Saturday, September 12, 2015


Column: Montell Cozart’s old problems return

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) is dragged down in the backfield by Memphis defensive lineman Donald Pennington (58) and defensive lineman Michael Edwards (95) during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) is dragged down in the backfield by Memphis defensive lineman Donald Pennington (58) and defensive lineman Michael Edwards (95) during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 at Memorial Stadium.


Junior quarterback Montell Cozart’s mostly strong showing in Kansas University’s season-opening loss inspired cautious optimism regarding his future.

The caution came from the caliber of the opponent and begged the question of how Cozart’s improvement would translate against a faster defense.

The answer came Saturday night: Not very well.

On the run more often than is ideal but not to a ridiculous extent, Cozart looked an awful lot like the same quarterback replaced midway through last season by out-for-the-season Michael Cummings.

Cozart completed 13 of 28 passes for 118 yards. He rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown in gains, but suffered 32 yards in losses.

Cozart’s tendency to badly overthrow receivers returned, even blossomed, in a 55-23 loss to a Memphis squad that had fallen behind, 10-0.

The defense, not Cozart, had the roughest night. It’s too late to add personnel, so KU won’t be stopping anyone any month soon. So in order to compete, KU will need to complement stellar running backs Ke’aun Kinner and De’Andre Mann with a passing game that features accuracy, including an on-target deep one here or there.

First-year head coach David Beaty didn’t point to poor pass protection as the issue.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Postgame: David Beaty addresses 55-23 loss to Memphis

After his Kansas football team fell to 0-2 on the season, first-year Jayhawks coach David Beaty speaks with media members regarding the struggles of a 55-23 home loss to Memphis.

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“As I walk away from this game, I look at a lot of missed opportunities, really on Montell’s part,” Beaty said. “He’s a little bit more of an accurate quarterback than I think what he showed tonight. I think he’ll come back and rebound from that.”

Cozart completed 2-of-7 passes for 13 yards in the second half before being replaced by Deondre Ford midway through the fourth quarter.

“He wasn’t completely on tonight and I know if he could get those throws back, he would take them back,” Beaty said, citing a couple of down-field overthrows and pair of overthrows to tight ends over the middle.

Cozart led an offense that didn’t turn over the ball, but also produced just three points from three Memphis turnovers.

Cozart’s misses so often are overthrows, which makes me wonder if he’s worrying too much about avoiding interceptions and thinking too little about using the right touch to complete passes.

“As you look at it, I think a lot of it comes back to mechanics,” Beaty said. “I mean, there’s a lot of times where when you see guys that overthrow people, they’re throwing off of their back leg a little bit and they’re not transferring weight from back to front.”

It’s the sort of thing that comes up in games more often than practice, one of the factors that makes it so difficult to evaluate quarterbacks based on practice performances.

“I think the big thing for him tonight was just trusting that his protection was going to be there and being able to sit in there and let that ball go,” Beaty said. “That’s something he’s got to continue to keep growing on, him and all of them, but he was just a little bit off tonight.”

A lot off at times.

Add Cozart’s self-evaluation to his list of overthrows.

“I think I did all right,” Cozart said. “Like I said, a couple of throws that I wish I could have back right now. One of the balls that I threw down to the end zone I overthrew and like I said, a couple of throws over the middle that would have sparked our offense would have been big plays for our offense. I think I did all right, just stuff to learn on film and continue to get better.”

Asked about whether Cozart is entrenched as the starter, Beaty reiterated that nobody on the team is entrenched, “ever.”

“But he’s still our starter,” Beaty said.

KU has two weeks to prepare for a game at Rutgers.

“We want those guys to have confidence, but they still are going to have to compete,” Beaty said of his quarterbacks. “I love Montell. I trust him. I know that he wants to do well. I just think he didn’t have his best game tonight, but I know he’ll come back and work on trying to get better.”

And he will get better in practice. At quarterback, more than any position, that doesn’t mean it will translate to games. Simulating game conditions in practice is nearly impossible.

See what people were saying about the game during our live blog.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Memphis


Jim Woodward 6 years, 9 months ago

We have an "air raid" offense with a quarterback that has no "touch" and cannot pass. It sounds like he is a great young man and doing his best but surely we have a more natural passer. Todd Reesing had relaxed hands. Montell's hands are stiff and mechanical.

Stan Anderson 6 years, 9 months ago

Cozart quotes "I think I did all right.....".

Seriously? He is in a "Air Raid" offense that produced no passing touchdowns. The highlight of the Cozart's QB production was 13 of 28 passes for 118 yards.

If this is alright for this QB. We need to raise our standard if we hope to win against anybody. I don't know any high school teams that consider this stat "all right".

Jonathan Briles 6 years, 9 months ago

I wanted to redshirt both freshman and let them develop slowly, but since Willis already had his redshirt burned I think we need to start developing his game skills now. Get him some reps and start building for the future. Cozart is not and will not be the future at QB. Great kid, horrible quarterback. At least with Willis we can start building on something that can help us down the road.

Joe Ross 6 years, 9 months ago

Man I uh-GREE!

The season is a lost cause. May as well use it to develop players.

Perhaps QB by committee? Give Willis or Carter a quarter each. Develop Cozart into a receiver and he'd be dangerous in the open field. He's got good height and speed for a receiver. His best talent as a QB is when he runs with the ball. Heck, he could do that as a receiver. At least half the game.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't think they should burn Carter's redshirt since I was really against it when Willis burned his, especially for 2 freaking plays! Since it's burned, he absolutely needs to get 2-3 series per game now and increase the workload as he progresses. Ford also looks pretty athletic so if he can run the zone read, I'd love to see that become the focal point of the offense to get Kinner and Mann some more touches.

Joe Ross 6 years, 9 months ago

The problem is this: when you replace Cozart at QB with a backup, who is going to be the backup's backup? Please don't say Cozart.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 9 months ago

“I think the big thing for him tonight was just trusting that his protection was going to be there "

Looked to me like that protections was not there most of the time in this game.

I'm not defending Cozart as I think he had a poor night and I have serious doubts his first game performance will return unless the competition is similar to or worse than SDSU.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 9 months ago

OLine wasn't bad. Cozart is just too quick to tuck and run a lot of the time.

Richard Duran 6 years, 9 months ago

If Beatty is as smart as advertised we see Ford start in two weeks. Cozart has absolutely no touch. He had the TE behind the D twice that could have gone for big gains. Cut our losses, give Ford a shot. He has literally nothing to lose.

Bville Hawk 6 years, 9 months ago

Ford is a former Texas high school QB and Texas high school QBs seem to be a cut or 2 above most others. Just saying...

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 9 months ago

Never mind Cozart's "old problems" Let's visit for a short time KU problems.

They cannot seem to find a competent coach. This one is a retread of a previous employee. What is the advantage there?

I suppose that KU has a problem enticing anyone to come to Kansas. Not to be too political, but we have a government elected by the great unwashed that is anti education, anti-Federal Government, and anti-voter.

Who would WANT to come here??

Joe Ross 6 years, 9 months ago

Government? Football? Wha???

A coach inherits the worst handicap in the history of college football and youre calling for his head two games in? It was take Jesus at least a year to resurrect this program. Beaty can't do it in a game!

Ian Ballinger 6 years, 9 months ago

Cozart is a great kid, but the way he played last night wasn't "alright". 13 of 28 for 118 yards and no passing touchdowns isn't alright. I understand that the OLine isn't very good, either, and wasn't giving either Cozart or Ford a lot of time, but I liked what i saw from Ford last night more than Cozart. Just what i saw from my perspective, at least.

Gregor Southard 6 years, 9 months ago

Bowen, DC now for 7 years. What you see is what you get. Cozart in his 3rd year. What you see is what you get. No surprises, really.

Brian Skelly 6 years, 9 months ago

When Cummings went down with an injury in the spring, any chance we had of remotely competent QBing likely went out with it. An Air Raid QB that cant hit the broadside of a barn is going to result in poor results.

It may or may not matter considering all the other issues this team has. But Cozart is going on year 3 and appears not much better than when he got here.

Bee Bee 6 years, 9 months ago

The KU defense hasn't hit anyone in anger since they took Cummings out for the season in the SPRING GAME. Awful.

Joe Ross 6 years, 9 months ago

Repeat this to yourself. A million times, if necessary. "We are who we thought we were!"

Everyone knew prior to the season that it was going to be a rough year. Not a single person thought we'd win more than two games; and for those who dared to hope for even a pair, they did so with fear and trepidation.

Now comes the season, and fans are "surprisingly" disappointed.

Wait, what?

If Beaty had solid players at every position he could have run his offense and ran Memphis back to Tennessee cursing and crying. But the cupboards were bare when he got here. Add to that a list of defections and injuries during the spring and summer, and Kansas was much worse off than when they began, if that's possible. MUCH worse. And the beginning under Beaty was not promising from any realistic point-of-view. A bad football team + a new system - good players + small roster = crapola.

But perhaps it is the nature of human thought when confronted with the reality actually playing out that we feel a license to complain about how absurdly terrible the football is. Yes. They are terrible. But we are who we thought we were. No surprises here. Cozart was never the QB that some dared to hope he had become, and I'll spoil the ending for you: he will never be "that guy". He is who we thought he was.

Listen up and listen well. Your hopes for this season should be less than modest: that we learn the system so returning players have something to go on when next season starts; that experience will translate into a better feel for the game; and that the coaching staff matures by observation and learning from mistakes. If you are hoping for more than this then you are as good a thinker as our football players play football. Yes, I wish I could have Mangino back but it's not happening. And even for him it took some lumps before his teams got up and going. So we find ourselves under major reconstruction. In the meantime please spare our ears the wanton dreadfulness of your afflictions.

And saddle up, because playing the Big 12 schedule this year might produce some 75+ -point losses, unless the other teams are merciful. This loss to Memphis will prove merciful by comparison. We're trying to change Pee-Wee Herman into Rocky Balboa here. (Yo ADRIEN!)

We are who we thought we were.

Charlie Gaughn 6 years, 9 months ago

Posted this on a previous article but I think it's worth it again.......Our problems are more deep seated than coach and quarterback.....

Now that we're mired in potentially the worst season (record wise) in school history, it's time for some accountability:

Obviously, Lew Perkins can't be held accountable any more after putting the noose over the program by firing Mangino. He was well compensated and off he flew. In retrospect, Turner Gill was a bright spot. He couldn't coach a lick but as it turned out he did recruit a little bit of talent. He was well compensated as well when they pulled the hook on him. In came Charlie Weis and with the noose securely around the Jayhawks neck he pulled the lever to the trap door. Talk about compensation, this guy made out better than Jesse James.

Beaty can't be held responsible for any of this mess, yet. Bowen is somewhat of another story. He's getting the free pass with Beaty but he's now in his fourth year as DC and the mistakes on the field are the same as they were in his first game.

Then there's Zenger. Here's a guy that has no history or allegiance to KU. Quite the opposite. He's dyed in purple. He "negotiated" the rediculous contract with Weis with absolutely no incentive for success. He stood by while Weis opened his tenure by running 29 players from the team to make room for his "Cavalry". Then watched him decimate the program completely with fifth year and junior college transfers. Zenger must feel that he saved his job by signing the final check to Weis and firing him.

As an alum, long time donor, and season ticket holder, I've had about enough of seeing big salaries paid out for zero success. Zenger needs to be let go and an AD brought in here that will once and for all focus on football. If it weren't for Bill Self, Zenger would most likely already be gone. Actually, we've had some of the most dismall B-Ball years in a long time since Zenger arrived, but since he's pretty invisible it's hard to blame that on him.

My support for the WEF and continued ticket purchase will most likely hinge on whether Zenger is still here next year.

Joe Ross 6 years, 9 months ago

Some good and some bad here.

With regard to Lew's accountability, I'd venture to guess that Mark Mangino would still have been here with a stable program that, not being able to see the future from the past, would still have been better than what we have now. How could it be worse. So in one sense, I still do lay responsibility on Perkins. But in another sense, you are right. Coaching turnover and player turnover have been sufficient enough that the opportunity for success should have presented itself beyond Perkins' departure. So I grant you that. But it has always seemed wrong-headed to me to assume that ADs are any more clairvoyant than the rest of us with regard to seeing the future and knowing which coach will or won't be successful in his capacity. That makes little sense to me, and it makes even less sense to insinuate Zenger is not performing well because he had no prior allegiance to KU. Some other ADs did not and left a winning tradition at Kansas, including Phog Allen himself. It's more about what an AD brings to the table. And by the way, why stop at the AD? The AD would not be in place were it not for the University Chancellor. You can see how this sort of vicarious liability can spiral out of control. True, there are bad hires and there are good hires, but they usually don't reveal themselves to be so until you have the benefit of retrospect.

As far as Bowen's getting a pass, the jury is still out. Im not saying Bowen is the best "X's" guy in the game because I dont know. But we all witnessed some intangibles he instilled in the team last year that got the players motivated and performing beyond expectation in a handful of games he coached. But Ill tell you one thing I believe in that's not too popular. I disregard a coach's or player's local roots if they are not performing well. But I wouldn't say Bowen is doing particularly poorly. I mean if youre going to lay blame on the guy when the defense is poor, then you certainly have to credit him when it plays well, and Bowen has had some pretty solid defensive efforts given the talent level he was working with.

I agree with you about being frustrated with the performance (or lack thereof) of the recent coaches. It certainly IS difficult to be a KU football fan, but Im all in. My magic 8-ball reveals a "don't count on it" when asked if Zenger will be fired though.

Doug Cramer 6 years, 9 months ago

J-Ross - I agree with about everything you say...including the extreme lack of talent this team has. This is not on Beaty.

However - the proof is in the pudding with Bowen. His resume, unit performances in the past speak for themselves...including the other schools he was at. The jury is not still out on Bowen...his free pass should never have happened.

Michael Leiker 6 years, 9 months ago

Just not a whole lot going on out there, as usual...

Chris Bailey 6 years, 9 months ago

The solution at QB is to move Cozart to the practice squad permanently. He seems to be most accurate when he's in that setting or with a red vest on. Either way is anyone shocked that he stunk it up? This is almost exactly how it played out last season. By midway through our next game Beaty and company will see he isn't the answer at QB. Maybe he can move to WR of something although I'm not sure he would be very good there either. Hopefully one of the backups will step up and lead the offense albeit to an 0-12 season. At this point does anyone really see us winning a game? Honestly, I think if we had Cumming's we would have won game 1 and had a chance last weekend. We don't and so we have little chance. Is it possible that one of the other QB's could perform better and better each week and lead us to a surprise? Sure but it won't be Cozart.

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