The case for KU coach David Beaty picking one QB and sticking with him
It was almost as if Kansas football coach David Beaty checked Twitter or a couple of KU message boards before hitting the postgame press conference following Thursday night’s 55-19 loss at Texas Tech.
Without hesitating, and with a certain amount of conviction, Beaty came off a little defensive when asked about KU’s quarterback problems, which, at this point, are not in any way, shape or form a minor deal.
“Everybody thinks they know who should be our quarterback, but I’m with them every day in practice,” Beaty told reporters who asked about the ongoing, back-and-forth dance between fourth-year junior Montell Cozart and sophomore Ryan Willis. “We evaluate them every day. We make our decision based on what we see every day.”
That’s great. But for the third straight game, and what seems like the 1,000th consecutive season, the Jayhawks are not getting the production they need from that position.
Is there more to winning football games than quarterback play? You bet. The offensive line has to show up, running backs and receivers have to make plays, the defense has to get stops and you even have to catch a couple breaks here and there.
So, yeah, there’s more to winning football than what happens under center, and you can’t blame all of 1-3 KU’s problems on what’s happening at quarterback. But you’re also not going to fix very many of those problems if you can’t find a quarterback who can do better than what we’ve seen in recent weeks.
I’m not one to claim I know more than a man who has spent nearly his entire adult life coaching football. I’ve never coached it. I’ve never really played it either. And even though that’s often the role and the right of any sports fan, from the extremely casual to the most die-hard, I don’t think that’s the motivation of the angry Jayhawk supporters sounding off about KU’s poor quarterback play.
But here’s the problem with Beaty emphasizing that he’s with KU’s QBs every day: What he is seeing when he’s with those guys every day is not what the rest of us are seeing on game days. Not even close. And, sadly for Kansas, that’s when it counts.
I don’t doubt for a second that both Cozart and Willis, overall, look pretty good during KU’s practices. I’ve seen it. Just like I saw Dayne Crist throw darts back in 2011 and just like I saw Jake Heaps complete nearly everything at practice a year later.
But performance in practice, though an important part of the evaluation, does not get the job done on Saturdays. So maybe it’s time for Beaty and company to start putting more weight on what happens in live action against an actual opponent. Evaluate that. Base the decision about the position on what’s happening when it really counts.
Who looks better against the blitz? Which QB throws more accurate, catchable balls with the defense breathing down his neck? Which player inspires his teammates to play hardest, dig deepest and sell out for the team?
Answer those questions and then pick that guy to play quarterback the rest of the way.
Beaty likes to talk about the need for depth at quarterback and often has mentioned how many Big 12 teams needed more than one quarterback a season ago. Heck, Texas Tech needed two QBs on Thursday night.
But in almost all of those situations, the dynamic between starter and back-up had been clearly established and the second QB, as was the case on Thursday, came into the game when he was needed, not on a whim or as part of a predetermined two-QB system.
I don’t think Beaty wants to go with the two-quarterback system. But, for some reason, I don’t think he wants to decide on one player over the other either.
Losing games is one thing. It happens. It’s been happening. And it’s going to keep happening, at least for a little while.
But losing the fan base is something completely different, something far more dangerous and difficult to bounce back from.
And Beaty’s handling of the QB position four games into his second season in charge of the Jayhawks — that and that alone — has some of the biggest KU football fans I know checking out.
This is not the time to be stubborn or indecisive. It’s time to pick one and play on, win or lose, good or bad.