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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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.