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Sunday, March 6, 2016

KU football coach David Beaty taking over play-calling duties for 2016 season

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives quarterback Ryan Willis a pat after a three and out during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives quarterback Ryan Willis a pat after a three and out during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

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Sunday’s opening day of spring football practices for Kansas University was much more than just the average happy-to-be-back-out-there kind of day.

The Jayhawks were thrilled to get started again — mostly so they could officially start moving forward from last year’s 0-12 campaign — but Day One also represented the first opportunity for second-year head coach David Beaty to implement a role change between himself and offensive coordinator Rob Likens.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU football coach David Beaty talks big changes on Day 1 of 2016 spring football drills

KU football coach David Beaty talks big changes on Day 1 of 2016 spring football drills

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“Rob is still going to carry the same title,” Beaty said after Sunday’s practice. “But I’m gonna call the offense, and I’m gonna coach the quarterbacks this year. And that doesn’t have anything to do with Rob. It has to do with me. I want to be more actively involved with the QBs and what we do offensively.”

Beaty spent a good chunk of Sunday working exclusively with the quarterbacks. That included stretches when he worked one-on-one with injured returning starter Ryan Willis on mental reps. The idea behind the change, Beaty said, came from the fact that, after one year of building a foundation at all levels of the program, he believes he now has the freedom to get back to coaching football.

“I love football, and I missed being actively involved in it,” Beaty said. “Offensively, my name’s on it. So I’m gonna get involved in it because of that. I enjoy doing that. It’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of what I got into the business for, and I think it can help us.”

The fact that Beaty just replaced five full-time assistants in the past couple of months might make now seem like the last time one would consider making this kind of change at such an important position. But Beaty said the make-up of the coaches he hired to replace the five who left helped him pull the trigger. Almost all of them have extensive knowledge and experience in what Beaty referred to as “more of a true Air Raid” system. And their understanding of what Beaty wants to do will allow him to dig into the offense a little deeper.

“There’s a reason those guys are here,” Beaty said. “They know what they’re doing. They were almost plug-and-play.”

Beaty said the change, both in terms of who will call the plays and what those plays will be, will create an offensive environment that is flexible and puts responsibility on the most important player on the field.

“Just empowering the quarterback and him being able to take advantage of what he sees,” said Beaty, asked for a quick summary of the biggest difference between this year’s offense and what KU ran last year. “We’ll utilize those guys’ minds more than we did in the past.”

Beaty stopped short of saying Willis would have been the starter entering spring ball had he been fully healthy, but he did call the sophomore who started the final eight games of last season the “incumbent” and talked plenty about how this new offense fits Willis’ skill set.

While Willis recovers from the injured right wrist, returners Montell Cozart, Deondre Ford and Keaton Perry, along with red-shirt freshman Carter Stanley, will get more reps and have plenty of opportunity to push Willis.

“I love all of those guys,” Beaty said. “We’ve got some talented (quarterbacks). It’s gonna be an interesting race.”

In short, while some things about the particulars of KU’s offense may have changed, one key thing did not. Every player at every position is still going to have to earn everything he gets.

As for Likens, Beaty believes he can still be a big-time asset.

“He’s a little bit more of a walk-around guy right now,” Beaty said. “It allows him to help me a little bit. Rob can go address some of the running-back stuff, some of the O-line stuff, and we get a chance to come back and make sure we’re really doing everything efficient.”

Beaty and the Jayhawks will take today off and get back to work Tuesday for practice No. 2 of the 15-practice spring session.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nws6Tv33xZg

Comments

Joe Ross 3 years, 9 months ago

@Matt,

If I recall correctly, ex-head coach Charlie Weis took over the offensive play calling in his second year at Kansas. It didn't turn out particularly well. I understand that you're talking about different head coaches with different pieces in terms of personnel, and probably a whole lot more going into it than what some of us fans might appreciate...I get it. But I wonder if taking on that responsibility kind of narrows a head coach's bird's-eye view and if you think Beaty will perform better than his predecessor in his additional role.

Joe Ross 3 years, 9 months ago

As stated below by others, CW was his own OC initially. But the question is the same. Does taking on the additional responsibility limit the scope of the head coach and how is Beaty prepared to take this on?

Sean Kelly 3 years, 9 months ago

Joe,

I share your reservations as this seems like a really bad idea, particularly at his point in the rebuild. I cannot view this in any other light than a real vote of no confidence in his chosen OC, Likens. Most coaches in this sport who make this move come to find that it was a mistake.

Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 9 months ago

Charlie was his own OC the first two years; so he called the plays. He brought in Reagan to be OC AND call plays in year three; and that lasted four football games. Andy Reid calls all the plays for the Chiefs. KU is 4-57 the last seven years in the Big 12; angst over such decisions is not necessary; we need some good football players and a consistent, good coaching staff to develop them....and a few years to do it. Who calls the plays on Saturdays is really ho hum news.

Calvin Miller 3 years, 9 months ago

Who calls the plays is ho-hum? This has to be sarcasm.. The play calling is critical in order to sustain drives, improve field position, and get in a position to score. Even more critical when a team does not have top tier athletes. And especially in the B12 where a higher scoring offense is needed. IF it doesn't matter then why did CW suck, and Reagan suck even worse?
Now Beaty announces it AFTER the first practice?? Looks like he just doesn't like Likens play calling or QB coaching.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 9 months ago

Ho-hum seems to be a relative comment.

The crucial phrase seems to be - "we need some good football players and a consistent, good coaching staff to develop them....and a few years to do it."

Joe Ross 3 years, 9 months ago

With respect to your giving a more accurate history than what I suggested in the original comment, the update to the question reflects your information above. Thank you for that.

My intuition is rather different than yours, however, on the question of whether or not a head coach who wears multiple hats has a more difficult job, though for the moment I'll defer to Matt's more educated opinion if he's willing to offer one.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 9 months ago

I assume that Beaty did not just make this decision in the past 24 hours. That implies that Likens knew about it and elected not to leave before preseason with the other coaches.

I guess we'll know pretty soon. If Likens were to leave, I wonder if Yenser would stay since the two of them seemed to be a package deal from Cal.

I hope everything is cool as I don't think any further coaching turnover of that magnitude would bode well for the program rebuild.

Jeremy D. Morris 3 years, 9 months ago

I wonder what Likens' game day responsibilities are going to be. Watching and evaluating from the box? Offering suggestions? Walking the sidelines? I'd imagine the first two but, at this point, who knows.

Matt Tait 3 years, 9 months ago

He'll be upstairs. Beaty said so tonight.

Jeremy D. Morris 3 years, 9 months ago

Thanks. I will go check out the audio that you posted for us.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 9 months ago

If this means Likens is in up above telling Beaty what he sees, and Beaty calls the plays accordingly, it's not a bad thing. I would also guess that Likens is still the primary game planner on offense for KU.

I see this adjustment as something Beaty noticed last season as something he feels could've been more efficient because there were times where KU struggled to get a play call in next year.

Considering most of the staff were in their roles for the first time last year, there were times it was obvious and this is what probably something Beaty and Likens discussed at length during the offseason to figure out how to make the offense run more smoothly preplay.

Calvin Miller 3 years, 9 months ago

I'd be surprised if that would work. What you're suggesting is that Likens is the coach that schemes the offensive game plan during the week, but Beaty will call plays from the sideline?
But I agree with your point regarding Likens inability to get a play called in time last season. Part of that due to being a rookie OC. Problem is Beaty is also. One year of calling plays at Rice does not make him an experienced play caller--even tougher when he's at field level and unable to read the defensive tendencies. I predict this will turn out to be a major cluster****.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 9 months ago

Your first issue. That's what coordinators do, they watch the film of the opposing team and come up with a majority of the game plan based on the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. They then give their reports to Beaty who makes the final tweaks to the game plan for the week to fit KU's strengths.

Your last point, Matt Tait said above that Likens will be up in the press box this year which means he'll be telling Beaty what the defense is doing and how they're adjusting and Beaty will call the plays based on those reports. It's pretty common for the coordinator to be up in the booth when the HC is also strong on the same side of the ball.

Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 9 months ago

Unlike the cluster of 4-57 in league games the past seven years I'm sure. Or a 35 plus game road losing streak. Yeah, it's going to get a lot worse with the head coach calling plays now. Get over yourself already....good grief, let him coach the team and make the decisions as he sees fit.

Len Shaffer 3 years, 9 months ago

One of the problems is that there's no way we can know if he's telling the truth. If Beatty really made the decision because he wasn't happy with Likens' play-calling, what could he say, "I hate the job my OC did last year, so I'm going to take over?" It's likely that he's telling us the truth, but we can't know for sure.

OTOH, the reason obviously doesn't matter as much as the results, so what do we really have to lose? As others have pointed out, it can't be any worse than it has been.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 9 months ago

It seems backwards.

“He’s a little bit more of a walk-around guy right now,” Beaty said. “It allows him to help me a little bit. Rob can go address some of the running-back stuff, some of the O-line stuff, and we get a chance to come back and make sure we’re really doing everything efficient.”

Isn't that what a HC usually does.

I'm also thinking of OSU when Gundy started as the HC calling the plays then got an OC so that he could be more involved with the whole team. Maybe it shows more trust in Bowen and DeForest to take care of the other facets of the game. Maybe?

Bob Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

If it means the DC gets more trust, this is a far BIGGER mistake!

Cora Smith 3 years, 9 months ago

Losing two more veteran players. Five assistant coaches. Now taking over for offensive coordinator. This looks like we are chasing our tail.

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