Monday, October 20, 2014

Cummings-King connection pays off for KU football

Michael Cummings, left, and Nigel King

Michael Cummings, left, and Nigel King


The developing relationship between junior quarterback Michael Cummings and junior wide receiver Nigel King is one of the most intriguing aspects of the slowly improving Kansas University offense.

Cummings, a fourth-year junior who made his second start of the season — and the seventh of his KU career — in Saturday’s 34-21 loss at Texas Tech, finished 20-of-32 passing for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Only two of those 20 completions landed in the hands of King, who finished with 51 receiving yards, including a long grab of 35 yards. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that, in their short time working together, Cummings has found something he likes in the Maryland transfer who joined the Jayhawks (2-5 overall, 0-4 Big 12) late last summer.

“He’s one of those guys that you can trust with the ball in the air,” Cummings said of King, who seems to be emerging as a favorite deep threat. “Either he’s going to come down with it, or nobody’s going to come down with it.”

Although the two only connected on one deep shot against the Red Raiders, Cummings continually tried to push the ball down the field to King, sometimes even throwing into double coverage in an attempt to give King a chance to make a play.

“We have a good connection,” King said. “If we call a deep pass, I know there’s a good chance it might be coming to me. I run every route to win, and we’ve built that relationship by making plays in practice every day.”

King enters KU’s second and final bye week of 2014 as the team’s fourth-leading receiver — 215 yards on 14 catches — and his 15.4 yards-per-reception is tops on the team.

“We passed up a lot of opportunities to close the game,” King said of the offense’s output against Texas Tech. “Once we get over that stride, we’ll be pretty good. But it’s gotta come fast. The season’s coming to an end. We gotta take our strides and keep on going, but make it quick.”

Cummings said that business-like approach was the norm for the 6-foot-3, 210-pound King, who came to KU with 24 Div. I appearances, 575 yards and five career touchdowns already on his stat sheet.

“He has that type of mentality,” Cummings said. “As a quarterback, it makes it easier to throw to him.”

King has a plan for how he thinks KU’s off week should go and said he looked forward to the team being able to regroup and catch its breath after being asked to change both starting quarterbacks and head coaches on the fly during the past few weeks.

“I definitely feel that it’s good timing,” King said. “We’ll be able to work on small things like timing with the quarterback and things like that.”

It sounds an awful lot like the team’s newest receiver and new head coach are on the same page.

“(The bye) allows us to do a lot of things that I think are important for this team,” interim head coach Clint Bowen said. “We need to focus on improvement in all areas — offense, defense, special teams, everything. It will be a good fundamental improvement week.”


Aaron Paisley 8 years, 1 month ago

King is going to be huge next year for KU. He's going to be the only WR coming back with significant experience and he has shown a consistent ability to get behind secondaries and that is huge for the offense going forward.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month ago

Definitely agree on King becoming a leader, especially heading into next season. We've got a bunch of youngins from last year, though all (?) are in that under 6' category. There is currently one 4 WR, but again in the under 6' category, with only one 2 over 6' (6-1). It would be so nice to get one more big WR. (DaMarkus Lodge, 6'2'', 185, #9 WR, Cedar Hill High School, TX)

Will still be nice to see Cummings and King continue to grow the connection.

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 1 month ago

I think Cummings can be successful for us, he just needs an offensive line. Having said that, we need to start recruiting OLine and DLine ASAP, and not stop until we have at least 3 to 4 legit options at each position. Next year looks scary. If we plan to improve from this year we need to find talent, and find it now. We're losing a lot of key players and it doesn't look like we have guys in place to replace them. That's another reason I think this just won't be the right time for Bowen to take over. He has the leadership and attitude down, but recruiting is a whole different ball game. I hope the best for him, but we need talent, and unfortunately actions speak louder than words when talking to talented young kids. You can say the right things, but has your program done the right things? Unfortunately KU hasn't done the right things with it's football program for a long time.

Lucas Town 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree with everything you have stated here. If KU goes with Bowen and gives him the HC title and with losing all the players we are set to lose to graduation. I am afraid fans will not see this for what it truly is and chalk it up to bad coaching, being at a school you can't win at consistently and this simply wouldn't be the case. The timing could be all wrong for Bowen. I too wish him the best and the KU football program. But if KU goes with Bowen he needs 5 years minimum to get his plan in place.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 1 month ago

Any coach needs 5 years at Kansas to build adequate depth. Some positions can be done quicker, but in the trenches, it takes a full recruiting cycle (4-5 years) to build the depth and that's if things go well.

This is where relying on the JuCo linemen is going to kill KU next year because you can't build depth that way at those positions. JuCo linemen need to be guys who fill in the gaps on the depth chart from players leaving the program, but depending on JuCo linemen a such as Weis did killed him and KU. There's just not the time to develop the bodies or build the continuity in 2 years. The Kansas lines have some talent, but because there's always multiple new pieces being worked in, the continuity just isn't there and we see what the result of that has been.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 1 month ago

"JuCo linemen need to be guys who fill in the gaps on the depth chart from players leaving the program"

This is exactly what Weis did. His challenge was the gaps were more like massive holes from both the previous coaching change and his own 29 player cleansing. It needed to be done, but he had no idea of the ramifications associated with it. Unfortunately, it seems that he also didn't realize the difference between being successful collegiately and at the pro level. Different players. Different processes. Different relationships. ...

Lloyd Kinnison 8 years, 1 month ago

Sitting on the 50 yard line (TT side) and watching, one factor became very apparent. KU line was not as fast as TT on either side of the ball. The TT players were faster, not bigger. Bowen must condition these young men to be faster. After the play, KU men were standing and the TT players had tackled the runner/receiver/quarterback. KU must players must be faster to compete! Lloyd Kinnison

Commenting has been disabled for this item.