Thursday, October 30, 2014


Column: QB change smart for KU

Kansas backup quarterback Michael Cummings throws to a target against West Virginia during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas backup quarterback Michael Cummings throws to a target against West Virginia during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.


Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart stand so much taller, and Cozart runs so much faster than current Kansas University quarterback Michael Cummings.

Yet Cummings, a Turner Gill recruit, moves the offense better than those three Charlie Weis recruits did. For insight as to why that is, consider that Cummings said his mind “is going a million miles a second when I’m out there on the field.”

Notice Cummings didn’t say it’s going in a million different directions. Big difference. Cummings makes quicker decisions than his three predecessors because he processes information faster. He’s a smarter quarterback than the three to whom the position was entrusted before KU interim coach Clint Bowen turned it over to Cummings at halftime of the West Virginia game.

Cummings quickly rattled off everything he looks for at the line of scrimmage, from the positioning of the defensive linemen, the linebackers, the safeties and the cornerbacks.

“The pre-snap is very important to the post-snap process,” Cummings said. “And I think that comes from watching film and knowing tendencies of the defense. What they’re showing you equates to what they’re going to do, and that dictates what you do in return. And it’s different every play.”

Cummings has made seven career starts and has yet to win one. We’ll never know how many he could have won if Weis had not brought in transfers Crist and Heaps and handed them the job without making them compete for it. We’ll never know where Cummings could have been in his development curve. It’s only natural to think about that, but the 5-foot-10, 210-pound fourth-year junior from Killeen, Texas, said he doesn’t waste time doing that.

“I wish it would have been that way, and it wasn’t, but, I mean, everything happens for a reason,” Cummings said. “It made me dig deeper within myself to stay focused and stay on track and stay positive. I think I’m a better player and a better person for it.”

He’s a better quarterback than he was two years ago, when he had a better offensive line protecting him than he does now. As a red-shirt freshman, Cummings completed 45.7 percent of his passes and averaged 4.85 yards per attempt. This season, his completion percentage is 55.7 with 6.75 yards per attempt.

“Kind of like everything, the more you rep it, the more you do it, the better you get,” Bowen said of Cummings’ steady improvement. “He’s proven that he’s a competitive guy. He’s been through some ups and downs in the program and just kept going and going and going. So he’s a tough, mentally tough, guy. He’s into it.”

KU still has as difficult a time scoring as any team in the Big 12, but the offense has become more productive.

In the three halves Cozart started against Big 12 competition, the score was Opponents 49, Kansas 0. In five halves with Cummings as trigger man, the score has been Opponents 68, Kansas 55.


Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

Crist and Heaps were more decisive than Cozart, by they both often made the wrong choices. They would lock onto the deep routes often and didn't have the mobility to move around the pocket to give an extra second for the deep receiver to get a step. Then when they did throw it, they often under threw it, or threw it way over the heads of the receiver. Our receivers did have the dropsies quite often, but even then, Heaps and Crist just weren't the right guys. Cozart wasn't the right guy either, but for different reasons. He has the right athletic ability but he was afraid to make decisions and did not have confidence in his arm to throw the ball into tight spaces. He also did not have confidence to run the ball when he had 15 or 20 yards of green in front of him with the defense's backs turned away from him. He would run out of bounds 7 yards short of the first down marker on third down when he could have gotten at least 4 or 5 more yards and with a good move, maybe even the first down.

Cummings is much better at making decisions and he is confident in his arm. He has thrown passes to receivers who were in one on one coverage often because he was able to read the defense. He also throws the screen passes much better than Cozart did and has a little more patience when he does run the ball to wait for a blocker to spring him for an extra 3 or 4 yards. Cummings is also able to run closer to the ground and has a lower center of gravity which makes him a little harder to bring down.

It is regrettable that he wasn't allowed to grow into the position as starter for the latter half of 2012, all last season, and all of this season in retrospect. He could be pretty good right now, at least top half among QBs in the Big 12.

There is one other limiting factor that he can't control this year. It is a new offensive scheme. He has grasped it better than Cozart did. We don't really have any other experienced options for next season either. Cummings is likely going to be the guy, and he's proven that he should have been the guy this whole season for sure.

Ashwin Rao 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't believe that Cummings is "it"... But we don't have a choice either. We need to allow him to start the rest of the season and next, while we bring a QB with a good potential next year to get used to the college environment. The new guy can start after Cummings is gone.

Chuck Woodling 7 years, 11 months ago

Tom, I feel for you. I know how hard it is to keep flogging a dead horse.

Joe Ross 7 years, 11 months ago

Nice back-handed insult wrapped in the plausibly deniable guise of genuine empathy, Chuck. Grandstander...

Marc Anthony 7 years, 11 months ago

If Keegan could write these "column articles" with some intelligence, it would be astounding; darn near impressive.


Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

I think the KU offense will be better next year. We're going to start seeing some of the HS linemen play, Bourbon and Cox will be back to add much needed depth at the RB spot, Nigel King is a legit deep threat, Ben Johnson has been solid this year and will get better with another year of development, Kent Taylor sounds like he could be a match up nightmare for defenses.

Just so I'm clear, I'm not saying that KU will suddenly be an elite offensive juggernaut next year, just that they should be better even with some of the losses and they should be able to play some up tempo next year as well.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

I hope so. I don't like the idea of coming up to the line, and then sitting there for 15 to 20 seconds to let the defense read it. Call a play, if you got what you want, snap the ball quick so the defense can't get set. Instead, we call a play, wait for the defense to set, then change it, and wait some more for the defense to adjust to us.

It's not just that, but we also have another 4 star WR coming in next year and Josh Moore who is a big tight end who will be able to block and catch. Maybe when we have four running backs to go with, we will be able to put 2 or 3 of them in the backfield at a time and provide some real options in the stretch play, like a check to a counter play if the defense is over loaded on one side and get Cox or Avery out there in space. We should have plenty of depth at Tight End and I think Kent Taylor needs to start seeing the field this season to get some experience. He's going to be needed, but they're going to have to tell him that he's going to have to be a blocker at times if we are able to run an uptempo offense when the play changes at the line of scrimmage.

I watched some video of Ryan Willis last night. He has really good touch and can lay it right over the top on the corner routes and also fire it in there on the slants. He throws it so defenders(in high school, not college) can't even come close to getting a break up on the corner routes. He is also quite mobile and can run well enough to escape a collapsing pocket. He can change directions pretty well too. Though, he's doing this in high school, but Bishop Miege doesn't play light competition in high school playing schools from Blue Valley and Olathe. He is nearly double the next closest guys in passing yards in Kansas this season.

There are some good players in Kansas, but it's not like what is available in Texas and Oklahoma yet. We are going to need to get those kids from Kansas who have their hearts in Kansas.

Take a look at this kid. He is just a junior this year and is rated 3 stars by rivals as a linebacker, but he is deceptively fast. Hudl has him at 4.5 in the 40, but he looks faster than that when he turns on the jets.

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 11 months ago

Kent is a transfer from Florida he can not play until next year so this transfer year will help him build up and get ready. Also we can not rely on Bourbon and Cox to be back because they are already 5th years and both have used Medical RS and I think Bourbon used a regular RS too. Also Taylor Martin on of our recruits looks promising he has a quick step and packs a little punch. We are in the running for Tyreik Gray (we are in top 5) here is his hudl from last year.

I would like to see a couple more WR, DBs, OL and DL/DE in this class. We do have a Olobia (6-5, 250) RS because of injury this year. He was suppose to be a stud recruited by Auburn, TTech, Arizona.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

Bourbon and Cox are both eligible to come back next year.

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 11 months ago

That doesn't mean they will.. They both graduated so they could transfer and not sit out. Depending what comes in this next year RB wise they may not come back. I would like to see Bourbon come back

Chris Bailey 7 years, 11 months ago

I don't see either kid transferring. Most of the time when a kid transfers it's because he has had issues with the staff or the team. I don't see that with Bourbon or Cox. Both are great team guys and both lover KU. If they play it'll be at Kansas! Rock Chalk!

Dirk Medema 7 years, 11 months ago

Aaron seemed to be correcting the error in your statement: "Bourbon and Cox to be back because they are already 5th years and both have used Medical RS".

Brandon (HS class of '10) bio can be seen at:

Cox (HS class of '10) bio can be seen at

For both, this is the 5th, and next is their medical RS 6th year.

It's discussed more in:

John Randall 7 years, 11 months ago

"""... a couple more WR, DBs, OL and DL/DE in this class ..."""

Wow, would be nice to get some hard noses instead of highlighters as well.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

Martin looks good. He's got good vitals as well. 385 lb. Squat and 4.4 40. Yeah I like him, but we do need someone who can provide some power running too. With that squat, he can probably be a big benefit in the red zone to help KU score TDs instead of FGs. I think I remember seeing his name on Rivals and there is quite a lot of competition for him. If we're going to get him, we need him to visit during a home basketball game, because if he get's to go to TCU games and then sees a KU home game, he's going to notice a huge difference.

Terry N Tom Denner 7 years, 11 months ago

May be smart for now because KU does not have anything better. Cummings has done better than what Charlie ever recruited but Cummings without an OF line is nothing but a setting duck. Too slow to scramble and his receivers inability to get opened and when they are he's to short to notice or running for his life. Lets face it, thanks to Turner Gill and Charlie Wies --- KU will be a laughing stock of the Big 12 for next 3 to 5 years in recruiting and winning.

Brandon Mahon 7 years, 11 months ago

I love my KU football and I hope your last statement is not the case. I have seen programs get turned around just by the coach, the philosophy, system and good recruiting. If our next coach and bring in a couple good recruits and find some diamonds in the rough we could turn it a round in a season or two. It starts with the the administration and the coach tho. If they are not into the rebuild and football program 1000% we will continue to be bad.

Micky Baker 7 years, 11 months ago

Wait, Cummings isn't getting sacked that much and he hasn't been running for his life that much. He's been able to make the deep throws because he's more decisive.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 11 months ago

So you're saying that Cummings is shorter and slower than Todd?

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