Five days after naming sophomore Montell Cozart his starting quarterback for the 2014 season, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis shed some light on why he chose to call off the race at the end of spring drills.
“No one forced our hand,” Weis said Tuesday morning during a post-spring Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We didn’t have to say anything. We just felt that it was in the best interest of our quarterbacks and our team to announce it then.”
Cozart’s performance and steady progress throughout the spring were key factors in making the decision, but Weis said the timing had as much to do with it as anything.
“What we didn’t want to do was go into the summertime misleading our players about who the starting quarterback was,” said Weis, who had thought about leaving the position a mystery in order to give KU an advantage over its early opponents. “After the spring game, which was really practice 15, we did post-spring evaluations with the whole team. In the eyes of the coaching staff, Montell had clearly played better than the other quarterbacks on our team.”
All of KU’s offensive coaches, including newcomers John Reagan (offensive coordinator/offensive line) and Eric Kiesau (wide receivers), offered their input and Weis announced the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Cozart as the starter in a press release last Thursday.
Weis said the decision to go with Cozart over the more experienced Jake Heaps gave the younger QB an opportunity to spend the summer developing and improving his skills as both a leader and a quarterback.
“I think it’s important if a guy has won a job, that he should be put as the leader,” Weis said. “And based on 15 practices, not just the spring game, Montell had clearly won the job.”
Weis said moving forward with the question unanswered would have been an unnecessary obstacle for KU’s offense.
“What would have happened was Jake would have been the leader in the summertime, then we would have come back (and) Montell would have gotten the first reps,” Weis said. “We thought we would have misled our team as they prepare for a tough, grueling summer. I think that it’s important for the players to know exactly where they stand.”
Naming Cozart the starting QB serves as the latest sign that Weis and the Jayhawks have shifted away from the pro-style offense of Weis’ first two seasons. In its place is a full-fledged no-huddle spread system similar to the one Reagan ran both at Rice and as an assistant at KU under Mark Mangino.
“Obviously, the biggest transition we’re going through right now is really changing our personality on offense,” Weis said. “I believe it’s for the better or else we wouldn’t be doing it.”