are playing for a shot at the NFL, some are playing for an education, some are playing for the notoriety, and some just love football. Millweard came here to play QB, and unlike Crist and Heaps he never was benched at UCLA, he just didn't beat out Hundley. He's a sophomore and I'm sure that if someone told him that he'd only be the holder for the next 2+ years, that he'd be more likely to transfer to an FCS school and play QB for 2 years.

Brad Strauss 7 years ago

I am sure OSU is very concerned who is starting at QB on Saturday.

Titus Canby 7 years ago

We finally get some good - even great - WRs, and can't hit them. Do we have anyone that's accurate?

Richard Duran 7 years ago

I feel for McCay, Harwell and King, and Pierson. Lots of pride there, you can see it. I'd be surprised if Cozart got any more playing time this year.

David Kemp 7 years ago

I agree' if you can't translate practice to the field you should be done. There is nothing left to be learned by playing Cozart further. He has had 5 games to show what he has, and that is ZIP.

Erich Hartmann 7 years ago

I've been wanting to see Cummings get another shot, not only because I think he's a warrior, but also because I just don't think Cozart is ready. And Cozart's problem may just be game nerves, as everybody on the practice field sees him completing the full range of passes. Maybe he will mature enough to not get frazzled by the big lights/real-game pressure. The benching could do him good, and give him perspective. Montell, you weren't delivering what the team needed.

Chris Bailey 7 years ago

I don't think Cozart will ever be ready. I'll eat my words if he becomes a decent QB. I've been wanting Cummings to get a shot for a long time. I know he can run. And I know he's a big strong kid. He's short but I think he can get us some points. May not light it up but he'll do far more that Cozart.

Dale Stringer 7 years ago

I think that part of the reason the O-line looks so bad is the time it takes for Cozart to make a decision on what to do. He spends almost two seconds looking at each receiver. With 4-5 guys to though to, that's a long time for a line to hold. It seemed that he would hold the ball long enough for the long to start breaking just so he could run for it, and run for it to late. Heaps would have been a better QB for us. His decision making was three times faster than Coz's. If TJ can progress through the receivers as fast, he should do ok.

robert rasdon 7 years ago

As a Huge KU fan ...i would love to see Bowen get it done ..but honestly we need a miracle worker. how is it that a school like Kansas with everything it has to offer not get at least a decent Q.B. or enough big farm kids to shore up the Oline....truly the only person i see fit for this task is Mangino...even if we hired that Oregeon guy from USC. i dont think we could win the recruiting battles...yes he turned the USC team around in a season but look at the talent he had. Mangino was the best at getting the most out of the 2-3star players that we get.

Walter Bridges 7 years ago

Anybody know the over/under for fan attendance?

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