Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Work of (Coz)art: Kansas QB’s confidence soaring

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart has a laugh with quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus during practice on Monday, August 11, 2014 at the practice fields.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart has a laugh with quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus during practice on Monday, August 11, 2014 at the practice fields.



Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart has a laugh with quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus during practice on Monday, August 11, 2014 at the practice fields.

If Montell Cozart had been born just a couple of weeks later, someone else probably would be starting at quarterback for Kansas University’s football team this fall.

Monday was Cozart’s 19th birthday, and instead of preparing to enter college as an incoming freshman, the sophomore from Bishop Miege High was out at preseason camp prepping for his first full season as the Jayhawks’ starter.

Young in the face but wise where it counts, Cozart spent the past few months fine-tuning his game so he would be ready for showtime. He worked on his accuracy by widening his base. He developed his relationships with KU quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and first-year offensive coordinator John Reagan. And he pushed himself out of his comfort zone to force himself to become a better leader.

The area of the Montell makeover that registered the highest marks was confidence. Maybe that came because he was named the starter after a strong spring. Maybe it developed throughout the summer when the title of Big 12 starting quarterback first began to feel real. Or maybe it began to take shape the day after the spring game, when he read comments from senior Keon Stowers, a co-captain last season, who said a quarterback like Cozart was exactly what this team needed.

“That just showed me that these guys have confidence in me,” Cozart said of Stowers’ words. “For him to say that, even though he’s not supposed to, just showed me that these guys believe in me. I thank him for that. Every day I go out there I just lean on my teammates and their confidence in me and go from there.”

Cozart has been through something like this before. After playing defensive back as a sophomore at Miege, he jumped into the quarterback competition as a junior, won the job, started the next two seasons in a spread offense and had wild success. Different levels, different worlds, of course, but that experience is aiding Cozart today.

“I feel like it’s the same situation,” he said. “There, I competed with other QBs, and I kind of did the same thing. And now I feel I’m going to be tested early, and hopefully it works out the same way. I’ve been here before. I’m ready for it.”

Up 10 pounds from the end of last season, Cozart looks bigger and more sure of himself on the field. To this point, that has shown only in practice. But his teammates say Cozart is ready for the bright lights.

“Just his natural charisma and leadership, to have a guy like that leading your team is just exciting,” senior running back Taylor Cox said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, and he brings a lot of different dynamics that you can throw at a defense, so that’s also exciting.”

Added senior tight end Jimmay Mundine: “Despite how young he is, he’s determined not to let us older guys down.”

That’s a big part of the equation for Cozart, who said he occasionally watches tape of the way Todd Reesing played at Kansas. Last season, he sat back and said little, even while starting the final three games of the season.

“Just jitters,” he said. “Not comfortable. Not confident in the offense and not having confidence in myself. But I feel a lot more confident this year.”

Cozart’s confidence has reached such a high level that he had no problem laying out his goals. He didn’t talk numbers, touchdowns or even wins, though.

“I wanted to stay (close to home) and be one of those hometown heroes that you hear about and put Kansas back on the map,” he said. “Hopefully we’re going to do that this year. ... Those guys are counting on me, and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”


Len Shaffer 8 years ago

Does the fact that I have no interest in reading this article because I have no doubt it's the same hype that we see every year make me overly cynical or just realistic?

I'm glad that Cozarts' confidence is soaring, but let's see him play well in a few games, and then maybe OUR confidence will be soaring ...

Cameron Cederlind 8 years ago

"Cozart confidence soaring playing against KU"

Steve Corder 8 years ago

Will they write in 2015, "Can Cozart do it again?"

Micky Baker 8 years ago

If you have no interest in reading it, I wonder why you even type the url into your browser in the first place.

Mark Lindrud 8 years ago

Then don't type anything or just stop reading articles.

Doug Cramer 8 years ago

We got this article 3 years in a row. Crist, Heaps, and now Cozart. Players said the exact same thing about Crist and Heaps...especially Heaps. Meanwhile we have coaches talking about how this year is different, and players talking about how they would put this team up against anyone. S.M.H

Again I go back to Mangino's teams. They were so focused on completing tasks and small details in their performance, that they didn't talk about this type of non-sense. They could've cared less about what their record was going to be going into August. It was all about controlling what they could control, improving what they could improve, and letting the chips fall where they will.

This team has lacked discipline, focus, and completing small details that wins football games. The lack of these three items is what causes mistakes that beats ourselves on Saturdays. Listening to the interviews, reading the articles, and reading quotes from players and coaches, I'm doubting that this has changed any.

The Great Coach Mangino's approach to football was something he learned from Bill Snider I'm guessing. We need to get back to that.

Len Shaffer 8 years ago

If I had the time and energy, I'd go back to August of the Mangino years and I'm quite confident that I could find the exact same type of stuff. Writers have to have SOMETHING to write about in the offseason, and I seriously doubt that the writers are writing anything that different now or that the players are saying anything that different now.

Doug Cramer 8 years ago

Len - if writers have to write something...then how about writing something realistic?

Instead, we sit here and read how great these players are, which is what we heard last season. '

The only player that's had consistent success in a KU unie is Ben Heeney. That's it, and that's not a good situation to be in heading into mid August.

Mark Lindrud 8 years ago

Weis anorexic. Weis taking over play calling duties from Reagan. Quin Snyder hired as next KU coach. Turner Gill rehired as head coach of KU football.

Micky Baker 8 years ago

Why do you even come here any more? Is it some sort of vendetta you have against someone?

John Fitzgerald 8 years ago

Thank goodness you're not a journalist. You obviously have no idea how the media works. If you're that let down about KU football every season I don't think your issue can be solved by the kusports journalists, you need a therapist.

Lucas Town 8 years ago

This is the kind of stuff that worries me each year. These kids are reading this stuff, and all they see is their names in the media talking about how their confidence is soaring, players gaining weight and players saying they will put this team up against anyone.

Go find an article on K-State where their players are talking like this. Anything coming out of Manhattan is so boring and doesn't do much to get anyone excited about football over there. Because they talk about getting better every day, not worrying about stats, wins or opponents. It's the same recycled rhetoric every year. I compare media and think there is no way K-State beats KU this year, until the season starts.

If Charlie wants to figure out what K-State is doing and model turning a program around similar to what they did. The roster is a good place to start and he is doing his best here, maybe shutting out the media should be next. Why should our players have big heads just to be completely grounded on game day?

David Lara 7 years, 12 months ago

Players getting big heads due to reading their own words? What kind of idiot would you have to be to do something like that? If that is the case then they deserve to be grounded come game day. Because that is how they learn. Just like fans should learn that you can't get yourself so high on expectations that you become forlorn with disappointment in the end. Why? Because then you can't keep yourself from complaining about every positive article that gets printed the next summer. Get a grip people.

Lucas Town 7 years, 12 months ago

David - "Just like fans should learn that you can't get yourself so high on expectations that you become forlorn with disappointment in the end."

So your saying the last 4 or 5 years hasn't gone exactly as you've just described it. The over hype coming from the media. Call it what you want, positive articles = positive hype.

I am ready to see a successful football team this fall. I will be jumping around, pumped and shouting from my roof top about Jayhawk victories. But I will also remain cautiously optimistic until the end of the 4th quarter of every game. No doubt I will cheer and jeer along the way. I am just trying to be as level as I can be.

David Lara 7 years, 12 months ago

Do whatever you like but it has nothing to do with me or anyone else so why do you have to post negative in order to "balance" the positive? I take personal responsibility for what I choose to believe and my expectations, and everyone should do the same. I don't need any help tempering my expectations and anyone that does probably needs to be disappointed a little more in life so they learn how to cope. THAT is what I'm saying Lucas.

Jay Beakum 8 years ago

This article basically states that Cozart had the jitters last year and that this year with a little extra experience, a little extra weight, and the trust of his peers he feels much more confident.

Somehow you managed to get another Mangino reference out of that.


Greg Ledom 8 years ago

So for those of you who whine about the positive spin on KU athletics, what exactly is it you want? Nothing I've read so far suggests our players are any better than anyone elses. Nothing I've read suggests we'll win X amount of games. Nothing I've read suggests we'll get to a bowl game. And yet, I hope our players feel, act, and believe they are better than their peers, and will win enough games to get to a bowl. I would assume you would expect that our players are improving from year to year, which I think has been reported. If they are not, then why follow this program at all. The girl giggling, saliva drooling, and overall bro love responses about Mangino are comical. I thought he was a solid coach, but no better than Mason was. I know, Mangino took us and won a BCS bowl. That would be his sole edge over Mason. Like all of you, I can think for myself, and regardless of the positive spin, I realize that only what happens on the field will prove any of it out. That said, I'd rather feel positive and good about "progress" in some capacity being made, otherwise you should just detach. Momentum is what this team needs. Beating Duke would be a great start to creating some positive energy and momentum. You don't have to like the coach, but you can support your team regardless.

John Myers 8 years ago

"The girl giggling, saliva drooling, and overall bro love responses about Mangino are comical."

Agreed 150%. Great post.

Matt Tait 8 years ago

Couple of things for those of you who are skeptical about what's in these articles (and understandably so)...

  1. One big reason you never heard Mangino's teams talk about their confidence, talent, goals, hopes, etc., is because they weren't available. We got them one maybe two days during the entire month of August. Coach Weis gives us incredible access to these guys in August and we're darn sure going to use it to talk to them about how they're doing, how they feel and what they're hoping for this season.

  2. In order for us to constantly write something "realistic" about this team we'd have to run nothing but columns and leave out the comments from the players and most of the comments from the coaches. There's nothing wrong with players having optimism. Every player in every program in the country is talking this way right now. Instead of being mad at them for having their hopes high, perhaps the better way to go is to focus on how you absorb the information. Treat it like entertainment, not gospel.

  3. We're fully aware that many KU football fans are tired of reading the same positive reviews each August and I know I've worked my butt off to try to add at least a line or two in every story I write that qualifies these comments. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that things like "but that's only been shown in practice so far" or "but all that matters is if they produce on Saturdays," etc. pops up in nearly every article. That's really the only way we can handle it in August. And hundreds of other writers around the country are in the same boat.

I have no issue with your skepticism, your doubts and even your doomsday predictions that nothing is going to change. It might not. But it's our job to go out to camp and report back about the mood, the progress, the vibe and the thoughts and comments of the team. That's all we're doing. And we're doing our best to make sure we give you more content than any other outlet out there.

Thanks for continuing to check out our coverage and enjoy the rest of the month as we count down to Sept. 6. Win, lose or draw, I think it's going to be one of the more fun seasons we've seen in a while. Time will tell.

John Myers 8 years ago

I was hoping you would reply in this thread, Matt. I, for one, will never tire of the optimism and hope. I think most of us are able to temper that in our minds and be realistic while still hoping for the big strides and progress.

Thank you so much for all the coverage you guys provide on our Jayhawks day in and day out!

Chandler Accipiter 8 years ago

Awesome response! This should be the lead story on the site: "Tait's Guide To Reading KU Football Coverage In August."

John Fitzgerald 8 years ago

Hey Tait, I'm going to be starting back at Ku in the Spring and will be applying to the school of Journalism after my first semester back. Any advice or is there anyway I can shadow you to be sure journalism is the route I want to go and so I fully understand what the job entails? Or at least if you have any sources to check into that would help as well. My email is .. Thanks man! Btw great coverage on Ku sports ignore the Debbie Downers.

Micky Baker 8 years ago

This is an excellent response Matt. You explained why, but I'm kind of thinking it's going to fall on deaf ears for some. I'm really wondering why they even come here to read anything if they're that disillusioned by what they read here.

Len Shaffer 8 years ago

Excellent response, Matt. By my original comment on this thread, I in no way meant disrespect to you or the many other excellent journalists on this site.

I've been a huge KU fan of all sports for over 40 years, and will continue to be so; I'm just trying not to get my hopes up too much, as I've been burned so many times before.

Thanks again for all you do to keep us informed.

Micky Baker 7 years, 12 months ago

I'm sort of thinking that maybe we've been burned quite a few more times with the high expectations of KU Basketball than we have in football.

Aaron Paisley 8 years ago

Doug, the type of articles you want to read about KU are out there. They're the articles written by the national media about KU football.

I assume you have a job Doug, so tell me what would happen if you ticked off the people who make it possible to do your job effectively and what would happen if you get the reputation as a person nobody wants to deal with?

The reason the national media can write articles bashing Weis is because they don't deal with him on a daily basis like the LJW writers do. Remember the UDK picture and article last season in advance of the KSU game the put KU in a bad light? Those writers and publishers learned a very valuable lesson in journalism that you don't unjustifiably portray the subject you cover in a negative light. By unjustifiably, I don't mean the on field performance because that is always fair game, but I mean how does your subject you cover treat you, are they respectful of you, do they allow you necessary access to do your job, and stuff like that.

Bob Bailey 8 years ago

Offense needs to improve. But the real questions are --

Can Cozart lead the receiver (throw in front of him) properly?

Can he drop the ball in the receivers hands ine 1941?aak a group of Defenders?

Can he throw in 1.9 sec or less?

Can he successsfully avoid tacklers (a la 5 Braxton OhSU)?

Can the Defense tackle a la Schaake ca 1941?

Are our DB fast enough and tall enough to actually cover enemy receivers?

Does ANY coach understand the techniques and importance of Special Teams?

Our writer is good. If you can, cover these subjects. If you don't understand Defense, you can have my 6 pg writeup of Schaake;s Rules with referrals to TV proofs.

John Fitzgerald 8 years ago

My only suggestion to those still having separation issues from Mangino:

Go be an Iowa St fan.

As for being tired of the optimism, what else do you expect? If these guys weren't excited and optimistic what would you be saying then? Take it all in and just be glad Weis is trying to make improvements. RCJH!

Lance Cheney 8 years ago

This is what I've been saying. They b!tch about the players and coaches having confidence and being optimistic, because apparently only winning teams are allowed to be confident. 2-10 and 3-9 teams must sulk around like abused puppies. But then, if (for whatever reason, this will never happen) they were to tell the media, "Yeah, we're gonna suck again this year, might only win 1 game if we're lucky," these people would be all over them! "Well, how are these guys supposed to win on the field if this is the attitude they have?!" They're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't. KU fans (some, not all), are the biggest babies and a-holes to their own players sometimes.

Mark Lindrud 8 years ago

I honestly am not sure what the doubters want. Every year new hope springs eternal and that will happen with every team in every sport because you want to believe you can either be better than you were or stay successful. In our case, we want to be better so we get articles about the team trying to do maintain success.

Nowhere in the articles are they saying we are going 10-2 and this is the year we could be a national title contender so come out and support the soon to be Men's Football National Champs! They are giving you what is going on with the team, and how it is trying to be better so that hopefully we are talking about this team in the near future about being a consistent bowl team. The articles typically focus on the areas of concern such as the quarterbacks, wide receivers etc so that we can see what the team is doing to improve on our weaknesses.

Will it work in the end? I know as much as you do, but when Saturdays come I am turning on my team and going to hope for the best. Are we going to lose more than we win this year? That is a good possibility, and I like most of us understand that, but then again there is always that hopeful feeling of what if? That is what will drive me to hope, root and cheer this season that what if things go our way when normally they may not. We all are fans and like it or not, this is our team. Rock Chalk my fellow fans.

Jim Stauffer 8 years ago

Hey Cramer. Everyone has a right to be skeptical or a sunshine pumper. There is no law against it. But your lies about Mangino will not go unchallenged on here. He is the same coach who had numerous losing seasons and ruined his career because he failed to capitalize on the greatest season in the history of the school.

Yes, he coached one of our best teams ever. Then he ran the whole program he supposedly had built into the ground. He is an ISU coach. Go up there and kiss his feet. Don't try it here.

Jim Jackson 8 years ago

LOL I honestly can't believe Doug has the audacity to post daily comments about Mark Mangino. It is really weird.

David Lara 7 years, 12 months ago

A-effing-men! It amazes me the blinders put on for the mierable failure that Mangino brought the team to after a 12 win season. People would rather have warm fuzzy, selective memories they can suck their thumbs to than to recall anything resembling reality.

John Fitzgerald 8 years ago

The only logical explanation is that Doug Cramer IS Mark Mangino...

Curtis Stutz 7 years, 12 months ago

Come on, Weis will have a QB with some wheels, a little experience under his belt, what's not to like? I just hope he has his coming out party against Duke.

Randy Bombardier 7 years, 12 months ago

Agree with Curtis. Also I'm optimistic as either we get 6 wins or its Weiss last season. I'm good either way.

Bob Bailey 7 years, 12 months ago

Mangino's biggest problem may have been injury to Reese. Reese never said anything, but it might be playing Reese all year with no chance to recover. That would be unforgiveable.

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