Column: Kansas quarterback six-pack hurts stability

Kansas University will start its sixth different quarterback in six seasons this fall when Montell Cozart steps under center.

Kansas University will start its sixth different quarterback in six seasons this fall when Montell Cozart steps under center.

Overmatched in the trenches. High coaching turnover. Inadequate recruiting. Shallow talent at wide receiver.

All those factors have played a part in the Kansas University football program getting trapped in the Big 12 cellar for five seasons running. Worse, KU has lost 40 of its last 42 Big 12 games.

No factor has played a bigger role in the cellar-dwelling than a failure to recruit the right quarterback, develop him the right way and put him in the right offense.

No other Big 12 program has come close to showing as much instability at the quarterback position as Kansas.

Montell Cozart, who beat out Jake Heaps for the starting job during spring football, has a chance to change that. He has three seasons of eligibility remaining. If he produces, he could stop the revolving door from spinning. If he does not, the search continues.

KU coach Charlie Weis announced a few days after the spring football game that Cozart will get the start, a nice confidence jolt for him. Cozart is set to become the sixth Week One starter in six seasons, following Todd Reesing, Kale Pick, Jordan Webb, Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps.

During that stretch, no other school can claim more than four Week One starters, provided nothing changes in terms of the 2014 projected starters.

Cozart is by far the least-experienced passer among the 10 projected Big 12 starters. He attempted 63 passes during his true freshman season.

Trevor Knight, who as a red-shirt freshman threw four touchdown passes to lead Oklahoma to an upset victory against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in January, is the least experienced outside of Cozart. Knight attempted 134 passes.

Half of the projected starting quarterbacks in the Big 12 also started the season-opener a year ago. Baylor’s Bryce Petty, Kansas State’s Jake Waters, Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh and David Ash of Texas join Knight in that regard.

Petty, Waters and Knight shape up as the leading contenders for all-conference honors at quarterback. First-time, Big 12 season-opening starters joining Cozart are Iowa State’s Grant Rohach, TCU’s experienced Trevone Boykin, Texas Tech’s Davis Webb and West Virginia’s Clint Trickett.

Cozart’s mobility makes a better fit for playing behind an inexperienced offensive line and for running a spread offense that gives a speedy QB like Cozart room to make things happen on scripted runs and scrambles.

Big 12 Starting QBs

Montell Cozart is set to become Kansas University’s sixth Week 1 starting quarterback in six seasons. A look at Big 12, season-opening starters the past six seasons, with number of different starters in parentheses:

Baylor (3)

2014: Bryce Petty

2013: Bryce Petty

2012: Nick Florence

2011: Robert Griffin III

2010: Robert Griffin III

2009: Robert Griffin III

Iowa State (4)

2014: Grant Rohach

2013: Sam Richardson

2012: Steele Jantz

2011: Steele Jantz

2010: Austen Arnaud

2009: Austen Arnaud

Kansas (6)

2014: Montell Cozart

2013: Jake Heaps

2012: Dayne Crist

2011: Jordan Webb

2010: Kale Pick

2009: Todd Reesing

Kansas State (3)

2014: Jake Waters

2013: Jake Waters

2012: Collin Klein

2011: Collin Klein

2010: Carson Coffman

2009: Carson Coffman

Oklahoma (3)

2014: Trevor Knight

2013: Trevor Knight

2012: Landry Jones

2011: Landry Jones

2010: Landry Jones

2009: Sam Bradford

Oklahoma State (4)

2014: J.W. Walsh

2013: J.W. Walsh

2012: Wes Lunt

2011: Brandon Weeden

2010: Brandon Weeden

2009: Zac Robinson

Texas (3)

2014: David Ash

2013: David Ash

2012: David Ash

2011: Garrett Gilbert

2010: Garrett Gilbert

2009: Colt McCoy

TCU (3)

2014: Trevone Boykin

2013: Casey Pachall

2012: Casey Pachall

2011: Casey Pachall

2010: Andy Dalton

2009: Andy Dalton

Texas Tech (4)

2014: Davis Webb

2013: Baker Mayfield

2012: Seth Doege

2011: Taylor Potts

2010: Taylor Potts

2009: Taylor Potts

West Virginia (4)

2014: Clint Trickett

2013: Paul Millard

2012: Geno Smith

2011: Geno Smith

2010: Geno Smith

2009: Jarrett Brown