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Posts tagged with Montell Cozart

Did David Beaty want to abandon two-QB offense at Texas Tech?

Kansas head coach David Beaty signals a play during the fourth quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas head coach David Beaty signals a play during the fourth quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

After his Kansas football team lost at Texas Tech last week, head coach David Beaty claimed he had no problem maintaining a two-quarterback approach, and made it clear he’s kind of over people asking him about it.

But the Jayhawks’ second-year coach might have been closer to sticking with one quarterback this past Thursday at Lubbock, Texas, than many realize.

During the first three games of the season fourth-year junior Montell Cozart started for KU, and the Big 12 opener proved no different. However, during the non-conference portion of the schedule a rotation pattern emerged. Cozart played the first two possessions of the game, then sophomore backup (or QB No. 1B, if you prefer) Ryan Wilis entered for the third. Where the rotation went from there varied somewhat from game to game, but the opening offensive strategy remained the same.

That changed, though, in what turned out to be a 55-19 loss to the Red Raiders.

Cozart played the first two series, as usual, then returned to the field for possession Nos. 3 and 4. Willis didn’t take over the offense until the second quarter, on the fifth possession of the game.

Keep in mind this is just a theory, but it sure seemed as if Beaty was prepared to keep Cozart on the field and abandon his swapping in and out approach at Tech. A 14-0 deficit and four consecutive fruitless drives appeared to force Beaty’s hand:

- 1st drive: 3 plays, 1 yard

- 2nd drive: 7 plays, 33 yards

- 3rd drive: 6 plays, 21 yards

- 4th drive: 3 plays, 3 yards

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) pulls back to throw during the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) pulls back to throw during the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Cozart’s first-quarter struggles — 4-for-13 passing for only 36 yards — meant Beaty would have to be crazy to stick with him at that point, especially after the Jayhawks (1-3 overall, 0-1 Big 12) had so readily used multiple quarterbacks this season.

I asked Beaty during the post-game press conference whether his plan all along was to wait until the second quarter to insert Willis.

After pausing for several seconds, the coach responded:

“I’m not really wanting to talk about our plan. We know what we’re wanting to do with our guys and obviously we have two guys we know right now are very capable to run our offense … run the whole thing. And we’re not unlike a lot of other teams. We’re trying to go off what we see when we get to the game, too. And from that point you’ve got to make the decision based on what’s best to help you move the football.”

This came after Beaty had defended the two-QB scheme, saying the decision to take that route comes from what he and his staff see at practices. This response seemed to shed more light on the process, though, as he referenced evaluating in-game performance. After a quarter full of punting, Kansas had to switch to Willis.

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) heaves a pass to the flat during the fourth quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) heaves a pass to the flat during the fourth quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Later in the same session with reporters, Tom Keegan asked Beaty about the upsides and downsides of using two quarterbacks instead of picking just one. KU’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator reiterated his line of thinking that the team lacks a “crystal clear” No. 1 QB. Then Beaty said something else that makes one think he wanted to hand the job to Cozart at Tech, before a lack of production forced the coach to return to what has become the offense’s status quo.

“On our standpoint right now,” Beaty said, “if a guy would get in there and he continued to produce then you would stay with him. But if a guy doesn’t do that then you continue to work and try and continue to find the answer.”

Give the man credit for not stubbornly sticking with Cozart. Willis took over quarterbacking duties at Tech and seemingly would’ve remained behind center until the game was decided had it not been for a small injury scare in the third quarter that forced him to the sideline for part of a series. Oddly enough Cozart came in to lead a touchdown drive.

It turned out neither Kansas quarterback left the Thursday night loss with good numbers. Willis finished 14 of 26 for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Cozart went 9-for-20 for 97 yards, a TD and a late-game interception (with KU trailing by 29 points).

Personally, I don’t think Willis handled sitting the entire first quarter well. The blame for that goes on Beaty as much as the QB. Willis’ throws were off once he finally entered the game, with incompletions on three of his first four attempts. It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that he finally looked comfortable. But even after connecting with freshman receiver Chase Harrell for an 18-yard score, Willis had incompletions on his next four passes.

Who knows at this point whether Willis or Cozart will start this week against TCU. But, as has been stated before, it sure seems as if Willis would benefit from starting a game and being allowed to play through it without fear of being replaced. If the sophomore doesn’t produce, you can always try something else the following week.

Ideally, though, the offense needs to discover some semblance of stability.

Reply 15 comments from Jack Joiner Dirk Medema Cora Smith Maxhawk Rockchalk1990 Jhawki78 Joe Ross Len Shaffer Brett McCabe Ohiostate1ncaa

Montell Cozart impressed with freshman QBs Carter Stanley and Ryan Willis

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart (2) and Ryan Willis (13) look up the field for receivers during the first day of practice on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 at the fields south of Anschutz Pavilion.

Kansas quarterbacks Montell Cozart (2) and Ryan Willis (13) look up the field for receivers during the first day of practice on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015 at the fields south of Anschutz Pavilion. by Nick Krug

When Montell Cozart arrived at Kansas in 2013, the true freshman didn’t have all the answers.

Cozart had to figure out then-head coach Charlie Weis’s pro-style offense. For him, the transition was far from seamless, because the system wasn’t like the spread format he had success in at the high school level, at nearby Bishop Miege, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Cozart said Monday he doesn’t think KU’s incoming quarterbacks will have as many issues as they adapt to offensive coordinator Rob Likens’ Air Raid attack. Plus, true freshmen Carter Stanley (from Vero Beach, Florida) and Ryan Willis (also from Bishop Miege) have impressed the junior with their approaches.

“You can see those guys coming in ready to work,” Cozart said. “They both have ran similar offense to what we’re running now when they were in high school.”

KU’s new offense actually benefits every quarterback fortunate enough to play in it, according to Cozart.

“Now that we’re back to this offense,” Cozart said, “it gives all of our quarterbacks a lot of confidence, because we all can be successful in it.”

A few days into preseason camp, Kansas has eight quarterbacks on its roster:

  • Cozart (jr., 6-2, 193)

  • Keaton Perry (RS-fr., 5-10, 186)

  • Stanley (fr., 6-2, 188)

  • T.J. Millweard (jr., 6-4, 219)

  • Willis (fr., 6-4, 205)

  • injured Michael Cummings (sr., 5-10, 212)

  • Deondre Ford (jr., 6-1, 200)

  • Frank Seurer, Jr. (jr., 5-11, 190)

Cozart said there are “all sorts” of players in KU’s quarterback room, and their various skill sets are on display when the QBs go over practice video.

“We’ve got guys with cannons. We’ve got guys with good feet that can run a little bit,” he said. “This offense just helps everyone be successful and puts you in a great position.”

Both Willis, whom Cozart knows a little from their Miege connection, and Stanley, Cozart’s camp roommate, figure to be his primary competition in the race to become KU’s starter. The junior said every time he leaves a quarterbacks meeting, he comes away impressed with the true freshmen.

“When we’re watching film, you see them jotting down things, trying to get better and get to where me, T.J. and Mike are in this offense,” Cozart said. “They’re trying to catch up, and you can see those guys working great.”

For Cozart, it’s fun to have younger QBs around looking up to him. When each day of preseason camp ends, the quarterbacks throw the ball around and talk about “everything” as they all get to know each other.

“We’re always talking about football,” Cozart said. “Just little things around the nation, what’s happening in the sports world, getting to know one another.”

Sharing a room with Stanley for camp has allowed Cozart to discover a lot about him quickly. Cozart said they often watch video and bounce ideas off one another when they see certain things pop up on the screens in front of them. He said Stanley (freshmen and program newcomers can’t speak with media, per team rules) has fewer questions each day, a sign he is learning the offense and getting comfortable.

Likens wants all of the QBs making strides in those areas. Cozart said the coordinator and quarterbacks coach has harped on the importance of recognizing defensive structure at the line of scrimmage, a key component of the Air Raid offense for the signal-callers.

“You want to know the answer to the test before it even comes,” Cozart said.

At this point, it seems the junior might have more solutions this season than he did in the past, which is good news for the QB whom head coach David Beaty referenced as having the inside track on the starting gig.

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Bowen says KU looking for answers on offense

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and Kansas interim head coach Clint Bowen meet at midfield to shake hands following the Jayhawks' 33-14 loss to the Mountaineers on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and Kansas interim head coach Clint Bowen meet at midfield to shake hands following the Jayhawks' 33-14 loss to the Mountaineers on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia. by Nick Krug

Clint Bowen’s second weekly press conference as the Kansas University football program’s interim head coach didn’t provide anything ground-breaking on what’s next for the Jayhawks (2-3 overall, 0-2 Big 12).

Bowen didn’t announce who will start at quarterback or divulge any other immediate changes. The depth chart, in fact, looked exactly the same as it did a week ago. But he gave some insight on the vibe within the football facilities those days, and shared a little bit about some of his philosophies on playing time.

Here are the highlights from Bowen’s Tuesday afternoon media session:

• The players did a great job in the first week of the transition from Charlie Weis to Bowen. KU played a “very good” West Virginia team on the road and he thought the players performed for four quarters, which was a goal.

• Oklahoma State has some youth but is playing at a very high level, having only lost to Florida State.

• KU held WVU to a field goal on four first-half drives. On each of those, the defense gave up one big play, then settled back down.

• Kansas held the WVU offense in check in the second half. (The Mountaineers’ only TD came on a kickoff return.) Players showed they would compete for four quarters. There are no moral victories, but that was positive.

• There is no negativity or animosity between the relatively successful defense and the at times inept offense.

• KU will make a decision on one of its three quarterbacks this week: sophomore Montell Cozart, junior Michael Cummings and sophomore T.J. Millweard all will get a chance to prove themselves at practices. They’re all in this to win, too. KU has backups at other positions who get pulled, but that doesn’t get written about. The players understand they are all working together.

• The offensive coaches are looking for anything they can do in the system, with their personnel to make sure they can sustain drives and move the ball down the field.

• Bowen talked with the offensive coaches and coordinator John Reagan without getting in their face or in their business about it, following another slow day for the KU offense. There are some things Bowen thinks could help the offense out.

• One offensive solution for Kansas would be making sure senior receiver Tony Pierson gets his touches. There will be an effort to make that happen. A lot of time at WR, him getting the ball is dependent on other people.

• Junior receiver Nigel King had his number called at the right times on Saturday. Bowen didn’t see any extra focus on Pierson from WVU leading to King’s productivity.

• As a defensive coach, you have to stop/take away the run first. That makes life difficult offensively if you can’t throw the ball and loosen up the defense. That has been one of KU's major issues. KU’s offense has to find a way to make defenses honest.

• This is college football. It’s fair to your team to have the mentality that if one guy is playing better, he will play Saturday. Competition is never-ending. It doesn’t stop.

• Junior RB De’Andre Mann was injured at WVU. But he will be fine, and is expected to play.

• Everyone thinks it is simple to run down and cover a kickoff, but that is a decision-making process on the fly. KU has to get better in that aspect of the game in order to not give opponents an edge.

• Being a true freshman corner, like Matthew Boateng, is like carrying a big, red flag around with you. Offenses will pick on him, but he will develop. Boateng has a bright future.

• On the unexpected in his first week: Game day was a little more exciting and his heart was pumping, but he has been in the business long enough to feel very comfortable.

• On KU’s running backs: Corey Avery, a true freshman, is holding up well. Mann checked out pretty well after getting hurt. They have freshman Joe Dineen, too, and there are things they can do to take the burden off of the “two starters.” Pierson lining up in the backfield is always an option.

• Avery is handling things well. He has some “God-given ability” and has some size and natural instincts to run the ball.

• Millweard has been at No. 3 on KU’s QB chart for a reason. Cummings and Cozart better fit what the offense wanted to do from a game plan standpoint each of the previous weeks of the season, and that is why Millweard has been No. 3 on the depth chart to this point.

• Senior corners JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald came through against some pretty good wide-outs at WVU. They didn’t need help in coverage. They handled their business and that was a big part of why KU was successful in the second half.

— Hear the complete Q&A: Bowen: Competition will determine who plays for KU

Reply 3 comments from Maxhawk Texashawk10_2 Hawknhutch Micky Baker Catsandwich

KU in midst of ‘big week,’ preparing for Texas

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis made it clear at his weekly press conference the amount of respect he has for Texas — the Jayhawks’ (2-1) first Big 12 opponent of the 2014 season.

Weis had plenty of KU-related topics to discuss, though, too. The third-year coach touched on all three facets of the game while meeting with the media Tuesday afternoon.

On upcoming 3 p.m. Saturday kickoff vs. Texas (1-2): “Obviously this is a big week for our program,” Weis said. KU has so many Texas natives, and it’s homecoming. “We’re gonna have to play really, really well to have a chance.”

• Weis knows former Longhorns coach Mack Brown well, but he won’t be reaching out for inside tips. “I had a couple of humorous texts with Mack this week on that subject,” the KU coach said. Weis wouldn’t make that call; he would gladly take Brown’s call. Weis wouldn’t want to put Brown on the spot.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• Junior RT Damon Martin has a couple of tests today regarding his health. Senior RG Mike Smithburg (appendectomy last week) will see the doctor tomorrow. Neither played on Saturday vs. CMU. KU could have neither/one/both this weekend. Weis doesn’t know yet. He would love to have at least one of them back.

• Redshirt-freshman O-lineman Joe Gibson has been sick and hasn’t practiced in a couple of weeks. So true freshman Jacob Bragg is listed at No. 2 at center this week. But if Weis had to have someone go in for starting center Keyon Haughton, he’d probably go with Bryan Peters. Peters is a “jack of all trades.”

This week, there will be a much different look from the opposing defense when QB Montell Cozart drops back to survey the field. Those easy throws, there won’t be as many of them as there were last week. Weis feels as if KU has some good answers for that problem, though.

Duke defenders Kyler Brown (56) and David Helton (47) stay hot on the trail of Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Duke defenders Kyler Brown (56) and David Helton (47) stay hot on the trail of Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Teaching pocket presence is something that can happen. A lot of things with a QB have to come naturally. Over time, Weis anticipates Cozart will become much better in the pocket. Cozart takes his first step backward when pressure comes, and that’s because he is trying to get outside and use his speed.

KU has to work on Cozart’s execution with the option, too. They will be spending more time on that. “There are a lot of things that are new.” Weis thinks Cozart is perfectly capable.

Senior nose guard Tedarian Johnson graded out as one of the best players against Central Michigan. Weis thought it was the best game Johnson has played at KU.

There were fewer issues between Cozart and center Haughton this week on snap exchanges, but there are still things to correct. Obviously, there was a false start called on “everyone but the center” against CMU.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Junior weak-side linebacker Jake Love has great instincts, which showed up when he got a clean look on a blitz vs. CMU, sniffed out the play and got to the screen pass for a loss. “If you smell a rat, it’s a rat,” Weis said the coaches like to say.

KU won’t back off on the physical practice approach that the team used last week. It’s never going backward. It’s only going forward. KU doesn’t have a really deep roster, so there is a chance guys can get banged up when you hit hard in practices. But if they don’t go hard Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they won’t be ready on Saturdays.

Junior receiver Tre’ Parmalee had probably the best preseason camp of anyone on the team and then banged up his elbow. Now he’s back and ready to go, so he is on the depth chart. Those freshmen receivers aren’t even in the same breath as junior receiver Parmalee right now.

Texas, after scouting KU’s first two games, probably feels pretty good about rolling into Lawrence for the start of Big 12 play. … Weis expects a close game around halftime, and then the perspective might change.

KU’s defense, other than the big plays in the Duke game, has looked good. Kansas can’t give up big plays, though. Or have situations where a team rallies like SEMO did in the fourth quarter. The Jayhawks, defensively, weren’t perfect vs. CMU, but they ended up only allowing 10 points. KU will have a problem if it gets in a game where the scoring is in the 40s.

Texas has a lot of good, physical players, so facing CMU and its old style the week before could set up well for Kansas.

With this being homecoming, KU will have some former players coming in and they will be on the sideline. A couple of NFL players have bye weeks. … Until the game’s over, it’s all business.

Fans shout "rock chalk" across the stadium after a key Kansas first down during the second half of Kansas' game against Central Michigan Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Fans shout "rock chalk" across the stadium after a key Kansas first down during the second half of Kansas' game against Central Michigan Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

Weis was pleased with the crowd vs. CMU. Would he like 15,000 more? Sure. But the crowd came despite threat of bad weather and supported a team that had struggled the week before. … There is a great forecast for Saturday and the game will be over by 6:30, so Weis is hoping for an even better showing.

On KU’s kicking situation … Sophomore Matthew Wyman is capable of hitting more than 50 percent (4 of 8 this season). If Weis thought freshman kicker John Duvic was capable of outperforming Wyman, Weis would make the change. … There are only a handful of guys that pan out to be front-line kickers. … This past week, the kick Wyman missed (from 35 yards), he had no excuse, and that’s no big secret.

Junior WR Rodriguez Coleman isn’t on the depth chart. So don’t expect to see him play. … Nigel King gives KU the best chance to win, and King is backing up both Tony Pierson and Justin McCay. King is a tough guy, just like McCay.

— Listen to the complete press conference: Weis talks Texas, a 'team in transition'

— Also, hear from KU coordinators Clint Bowen and John Reagan: Bowen and Reagan on the challenges of preparing for Texas

Reply 5 comments from Dirk Medema Jmfitz85 Inbillwetrust Texashawk10_2

Teammates support Cozart after rough road performance

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart celebrates with receiver Tony Pierson after the two connected for a touchdown against Southeast Missouri State during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart celebrates with receiver Tony Pierson after the two connected for a touchdown against Southeast Missouri State during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

When Kansas University’s offensive veterans look at quarterback Montell Cozart, they don’t see the guy who struggled to an 11-for-27, 89-yard passing outing at Duke, with two interceptions.

That wouldn’t do anyone involved a bit of good. Cozart’s teammates know the QB left the road blowout disappointed, feeling as if he alone had let down the entire program

So when the Jayhawks look in the 19-year-old’s direction, they choose to see a young, confident sophomore signal-caller with the ability to bounce back for KU (1-1) against Central Michigan (2-1) on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

It doesn’t get much rougher than a 41-3 loss, so senior wide receiver Nick Harwell said there was only one reasonable way for the offense to respond: keep things upbeat.

In the days since Kansas returned home, Harwell has focused on motivating and inspiring, instead of tearing down.

“I just told (Cozart) to keep pushing, keep going forward,” the senior captain said. “We’ve got a saying that goes: Keep choppin’ wood. Keep working hard and work on things we did poorly last week and hopefully this week will be better.”

That’s coming from a talented offensive weapon who only had two catches for nine yards against the Blue Devils. KU coach Charlie Weis said Duke didn’t shut Harwell down, offering instead that Cozart was the one to blame for the receiver’s lack of production.

The same claim could be made by senior receivers Tony Pierson (two catches, 17 yards) and Justin McCay (two catches, eight yards). But, like Harwell, they know supporting their QB is the proper solution right now.

Kansas receiver Justin McCay can't quite get to a pass as Southeast Missouri State cornerback Reggie Jennings covers him on an end zone pass during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Justin McCay can't quite get to a pass as Southeast Missouri State cornerback Reggie Jennings covers him on an end zone pass during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

McCay has told Cozart to keep his head up, and trusts that he will, because the receiver sees him as a competitor.

“I know for myself I would like to catch more balls and do more for the team,” McCay said, “but he can only do so much. He’s only a quarterback. I think he does a good job, and we’ll be fine.”

Obviously, every player on the team felt down about the Duke outcome. But Pierson said the Jayhawks had put it behind them by Sunday, and he trusts that Cozart just suffered through a bad afternoon in Durham, North Carolina.

None of the QB’s offensive cohorts want him worrying about that performance anymore. Pierson said they think he will be back on track against Central Michigan.

“Montell is confident in himself,” Pierson said, “and he’s just gonna keep on coming in each day and just working hard.”

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine has nowhere to go as he is surrounded by several Duke defenders during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas tight end Jimmay Mundine has nowhere to go as he is surrounded by several Duke defenders during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine, who has just three catches for 17 yards through two games, said there are simple things holding back KU’s offense (145.5 passing yards a game) right now, and although those issues have made the Jayhawks look bad, they are correctable.

Mundine didn’t want to get into the specifics of the problems, but said Cozart isn’t the only Jayhawk responsible for fixing them.

“He’s got growing to do, just as well as I do and other guys do,” the senior tight end said. “We’re still all figuring this out. This (was) Week 2 and we’re just excited to get back out there and redeem ourselves for last week’s performance.”

Receivers Pierson, Harwell, McCay and Nigel King have combined for just 16 receptions so far this season. Harwell said while the receivers haven’t had as many pass-catching chances as they expected, they know they’re capable of more and they will do their part to help Cozart salvage this season.

“I’m definitely confident in how we play,” Harwell said. “We have very little dropped balls. I just feel like if we continue to catch most of what is thrown to us, then we’ll do well.”

Reply 6 comments from Thomas Smith Jim Stauffer John Randall Micky Baker Glen Cshjhawk

Weis, Jayhawks have plenty of issues to address this week

In the nearly three days that have passed since Kansas University’s football team suffered its first embarrassment of the season, in a 41-3 loss at Duke, coach Charlie Weis and his staff have had plenty of time to identify the numerous breakdowns that led to the drubbing.

Tuesday afternoon at his weekly press conference, Weis addressed the array of issues and provided some insight on how KU (1-1) can go about putting a better product on the field Saturday against Central Michigan (2-1) at Memorial Stadium.

CMU has an “old school football” approach on offense, with multiple running backs and tight ends who will try to pound you.

It is likely Central Michigan again (like Saturday at Syracuse) will be without running back Thomoas Rawls, who has been suspended.

Psyche aside, KU is healthy and ready to go for its final non-conference game of the season. The Jayhawks have a few sick players, but nothing big.

• On sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart’s accuracy: There are two or three things they will work on. Weis doesn’t want to say what those solutions are… Cozart had a full plate during Sunday meeting with Weis, offensive coordinator John Reagan and QB coach Ron Powlus. “I think it was a bad day at the office,” Weis said of the 38-point loss at Duke. By the time he left Sunday, Cozart was feeling a lot better. He got to look at the issues and some simple answers.

• The first half of Sunday, the coaches “hammered” the players regarding the Duke performance. The second half of those talks was about moving on. Weis met with the captains — Ben Heeney, Cassius Sendish and Nick Harwell — and they all talked about what was on their minds.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas defenders Jake Love (57) and Victor Simmons can't stop a throw from Duke quarterback Anthony Boone during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Senior buck Victor Simmons and senior WR Justin McCay had “really good” games. So did jr. DT T.J. Semke. And of course senior MLB Heeney. Coaches recognized the guys who did play well. … You can’t ignore the things that didn’t go well, though.

Central Michigan had a bad day at the office against Syracuse (40-3 loss), as well. But they looked great against Purdue (38-17 win). So the Jayhawks have seen CMU video from that good day.

On KU’s offensive line: The guards are the “Steady Eddie” on the team. Senior LT Pat Lewandowski will get a smaller cast on today, which should help him. Coaches have worked Larry Mayzck at both left and right tackle. They need him ready to play on either side.

Weis expects Cozart to play very well this week. There is no short leash, so to speak. All Weis knows is whoever gives KU the best chance to win is going to be in there at QB, and right now Cozart is that guy.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to throw against Duke during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart looks to throw against Duke during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

KU would obviously like to give Cozart more time on passing plays. When that doesn’t happen, the other skill players become less significant, too. Grading receivers and tight ends, Weis would give them an incomplete vs. Duke. They didn’t have many opportunities. Those breakdowns are on everyone.

KU’s efficiency in the passing game has been poor, and that is magnified on third down. KU needs a more effective passing game on every down.

Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman welcomed the chance to try and kick a 56-yard field goal. He told Weis he would just have to take a little more time with it than normal and fire it low. The long attempt got blocked to end the first half.

Weis has changed a lot of things on special teams. One of those adjustments is moving Harwell to the top of the punt-returners list.

Duke had four “big runs.” Two of them, KU had a guy for every gap. Guys were in position to make a play and the Jayhawks didn’t touch him. On one play, a player was unblocked and just froze and didn’t get to the ball carrier. On another one, things were clogged in the middle and the run got bounced outside. None of those situations are acceptable. The one that got bounced out is the most excusable of the huge Duke run plays.

When senior “buck” Michael Reynolds was rushing the passer he looked good. When he wasn’t, he didn’t look good. … There are not many guys Weis is going to say played well at Duke.

Simmons played “all out” the entire game and didn’t make any mistakes while making a few plays. He is a guy who was in the right spots.

Weis thought the running backs ran tough and looked good, too. … But if you can’t throw and score points, you’re not going to win.

KU has only played two games. Weis isn’t ready to say the passing game this year is on the same low level as it has been the past few years.

A somber bench of Kansas receivers including Nick Harwell (8) lament the 41-3 loss to Duke with minutes remaining during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

A somber bench of Kansas receivers including Nick Harwell (8) lament the 41-3 loss to Duke with minutes remaining during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

Cozart shut down Harwell in the passing game. Duke didn’t shut down Harwell.

Tuesday will be a physical practice, and John Reagan and Clint Bowen will be right in the middle of it. Reagan will be “all over them” at practice. It will be the type of practice Weis really looks forward to. … Weis is glad there are lights on the field. Because the QB and junior center Keyon Haughton are going to work on some things once it ends.

Some Jayhawks handle negative plays in the wrong way. They harp on the past instead of playing the next play. That has been a big point of emphasis the last two days: Let it go.

Twice at Duke, senior WR Tony Pierson couldn’t have got any more open. Cozart rolled out and didn’t drop it off to Pierson, though. Those misses have to be addressed and fixed. Opportunities were there for both Pierson and Harwell.

Everybody knows this is a critical game vs. Central Michigan, because it is the last non-conference game. It sets the table, either way for what comes in the following weeks. The Big 12 is a tough league. The Jayhawks need to go out and play really well against a physical team.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis shows frustration during the Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis shows frustration during the Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

These past few days have been tough. The head coach can’t worry about how that impacts him personally. Weis said he has to focus on helping everybody around him recover. … The coaches had to beat them down and build them up all on the same day following the Duke loss.

On the opening snap at Duke, Cozart didn’t handle the ball because Haughton sent a “speed ball” his way. Those are the types of things that need to be fixed. Other times, timing was an issue. … Both Cozart and Haughton want to be good and fix the problems.

A lot of guys played their first road game. But there wasn’t anything to be intimidated about. Duke was a nice, solid team playing in front of a small crowd by major college football standards. Still, for a few freshman playing their first road game, it was a little bit much for them. RB Corey Avery didn’t have that issue.

Harwell is the leader of KU’s offense. He may have had big games against CMU in the past, but those are in the past.

— Listen to everything Weis had to say at the presser: Weis gets into KU's offensive woes

— Hear from KU coordinators Clint Bowen and John Reagan: Bowen and Reagan on fixing KU's flaws

Reply 3 comments from Erich Hartmann Dannyboy4hawks Len Shaffer

Weis sees a confident bunch of Jayhawks preparing for road test at Duke

Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis wasn’t feeling too sour Tuesday at his weekly press conference, despite the Jayhawks’ disappointing finish to their season opener against Southeast Missouri State.

The third-year coach, like his players no doubt, instead seemed excited about the opportunity KU (1-0) has to play at Duke (2-0), in Durham, North Carolina, this Saturday afternoon.

Here are some of the highlights from Weis’s Q&A with the media:

Duke senior wide receiver Jamison Crowder might be as good a wideout as KU faces this season. And senior right guard Laken Tomlinson “looks like a man on tape.”

Duke athletic director Kevin White hired Weis at Notre Dame. “He taught me a lot about college football and he taught me patience,” Weis said.

The Blue Devils’ defense is similar to what KU sees in the Big 12 — 4-3 base and bend, but don’t break mentality.

Duke safety and kickoff returner DeVon Edwards is a “pain in the butt,” as a return weapon. Same goes for Crowder on punt returns.

The Kansas Jayhawks hold themselves back before bursting onto the field prior to kickoff against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas Jayhawks hold themselves back before bursting onto the field prior to kickoff against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Weis and the KU coaches will be in corner Dexter McDonald’s ear all week about the challenge ahead in defending Duke’s receivers. Edwards is very good, but so is the guy that usually lines up opposite of him, senior Issac Blakeney. “You have to respect both of them,” Weis said.

KU has spent time looking at this matchup with Duke and the Jayhawks have seen how both they and their opponent play. The Jayhawks have visual evidence they can win. But they can’t just show up for a quarter like they did vs. SEMO. KU’s players should go down there to N.C. with the anticipation of winning the game.

There was an obvious difference against SEMO in the first and second halves for KU. The theme since has been finishing. Finish doesn’t have to only mean finish the game, it can be finishing plays, too. “Really close isn’t good enough,” Weis said. KU will have to play significantly better this weekend.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart celebrates a touchdown by running back Corey Avery against Southeast Missouri State during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart celebrates a touchdown by running back Corey Avery against Southeast Missouri State during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

There were no signs of jitters in the opener for sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart. He played with confidence and handled the operation well. There were times when he could’ve made bigger plays and he’ll have to take advantage of his athleticism going forward. .. Cozart can throw the ball downfield. Weis has seen it in practice. KU has to put him in position to do that in a game. … He threw 3 TDs and 0 interceptions in the opener. That is big.

It looks like strength vs. strength this weekend for KU at Duke. You could talk about almost every position but the most obvious one is KU’s defensive backs against Duke’s wide receivers. “All those DBs are gonna get tested,” Weis said. Duke won’t shy away from Dexter McDonald just because he had 2 interceptions vs. SEMO.

Weis and the staff showed KU players a bad-play tape and a good-play tape after the SEMO game. “You want to know why you didn’t win by 50?,” they were able to say while viewing the lowlights. Then coaches showed them the evidence of all the good things. … People don’t understand how big Sundays are psychologically for the players. … When they left the facility on Sunday Weis was content with how the players handled Week 1.

On KU’s offensive line … Two running backs no one had ever heard of led Kansas to 200-plus yards, so that’s a positive. The O-line didn’t grade out quite as well with the passing plays.

Kansas buck Michael Reynolds drops Southeast Missouri State quarterback Kyle Snyder for a loss during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas buck Michael Reynolds drops Southeast Missouri State quarterback Kyle Snyder for a loss during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The defensive line was pretty disappointed they didn’t bring SEMO's QB to the ground more often. KU’s bucks were in position a bunch of times. KU will have to get pressure with four guys — that’s a point of emphasis. Kansas has to at least disrupt the passer. The D-line was sound in other facets. … Defense was pretty dominant until the fourth quarter.

Junior backup quarterback Michael Cummings will be utilized more in the future. The intent was to use him more vs. SEMO but the game didn’t play out like that. KU didn’t get to look as much at its depth as the coaches had hoped.

Getting out to a big lead was new to KU’s players. Good teams end up laying the wood to opponents when they jump out early. It was easy to teach off of that after the SEMO game because the evidence was on video.

Kansas safety Fish Smithson brings down Southeast Missouri State running back Lewis Washington during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas safety Fish Smithson brings down Southeast Missouri State running back Lewis Washington during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The fourth quarter didn’t do anything to the psyche of KU’s secondary. The coaches will have some fun with them the next few days, give them a hard time about how SEMO played in the fourth quarter.

On coaching at a basketball school … Duke football coach David Cutcliffe has Coach K and Weis has Bill Self. “Does it get any better than that?” Weis hopes KU wins every game all season and he uses that program’s success as something to shoot for. Weis totally plays into the success of the basketball program as a way to build the football program. … Weis wants to make sure Kansas football is winning more than it is losing before he leaves.

Cutcliffe wasn’t “lighting the world on fire” the first few years at Duke, but he recruited, stuck with the plan and in his sixth year they won 10 games.That’s what happens when you walk into a program that hasn’t won recently.

Kansas fans watch the Jayhawk football team on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas fans watch the Jayhawk football team on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Players don’t need to comment on their focus or lack thereof following games, nor do they need to comment on the crowd. Players need to comment on their play. Weis isn’t big on making excuses.

The KU coaches don’t encourage Cozart to take off and run, but there will be more times coming soon when you will see him run instead of pass in those situations.

Because Weis wasn’t involved in play-calling he got to see the whole game. He didn’t have to worry about straightening out specific offensive problems while other things were transpiring. That allowed him to get a better feel for everything that was going on.

Junior college transfer Damani Mosby, a “buck,” isn’t necessarily a redshirt candidate.

KU would like to go ahead and get that road win out of the way early in the year. That’s one less thing for the players to worry about. The season doesn’t end with a win or a loss, but beating Duke would be a big win for the Jayhawks.

— Hear the complete press conference: Weis: Jayhawks capable of winning at Duke

— Listen to the coordinators' perspective: Bowen and Reagan evaluate KU's season-opening performance

Reply 4 comments from Catsandwich Nebraskanjayhawk8 Jim Jackson Kingfisher

With KU’s depth and experience, Charlie Weis doesn’t worry as much as he used to

Kansas University coach Charlie Weis hadn’t talked football in person with the media for a couple of weeks. So Tuesday’s press conference, leading up to the Jayhawks’ season-opener Saturday against Southeast Missouri State, had plenty of nuggets.

Weis didn’t speak at length about it, but the biggest news to come out of the presser had to be the departure of junior defensive back Kevin Short. Listed as the second-string right corner on KU’s first preseason depth chart in early August, Weis said personal issues led to Short’s departure. He went out of his way to make it clear academics weren’t the issue. What’s more, Weis said there is a possibility Short, from Florissant, Missouri, could be back in January. And KU has known about the issue for a while: “This isn’t something that just hit yesterday.”

Kansas receiver Nigel King catches a pass during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

Kansas receiver Nigel King catches a pass during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. by Nick Krug

Junior receiver Nigel King, a non-recruited player, is on scholarship and falls under the category of blue-shirting. He has two years to play two years. KU had room for him on its roster and he will be counted on next year’s recruiting class. He graduated from Maryland and is in graduate school at KU.

Sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart has to be the most improved player from last season for KU to win more football games. Cozart now is confident, bordering on cocky. Weis said “that’s a good place to be,” and he didn’t see that last year from the QB as a true freshman.

Defensively, there are so many players back. The secondary is rock solid. One player who could be a surprise is starting nickel Tevin Shaw, a sophomore. “We had to find a way to get him on the field,” Weis said.

The battle for starting center “wasn’t close.” Weis said junior Keyon Haughton was clearly ahead of red-shirt freshman Joe Gibson, who has a lot of upside.

After beginning preseason camp as a tight end, sophomore Jordan Shelley-Smith now sits at No. 2 on the depth chart at right tackle. “He’s eaten like a man possessed,” Weis said. “I’ve done that before.”

Kansas University junior running back De'Andre Mann (23) runs with the ball during football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014.

Kansas University junior running back De'Andre Mann (23) runs with the ball during football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014. by Richard Gwin

Running backs De’Andre Mann and Corey Avery are co-No. 1s on the depth chart. A freshman, Avery is the better athlete. Mann, a junior, is the better football player. Mann’s body is ready to take Big 12 hits. “He’s just a rocked-up dude,” Weis said, adding he is confident in both players. “I’ll be surprised if they don’t play well.”

Size isn’t relevant when it comes to pass-blocking as a running back. It’s about fundamentals, techniques, getting your hands on people and not getting beat around the edge. And that might be a moot point when No. 2 left tackle Larry Mayzck is in the game, he is so big.

Freshman Joe Dineen, who recently moved to running back form safety, is ready to play. Dineen is technically No. 2 on the depth chart, because Mann and Avery are 1 and 1A. Dineen is clearly the next guy, and he’s ready.

King will line up on the right side and the left side at receiver. He’s very close to bumping somebody who is ahead of him on the depth chart — he’s currently listed behind senior Tony Pierson.

Senior tight end Jimmay Mundine only missed about a week and a half of preseason camp due to injury. KU’s coaches don’t have to overload him with reps too early because of that. … After Mundine on the TE depth chart, everybody brings something different. Red-shirt freshman Ben Johnson (No. 2) is more athletic. Senior Trent Smiley is stronger.

Freshman Junior Visinia (6-foot-4, 360 pounds) opens the season as the No. 2 right guard. He’s a huge human being. Offensive line coach John Reagan is really high on him.

Kansas University linebacker Kyron Watson, (6) center, tackles running back  Brandon Bourbon (25) during a team practice Thursday, August 14, 2014. Linebacker coach Clint Bowen is at left.

Kansas University linebacker Kyron Watson, (6) center, tackles running back Brandon Bourbon (25) during a team practice Thursday, August 14, 2014. Linebacker coach Clint Bowen is at left. by Mike Yoder

KU has a lot of true freshmen on its Week 1 depth chart. Matthew Boateng (No. 2 right corner) has played great in camp. For a while, KU had him as a starting nickel. Everyone knew about linebacker Kyron Watson (No. 2 MLB) and Avery (No. 1 RB), but people might be surprised by Visinia and Boateng. Receivers Derrick Neal and Bobby Hartzog will both get on the field, too. “They don’t play like freshmen.” They will take care of some of KU’s return duties. Weis said any player on the depth chart will play in the opener.

Starting right tackle Damon Martin got better throughout the spring, and preseason camp. Now he’s clearly the best RT on the O-line. Starting left guard Ngalu Fusimalohi, No. 1 right guard Mike Smithburg and Martin were the three best players on the unit “the whole way.”

Last year, now No. 1 LT Pat Lewandowski didn’t have anywhere near the confidence he does now. He is the clear verbal leader of the O-line. KU didn’t get that at all from him last year. It’s not by chance that teammates put him on the leadership committee.

Cozart has some experienced receivers to work with now, but his success starts with Reagan and quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus. … Harwell gets open and has the trust of his QB. KU hasn’t had that before either.

On the defensive line … KU feels like it has seven or eight guys they can rotate in.

Like any coach, Weis has some areas of concern, but there were so many issues in his two previous seasons. Now they’re worrying about fewer things. There are still restless nights, just less of them. Last year this time, Weis wondered if the passing game even had a chance. … The QB position has been the biggest nightmare over the past few years, regarding what to expect out of the position.

If KU’s offense can score enough points, the Jayhawks will have a chance to win a whole lot of games, because the defense is salty.

Cozart not only has the most athleticism of KU’s quarterbacks, he also has the most accuracy. The offense fits No. 2 QB Michael Cummings very well, too. The junior still has a cannon for an arm.

— Listen to everything Weis had to say at the press conference: Charlie Weis on Kevin Short's departure, KU's opener

— And hear from John Reagan and Clint Bowen, who also met with the media: Coordinators talk KU's development heading into opener

Reply 3 comments from Dirk Medema Ashwingrao Dannyboy4hawks

Five things we would’ve liked to learn about KU football this weekend

By the time Week 1 of the 2014 college football season wraps up Monday night, 85 games featuring FBS teams will be in the books.

Kansas University, of course, won’t be playing in any of those.

The Jayhawks are idle this week, which means we’ll have to wait another seven days to get a look at them, and find out just what they might be capable of on the field.

Kansas head coach Charlies Weis watches warmups from a golf cart during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlies Weis watches warmups from a golf cart during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Charlie Weis and his staff have spent the past two weeks, since KU’s last open practice and Fan Appreciation Day, hunkered down, preparing for the Sept. 6 opener against Southeast Missouri State — and beyond. The Jayhawks have only emerged (to the media at least) to announce seniors Ben Heeney, Nick Harwell and Cassius Sendish as team captains and rally the downtrodden KU football fan base.

Because we won’t get to see this Kansas football team today, here are five things we would’ve liked to learn if the Jayhawks actually began their season Labor Day weekend.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon runs through drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon runs through drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

1. Who has emerged as KU’s primary running back?

Since the news of season-ending injuries to both Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox, it became clear either juco newcomer De’Andre Mann or true freshman Corey Avery would have the role thrusted upon them.

But we don’t yet know which of the two is more explosive, a better pass-blocker, more instinctive and so on. Perhaps KU will choose to split carries evenly between Mann and Avery. Maybe they sprinkle in true freshman Joe Dineen, who recently converted from playing safety.

It seems KU has some options, despite the potentially devastating injuries.

Kansas University offensive coordinator John Reagan, works with offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi (63) at KU football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014.

Kansas University offensive coordinator John Reagan, works with offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi (63) at KU football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014. by Richard Gwin

2. Does Reagan have five guys he trusts on the offensive line?

The first depth chart of the preseason listed KU’s first-string O-line as: senior LT Pat Lewandowski, senior LG Ngalu Fusimalohi, junior C Keyon Haughton, senior RG Mike Smithburg and junior RT Damon Martin.

Their backups, as of Aug. 7, were junior LT Larry Mayzck, junior LG Bryan Peters, red-shirt freshman C Joe Gibson, sophomore RG Brain Beckmann and junior RT Devon Williams.

Since then, sophomore tight end Jordan Shelley-Smith also moved to tackle.

A lot can change in three weeks, especially with a unit that could be the biggest mystery on the team. Don't be surprised if the depth chart looks a little different when KU releases it. Weis made it known a couple weeks ago it might take the entire preseason practice schedule to determine a starting five. Smithburg said in an interview the O-linemen might not know who will start until game day.

http://youtu.be/K49PNoSeqHQ?t=1m42s

Offensive coordinator and O-line coach John Reagan has a reputation for getting the most out of the big guys. It will be interesting to see which five he can rely on for the opener. And how much the go-to five changes in the weeks to come.

Kansas defender Ben Goodman (93) pumps his arms in the air to get the crowd into the game during the first-half of the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defender Ben Goodman (93) pumps his arms in the air to get the crowd into the game during the first-half of the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

3. Can the defensive line catch up with the linebackers and defensive backs?

Between Captain Heeney at linebacker and a skilled secondary featuring senior corners Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, senior free safety Cassius Sendish and junior strong safety Isaiah Johnson (the Big 12’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013), KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has plenty of experience behind the defensive line.

But what about those guys in the trenches? Will senior nose tackle Keon Stowers, junior tackle Andrew Bolton and junior end Ben Goodman cause enough havoc to disrupt offensive plays before they get started? How big of an impact will senior “buck” Michael Reynolds make as an edge rusher?

If the defensive line isn’t big enough to bust through opposing lines, it will have to be fast enough to go around them. KU’s linebackers and secondary will be far more effective with a consistent push at the point of attack.

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart throws against the White Team during the first half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart throws against the White Team during the first half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo by Nick Krug

4. Is Cozart becoming an accurate passer?

Thrown to the wolves as a true freshman in 2013, quarterback Montell Cozart completed 23 of his 63 passes, threw two interceptions and overthrew targets regularly. His next touchdown pass will be his first in a KU uniform.

Weis and Reagan like the sophomore starter’s mobility, because that will allow him to keep more plays alive for KU this fall. But for Kansas to actually turn out offensive production, Cozart needs to connect with senior receivers Nick Harwell, Tony Pierson and Justin McCay, as well as junior Nigel King and senior tight end Jimmay Mundine.

Plays are bound to break down. When they do, it will be up to Cozart to make something happen, and he can’t just rely on his quick feet. Busted plays need to turn into down-the-field gains for KU to put more points on the scoreboard.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson leaves Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines in his wake as he races up the sideline for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson leaves Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines in his wake as he races up the sideline for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. by Nick Krug

5. What will Reagan’s playbook look like?

KU’s offense should look a lot different than it did when Weis was in charge.

Goodbye, pro-style and complex verbiage. Hello, spread and simplicity. Those are the words out of the mouths of KU’s offensive players since Reagan’s arrival.

The Jayhawks figure to have a dual-threat QB in Cozart. Will Reagan prefer to use the 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore as a pass-first weapon? Or will Cozart end up carrying the ball on designed runs just as much as a running back?

Who will most passing plays be designed to free up? Harwell? Pierson? Mundine? Are Mann and Avery able to contribute with receptions of their own?

How much passing will KU even attempt? Just because it’s a spread offense doesn’t mean it can’t rely on the running game. Would Reagan prefer to run the ball 60 percent of the time, with Cozart and Pierson supplementing the Mann and Avery’s workload.

So many questions. And another week of waiting before we start discovering some answers.

Reply 21 comments from Greg Ledom Jmfitz85 Kuhawkhead Baldjedi Texashawk10_2 Bryce Landon Micky Baker Jack Jones

Charlie Weis previews KU football spring game

The countdown to Kansas University's spring football game is down to four days now.

Coach Charlie Weis addressed the annual showcase and other topics Tuesday morning with the media.

Here are some of the highlights from the Q & A session, in bullet-point form:

• The format for the spring game will be four 15-minute quarters, with a running clock, except for last two minutes of each half. KU has enough players to split the roster into two different teams and not just do offense vs. defense. Unless a rash of injuries breaks out, they will be able to do two different teams.

• Weis has a rule for the spring game that should make for an exciting second half, instead of players just going through the motions. He won't unveil the rule until Saturday, but it is all planned out.

Kansas kickoff return man JaCorey Shepherd takes off on a return against Oklahoma State during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas kickoff return man JaCorey Shepherd takes off on a return against Oklahoma State during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

• At a couple of positions, there are two players considered first-string options: left tackle and nickelback. Senior lineman Pat Lewandowski and senior defensive back JaCorey Shepherd will be on the Blue team in the first half, while senior lineman Zach Fondal and sophomore defensive back Greg Allen will play on the White team. At halftime, those players will swap teams, so they will have played with both the first and second units.

• If during the game, due to injury, they have to trade some players, Weis will "set the terms" of the trade.

• Spectators won't see a red jersey on the quarterbacks on Saturday. Only one player will have a red (no contact) jersey on, and that will be senior receiver Tony Pierson. The quarterbacks will be "live" on each play. Weis has never done that before. When the QB keeps the ball, you never know how many yards they would have gained on a run when they are wearing red and the defense can't tackle them. The QBs have been hit, sacked plenty of times this spring. The goal is for them not to get hit. … Pierson has been hit, too. The coaches went over the pros and cons, but they determined Pierson has had such a good offseason the last thing they want is for him to get injured on the last day of spring football.

• Weis told offensive coordinator John Reagan not to hold back any plays he wants to run during the spring game. This isn't like planning for a game, when you're preparing for an opposing team with certain plays. The whole playbook is available.

• Kansas has more talent and more speed right now than it has had in the past two seasons under Weis. Wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau told Weis Tuesday morning that KU's starting three wide receivers — Pierson, senior Nick Harwell and junior Rodriguez Coleman — all would have been on the two-deep last season at Washington (Kiesau's previous employer). That shows KU has made some serious improvements at that position alone.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson shakes Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson shakes Texas Tech defensive back Bruce Jones during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

• Pierson was nursing some tightness in his hamstring at practice Saturday, which was open to the media. He wasn't going as hard as he has been able to. … Pierson is working at both kickoff and punt returning. Returning punts isn't easy. "You have to be a little bit of a psycho" to take that job and do it well.

• Harwell is working at both return spots, too, as is junior defensive back Kevin Short. "We have some interesting candidates." You don't want to lose a valuable player in the return game, but if that guy can help change the game, they want to have him out there.

• Weis will make "common sense" contributions when talking offense with Reagan. It's been interesting this spring for Weis to see so much more of the team now that he's not running the offense. It's been good. It gives Weis the opportunity to challenge the staff and make everybody better.

• When Weis arrived and got rid of so many players from previous coach Turner Gill's team, he was taking a bad team and making it worse. He did it for the right reason, but he didn't factor in how limited a roster KU would be left with. Now the roster is pretty full. The infrastructure has been rebuilt and now KU has a predominantly junior and senior team. Usually those are the teams that win. … When they got rid of so many guys, they had to fill holes with junior college players. They couldn't count on freshmen to fill the gap.

• Looking at the WR spot, KU will lose four players after this season. Realistically, they will have to go half and half recruiting to replace those holes — half high school and half junior college. The same goes for KU's O-line and defensive backs, too

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas offensive lineman Damon Martin, left, works with other offensive lineman during drills at a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

• KU's offensive line has had continuity this spring. The guy who is the strongest is junior Damon Martin, so he's at right tackle with senior Mike Smithburg next to him. The coaches were ready to adapt when they had a bunch of talented guards. Some shuffling got the most talent on the field.

• There are tiers at the QB position, as far as the depth chart is concerned. If they had to play an actual game in two weeks, it would be between senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart. And it wouldn't be a bad thing if they both played because they do different things. The coaches are ready to gear themselves toward who will be the main guy. The longer KU goes without naming a starter at QB, the tougher it will be for the competition to prepare.

• Kansas doesn't want to take senior linebacker Ben Heeney off the field, but he will have to rest at some point. Junior LB Schyler Miles is close to junior Jake Love as far as the depth chart goes, and who will replace Heeney at times.

• At the spring game, Weis would like the fans to have some fun. Come halftime the game will get very interesting. He would like to be in the second half with the players having a little pressure on them to win. Weis also wants the offensive operation to show efficiency. … Several players will get an opportunity to play a lot more snaps than they have at practices this spring. It gives them an opportunity: Let's see what you've got. Of course, they want to come out injury-free, too.

• The biggest accomplishments this spring, defense and offense: With junior defensive lineman Andrew Bolton's play on the end, senior defensive lineman Keon Stowers can play inside. … The defense is now in its second year, and that gave the players an opportunity to turn it loose. Most of the guys are retuning guys. ... On offense, most of it was getting the system installed. The players need to be used to running a no-huddle offense.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws as he gets protection from offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart throws as he gets protection from offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. by Nick Krug

• Cozart has completed a high percentage of his passes this spring. The one thing he brings that is unique is his feet. He has a chance to be a really good player.

• Sophomore QB T.J. Millweard, who transferred from UCLA, is the newest member of that QB group and he is coming off his best practice to date. Whether he makes his way up the depth chart this year or next, Weis knows he will keep working to get there. His mental aptitude is there and he has to catch up physically.

• Next week, in the days following spring game, players will hear from the coaching staff about where they stand.

• Kansas has a number of older guys who are experienced. Because of that, they won't pick captains until right before the season begins. It's tough to be a leader when you're not playing, so the guys who end up captains will be front-line players.

• Harwell is a natural leader. Weis is glad they have him. He's a hard worker, the wide receivers follow him and he jumps on everybody. "Thank you, Miami of Ohio."

• Weis does believe that if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one, but that's not the case if you use them in different ways. KU would feature one set of plays with Heaps and another set when Cozart is on the field.

• Weis said to the team last December: It's time. Kansas football has been down for five seasons. The No. 1 thing is these veterans have to get KU back to winning. That's the first major hurdle for the program to get over. Then you shoot for the moon. Players can't worry about the expectation on the street or in the media. They have to set their own bar and can't settle for anything but attaining their goals.

— Listen to the press conference in its entirety by clicking here: Charlie Weis talks spring game, KU football depth

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