Saturday, September 24, 2016

KU football had plenty to address during bye week

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) throws to a  receiver during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) throws to a receiver during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.


The Kansas football team’s 2016 schedule ordered Saturday as a day off for the Jayhawks (1-2), but second-year head coach David Beaty, his staff and players obviously had plenty of work to do this week.

Coming off a 36-point road loss at Memphis in KU’s non-conference finale, Beaty detailed how self-scouting became an important part of the team’s bye week, before opening Big 12 play on Thursday, at Texas Tech (2-1).

When Beaty and his assistants put aside some extra time for evaluating the Jayhawks, it could be as simple as addressing whether or how an individual had improved through three games, and finding the best ways to make sure individuals keep making progress and fostering competition at each position. Coaches reviewed practice habits, too, in an attempt to find any signs of preparation doing more harm than good.

But part of the off-week training included reminding the players now is the time of the season when things become more difficult — not just for them, but for every team in the country.

“We understand the psychology of our guys, so what we'll do is we'll work really hard on them understanding what's coming this way,” Beaty said earlier this week, “and then how they handle the tests and all the things that are coming up on them.”

As Kansas embarks on the remainder of its season — nine straight weeks of Big 12 challenges — Beaty knows KU’s offense better improve drastically in order to stay competitive. And it’s simple to see how improved ball security would be a great place to start.

Quarterbacks Montell Cozart (three interceptions) and Ryan Willis (one interception) have had their issues, and the Jayhawks already have seven fumbles — remarkably losing possession on each occasion.

“Quarterback wise we were responsible for a number of those turnovers this week (four of the team’s six at Memphis),” Beaty said, “and that falls squarely on me. And I've got to do a better job of coaching them after the ball goes past the line of scrimmage, and really when you're in distress situations, because those turnovers can and will be prevented.”

Still, the head coach said upon reviewing video the reasons for turnovers aren’t always cut and dry.

“Ball security is an everybody deal,” Beaty said “It's the offensive line doing a great job protecting. It's the wide receivers running their routes precise, full speed, because, if not, you're dying on the vine back there. And those guys are going to be getting hit, and they've got to let it go early. And the timing is off, and next thing you know, it's a bad deal for all of us.”

Beaty made a point to praise KU’s running backs, who have held on to the ball entering Big 12 play. On 54 combined carries, neither Ke’aun Kinner, Khalil Herbert, Denzell Evans nor Taylor Martin has fumbled.

According to Beaty recent practices have included an intensified emphasis on protecting the football at every position, as well as in more unique situations, such as special teams and interception returns.

“All those things are coached, and we've just got to coach them harder,” Beaty said, “because when we do, the results will be a lot different. They'll fall in suit.”

As far as Beaty is concerned, his Jayhawks’ nine turnovers in their past two losses is the story of the season a quarter of the way through it.

“You don't get to remove them, but you get to go to school on it,” Beaty said of the numerous costly mistakes, adding the players are willing listeners and eager to fix the issue.

As hard a truth as it may be to swallow for the Jayhawks, Beaty admitted simply working hard to address problems doesn’t guarantee rewards in the form of victories.

“But for us,” the coach added of his staff, “our challenge is to try to give those guys the best chance to win.”


Michael Lorraine 5 years, 10 months ago

It took a series of injuries last season for Willis to get the nod. Hopefully it will only require the judgement of our head coach. As much as I like Montell, I pray he is not the starting QB against Tech.

Joe Ross 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree. In fact, based on a sample of comments on this site, the sentiment you express is so widespread that it must be representative of the feelings of the boosters and donors as well. If Sheahon Zenger is unaware of this, then he is not worth his salt as AD...clearly. If he IS aware of this, then for the benefit of the program and his own personal future it behooves him to have a conversation with Beaty with regard to the latter's utilization of personnel. I wonder if I'm not the only one who has wondered whether or not Beaty is making equally bad decisions about which players start/play at other positions, while Cozart is merely the most visible mistake in the roster because of the position he plays.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 10 months ago

Your question is both valid and important. And the answer might explain our offensive ineptitude.

My problem with the QB decision is best illustrated by the old boxing cliche: to win the belt, you have to beat the champ. If it's close, the decision goes to the guy with the belt.

Beaty's insistence on rotating quarterbacks suggests that he thought the competition was close (heck, for awhile, he was talking up 3 QB's). If it was that close, then Willis should have started and Cozart should have only relieved in extreme circumstances. Beaty, unfortunately, chose rah-rah's over game film.

There may be a hidden benefit to this, though. Now, because of the complete offensive collapse, we can get the offensive strategy back to where it caters to our talent (including a young offensive line), and Willis should be able to operate as a confident starter for the balance of the season - which will lay the groundwork for next year.

I've got to tell you, if I'm Ryan Willis, I'm a little angry that a coach showed me so little respect and so little loyalty after I soldiered through the mine field for him last year.

Joe Ross 5 years, 10 months ago

Great boxing analogy.

And with regard to your last paragraph, you spurred my thinking forward. What if we lose Carter Stanley to a transfer destination simply because he got frustrated watching a proven inept quarterback receive loyalty that he never earned? Willis, in my opinion, should be given the nod while Stanley is shown the respect of being our number 2 quarterback. Cozart, meanwhile, is long overdue for grooming at either cornerback or receiver. The fact that he hasn't seen any action with either of those units is a knock on Beaty's fledgling coaching tenure. The fans don't expect to win 5 games. We just want to see progress. Everything Im seeing says that Beaty is missing vital decisions that would otherwise yield the development we had all wished to see.

Steve Corder 5 years, 10 months ago

One mark of a good coach is recognizing talent and placing a kid in the right spot. Nolan Cromwell is a prime example. Don Fambrough had the best athlete in the conference playing d-back for two years before Bud Moore took over and promptly moved Cromwell to QB. Results were phenomenal. KU beat #1 OU in Norman that year. If Cromwell hadn't been injured his senior year a top 10 finish would have happened.

Forest for the trees.

Joe Ross 5 years, 10 months ago

You're right Steve.

I believe in loyalty, yes. But I believe in playing your guys in positions that they will blossom in even more. Your example hits the nail on the head.

Andy Godwin 5 years, 10 months ago

Two different approaches by coaches of losing teams. One, Beaty, takes the entire blame for his team's performance and the other, Brian Kelly of ND, calls out everyone of his players. He literally threw every player but one under the bus. Will be interesting to see if KU players appreciate their coach's approach and support him by taking responsibility for their poor performance during the past two games and show substantial improvement on the field.

Ashwin Rao 5 years, 10 months ago

Beaty is too PC (not wanting to put pressure on the players), and Brian is too deflecting. I don't like either. There needs to be improvements on both Coaching and the players. They need to recognize both and fix issues. Unless they recognize both, theyare not going to improve.

Robert Brock 5 years, 10 months ago

Cozart should be the starting quarterback at Washburn.

Edward Daub 5 years, 10 months ago

Welcome back Benton! Lets all get back to the X's and O's!

Brent Held 5 years, 10 months ago

If Jayhawks go 1-11 do you even consider that an improvement? RI might as well not even count they were so bad. Somehow the QB position got worse imo.

Doug Cramer 5 years, 10 months ago

No - this team has regressed. We have regressed with Cozart's regression.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 10 months ago

If Beaty is trying to reach atm levels it will take at least 6 years. And when we get there, no decent OC or DC will be on board.

Ark and atm played yesterday. They are big, tough, and almost well trained! They were a lot alike. Neither the O played well, they relied upon an occasional break thru to move, like once every 3 or 4 plays, and maybe more. They both were good at stopping the run -- not well enough trained in passing. The pass D relied heavily on D linemen. They were pretty good, but they didn't use coverage very well.

Jackson has our team working out to try to get size and strength, but will take at least 6 yrs to compete with them. It would be far better to learn how to use the talent we've got. Wisc has a better DC than Mich State. I'd settle for an Ohio Asstnt for OC -- they would both show up their first yr.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 10 months ago

I’m not convinced Beaty is the right coach for KU but I find consolation that the Charlie Weis experiment is behind us. At the very least Beaty is building this roster from the ground up and not taking shortcuts. He may not bring us to the promised land but he should be able to get us out of the ditch we’re stuck in.

If it was any other program he might be on the hot seat but given the number of coaches we’ve gone through we, for better or worse, are stuck with him. If he ultimately gets fired let’s wait until he builds the roster so the next coach will have something to build on.

Michael Maris 5 years, 10 months ago

Beaty is being paid appropriately for his HC experience. For the better part of 18 or 20 months now, we the fan base have been calling for patience amongst ourselves. Yet, today, we continue to see remarks calling for Beaty to be fired due to the dire situation he accepted to take over from the previous 2 HC's. So, which is it? Be patient and give him the full 5 years? Or, fire him after this season is over and hire another HC who's looking for a Charlie Weis type deal as well? I hear Les Miles is now available. Which avenue is it?

I've learned over the years to worry about the things I can control, vs. the things I can't control. I support the Jayhawks through thick and thin.

Am I happy with a 1-2 start to the season? No, I would much prefer to see the Jayhawks at 2-1 or 3-0.

But, I am giving Beaty and his staff the time to truly build a program, vs. taking the path that we fans have been led down since 2010 season.

Rock Chalk!

David Kemp 5 years, 10 months ago

I'm ok with a 1-2 start but playing with no discipline, no execution horrific coaching on part of Beaty and beaty alone.

Omari Miller 5 years, 10 months ago

Somebody commented after one of these articles a bit ago that it's disappointing that the only thing that has improved is the recruiting. That's actually a huge deal. Our roster was decimated before Beaty came. Not only were the scholarship players not great, there were way too few of them. And because, as many on these boards have commented, Beaty is limited in how many schollies he can offer in one year, it's going to take some time before we have a roster full of scholarship athletes... who have also had a chance to develop the strength and skill to be bonafide FBS players. You wonder why Gonzalez touches the ball so much? He's one of few quality athletes that fit that description. Our program has been a train wreck... easily one of the worst programs in the division. Turning that around isn't going to happen in a season or two.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 10 months ago

I have really defended the head coach, and want to continue supporting him. In all business, you have good to great employees who are not in the right fit to succeed. You either have to cast them aside or move them to a place they can be successful and have their skills fully utilized. The individual employee (player) is almost always the last to know and understand they are in a bad fit. Ultimately it is the boss, or in this case the head coach, who must make the decisions on how to deploy certain personnel for the individual, as well as for the whole. I would love to be wrong about Montell. He seems like a wonderful young man. But a chance to start for three years in a row has really looked much the same each year in game time scenarios. It's time to steer the Titanic away from icebergs and try a more southern, warmer route or Coach Beaty might end up the latest to go down with the ship. I do think this team is a better team from the previous 2 to 4 years, but it has to find a QB who can manage a game with significant reduction in unforced errors. We are not asking any of our QB's to be stars and make great plays. I don't think we have anyone like that on our roster at this point. We just need one who can come in, get some first downs and give the whole team a chance to gain some real confidence. We are not going to win many more games, if any, this year. But we can show game time progress instead of repeating the Mess in Memphis. Another offensive outing like that, the band will outnumber the fans in Memorial Stadium.

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