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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Keegan

Column: Can Cozart continue as KU’s QB?

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart hangs his head after being picked off by a Texas defender during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart hangs his head after being picked off by a Texas defender during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Weis addresses KU's performance in shutout loss to Texas

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis meets the media Saturday night, following the Jayhawks' 23-0 loss to Texas in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

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TEXAS 23, KANSAS 0

Box score

KEEGAN RATINGS

Heeney brings it (as usual)

The question will hang in the air all week, which was about how long that failed third-quarter fade pass in the end zone felt like it floated.

And the question is this: Is it time?

Is it time to pull the trigger and acknowledge that the status quo simply isn’t working? Or do you wait a week and see what happens? After all, his only Big 12 victory came against West Virginia, this coming Saturday’s opponent, so do you wait a week in hopes that everyone’s memory of that game inspires them to follow the leader?

Plus, after Saturday’s 23-0 loss to Texas, the Kansas University football team’s record is 2-2, which by recent standards isn’t so bad.

Still, nothing about this football team’s offense feels like that of a .500 football team.

It’s a tough call. Oh, by the way, we’re talking about the starting status of quarterback Montell Cozart.

Signs pointed to head coach Charlie Weis at least considering making a change at quarterback, where more often than not Cozart looks like he’s a year or two away from leading an offense efficiently.

On a day KU limited a shaky Texas offense to 329 total yards and just 111 rushing yards, Cozart couldn’t direct his offense inside the 20 but twice and couldn’t come away with points either time. He completed 12 of 31 passes for 140 yards, was intercepted four times and sacked four times.

Weis had said repeatedly that Cozart was the most accurate passer on the team in practices. I asked him Saturday if it’s possible he’s not the team’s best passer in games.

“It’s possible,” Weis said. “I can’t rule that out. It’s possible. But what I’m not going to do right after a game is over is place all the blame on Montell. I’m not going there.”

Where Weis intended on going was to the video room and then to the meeting room.

“I’ll go back and watch it and let the offensive staff watch it independently because I don’t push anything on them,” Weis said. “And then we’ll get together and kind of figure out how to move forward toward West Virginia.”

Kansas has been in a state of contemplating a change at quarterback for five seasons now. It’s no way to win football games, but if not changing gives a team less chance of winning, what’s a coach to do?

Kale Pick, Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham started games for Turner Gill. Dayne Crist, Michael Cummings, Jake Heaps and Cozart have started games for Weis. Back to Cummings? Maybe, which is another way of saying maybe not.

The passing game so badly sabotaged the chances at making something out of the strong performance from the defense that it seemed as if abandoning the pass altogether might be the way to go.

“We did that two years ago,” Weis said and then explained why it didn’t and can’t ever work. “... You need to be able to throw the ball to win. You need to be able to throw the ball, so we’re going to keep throwing it.”

Even if it’s out of bounds or on occasion to the guy in the wrong jersey. If Kansas never threw a pass Saturday the score probably would have been closer to 13-0, but that’s the not the goal. Winning is the goal.

So if KU is going to win, it will need to pass efficiently. Could it be time to hand the football to mystery man T.J. Millweard, who uses his hands to flash signals to the quarterback during games.

A three-star, Class of 2012 recruit from Fort Worth, Millweard committed to Arizona State in high school, but switched to UCLA. He did not play as a freshman and transferred to Kansas in Aug., 2013. Transfer rules required him to sit out last season and he is listed third on the depth chart at quarterback this season.

Millweard, who has been limited to holding duty this season, completed 2 of 8 passes for 16 yards in KU’s spring game. No running threat, Millweard would play behind a line challenged at the art of pass protection. 

No easy solutions or natural fits are available at QB for KU this year and beyond.

After meeting with offensive coaches to determine the quarterback vs. West Virginia, Weis might want to call an emergency all-staff meeting to advise everyone to tap every junior-college contact to identify and pursue quarterbacks to recruit. The obvious problem with that: How many coaches will be around long enough to seal the deal? The chances of Weis returning for a fourth season are going, going ...

Will he finish his third?

Comments

Andy Hess 6 years, 6 months ago

Will he continue as QB? Probably. Should he? No.

David A. Smith 6 years, 6 months ago

I think its lunacy to be calling for a coaching change. Everyone wants to win. But, the hole that he inherited was very deep.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm with you David. Gill destroyed the team. Weis needed to clean house and took heavy bets with Juco transfers. I have absolutely no appetite for buying out football coaches contracts.

The team that took the field today played their hearts out. It was a horribly pathetic performance by Cozart, who is far from prime time ready. He was bad vs. Duke and this game should seal the deal to look in other directions.

The really sad this about this team is Heaps may have been the best fit, with the OL improvements. Our D was fabulous today! I was really happy with our OL, which looked good for the most part. A couple of plays our line blew UT off the ball. I loved that 5 yard gain up the middle where our OL guys kept pushing back UT!

Jason Bruner 6 years, 6 months ago

I would say the DEFENSE that took the field played their heart out. No way you can say that of Cozart who stepped out of bounds before coming close to the yardage needed on mulitple 3rd downs and some of the receivers who seemed to be running routes at half-speed on occassion or just plain giving up. I don't always think firing the coach should be the first option but there has been no improvement no matter how much of a destroyed program he inherited. We need to give one of our other quarterbacks a chance. I've seen no improvement in Cozart in his second season either

Larry Smith 6 years, 6 months ago

The Gill excuses really need to go away. It's his 3rd year and there has been little to no progress. Quarterbacks since Weis arrival 19 TD's 28 INT's. For a supposed offensive guru and quarterback developer, that is terrible any way you slice it.

Marc Frey 6 years, 6 months ago

Lack of talent + changing coaches +changing offense+ changing defense = a losing program in almost any sports. Today a team that was recruited by TU beat a team that was not recruited by TU. People....it is not that difficult. Talent will win over potential talent, I do hope that KU can compete in football more that once in 10 years or so. But I do believe that HCCW needs more time. As for QB...at this point, we the cupboard is empty. Cozart is it. Deal with it, employ the plays that will do the best for his talent.

Brad Richardson 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm with Larry. Mangino was showing progress in year two and you had the feeling he was going to get the job done. I was at the stadium today and the exodus of students at halftime was epic. Fans don't believe in the coach and a change is inevitable...deal with it.

Matthew Gaylor 6 years, 6 months ago

Don't think Weis is the ultimate answer, but I'd at least like to wait til the season is over to get rid of him. If KU loses the rest of their games and aren't competitive that is.

That being said, I went back and watched part of the game. Cozart had 0 confidence. That was the problem. He freaked out after throwing his 1st pick and didn't have any confidence with any of his throws. He got scared and didn't see defenders. He just started throwing balls to where nobody was. The offensive play calling in the 1st half was bad. They opened up the 2nd half doing what they needed to do the whole game. The middle was wide open with the blitzing linebacker. Personally, I think they should spend the majority of this week with Cozart in film and helping him read the defense. Ask him when the play starts who he should throw to and when. The WR's need a lot of route running work. They need to learn how to get open and when they see Cozart scramble where to run. If those two things get fixed over a period of 2 weeks because there's no hope against WVU, then KU has a chance to win a couple games. Cozart is young and he just freaked out today. It's not that he sucks at QB, it's the fact he has 0 confidence in what he's doing and then freaks out when his 1st WR isn't open.

Jeffery Stadler 6 years, 6 months ago

What confounds me is when we find a play that works we only see that play maybe one more time the rest of the game. If a jet sweep or a WR screen fails we will run the same play again quickly. Defense was actually pretty good today considering they were are the field a lot and inherited a short field 4 to 5 times. I am not a fire HCCW guy but I have some serious concerns. Do our coaches know that halftime is for adjustments? If we run a play that works or fails for a specific reason doesn't that show a weakness so that we can take advantage of the weakness? The play that jumps out to me today was the play action post that literally worked the 2-3x we ran it.

Micky Baker 6 years, 6 months ago

Again, the time of possession was equal. It's the short fields that hurt. Two of the turnovers were in our own end of the field and Texas scored 10 off those. Another was a 41 yard punt return to inside our 25. Texas scored 7 on that one. Texas was only able to sustain one drive, and that was at the end when they changed what they were doing with the killer instinct that our team, under Weis, didn't have. Even when we beat WVU last year, we should have kept the pedal to the metal and just annihilated them in the 4th quarter until they surrender.

Craig Carr 6 years, 6 months ago

The unfortunate win last week just delayed the needed cleaning of house again. Why would anyone have any faith in Weis or believe a word he says. Somehow we have had 3 "great" quarterbacks in a row who all have been historically bad. This was the AD's hire and his alone as there were far more candidates that had a much more recent run of success. Take Tom Brady away and ask yourself, what has Weis ever done? The side of the ball he isn't involved with has actually gotten marginally better but nowhere near what is needed. Another 0 or, if everything lines up magically for one day, 1 win division record is a guarantee. Dumpster fire!

Marvin Koelsch 6 years, 6 months ago

I see improvement. Coach Weis tried the Junior College route because he knew the K.U. fans would not give him enough time to build a program from freshmen. That kind of building would take at least 5 years and probably more. Remember that K-State had a lot of losses in Bill Snyder's early years. Look at K-State now. I think we were about as low as the old K-State program. Constant changes will never get us where we want to be.

If you really want a change, Mac Brown may be available.

Bryan Mohr 6 years, 6 months ago

The team looked ok today apart from cozart, but that's because bowen and reagan are mangino disciples. Without a qb that can pass there is no hope in b12 play. I thought weis was hired to land good qb recruits and be x and o genius. Lew perkins, bgl, and zenger... have probably done some nice work, but not for football. Would the team be this bad if bill snyder was the coach... if answer is yes, then keep weis. If no, then we need a change. If ksu could find a snyder then ku can find a good coach. Just don't have zenger or any of those phd people pick the coach. Ask the guys at espn. Or ask some regulars at the sports bars.

Matthew Gaylor 6 years, 6 months ago

Trust me when I say that Zenger is just like those ESPN guys on who to bring in. You have to bring in someone who's willing to go to KU. Those offensive coordinators from good schools see KU as a death trap. They have to get recruits who want to go to KU (which is not anything easy and why Weis has goes after tons of JC players), you have to be able to change the mindset of the players that they suck and won't win which they've been told for 5+ years now, and you have to deal with a crowd that doesn't support you and counts down the days not till football but basketball. The problem with Weis is the fact that he doesn't develop players well and I think Brady Quinn really showed us why today. Quinn said Weis didn't yell at him or tell him what he was doing wrong when he made a mistake. Weis treated him like Tom Brady and forced Quinn to figure it out himself. Unfortunately, KU's players aren't like Brady Quinn or Tom Brady. They don't have the knowledge to just figure it out, they need someone who can help them correct it. Weis isn't a college coach. He's a pro coach.

Marc Anthony 6 years, 6 months ago

First... what good does it do to yell at a college student to get her/him to do anything and/or to notice her/him of a mistake he/she witnessed he/she made? Is this college/post-secondary education or K-6?

Second... there was no special treatment by Weis to Brady Quinn and Tom Brady. All QB's are treated (by Weis) the same - you are assisted in having that "Ah-ha" moment where all things come together (the infamous click). Hand holding is for two-year-olds.

Third... there is no fact that Weis doesn't develop players. In case you were not aware, Weis spoke to the "difficulty of developing players at the college level". Unlike in the pro's, you are limited to the time allotted for teaching at the college level by NCAA rules. So you have to provide the means and environment in which they (players) are able to overcome that deficit.

Peace

Jason Bruner 6 years, 6 months ago

First rebuttal... It gets their attention and makes them not want to do it again. Have you ever played sports where a coach didn't yell? To quote you, "Is this college/post-secondary education or K-6?" It's college/post-secondary education so why is someone who makes the same mistake over and over again being defended?

Second rebuttal... Do you know this for a fact? You were there for Weis/Tom Brady's and Weis/Brady Quinn's full careers? With your vast knowledge maybe you should apply for the position and develop these potential all-stars we seem to always get in...

Third rebuttal... Maybe it is difficult. I'm not a college coach but it seems to me Weis doesn't have any more restrictions on him than any other NCAA coach and somehow others seem to be able to develop their players... I would say the "fact" is the lack of development of our QB from last year. Everyone keeps defending him and saying he has to learn and will learn from his mistakes, (I can't even count how many times the announcers said that yesterday) but he keeps making the SAME mistakes. That isn't learning or developing. Either he can't learn, doesn't know what he's doing wrong, doesn't care, or is just plain lazy. I can take mistakes if something is actually learned from it and everything possible is done to prevent the same thing happening again. I can't take the same thing over and over.

Marc Anthony 6 years, 6 months ago

"First rebuttal... "

To answer your first question, yes.

You can have a student do laps or calisthenics and get the same effect, if you are so adamant about 'yelling gets their attention'. While you are busy raising your voice to a level of stress, I just increased the student's fitness level and got the same point across. No stress on my part - yours... not so much.

To answer your second question, I am not defending someone making a mistake as I am questioning 'your' method of correction/discipline as that is somehow superior than what 'you' claim Weis did. I take it you never taught at the college level(?).

NOTE: Teaching/instructing and coaching are the same. At the college level, does the teacher/instructor yell at 'you' in front of the class when 'you' make a mistake, or do you receive a bad grade? Does the teacher/instructor receive a notice of termination because you and other students do poorly?

cont'd

Marc Anthony 6 years, 6 months ago

"Second rebuttal..."

First question, yes. It is/was documented in video. Second question, no. Second hand eye-witness by interviews of Weis, statements by Brady, Quinn and others around them.

Second part...

Your biggest problem with potential all-stars vs. all-stars is strength training and conditioning. The solution is to set the goal so that it doesn't matter what level you come in at as a college freshman (3-star, 2-star, etc.), you will be at minimum a 7-star recruit level by junior year. In 'smack talk', give me 2 years and I will have your grandmother (if living) kick your tail. :) The secret/trick to it all is recovery time - be it training or injury, and no one... no one in the college- or pro-levels knows it. You can argue some have come close, for example Les Miles, but no one has nailed it, knows it.

cont'd

Marc Anthony 6 years, 6 months ago

"Third rebuttal..."

Others seem to do develop their players because they are given 5+ years to develop their players. [Duke is an example.] The only one you can or anyone in the Big 12 would cite to be different is Bill Snyder. However, (not to take anything away from Bill) the field was different when Bill started. It was easier for him to turn things around sooner. Now his system is such a well-oiled machine, he can stop and start his system anywhere with similar turn-around times, until someone comes along and raises the bar again or changes the game.

Regarding Cozart, that is the spread talking; Weis was brought here for the pro-style. The switch to the spread was pressure from fans, alumni, etc. Also, the OC oversees that. Reagan made the call, but whose head had to roll because of it? Weis was criticized in the past for micromanaging. He stops, and it is still his fault. It's okay; he knows the game. Now you have to pay him and wait another 5 years. [NOTE: Harwell pointed out one of Cozart's problems; he's trying to be a passer (drop-back). If you run into him, tell him to let go of his "I have to prove something...". The problem is self-inflicted; he has to prove he can pass.]

Just remember, Kansas hasn't had an above average era (coaching) since World War I. Until Kansas stops switching coaches every time 'it' gets a migraine, Kansas will remain average or below.

Peace

Michael Sillman 6 years, 6 months ago

Reagan put a very productive offense on the field at Rice. It appears that he saw something special enough in Cozart in the spring to declare that the QB battle was over.

Now the coaches need to have the courage to stay with their convictions and keep Cozart on the field. Let him get hardened by the fire.

Clearly there is talent on this team especially on defense but mistakes are being made that kill drives or allow big plays by the other offense. The only way to fix that is to keep sawing wood in practice and give it another shot on the next Saturday.

I expected more by this point but I'm not giving up yet.

Cora Smith 6 years, 6 months ago

I was not impressed with the routes that the wide receivers ran. Having said that, Cozart was scared out of his pants. He panicked. Defense is definitely better and the O-line was some better although there was some confusion on blitzes. Getting rid of Weiss or anyone else is not the answer. What talent wants to come to KU? Everyone from the Wichita area wants to go to K State (Oklahoma) (Oklahoma State) because they are a proven winner. It will take years to bridge the gap.

David Kemp 6 years, 6 months ago

Clearly the answer is NO! You can't make him a QB when he has no instincts or vision. Clearly more time won't change that. I see no progress in this young man from last year, except against inferior competition, and even then it is labored badly. It is time to let somebody else try. I don't see how it possibly could be worse.

Jay Beakum 6 years, 6 months ago

Again, everything seems improved EXCEPT the QB play. Why is Powlus still here? Three of the worst QB seasons in history and he gets a pass?

Dirk Medema 6 years, 6 months ago

Saw the WR coach change coming last offseason, but also was wondering about a QB coach change. Wondering with you all the more now, but also wondering why we are calling for passes on the majority of our plays when less than 50% completions have become the norm - even with much improved receivers (players & coaching).

Jerry Walker 6 years, 6 months ago

You might be a dull, unimaginative, over-matched OC if...on a crucial 4th and goal all you can come up with is a fade route.

DaNeille Dani Davis 6 years, 6 months ago

Our problem was not CW. Our problem is a QB with zero confidence and not much QB IQ. Maybe they should have fired Powlus instead.

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