The Day After: Disappointment at Duke


Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart reacts after a turnover on downs by the Jayhawks against Duke during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart reacts after a turnover on downs by the Jayhawks against Duke during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

The road losing streak hit 28, the final score left Kansas 38 points shy and an unknown number of KU fans were up in arms about it.

It was that kind of day for the KU football team in Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, a time and place that many believed would be a heck of a lot different than the same old, bad blowouts we've seen in the past.

Instead, it was a lot of the same frustrating football that has plagued Kansas for the past five seasons — big plays and easy scores for the opponent, an offense that struggled to get anything going and a room full of players and coaches who had trouble finding answers when it was all over.

The Jayhawks' 41-3 loss to Duke may have merely dropped them to 1-1 on the season, but if ever a 1-1 team felt like 0-10, this is it.

It should be very interesting to see where things go from here with all aspects of the program.

Quick takeaway

For the first time in the Charlie Weis era, it seems like people have had enough. The KU fan base, as a whole, has not been entirely supportive of Weis and this team throughout his time, but there always had been enough people who backed the program to cancel out those who didn't. Saturday night, though, even the optimists kept quiet and some turned to the dark side. The Jayhawks were not out-talented by Duke, but they were out-played, out-coached and out-manned. This one, to me, seems like the first undeniable step in the wrong direction since Weis took over, and the future of the program, from top to bottom, all of a sudden, has landed in a very dicey position.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Let's be honest; after a game like that, there just aren't many. I thought senior linebacker Ben Heeney was Heeney (but was anyone surprised by that?); I thought senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd showed he's every bit on the same level as Dexter McDonald and I thought Michael Reynolds played his butt off, particularly in the first half, when he just kept getting close off the right edge but never quite got to Duke QB Anthony Boone. Other than that, there were serious concerns pretty much everywhere else on the field and the Jayhawks left Durham in need of some serious soul-searching just two weeks into the 2014 season.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Other than the obvious drawbacks of the lopsided final score and the aftermath that followed, there were a few specific aspects of this latest loss that were concerning. The biggest, obviously, was the play of Montell Cozart, who looked incredibly sharp and in control during the opening quarter of the season but has looked anything but that during the seven quarters since. Cozart has the physical tools, but he's young and he's still learning and for every 3-touchdown-no-interception game (like he had vs. SEMO in the opener) there are going to be days like Saturday. The question now just becomes, “How quickly can he pick things up and improve?”

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

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

2 – KU's option game was atrocious in this one. I like the option for this offense because it puts Cozart in a position to attack and put pressure on the defense with his best asset. When it's blocked the way it was on Saturday, though, it looks like something you'd see at a Pop Warner game. Because of Duke's penetration on the edge — read: KU's blocking breakdowns up front — Cozart and the KU running backs just had to keep stringing it out and stringing it out all the way down the line until they reached the sideline. At that point, Cozart usually pitched it, but with the sideline so close and so many Blue Devils in pursuit, it looked like Duke had two players there for every one Jayhawk in the area. The option game is as much an attitude as it is about being assignment sound and the Jayhawks failed in both categories against Duke.

3 – The Jayhawks ran more plays (76-71) and won the time of possession battle (32:34-27:26) but had just three points to show for it? That begs the question, “What the heck were they doing when they had the ball?” The answer? Not much. Just five of KU's 14 possessions ended as a three-and-out but only one went over the 4-minute mark and that was the second-to-last drive of the game, when KU drove 72 yards in nine plays and 4:12 but turned it over on downs after doing most of that work against Duke's reserves. Five of KU's drives included seven plays or more — including the 10-play, 58-yard drive that produced the team's only points — but KU found itself facing third-and-long a lot of the time and often failed to take or see the shorter gains that would have set up more manageable third-down scenarios.

Kansas receiver Tony Pierson reacts after being ruled out of bounds after a catch during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kansas receiver Tony Pierson reacts after being ruled out of bounds after a catch during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug

One thought for the road

KU's latest lopsided loss...

• Moved the Jayhawks to 577-591-58 all-time.
• Tied the all-time series between the two basketball-blueblood schools at 1 win apiece.
• Was the 28th consecutive loss away from home. KU's next chance to snap its road losing skid comes Oct. 4 at West Virginia, the team the Jayhawks beat last season to snap a 27-game Big 12 Conference losing streak.
• Featured points in the first quarter for the second game in a row. Kansas scored in the first quarter just four times in 12 tries last season.

Next up

KU returns home to face Central Michigan, which, two weeks ago popped Purdue, but, last week, was rocked by Syracuse, 40-3. The Chippewas were a bowl team a year ago and certainly will not be an easy out for this struggling KU squad. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

Montell Cozart and the Jayhawks are backed deep into their own territory during an offensive set in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Montell Cozart and the Jayhawks are backed deep into their own territory during an offensive set in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2013 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. by Nick Krug


Steve Jacob 7 years, 1 month ago

These losses can not happen at a university where a donor will fork over half a mil to tear out a track.

Chandler Accipiter 7 years, 1 month ago

Another reason to sigh: Duke left points on the field,at least 14 easily, and had backups in all through the fourth quarter.

One reason to smile: Perfect executon in the red zone. KU came away with points (3) every trip deep into Duke territory (ha!).

Bob Bailey 7 years, 1 month ago

Tait -- thanks for crediting the talent level of our team! Personally, Weis and Campo have recruited as anyone could, probably much better, than anyone could, considering our 5 year history. For heaven's sake, don't back us off from the talent and recruiting. Hiring a new head coach would back us off way too far.

Our DC has had the backfield out of position dating way back to coaching with Mangino. A quick fix would be to change DC (albeit he is a Jayhawk supporter). And then give him 2-3 weeks to restart the Defense. Never will it happen with Zenger there. Perhaps never happen as long as he's around.

Kevin Randell 7 years, 1 month ago

You're right Matt, the fan base, alumni, and boosters have had enough. We can throw all the excuses and "ya...but's" out the window. I sit and watch, on Saturdays, lower programs put competitive products on the field. Some win, most lose, but they have fight in them, and they compete. This team shows it doesn't know how to keep a lead, and if they get behind, they lay down and die. I have really really really tried to not be one to pull the trigger and jump on the fire Weis bandwagon, but yesterday was pathetic. Should the KU start looking?...I don't know. But one thing is for sure, something needs to change. Oh, as a personal request. Would you set up an interview with Mangino, and put an end to those who keep calling for him to come back? I for one, would support his return at this point, but reality tells me, he would not come back.

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

Matt. Interesting comments about the fan base being fed up. I never thought this was a good hire in the beginning and I think most people outside of greater Lawrence found the hiring of Weis to be puzzling. With that said, it seems like Weis has done everything he has supposed to do as a head coach. Maybe he stuck with himself too long as OC, but he did change that. You have commented that just from approach, this staff has the feel of a Big 12/ Power 5 conference organization compared to Gill's. So what is the problem? Everyone seems to think the talent gap is much narrower, but that is not seen on the field. Is there something bigger than the coaching staff that makes it so hard to field a competitive football team?

Optimistically, I thought we might go in and upset Duke and I thought the 14 point spread was ridiculously high. There is NO way that Duke should wipe the field with us, the way they did.

Kyle Sybesma 7 years, 1 month ago

Robert - you're asking the same questions I have. We hear we have better talent than Gill's teams and it looks better to the naked eye but the result is the same. WHY!? What are we missing?

Brian Wilson 7 years, 1 month ago

What are we missing. Better game planning, running plays our players are capable of without being overrun, a recognition of plays that are working and then keep using them until you prove they fail.

Obviously there was no game plan to test the defense to see determine and take advantage of Dukes weaknesses. When we ran twice up the middle in the first quarter and the Online pushed our running back six to seven yards into the Blue Devils defense each time, to me it was apparent KU's offensive line was capable of jamming the ball down the Blue Devils throat. But once we proved it successful our coaches decided we should stop that. So we did. And then we proceeded to instead run numerous screens with Cozart throwing dangerously slow floaters or we ran the option where are OTs didn't have the speed to block them, or we predictively threw the long ball. We should have recognized we were able to ram it down their throats and maybe give Cowart some time to get rhythm and confidence. Also, Cozart has to learn to zip that ball on screens and we need to get away from the option until our OTs learn to move faster. However, I must admit, the delayed QB draw looked great and we should have run that 3 or 4 more times. Needless to say, even though we run spread and a pass oriented offense we should have run the ball in this game.

Matthew Palmer 7 years, 1 month ago

No doubt a tough game yesterday, but one game does not define a season. I also very much disagree that our players gave up. Obviously lot went wrong at Duke from the first snap. We never rebounded, but did show improvement on defense.

For the most part KU fans need to remember what a true fan is and try supporting our team. It's easy to be a nay- Sayer

Jonathan Briles 7 years, 1 month ago

You are describing a coach that every school in the nation wants. No school wants a guy who can't recruit or develop kids. Oddly enough I believe that Wise is a pretty good recruiter considering where he is recruiting to and what the product has been and honestly I think that he has developed the talent fairly well. I just believe he is a terrible motivator and lacks the ability to push the kids mentally to new heights. I think the main criteria for what we need in our next coach is an energy guy who is an intense, in your face motivator who preaches discipline.

People say we don't have talent, but thats like going to your stocked fridge looking in and saying "there is nothing to eat". The right coach could make a meal out of this roster. This team is unmotivated and lacks a whole lot of on field discipline. The most important quality I want to see out of our new coach is intensity. I want him to bring the energy that he expects from his players. I don't want a guy to roll around on a golf cart anymore.

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

KU won't get three wins if it doesn't win next week. If it does, I think 3-4 wins is possible. UT, ISU, Tech will look vulnerable and OSU just lost its QB.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 1 month ago

OSU may be better with their 1B QB. There is a reason Gundy hadn't announced his starter until late. 1B is not as mobile as 1A, but much more in line with the QB's that have been most successful at OSU over the last few years.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 1 month ago

Well I waited to see the product on the field last week before making a prediction. After seeing us play against an FCS team I said we'd not win another game. Thank Gawd we didn't play NDSU we'd have been embarrassed! Matt, I am assuming you aren't sticking by that 6 win prediction and nothing wrong with that you now have the eye test to see where we fall short. This team seemingly has some talent but apparently we either aren't able to play as a team or our coaching staff sucks. Looks like we're gonna have to go through another season of losing. Hopefully Weis is replaced at the end of the season. I don't care about this crap that NO COACH wants to come here if we only give them 3 years. That's crap. Many coaches would come here and that's the beauty of throwing millions of dollars at them. The problem with Weis is we aren't seeing improvement. IF we had seen steady improvement in this team and still fire him that would be wrong but this team isn't better. We are as bad as any team in the FBS. Hopefully Zenger will take his time and find a real coach this time instead of this joker.

Gregor Southard 7 years, 1 month ago

I was a supporter of Weiss until he demoted proven NFL guy, Campo, for proven bottom 5 in the country statistically (3x with 3 different schools) DC, Clint Bowen. Granted, the horrible OL and QB play the last few years hasn't been his fault. But the arm tackling and never being in position to make a play is his fault and people barely seem to notice, or more often, blame his defense's problems on the offense. Bottom line, Weiss can't seem to get the little things right for KU to improve. There, I'm ready for my coffee now!

Dirk Medema 7 years, 1 month ago

It was really poor tackling yesterday, but I'd suspect that the decision to not be the DC was Campo's as much as anyones. It would also seem that a supporter would know how to spell the name of the person being supported.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 1 month ago

"The Day After" was a TV movie some years ago about how Hollywood destroyed Lawrence, Kansas in an atomic bomb attack. Fitting description of this year's offering in KU football.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 1 month ago

Matt - I'd say we've become jaded if we can't see the RB's as a continued reason to smile. Even after losing RB's 1A & 1B, 1C & 1D still produce quality performances, and even the converted DB (RB #5?) had a respectable performance. CW was absolutely correct earlier this week though when he said that we won't go far if we can't develop a passing game. It would seem that we also need to develop some tackling drills, because we missed a bunch.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 1 month ago

Dirk - You promised me Cozart had improved his passing accuracy. I knew this was going to be a problem given his throwing motion, along with his lack of vision down field. Not only does he struggle to throw accurately, but often he doesn't anticipate or even see the open receiver.

Regarding the running backs...sorry to tell you...but running backs are a dime a dozen.

The talent difference between an FBS running back and an FCS running back is very low. Running backs are the easiest position to recruit for, and everybody has them.

Where the talent gaps show up is in the trenches, and thats the exact problem that we have.

However, the other major problem we have is our leadership. Too many mistakes, penalties, and failing to complete small details that make big differences.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 1 month ago

This game between these programs makes me wonder about the mentality at the 2 schools. This is year 7 for Cutcliffe, and he had 5 before ever having a winning season (4, 5, 3, 3, 6-7), and that in the ACC, a significantly lesser conference. How many were calling for his head in the 3 win seasons #3 and #4? If he had our fans, he never would have made it past the loss to FCS Richmond to begin year 4. But that's probably just the effect of having a track in their stadium. Yes, it will be difficult to get wins against a schedule where every opponent has been to at least 1 bowl game in the last 2 years. It will be even more difficult if we continue to rotate coaches.

Kyle Sybesma 7 years, 1 month ago

I think to give an honest assessment of Weis we need to look at other similar programs who were hunting for a coach at the same time we were. What we don't know is if we pursued any of these coaches or if any turned us down because Zenger is very stealthy. In the coaching search and the conference realignment.

  1. Washington State - Mike Leach. Overall 10-18 (5-13 in PAC 12). Last year went 6-7 (4-5) and lost in last seconds in New Mexico Bowl game to Colorado State. Leach was a popular name in Lawrence.

  2. North Carolina - Larry Fedora. Overall 17-10 (9-7 in ACC). First year he went 8-4 (5-3). Tied for first in Coastal Division. Last year UNC won the Belk Bowl. Off to a 2-0 start.

  3. Texas A&M - Kevin Sumlin. This may not be the best comparison but A&M was not a powerhouse in the Big 12. Overall 23-6 (11-6 in SEC). Won Cotton Bowl in year one and Chick-fil-A Bowl in year 2. Oh and beat #1 Alabama in Alabama with a freshman quarterback. A&M is perhaps the hottest football program in the country.

  4. Colorado - Mike MacIntyre (Starting his 2nd year) Overall 5-10 (1-9 PAC 12). CU is awful but last night they didn't embarrass themselves vs #16 Arizona State. They lost 38-24. They won a road game last weekend on the east coast to UMass 41-38.

  5. Illinois - Tim Beckman. Overall 8-19 (1-15 Big 10). He's in the same boat as Charlie Weis. One conference win but they were scoring points in their losses. Maybe they need our defense and we need their offense.

  6. Arizona - Rich Rodriquez. A basketball school with limited football history like KU. Overall 19-10 (8-10 in PAC 12). Won New Mexico Bowl in year one and AdvoCare V100 Bowl (never heard of it) in year 2. Off to a 3-0 start.

Clearly the facts are against Weis. How can we build our program when money is being spent to buy out coaching contracts. That is the biggest reason why I think Weis will get another year. Another is Reagan needs time with Cozart. The third is we can't send the message to future coaches that you get 2 (Gill) or 3 (Weis) years to turn around a freight train.

Names to keep an eye on since we have another year of this. All head coaches in the SEC West. They are all good/great coaches and they can't all win. Ole Miss - Hugh Freeze (top 25 currently). Auburn -Gus Malzahn (played for national championship). A&M - Kevin Sumlin. Mississippi State - Dan Mullen. LSU - Les Miles (never going to happen). Arkansas - Bret Beilema (why he left Wisconsin I'll never know) Alabama - Nick Saban (never going to happen but you see how difficult this division is). None will get fired after next year but names to keep an eye on.

Titus Canby 7 years, 1 month ago

And who were the coaches we passed up when we hired Gill? Weren't Sumlin and Malzahn on the list then?

Michael Sillman 7 years, 1 month ago

Way too early to press the panic button and start talking about firing the coach.

When your quarterback has a horrific day particularly on the road, you are more than likely going to get shellacked. Bad play by the quarterback makes everybody look bad including the defense.

Reagan and Weis rolled the dice by giving the starting job to a youngster like Cozart based on practice results and athleticism. So far, except for one quarter, it's been a bust but that quarter provides some hope.

Heaps was probably the better short term choice but I'm sure the coaches were looking to the future.

Reesing made Mangino look like a pretty good football coach. Cozart might still do the same for Weis.

If Cozart does not show progress in the next several games, I'm sure we'll see Cummings or the other kid.

Robert Brown 7 years, 1 month ago

While it is natural for some to call for pulling the plug on the Weis experiment, it is not going to happen. I fully expect him to be here next year despite what happens this season. I am starting to feel a bit sorry for him. I think he came here to improve his reputation and by all reports he has worked very hard to turn around the program and has not seen the results on the field. Maybe he really isn't a good head coach, in which case, one has to hold Zenger accountable for the hiring. When Weis was hired, it was pretty viewed as a bad hire by most pundits and analysts.

I am beginning to wonder if there is something that is part of KUs athletic culture that makes it difficult to field a consistent winning football team. Up until the end of the 1960s, KU had a respectable football team most years. There were some bad seasons, but they were usually in the top half of the Big 8. Since then, we have had an occasional decent season surrounded by many mediocre seasons.

Since the end of the 60s, KU has has only 2 great seasons (1995 and 2007). That is over a 45 year period. We did make it to a few minor bowls during that period, but name a program that hasn't been to a few minor bowls the last 45 years.

Really, the last 4-5 years under Mangino were the only time when fans had realistic hope for a great season and it was clear that performance was beginning to decline the last two years.

I don't know if KU has just hired bad coaches or if the problem is bigger than that.

Kevin Randell 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree Robert. I hate to say it, but we are in for the long haul with Weis, unless he steps down. But over the past 5 years, I have heard/read every excuse as to why we aren't competitive. But I just can't help but thin: What about Baylor? Less than 10 years ago, they were one of the laughing stock of college football. Heck, they got their first ever BigXII victory against our Jayhawks in Mangino's first year. Now look at them? I have heard, we are a basketball school. Well.........yesterday, we got drummed by a basketball school! I just can't help but shake my head and say, why not us? I know we are capable of it. Just something needs to a BIG way.

Dale Stringer 7 years, 1 month ago

I don't see why we put Cummings in to replace Cozart. Their style of play is the stay and neither can throw accurately. We should have tried T.J.

Robert Brock 7 years, 1 month ago

The current AD hired Weis. Why should he be trusted to make a better hire? And when will the KU administrators show some interest in football?

Things look bad for KU athletics far into the future.

Titus Canby 7 years, 1 month ago

How we bounce back from this game will define this team. I like to think that with guys like Heeney and Harwell, they'll get everyone's head on straight.

Titus Canby 7 years, 1 month ago

Unless a proven, high-level D1 coach shows up on our doorstep, we can't afford to cut Weiss. Who would want to come here that's any better? And, aren't we still paying Gill, in addition to Weiss? I don't think we can financially afford to pay 3 coaches. Although I agree that we haven't seen any progress, firing Weiss won't fix that. My suggestion is that we keep Weiss as a figurehead, and give the reins to Reagan.

David Kemp 7 years, 1 month ago

We can't afford not to. The money from lost ticket sales, concessions and donations can make up the money very quickly, don't kid yourself.

Bradley Sitz 7 years, 1 month ago

First time I have been able to watch KU in person, since the 2007 KU-MU game@ Arrowhead. Heeney and the punter were the only players that seemed motivated. We can all see that Perkins destroyed this program. And, Weis is not the solution. A coach that could not navigate college recruiting and defenses with 4 and 5 star athletes @ ND, is not going to be successful working with 2/3 star and JUCO talent. The current QB is a tailback -totally clueless as a spread quarterback. With this limited talent, KU should go to the service academy formula of wishbone/option offense and use every sec of every playclock. Even if you go 3 and out, at least you will consume 4-5 minutes. Let your punter give you field position and pray for turnovers! Hopefully, KU will find a young defensive coordinator with established Texas connections. This product is painful to watch.

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