LAWRENCE – Charlie Weis insists his Kansas football team hasn’t thrown in the towel, and I think he’s right. KU fans might be a different story.
The Jayhawks laid another Big 12 egg Saturday at Memorial Stadium, losing to Texas 23-0. That’s 18 losses in 19 Big 12 games for Weis. Kansas is averaging just more than 14 points in those games.
That doesn’t cut it in today’s offense-heavy world of college football, where if you’re not scoring you’re not trying.
You can only talk about a strong defensive effort for so long before the conversation turns back to offense, and when that’s the subject, everybody’s lips seem to be sealed.
Weis again talked at length during his postgame news conference. He obviously knows football and is working to try and get his team out of this offensive funk it’s been in for what must seem like forever. The man whose resume includes Super Bowl championships and tutelage of Tom Brady with the New England Patriots now can’t figure out a way to get his Kansas team into the end zone.
He tried transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (Utah) during his first two seasons. Now he’s going with sophomore Montell Cozart, from Bishop Miege. The results have been 19 touchdowns, 28 interceptions and few wins.
Weis is frustrated by KU’s inability to pass the football. Cozart was 12 of 31 for 140 yards with four interceptions against Texas. What’s he supposed to do, turn to Michael Cummings? Been there, done that.
When asked, though, if it was possible Cozart was the best passer in KU’s practices but not in games, Weis said there’s a chance that’s true. Then he said he needs to watch the video from Saturday and that it would be unfair to Cozart to make any knee-jerk decisions or to put the blame for the Texas loss completely on his shoulders.
Cozart is in a tough place. He’s a long-term project, but he was thrust into the starting role for three games late last season and has never gotten the time to adapt to the rigors of college football.
Cozart is limited in what he can do, even if Weis and KU’s offensive coaches don’t seem to realize that.
How else to you explain the decision to ask Cozart to make a fade pass into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 5:02 left in the third quarter?
Kansas trailed 13-0. A touchdown would have made it feel like the Jayhawks had a chance. But they resorted to one of the toughest passes to complete, especially for a quarterback who has exhibited limited touch. This one, intended for Nigel King, was batted down by Texas cornerback Duke Thomas. It never had a chance.
Yet Weis defended the play call, saying it created a one-on-one opportunity for the 6-foot-3 King against the 5-11 Thomas.
“You have a tall receiver like that, you get them a one-on-one ball,” Weis said. “You see that every Saturday, you see it every Sunday.”
But you don’t see it work that often, even with quarterbacks and receivers more skilled than Cozart and King.
KU’s other opportunity in the red zone, on its first possession, ended when Cozart’s pass was tipped and intercepted in the end zone by Quandre Diggs.
And what started out as a crowd of more than 36,000 dwindled to a few thousand frustrated KU fans with nowhere else to go.
“The only time not to support a team is when a team has thrown in the towel,” Weis said. “And our team has shown no evidence of that.”
He’s right. It’s not a lack of effort that is keeping Kansas from realizing more success. It’s a lack of talent and improvement, specifically with the offensive unit, that is making success an impossibility.
You have to really stretch plausibility to think Cozart is suddenly going to become a Big 12-caliber quarterback, what with all the adversity he’s already faced and is trying to work through.
He’s just not ready for this, yet the Jayhawks have no other choices. And that’s on Weis, who by his third year should have created more options. Cozart did nothing last season to earn this much faith. And again, that’s not his fault. He came to KU as a raw passer who relied heavily on his ability to run at Miege.
Cummings, meanwhile, has played in 11 games and done nothing to make anyone think he’s a viable candidate to lead this offense through treacherous Big 12 terrain.
Kansas needs a spark, but there’s no one holding a match.