Archive for Sunday, December 29, 2013

Column: KU fans, coaches face tests in 2014

December 29, 2013


Tough challenges face local athletes, coaches, administrators, announcers and fans involved directly or indirectly in Kansas University sports in 2014.

A sampling:

1 . Offensive coordinator/O-line coach John Reagan inherits a KU football offense that for the past two seasons combined has “amassed” four touchdown receptions from its wide receivers, three if you don’t count hybrid running back/slot receiver Tony Pierson as part of that position group.

Reagan also inherits an offensive line that loses both starting tackles and the starting center.

At quarterback, Reagan will choose from:

• Montell Cozart, a fast, graceful long-strider who did not throw any touchdown passes in 63 attempts, averaged 3.6 yards per pass and completed 36.5 percent of his passes as a true freshman.

• Jake Heaps, a senior not blessed with the mobility to work well under heavy heat. Heaps completed 49 percent of his passes in his first season with KU, averaged 5.4 yards per pass and threw eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

• T.J. Millweard, a third-year sophomore who practiced a year with UCLA and a year with Kansas but has not thrown a pass in a game that counts since high school.

He originally committed to Virginia Tech, then switched to Arizona State, then changed his mind in favor of UCLA, following the assistant coach who had recruited him when at ASU. Millweard spent one year with the Bruins, didn’t like his chances of getting playing time and contacted the KU football office to see if the Jayhawks had any interest in him. He’s built like Dayne Crist at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but has more mobility.

Talented Nick Harwell, wide receiver transfer from Miami (Ohio), will try to help Reagan make it happen.

2 . For Charlie Weis, the challenge lies in letting his coaches coach, particularly Reagan. Weis always has been in charge of the offense for so long at so many stops, he’ll need to fight the urge to want to have a big say. A tonic to quiet the urge: watch tape of KU’s offenses of 2012 (tied for 118th of 125 FBS schools with an average of 5.7 yards-per-play) and 2013 (124th of 125 with 5.1 ypp. Only Virginia was worse).

3 . City officials who want to make Rock Chalk Park a hub for national youth track-and-field events face a tough task in coming up with an answer for why bathrooms and concessions are on only one side of the stadium.

4 . Will KU basketball fans be up to the challenge of dealing with inevitable losses in a Big 12 conference that features four of the nation’s top 16 teams in the Associated Press poll, three of them ranked ahead of KU, plus a Texas squad knocking on the door of the top 25, plus one-loss Oklahoma, plus a Kansas State team that knocked Gonzaga out of the rankings?


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