Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teammates sing QB Jake Heaps’ praises

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps gives KU running back/receiver Tony Pierson a pat on his helmet after Pierson scored the first touchdown on Saturday, April 13, 2013 during the KU football spring game. The Blue team defeated the White team, 34-7.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps gives KU running back/receiver Tony Pierson a pat on his helmet after Pierson scored the first touchdown on Saturday, April 13, 2013 during the KU football spring game. The Blue team defeated the White team, 34-7.



Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps throws a pass during a spring practice on Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at Memorial Stadium.

Some of the most frequently asked questions of Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis this offseason centered on his quarterback, Jake Heaps, the junior transfer from BYU who sat out the 2012 season and will start his first game for the Jayhawks nine days from today.

People asked, How has Heaps looked? What kind of leader is he? What are his strengths? What are his weaknesses?

All are valid questions, especially in the wake of last season’s Dayne Crist experiment. But, as was the case with Crist, another former transfer who came to town with a five-star pedigree, Weis’ answers about Heaps often come with a bias.

“I am, obviously, very high on Jake,” Weis said this offseason. “I think Jake is ready to go. I think he’s champing at the bit.”

The mere fact that Weis can acknowledge his fondness for Heaps — something he has for many of his players, past and present — is an indication that even he does not know, definitively, what kind of season Heaps will have. So rather than stand in front of the media or his players and talk about all of the things Heaps can do, Weis encouraged people to check with Heaps’ teammates about all the things he has done since the 2012 season ended and the spotlight for the 2013 season landed squarely on the No. 9 jersey.

His teammates were more than willing to participate.

“Jake’s a great person. Let’s start there,” said junior wide receiver Justin McCay, who, like Heaps, sat out in 2012 and got to know his new quarterback well. “He’s a great person, and he’s a great quarterback, too. I like Jake a lot.”

Asked to explain which of Heaps’ many traits he liked most, McCay pointed to the junior quarterback’s intensity.

“He has that fire in him that you don’t expect,” McCay said. “He’ll get onto you, and he’ll say, ‘Let’s go, let’s do this or do that,’ and you don’t expect it. He looks like a little, laid-back guy, but he’s got a motor.”

Of course, McCay said it was more than just Heaps’ intangibles that lead him to believe he’s in for a big season.

“His arm,” McCay began when asked about Heaps as a thrower. “He’s like 99.99 percent accurate. He puts it on the money every time. If it’s not on the money ... well, it’s always gonna be on the money, so there is no if. He throws a great ball.”

Others who share the huddle with Heaps said his leadership skills set KU’s new quarterback apart.

“I just look at Jake like one word — motivating,” junior tailback Tony Pierson said. “Day in and day out, he’s talkative. He backs it up with his play, and he works hard.”

Added junior tight end Jimmay Mundine, who stood beside Heaps in a leadership role this offseason: “He’s gonna be here first, he’s gonna leave last. He’s gonna work hard. He hates losing. He has everything you want in a quarterback.

“Since I’ve been here, we haven’t had a leader like Jake. We haven’t had a guy whose confidence is that high. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what everybody else is supposed to be doing. He has confidence that he’s gonna get his job done. If you don’t get your job done, he’s gonna let you know, but it’s gonna motivate you to get better. He just makes you better as a player. He really is a good teammate.”

Prodded for examples of ways in which Heaps has motivated his teammates, Pierson offered an unlikely exchange.

“He calls me slow all the time,” said Pierson, whom Weis recently said runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.3-second range. “He knows that’s gonna push my buttons. He’s got it down pat.”

Heaps has not taken on this role to endear himself to his teammates. Sure, that’s an added bonus of the extra effort, but the main goal is winning.

“I think (football) is the ultimate team game,” Heaps said. “You look at different sports, and there are certain guys that can dominate a game, but with football, you really have to have everybody together. If you talk about any winning program, it doesn’t matter if you’re the star player or the last guy on the depth chart, everybody has to have the same mentality and attitude.”

With Heaps leading the way, sometimes that means competing, even where there’s no competition to be had.

“He’s definitely a competitive guy, whether it’s video games, a shoe-tying contest, whatever,” senior running back Taylor Cox said. “Everything the coaches ask him to be, he’s been that and more.”


Cole Hogan 9 years, 1 month ago

Please don't let me down jake! I'm hoping for 4 wins! That's all that I need to be happy this year!

manginodrh00lz 9 years, 1 month ago

That's what you need to fill satisfied? I believe you have too much time on your hands.

milehighhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Better than spending the day trying to come up with a snappy interwebz comment to "fill satisfied"

BringBackMark 9 years, 1 month ago

C'mon, we should've won at least 5 last year had we not melted down at the end. Better Quarterback play, more experience, and being the second year of a program should equate to significant improvement.

Here's something else to consider. Picture our last game of the season if we're not at least in the hunt for a bowl game. Saturday after Thanksgiving. Students home on break. Basketball is already in full swing (but no home game that weekend). How many Crimson & Blue vs Lavender fans will there be in the stadium?

Don't know if you've ever set through one of those but its pretty humiliating. KU fans are notorious for selling their tickets to a rival school for pennies. No, we need at least 5 wins going into that last game or it will be a physical and mental bludgeoning to the team and the status of the program.

Andy Godwin 9 years, 1 month ago

The Vegas line is 3 1/2 wins. So 4 wins in the eye of the experts would be a good season. The Rice game will indicate if KU will cover the over. If KU wins their three pre-conference games they should break their winless streak in the Big XII. If not, the enthusiasm of the fan base might wane, yet again. As a lifelong supporter of KU football, one can only hope the hype this year is realized.

okiedave 9 years, 1 month ago

I will be satisfied with a 6 wins and a bowl bid. We do not even have to win the bowl game to make it a successful football season in my book.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 1 month ago

Competitive shoe tying!

Not exactly made for TV, but I like it.

9 days!

Nick Brungardt 9 years, 1 month ago

I can't wait for the season to start. Cheers to shocking the Big 12! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

hotrodm 9 years, 1 month ago

It's time to win some Big 12 games. What a horrible 3 years of KU football we have witnessed. Get out and support this team, attend the home games and stay until the final snap. These guys have practiced hard and deserve our support. Go Jayhawks.

kellerman411 9 years, 1 month ago

Here is the deal. Jake Heaps and Dayne Crist have a lot alike as far as what type of quarterback they are. Neither one is a good fit for an offense with a still developing offensive line. Look what our offensive line did last year. It made an NFL caliber quarterback into the worst college quarterback of the year. Say what you want about Crist but the Ravens wouldn't have signed him if he didn't show them he could play.

This doesn't mean the result will be the same. It means that Jake will have to be able to fearlessly move within the pocket to buy time in a way that Crist was unable to. Todd Reesing was the king, the kid was almost unsackable.

Honestly, in the spring game, I really didn't see much of this. He had a quick lateral step to the left or right which is nice but when it came time to tuck it and get out of dodge to a place that he could actually make a throw, he looked clumsy and slow.

My point is that this team goes as the offensive line goes and Jake Heaps is much closer to Dayne Crist than he is to Todd Reesing.

Robert Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

If your assessment is true-accurate...oh boy !

jhox 9 years, 1 month ago

Our receivers didn't get separation consistently last year, and our line couldn't pass block, so it wasn't all on Crist. However, when guys were wide open, the ball was seldom close. I don't expect that from Heaps.

Also, Weis had no confidence in our passing game so we never tried to pass except on obvious passing downs. If he has enough confidence in Heaps to throw the ball around 50% of the time on first down, the entire offense will benefit including the running game. It's much harder to pass when the defense knows that's what's coming.

eastcoasthawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Understand what you are saying kellerman but there were too many times I would see the pocket collapsing last year and yelling at the screen for Crist to dump the ball out of bounds. If Jake understands how and when to do this it will save several hundred yards of losses.

Xen 9 years, 1 month ago

We do have that dual threat quarterback in the making from everything that has been said about Montell Cozart, and how impressive he has been to this point. I do think there is a chance that they would bring Montell Cozart in over Cummings. And the one thing KU fans can be proud of this year is the quality of kids that will be representing the school on the field. All of the kids have heart, and many have had to overcome numerous obstacles to get to this point. They are hungry and will compete to the end of the game.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Totally agree with you and was a question I posed to Matt for yesterday's chat session, but did not get a response. You are spot on. I believe our season pivots on whether or not this line can give the QB time to throw the dang ball. We can't expect our QBs to perform magic inside and outside the pocket like Reesing did. Football games are won on being able to run the ball successfully and being able to convert on third down in passing situations when you know the rush is coming. Oh wait, you have to play defense too.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 1 month ago

Totally disagree. Reesing wasn't so successful because of the oline. Hogwash. If we got the ball off as fast as 80% of the passes thrown by Baylor, OU, WVU, and TTech there is no time for a sack. In other words during Reesings years we played the spread like everybody else. You were passing most of the time so the Defense pretty much knew what to do every play. With this offensive scheme that is not so. There is less predictability with our system and I think with our backs the dline knows that door swings both ways and they will be a little tentative with a team that is not one-dimensional. Even then say we have a bad day and give up four sacks. Meanwhile Heaps tosses it 35 times, we run it 35 times. Let's say his completion percentage is 65%. That means he will have completed 23 passes which is going to exceed 250 yards of passing most likely. And thats a bad day. Combine that with 250 yards of rushing and we have a pretty good day. No, what will make this team is Jake keeping cool under duress and good routes by our receivers so that they are on the same page. Finally how the heck can you say he is closer to Crist than Reesing. Give the guy a chance. Give this team a chance. The line is important, yeah, but they are not the key. Heaps is the key.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Um...we're saying the Oline wasn't good for Reesing. He was able to do what he did because of the skillset he had to evade the rush. He had that "sense" when he was being pursued.

Mike Barnhart 9 years, 1 month ago

What the...! Blaming the line for last years putrid passing attack is absurd! Start with these issues instead: misguided pro-style offense, gun shy QB, slow footed receivers and an above average running game.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

I agree with all until the last one. We had a good running game. Teams knew that was all they had to stop and struggled. Our O line was geared for the run game (turner gills fault) and honestly it was pretty good.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 1 month ago

College football starts tonight! KUs shot a redemption starts in 9 days. Go Jake! Go Jayhawks!

Robert Brown 9 years, 1 month ago

Something tells me if I looked hard enough, I could find a similar article a year ago about Dayne Crist. I do agree with Kellerman about the need for more of a dual threat QB. Neither Crist or Heaps appear to have those skills which means they need a strong offensive line.

While Weis's background is offense, the college game is different than the pro game. There are at least 4-5 coaches in the Big 12 who run more creative and innovative offenses than Weis, who was not successful as offensive coordinator at Florida.

I hope I am wrong. Vegas has the over / under at 3.5. While I think the Rice game will be tough, KU should win the three non conference games and I would think the conference streak will end at sometime this year. So 4 wins seems about right.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

You probably could ,but couple differences that will play a major role.

  1. Another year in the system
  2. Jakes knees are good and healthy
  3. Better wideouts. We love to blame Dayne, who wasn't very good. But there is no doubt in my mind that we had the worst core of wideouts in the nation. They could not get open to save their lives. Justin will help a lot with that along with the placement of Tony.

cozzhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

It sure would be nice to hear something about Taylor Cox. How was his camp? Is he going to see the field much his senior season? Anybody heard anything about Taylor Cox? As far as I could see from last year he is a solid RB. I would hate to see his talents go to waste.

63Jayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Does anyone else think that the throwing arm in the photo looks like it doesn't belong to Heaps?

Tony Bandle 9 years, 1 month ago

The arm is in the shadow of one of the practice towers...but, yes, it does look photo-shopped!!

Doug Cramer 9 years, 1 month ago

Crist's issues are similar to the little leaguer that faces a 35 mph fastball his first time up. Crist had no business being a starting QB. The fact that Heaps has enough guts to compete will be an improvement. Crist didn't even have that. Our problems will come on defense this year...much like years in the past...we will struggle to pressure QBs. Until this gets fixed...we will continue to have dissapointing seasons. I'll be shocked if we do better than 3-9.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 1 month ago

Any guesses on the over/under before someone on staff writes "Top of the Heaps" in an article? :)

David Leathers 9 years, 1 month ago

Or if there is a lot of improvement I could see a title such as "Heaps and Bounds".

Robert Brown 9 years, 1 month ago

Recalling Maslow's hierarchy of needs from Western Civilization class, I was disappointed that no one used "Self- Actualization" when we won the national championship.

kellerman411 9 years, 1 month ago

lol you just gave Keegan his next article title

jaymar74 9 years, 1 month ago

Key to season will be quick, short and accurate passes to compliment the running game. We do not need long developing deep pass plays. Accuracy is the key. Our offensive line will be OK for this.

nuleafjhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

Let me add kickoffs, punting and field goals to the Keys to the season list.

gorilla10 9 years, 1 month ago


nuleafjhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

As long as we're aiming high, how about 2007?

Micky Baker 9 years, 1 month ago

By the comments that are made here, you'll know which fans will stay to the end and which ones are just looking for a bandwagon.

Carolyn Troupe 9 years, 1 month ago

My comment about last year's o-line: I thought it was improved. I thought Crist had more protection and time than the previous couple of yars. Crist just couldn't hit the receivers and they couldn't get open for very long.

Jim Stauffer 9 years, 1 month ago

As far as the O-Line being the key, no truer words were ever spoken. Look at the O-Line recruiting since Weis has been here. 'Nuff said. Now if Jake can be as accurate as McCay thinks he is when live action starts, we will be gold. Of course that depends partly on the O-Line and partly on Jake. We shall see shortly.

cozzhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

If HCCW could not do squat at ND how is he going to turn this program around? Just sayin.

kufanman88 9 years, 1 month ago

Seeing what Rice is doing to TXA&M right now, I would say we are in for a potential 1-11 season. We have a very tough schedule. Rice and LA Tech will be no push overs.

DoubleDD 9 years, 1 month ago

I don't know why but I think something special is going to happen this year for KU Football. Looking back on last year and not paying attention to the hosts on 810am who think KU sucks in football and are just one step a way from sucking in basketball. You'll find KU was in some games. No they didn't win but they were in some games, and that was without a passing or kicking game. Maybe I'm just being optimistic here being a Jayhawk homer and everything but I really do think KU football is going to surprise us this year. KU's offense line is going to be very big this year with the new recruits and the defense didn't play bad last year with a few exceptions. Don't see why with new recruits it won't be even better. So if Heaps can throw around the football a little, there is no reason why this team couldn't win 6 or 7 games and even beat Kstate.

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