QB questions, losses plague Kansas once again

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 20, 2013
The highly touted transfer was standing on the sideline, his hands on his hips, watching a younger, more athletic quarterback settling under center for the first time. Only this time, it wasn't Dayne Crist standing on the Kansas sideline. It was Jake Heaps. Yes, there's a case of deja vu surrounding the Jayhawks this season, as if everything has played out once before: The once-highly regarded prospect heads to the Heartland, joins Charlie Weis in an attempt to resurrect his career - not to mention the Jayhawks' football fortunes - and then has everything unravel by the midway point of the season. Crist, who transferred to Kansas from Notre Dame for his senior season, was benched in favor of Michael Cummings last year. And now it's Heaps, who transferred from BYU, who is suddenly under pressure from freshman quarterback Montell Cozart to hold onto his job. Weis ripped the redshirt off Cozart in Saturday's 34-19 loss to Oklahoma, when Heaps proved to be ineffective. And even though Cozart never threw a pass, his appearance spoke volumes. ''At the end of the day, I'm in it to win. Whatever we've got to do to win,'' Heap said. ''For the most part, the game plan was to have me in the game and manage the game and have Montell come in there and throw some different looks at them. I'm not too concerned about everything else. All I can concern myself with is what I can do and help my team win.'' Still, the numbers Heaps put up against the Sooners left plenty to be desired. He was 5 of 13 for 16 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions - the fewest yards passing by the Jayhawks since they put up 15 yards in a loss to Nebraska in 2010. Cozart was brought in primarily as a running option, and he carried three times for eight yards, but Weis said there were passing plays available in his game plan. ''I can't rule that completely out,'' he said of the passing game. ''I have to wait and see where we are. Obviously throwing for (16) yards in a college football game, I don't care if you're playing the `85 Bears, that's not acceptable.'' The truth is that Weis hasn't had any semblance of a passing offense since his arrival on Mount Oread. Crist was supposed to bring the NFL-caliber arm when he arrived last season, but he completed fewer than 48 percent of his passes with nine interceptions and just four TDs. Cummings fared little better, and was passed by both Heaps - who, like Crist, was among the nation's most hotly pursued high school recruits - and Cozart on the depth chart in fall camp. Heaps showed flashes of brilliance his freshman year at BYU, throwing for more than 2,300 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine picks. But he lost his job as a sophomore and, after sitting out last season to fulfill his transfer obligations, he has yet to get back on track. He's completing a career-worst 51.5 percent of his throws for 903 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions during the Jayhawks' 2-4 start. And he was particularly ineffective against the Sooners, struggling to find open receivers and missing them when he finally did. ''We didn't get anything going in the passing game,'' Weis said. ''That's the biggest thing Jake does here, besides run the team - which he always does a great job, so he can handle that. But the passing game was inefficient.'' That's why Weis elected to burn Cozart's redshirt midway through the season. The freshman quarterback ripped off a nice gain on his first play, but a holding penalty eventually scuttled the drive, and the Jayhawks didn't go back to him until later in the game. By that point, the Sooners were seizing control after a slow start. ''What I think he did was get his feet wet,'' Weis explained, ''which, if all else, gives us a chance to move forward.'' In that respect, it doesn't sound like Heaps' job is particularly safe. Weis appears content to stick with the junior quarterback as his starter, but there's no reason for Cozart to waste an entire season of eligibility if he's not going to get on the field. ''We all have a part in getting the passing game going, and I don't think there's anybody that can be absolved from any blame,'' Heaps said. ''We've definitely got to clean it up.''
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