Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jayhawks’ productive spring ends with plenty left to accomplish

Blue Team quarterback Michael Cummings (14) is taken out at the knees by White Team safety Michael Glatczak during a quarterback run on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Blue Team quarterback Michael Cummings (14) is taken out at the knees by White Team safety Michael Glatczak during a quarterback run on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.


Shortly after the conclusion of Kansas University’s annual spring game, head coach David Beaty showed up for his news conference with the same bounce and energy he takes with him everywhere. But even the most optimistic person in the room didn’t try to paint a false picture of the Blue team’s 20-7 victory against White in the Saturday scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.

Following four quarters of running clock and few highlights, Beaty didn’t hype up how great of a play junior quarterback Montell Cozart and junior tight end Kent Taylor made by connecting for an 85-yard touchdown late in the final practice of KU’s spring football schedule.

The first-year coach saw the game for what it was. At times, some Jayhawks showed potential, but mostly they all have loads of work to do. For every positive Beaty witnessed, he didn’t hide the opposing negatives. That included the play of Cozart.

“I think he did OK. He was kind of up and down a little bit, here and there. I’d like to see him continue to improve just in his fundamentals and footwork,” Beaty said after the Kansas City, Missouri, product completed 16 of 26 passes for 219 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. “There were times when he didn’t operate great today, and I as I watched it out there, you literally could watch the fundamentals fall apart. As long as those fundamentals are there and the feet are in place, normally he executes pretty well. When they’re not, you know, he’s about like everybody else.”

The new coaching staff and the announced crowd of 6,227 saw a lot more of the junior QB than Beaty anticipated. Cozart and senior Michael Cummings, who started the game, alternated as Blue’s quarterback each possession. That is until Cummings, who replaced Cozart as KU’s starter mid-season in 2014, suffered an injury in the second quarter after scrambling for an eight-yard run.

Cummings — just like Cozart and White’s quarterbacks, T.J. Millweard and Keaton Perry — wore a red jersey to remind defensive players not to hit them. On the fateful play, that hint didn’t do much good. Once Cummings took off to run instead of pass, White team senior safety Michael Glatczak found himself engaged in a downfield block, and his helmet ended up knocking into Cummings’ left knee as the walk-on pulled himself loose and hit the QB low.

As the play unfolded, Beaty’s view of it became obstructed. He soon after heard conflicting stories of how Glatczak knocked Cummings out of the game.

“When you get to that spring game, it is a deal where you’re always scared to death,” Beaty said. “’Cause any time you take a snap you’re at risk of getting somebody injured, and we need every one of them. I mean, our roster is at a point right now where we need every single guy.”

The new coach, though unaware of Cummings’ status after the game, felt optimistic he will be OK.

“When you see your quarterback — one of your quarterbacks — go down like that,” Beaty said, “it obviously takes your breath away a little bit.”

Quarterback wasn’t the only skill position where KU had to play shorthanded, either. Senior running back De’Andre Mann, Beaty revealed, had an injury that led the staff to keep him out. Furthermore, senior wide receiver Rodriguez Coleman and freshman running back Corey Avery didn’t participate in the spring game because they are suspended “indefinitely,” with their futures in the program currently up in the air.

Someone had to step up for Kansas, and early on in the exhibition, redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyler Patrick did just that, snagging four catches for 43 yards in the first quarter.

Later, senior wide receiver Shakiem Barbel began to shine. The 6-foot-3 Fresno, California, native finished with five receptions and 78 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown grab from Cozart to cap the third quarter and put Blue on top for good, 10-7.

The most positive play of the afternoon for White came a few minutes earlier, when junior tight end Sebastian Fairchild came down in the end zone with an 11-yard TD toss from Millweard.

The underdogs came up with their only score of the scrimmage because senior linebacker Aaron Plump, from Topeka, picked off Cozart.

“Plump made a good play on it,” Beaty said, “had an interception there and almost scored off it.”

Blue’s Ryan Schadler, who also carried the ball twice for six yards for White, became the most utilized running back, picking up 45 yards for Blue on eight carries. Junior running back Ke’aun Kinner only got two touches (17 yards), as did senior Taylor Cox (10 yards).

Beaty said many KU players didn’t get many snaps because the coaches needed to evaluate some other lesser-known options.

Defensively, White’s Bazie Bates, a junior safety, led the way with seven total tackles. Junior safety Tevin Shaw led Blue with four total stops. Senior corner Ronnie Davis, junior defensive end Damani Mosby, senior defensive tackle Andrew Bolton, senior defensive end T.J. Semke and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Daniel Wise each earned a tackle for loss.

“I thought our defensive line did a nice job of getting pressure on the quarterbacks all day,” Beaty said, half a beat before adding Kansas must get more from its offensive line.

The product is far from finished, but Beaty left the exhibition feeling the Jayhawks at least had a productive spring at the end of 15 practices.

“I don’t know that we’re ever happy enough with everything, but the objective was very simple,” the coach said. “We wanted to be able to get to know our guys. We wanted to be able to evaluate them in what we do, so we knew where they fit and kind of get an idea of where we’re at.

“And where we gotta go,” Beaty added, “… and who we’ve gotta go get.”


Erich Hartmann 7 years, 3 months ago

Hoping Cummings makes a speedy recovery! Having a warrior like him at QB makes a big difference, but then we have to keep him upright, too...

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 3 months ago

I was elated to see Tyler Patrick line-up with the Blue team and look very good. In HS, The Woodlands, he did everything and did it everywhere. The kid lacks size but makes up for it in speed, toughness, intelligence and heart. Patrick is a ball player.

Titus Canby 7 years, 3 months ago

I was impressed with Patrick. He caught everything thrown his way, and caught with his hands. On a day when a lot of passes were dropped / bounced off receivers' chests, Patrick - and Barbel - both stood out.

Micky Baker 7 years, 3 months ago

At times, the pace was good but like Beaty said, it wasn't as fast as he'd like. He did admit that they slowed down some things on purpose. Kent Taylor showed some impressive speed on the long TD catch.

The most impressive QB decision I saw today was when Millweard took off running the ball down the middle the of the field. He saw it and he took it. He made a good pass in traffic for the TD late.

It was disappointing to see Cummings get hurt. He should have slid down. I would have liked to see a whole lot more of him today.

A couple of the receivers made good catches, even though only one of them counted in the endzone. The other was a good catch by Parmalee but he couldn't get a foot down. The accuracy of the passers was better than a year ago, but still need to improve upon that.

The defensive line did get some pressure pretty quick a few times, but because the QBs weren't live, we really didn't get to see them finish. They were playing hard.

I didn't get to see everything that I wanted. It is very difficult to get a real measure of these guys abilities right now but there were a couple of guys that did step up a bit including that running back on the blue team for most of the second half. He showed some good vision and was able to bounce it outside when it was there.

The biggest negative was place kicking. It was abysmal, and that is as polite as I can put it. Is there another guy coming for fall camp? I hope so.

I hope that maybe they cut the clock to 10 minutes per quarter and run it like a regular game stopping the clock on first downs and incompletions to let the guys get a few more reps in future spring games.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 3 months ago

It seemed like with the punters that they were trying to do a lot if situational punting based on how the punters were dropping the ball instead of how they would treat a live game stuff. I think that was part of why the punt coverage wasn't live.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 3 months ago

If you missed the game, it's on replay on that E network.

It's a little encouraging to hear that they did hold Kinner & Mann (I thought I saw Mann for a couple plays) out for the most part. Seemed like in general there were a lot of walk-ons playing. Dinner looked really good on the couple runs he had, though not as much so on one pass even if it wasn't thrown great.

Definitely a work in progress.

Titus Canby 7 years, 3 months ago

Other than Cummings, I didn't think the QBs looked good at all. Most of the passes were of the bubble screen variety, and a lot of those were dropped. It was good to see some deep passes too.

It's tough to tell if the defense was good or if it was just that the offense was bad. On the play where Cummings got hurt, it looked like the defender was trying to get out of the way but slipped or got pushed. I'm with Micky, Cummings should have slid.

Barbel and the Patrick were the biggest positives in my opinion. They both got open and didn't have any drops.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 3 months ago

It was supposed to be basically two hand touch on the QB's, they did really have a reason to need to slide on how the rules were set up for the game.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 3 months ago

No need to slide except that it is the smart football play for a QB. It is always worthwhile to play smart. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.

Jeff Coffman 7 years, 3 months ago

If I am going to spin a positive, our QB play hasn't been good for a while and repetitions are helpful. Cummings and Cozart both haven't been outstanding... with one out the other should get reps to improve. I know competition can create improvement, but so can repetitions.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 3 months ago

It is good that Cozart completed 61.5% of his passes. That's like his best ever? I did just about choke when the announcer called the 50% passer a good passing QB.

Take one down, past around, ...

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