Kansas City, Kan. No, February doesn’t really qualify as football season. But new Kansas University football coach David Beaty and his staff certainly don’t care. They already have made stops in Hays, Hutchinson and Topeka this month as they tour the Sunflower State for a series of meet-and-greets designed to introduce the new coaches to the KU fan base.
Their latest engagement brought them to Sporting Park Thursday evening, and while schmoozing and posing for photos all came with the territory, so did an open conversation between the new man in charge and a long-suffering fan base.
Beaty, who asked those attending to support the team and help bring some enjoyment back to Memorial Stadium, didn’t just talk at the fans, he opened the floor for questions, city hall style. He didn’t even mind talking quarterbacks and playing time when someone wondered if incumbent starting QB Michael Cummings could be a starter in KU’s new offense, under coordinator Rob Likens.
“In the system,” Beaty said of the uptempo spread, “sometimes that can change the direction of a guy’s career.”
As proof, the former Texas A&M; assistant pointed to a QB from the Lone Star State who benefited from a change in scheme: TCU’s Trevone Boykin, who received votes in the Heisman Trophy race after a breakout season.
Not about to make any promises or predictions, though, Beaty answered: “Can Michael do it? That’s yet to be seen.”
Far from over, Beaty described the race to become KU’s 2015 starting quarterback as “wide open,” in the midst of mentioning returning Jayhawks Montell Cozart and T.J. Millweard and alluding to recently signed recruits Carter Stanley (Vero Beach, Florida) and Ryan Willis (Bishop Miege).
“We’re gonna go with a guy who can move our team and take care of the football and manage the game,” Beaty said. “And then we’re gonna train them like crazy to make the right decisions.”
One thing he did make clear: KU won’t utilize a two-QB offense.
Asked soon after about Likens’ offense, Beaty said KU has the talent to run it.
“It allows us a little bit of flexibility that I think we have to have in a game,” he explained, “which is to be able to use misdirection to confuse players and take away a little bit of their athletic ability by slowing them down, and then using option football.”
Plus, the coach added, blocking issues can be remedied by scheming and running the option out of the uptempo, quick-hitting system.
Beaty said he enjoys the format of these “Football in February” events — KU has another scheduled for this coming Thursday in Wichita — because of the interaction with the fans.
“I think sharing the vision with them is very important. And understanding also that we’re here to earn their support,” the first-year head coach said. “That’s kind of the thing that we’re standing on right now, which is: What’s gonna make us different?”
As he put it, Beaty is in a “huggy/lovey” stage right now, but he knows that won’t last forever, and his staff aims to turn the downtrodden program around over time.
“We have to prove it to ’em,” Beaty said. “At the same time, once we lay the vision out and we talk to them about the blueprint and how we plan on doing it, it’s a big deal for us to ask them to try and partner with us, to make it their program and something they can be proud of.”