Monday, September 22, 2014

Looking better: Cozart showing progress for KU

KU sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart (2) looks for a receiver in the first half against Central Michigan on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

KU sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart (2) looks for a receiver in the first half against Central Michigan on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.



KU sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart (2) looks for a receiver in the first half against Central Michigan on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Saturday was tiebreaker time for Kansas University quarterback Montell Cozart, and the sophomore who entered Week Three with just five career starts leaned a little more toward his good performance in the season-opening win over SEMO than the bad one he put up in a Week Two loss at Duke.

That was the idea all week. And that was the reason for the offensive game plan KU coach Charlie Weis called “conservative” and Cozart called just fine with him.

“It felt real good just to get some completions,” said Cozart, who finished 23-of-33 passing one week after completing just 11 passes in 27 attempts for 89 yards against Duke. “I told you guys earlier in the week that I just wanted to get the ball to our playmakers, and I did that.”

The objective was evident early during KU’s 24-10 victory over Central Michigan. Although Tony Pierson put Cozart’s passing plans on hold by taking the first play from scrimmage — a run to the left — 74 yards for a touchdown, Cozart threw three short passes on KU’s second drive and found three receivers: Pierson, wide receiver Nick Harwell and tight end Jimmay Mundine.

By the end of the first half, Cozart had completed 68 percent of his passes (15-of-22) and taken very few chances.

“I just wanted to come out and bounce back and get in a rhythm,” he said. “We had some quick throws, bubbles, quick little five-yard routes, and I felt like I got in a rhythm early in the game.”

That philosophy in the first half opened things up a little more in the second half, when Cozart again felt comfortable making tougher throws.

“Almost every pass we were throwing was of the short variety,” Weis said. “We wanted to get his confidence back. He completed most of his passes in the first half, and then in the second half we felt good enough about letting him throw downfield.”

By game’s end, Cozart’s 23 completions marked a career best and were the most by a Kansas quarterback in a year. Of course, many of them were can’t-miss throws, passes for which Weis had another name.

“We didn’t run the ball enough in the first half,” Weis said of his team’s 11 first-half rushing plays. “But a lot of those bubble (screens) really are runs.”

Asked if he thought the approach was too conservative, Cozart didn’t blink.

“No, not really,” he said. “We just wanted to come out and show we were a different team. Last week (vs. Duke) wasn’t who we are.”

Next up for Cozart and Kansas is a much more significant test, as Texas, which comes in with a 1-2 record but the nation’s 16th-most-efficient pass defense, comes to Lawrence for the Big 12 opener for both teams.

“Texas is pretty salty on defense,” Weis said. “They roughed us up up front pretty good at their place. I think they’ll try to do the same thing again.”

Added Cozart: “We feel good about the (Central Michigan) win, and we’ve got Texas coming here. It’s a Big 12 team, and you can’t look at their record. They’re gonna come in here ready to go. It’s homecoming for us, so it’s gonna be real personal for us, and we just want to get another Big 12 win and get this team going.”

The Longhorns opened as 141⁄2-point favorites for Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium.


Micky Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

“We didn’t run the ball enough in the first half,” Weis said of his team’s 11 first-half rushing plays. “But a lot of those bubble (screens) really are runs.”... Weis

Those bubble screens weren't executed well, Weis. This is what I'm talking about when I said we need to stop telegraphing the plays. The bubble screen can work, but you can't telegraph it. It's like a regular screen. Work on it, but don't use it 7 or 8 times.

“No, not really,” he said. “We just wanted to come out and show we were a different team. Last week (vs. Duke) wasn’t who we are.”... Cozart

I'm sorry, but KU doesn't have an identity on offense at all yet. This past game was the closest to seeing what KU should do, but it came late. You can't wait until the 4th quarter in the Big XII. There are many opportunities to use deception that can hurt teams with more speed like Texas more than it can hurt a team like CMU who isn't fast enough to be too far out of position. If the QB sees everyone on the defense close on the bubble screen, for example, have an outlet on the other side where the QB can turn real quick and get rid of the ball with just one guy to beat in space. There are other ways to make them pay for anticipating too hard, and Texas is going to do that as well as most teams in the Big XII.

We'll see what happens this Saturday, but we had successes against CMU that we can build off of. Gotta be able to read what the defense is doing and attack the areas they vacate. Just my opinion.

Micky Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

You see, I'm actually being realistic and I don't have an agenda. I notice that none of those harping about the team's inability to close a game and Cozart's poor performances don't have the guts to admit that he had a solid performance on Saturday and that KU finished the game on both sides of the ball. It's not like it isn't predictable. This is what happens when people react emotionally. You see, this isn't the first time I've gave the team criticisms, but you're blind to that because you have an agenda.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 10 months ago

Easy Micky - I'm just crackin your honies man.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 10 months ago

The other thing is the coaches are making this out to be improvement and this is the 2nd worst team we play all season. We won't be so fortunate when we plan Texas or OU. I think we'll be seeing the Duke score more often than not the remainder of the season.

Andy Tweedy 7 years, 10 months ago

There are a lot of things about this season that are/will be tough, but man I like those giant 'Hawks on the helmet! Why haven't we worn the black ones yet, or did I leave the country last year and miss them?

Bill Kackley 7 years, 10 months ago

Matt, I am tired of Tom Keagan's uncalled for negativity. Like his article, out of the blue, stating that KU is still last in the Big 12. Is he trying to help make it so by the load of crap he calls an article. Fire Tom Keagan, LJW

Robert Brock 7 years, 10 months ago

I think that Keegan is just looking at reality. At this point in time, it is difficult to imagine the Hawks beating any Big 12 team.

Brad Sherp 7 years, 10 months ago

Tom is not negative, he is a realist. I believe Tom brings objectiveness into the fold. We all love our team, and we want them to win. I think he does a great job of leaving emotions at the door.

I don't like what he is saying, but it is the truth. To turn around the program, we must first accept it for what it is. We need to understand the problems before we can fix them. If we say that we don't want to hear about the problems, we will remain at the bottom of the Big 12.

Someone needs to call out the team and coaching staff, and no other media outlets care about KU, because they are focused on ratings in other markets. Tom is tough on the team... I will give you that... but someone needs to hold the team accountable.

Glen Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

And I'm tired of the rose colored glasses that act like we are title contenders after one just ok game against a team that would be battling us for worse in the Big 12. Are you here to tell me that from what you've seen so far Keegan isn't right? Who's worse than us in the Big 12? Iowa State. Newsflash, they beat Iowa and I highly doubt we could do the same. West Virginia. The same team that took Alabama and Oklahoma to the wire. Texas, who even with a depleted roster still has 3 times the depth that we do? I want this team to succeed just as much as the next guy...... but let's temper the expectations down to reality a bit and be real with ourselves. We'll be lucky to win another game this season. I have not seen anything to tell me we will beat a Big 12 team. 3 good quarters out of 12 is not enough for me to be overly excited.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 10 months ago

Bingo... Being a fan doesn't mean being delusional.

Micky Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

You see, nobody is acting like KU is a title contender. This is why it get's tiring.

You don't temper the expectations or you don't have anything to measure progress by.

Think about what you're saying. You want five or six wins this year, or you wanted that last year? It seems that you're expecting too much too fast given what has taken place. Cozart doesn't have a full season under his belt. There is going to be some inconsistency. That's being realistic.

Those that complained about not getting sacks and thought that we can't force fumbles: KU got 3 sacks, one of them resulted in a forced fumble and a turnover. KU forced 2 fumbles in the game and recovered both of them. KU had on INT.

Cozart completed 23 of 33 passes. I'm presuming you have some education, and that you can figure what the completion percentage is. 69.7%. That's better than the first two games, right? He threw for 226 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT that wasn't his fault, but nonetheless it counts against him, and not Pierson who coughed it up.

That INT, that was Pierson's fault, is a learning opportunity. KU would have had at least an opportunity to score 3, and the turn over was inside CMU's 15 yard line. That can be prevented by simply going down and live to play another down as a team. All he had to do was fall to the ground as he knew where the defender was, or should know. Don't give the other team an opportunity to knock it loose. These are the learning opportunities. The other things mentioned are things to build off of. Pierson is going to get his chances, and maybe even more chances if KU doesn't turn the ball over, doesn't have stupid penalties(like holding on fair catches, or false starts on everybody but the center: laugh here).

Tempering the expectations is exactly what you don't want the team to do.

There is a big difference between constructive criticism and tearing the team down. You have to point out the positives, which gives reasons for the the person(s) being criticized to listen to it. What could have Pierson done different? Fall to the ground, and KU still has the ball. Stop and spin back in the other direction making the two defenders collide with each other and score a TD. Learning experience. The other two choices are better than the one Pierson made on that particular play.

Glen Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

I've been pointing out positives since the Glenn Mason days because that's when I became a KU fan....... in that span of time (26 years) we have went to 6 bowls, won the Big 8/Big 12 exactly 0 times. Our conference record is 60- 142 and have not finished better than 3rd besides our Orange Bowl year. None of the coaches in that span have a winning record. Outside of the lone Orange Bowl, we really have not been to a bowl of significance. We just get worse as time goes on and I've had high hopes now for too long. I'm going to take this team for what it is.... mediocre at best. Call me negative, I really don't mind. Someone poking at me on the internet is not going to ruin my day. I'm much less angry and upset about getting our backsides whipped now that I am being realistic about our team. I hope we turn it around, but it's not looking good and for all the luck we've had with basketball coaches.... we can hire a football coach to save our lives. I got news for all you Mangino nut huggers.... He wasn't really that good except for 2 seasons that he had ridiculous talent and a QB that refused to lose. Bring Mangino back and we will continue to toil in futility. Just a word to the wise who think he is our savior.

Kit Duncan 7 years, 10 months ago

I suggest you look at the play again. Tony caught the ball, turned and took (one) step before having a DB stick his helmet right on the ball as Tony was securing it between both arms.

The announcers said he should have held onto it. I don't think he had time to fully secure it before the hit. Even so, I think it's pretty tough for anyone to hold on to the ball when an opposing player running at full speed is able to stick his helmet into the spot where the runner is holding the ball.

Micky Baker 7 years, 10 months ago

Okay, I'll watch it again for the 12th time.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

UT has no depth at this point. Charlie Strong has kicked more people off the team than Weis did when he got here. Also, their offense is almost as bad as KU's so this could be a game where it's first one to 21 wins.

Jim Erickson 7 years, 10 months ago

Conclusion 1: Tom Keagen is negative.

Conclusion 2: Kansas Football has won 8 games in the past 4 years with few signs of that changing in the near future.

Sorry Bill... I gotta go with number 2!

Chris Bailey 7 years, 10 months ago

"Have you seen that pile of crap out there"? Well judging by what we've seen thus far this year that pile of crap is still steaming. We will be underdogs in every single game the rest of the year. Chances of us winning another game are not in our favor. Would you rather Keegan tell you how great we are? We aren't very good period. We have some good players but our QB is the worst in the big 12 hands down. And we don't have another one on the bench worth a crap. My guess is more than half the big 12 schools have a more qualified backup we could use as our starter.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Would you feel better if Tom called the article what it was, Tom Keegan's Big 12 Power Rankings because that's what that article was. Also please tell all of us why KU isn't the worst team in the Big 12.

DaNeille Dani Davis 7 years, 10 months ago

If you don't have anything nice to say about the writers, don't say anything at all. They are just doing their job. If you don't like what they write, then for crying out loud, quit reading their articles!! Some of you negative nellies need to find something better to do!

Ethan Berger 7 years, 10 months ago

I saw a lot of improvements I liked. I never feared for the game, felt we were in control the whole game. That being said, the big 12 is tough this year. There are 7 legit teams. KU,TTU,ISU are the bottom 3. Texas Tech has looked terrible so far. Iowa State has looked better since week 1. I don't think we will beat UT, heck I don't know what we will look like. I hope we take steps forward like we did Saturday. Our o line has to get better, that element scares me the most.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.