Cozart interception provides important look at QB's make up
Saturday, in his first start of his junior season, quarterback Montell Cozart threw an interception early in the game that looked about as bad as an interception can look.
As he dropped back and looked left, Cozart did not even seem to hesitate and fired the ball right to South Dakota State defender Dallas Brown, who caught it and raced 53 yards to set up another SDSU score.
As these things go, the general perception was that it was a horrible throw by Cozart.
But a further look at the play reveals that it might not have been. Perhaps more importantly, a further look at the situation during the postgame press conferences reveals that Cozart may truly have morphed into that leader we've all heard he has become.
Here's a look.
Presented below are Cozart's words about the interception following the game:
"It was a screen play, an inside zone play with a screen out there and we were trying to go so fast. We had 'em. We had 'em. The nickel was lined up all the way in the boundary and he was running over to the trips (side with 3 receivers) and our receivers, when they see someone like that, they don't account for him in their blocking and so the guy just ran right over and ran in front of the screen, but that's on me. I've gotta see right through him and throw the ball out of bounds or just hand the ball off.”
Monday, on the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference, first-year KU coach David Beaty offered a different view:
“He obviously had a couple of key errors in the game that we'd love to have back," Beaty said of his junior QB. "But the thing of it is, it's never one guy's fault. Boy, it sure looks like it is on the surface but the guy that caught that interception, he was supposed to have been blocked and we missed him. It looks like it's Montell's fault but ball security is not just a quarterback and a skill player's job. It's the offensive line's job, it's the center's job, everybody has a role in it. And when we don't execute correctly, things can go awry.”
It's just one play. And even though it turned out to be a pretty big one, both in terms of the momentum of the game and in the final score, the most important part of the interception and the lessons learned from it might have been the leadership and accountability that Cozart showed when asked about it.
It would've been very easy for him to explain the breakdown and, even without throwing any of his teammates under the bus, pass the blame onto someone else. But he didn't. Instead, he owned up to his part in it and even went as far as to imply that he should've been good enough to overcome the mistake and adjust into a better decision.
He wasn't, the ball was intercepted and Kansas lost the game.
But you can bet that Cozart won some serious points with his receivers and coaches for the way he handled it like a true leader when asked about it.
That might not get you points or win you games, but it can go a long way toward helping turn a program around.