LAWRENCE — One year ago, Jake Heaps would watch and hope, just like everyone else. He was a transfer quarterback, sitting out a year, and he always believed he could provide some help to a middling Kansas passing attack.
Six games into his first season at KU, Heaps hasn’t been able to be part of the solution. He’s completing just 51.5 percent of his passes while throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions. In Big 12 games, he’s been a shade worse, completing just 48 percent. For a former top recruit who broke nearly every freshman passing record at BYU in 2010, it’s been a frustrating year.
“It’s definitely new territory,” Heaps said. “I haven’t really been in a situation like this, as far as the passing game goes. The only thing you can do is continue to work.”
Heaps has continued to keep a good attitude, continued to work hard. Even as true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart appears poised to get more playing time.
“The only thing that I can worry about is what I can do to help,” Heaps said.
“And for me, that’s what my focus is. What can I do better?”
Cozart made his college debut last week against Oklahoma, coming off the bench to replace Heaps midway through the second quarter. Cozart also played spot snaps in the second half, finishing with three rushes for eight yards.
Earlier this week, Kansas coach Charlie Weis was clear that Cozart would get more opportunities to play when KU faces Baylor at 6 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Stadium. And that means giving Cozart an opportunity to show off his arm.
“I think the first thing you need to do is get him involved with the whole game plan,” Weis said. “That include all of the passes, all of the runs, all everything.”
If Cozart has an edge over Heaps, it’s in his ability to make plays with his feet. That could mean fewer snaps for Heaps — although Weis has been mum on how much each quarterback will play. But if Weis wants to keep defenses honest, he’ll need to unleash Cozart’s arm.
“If they think,” Weis said, “that every time we put in Montell, it’s just to go ahead and run the ball, it’s not going to take very long for the defensive coordinators to figure that out.”