Posts tagged with Ku

A self-scout from quarterback T.J. Millweard

Kansas University quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard speaks to the media on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas University quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard speaks to the media on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. by Mike Yoder

Third on the Kansas depth chart and still waiting to take his first snap as a college football quarterback, UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard (pronounced mill-word) is something of a mystery man for the Jayhawks.

He also is the player I am asked about most often on fairways and greens, in restaurants and coffee shops, at ballgames and gas stations.

It’s just the way it is with football teams having trouble scoring points. The guy nobody has seen always becomes the desired answer at quarterback.

Why isn’t he higher on the depth chart? I interviewed him well before the season started and in joking fashion, he blamed his father.

“I was just on the phone with my dad and I told him, ‘Thanks dad. You didn’t give me the athleticism that Mike (Cummings) and Montell (Cozart) have.' Unfortunately, that’s just not in my cards," Millweard said." I just try to maximize what I have. I'd like to think I can run.”

He didn’t have a strong day in the spring game, completing 2 of 8 passes for 16 yards, but he said he considers himself an accurate passer.

“Obviously, that’s a little more my strength than running,” Millweard said.

Recently fired Kansas coach Charlie Weis repeatedly described Millweard as a QB who could manage the offense at a moment’s notice if called into action.

“One of my biggest strengths is my mental aspect, I believe, knowing the defense, knowing where receivers are supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there, and getting the ball out,” Millweard said. “So if I see people blitzing, I need to change protection to protect myself because unfortunately I don’t have that flexibility that Montell and Mike do. It’s part of the game. I just have to overcome that.”

Millweard ran a version of the spread offense for his high school in Coffeyville, Texas, and learned another spread offense as a redshirt in his year at UCLA. A three-star recruit, he became the third “pro-style quarterback” to transfer to KU under Weis, following Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps.

“I’d like to think I use my mental strength to get to know where I need to go with the ball and get it out quick,” Millweard said of how decisive he is in the pocket. “I try to anticipate the throws, try not to have turnovers, try to be very consistent with each and every play. If there’s a window there, I’m going to try to stick it through it and I’m going to be accurate with the football.”

Millweard is plenty busy during games. In those somewhat rare moments that KU attempts a field goal, he's the holder. Millweard also is the one wearing the No. 10 on his back, a headset in place, flashing signals from the sidelines, standing next to a staff member doing the same. One of them is a decoy.


Clint Bowen explains how he will manage game-day duties

Two difficult game-day juggling acts, one a new one, another a holdover from the Charlie Weis staff with a new wrinkle, will go into effect Saturday in Morgantown, West Virginia.

John Reagan wears the headphones of an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. That’s an unusual combination since the OC more often coaches either quarterbacks, running backs or wide receivers, in that order. Reagan worked for Weis on the sidelines. Most offensive coordinators prefer the view from the press box. Reagan will return to the booth under Bowen’s leadership.

Bowen will continue as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach and handle head-coaching duties.

Bowen was asked Monday morning on the Big 12 conference call about whether he will put some of his DC duties on assistants.

“That’s a great question,” Bowen said, “something I gave a lot of thought to last night. You’re right in my mind with that question. How do you handle those additional responsibilities.”

A great question elicited a great response.

“Where I’m at right now, I feel like I have the best grasp on this defense and how it adjusts when we need to make adjustments and where we need to go next when teams are doing certain things,” Bowen said. “I feel at this point in time, I need to continue to control the defense.”

Which means the additional game duties that assistants will help him with are the ones new to Bowen.

“We kind of started some plans on how I’m going to get other people to assist on game day for game management, clock management, down-and-distance situations, where someone is really in my ear controlling that the whole time so that they’ve constantly got the operation, the next step planned where we want to go with it, a contingency plan, so that when I’m busy with other things, they have all the information I need right at the flash of a second,” Bowen said.

Former KU center Ryan Cantrell, who worked under Reagan at Rice, holds the title “assistant director of operations.” He will continue to serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for Reagan on game day with the offensive line.


Texas high school football player personifies passion in video gone viral

Watch this video from Time Warner Cable News in Austin, Texas, and then ask yourself this question: If you were a football coach anywhere from Pop Warner to high school to college, would you show this interview to your team? If not, why not?

His name is Apollos Hester. He plays wide receiver and outside linebacker for East View High in Georgetown, Texas. The interview took place after East View defeated Vandergrift, 42-41.

Hester doesn't have any stars next to his name on his profile, but the guess here is he will inspire football players across America to play football harder and enjoy life more. In a world with too much focus on negativity, Apollos Hester practically jumps out of your computer telling everybody watching that everything's going to be OK.

With one interview, Apollos Hester has transformed from anonymous high school football player to inspirational superhero.


Seven best quotes from Charlie Weis today

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from media members during a press conference  on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis addressed preparations for the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against Central Michigan and also the play of quarterback Montell Cozart, which he hopes to be improved by this weekend.

Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis answers questions from media members during a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 in Mrkonic Auditorium. Weis addressed preparations for the Jayhawks' upcoming home game against Central Michigan and also the play of quarterback Montell Cozart, which he hopes to be improved by this weekend. by Nick Krug

If the Kansas football team can’t snap out of its funk this weekend with a victory against a Central Michigan squad coming off a 37-point loss and likely coming to town without its best player, it’s quite possible today was Charlie Weis’ final Tuesday presser.

If that’s the case, I’ll miss the candid, entertaining sessions.

Even coming off a 41-3 loss at Duke and doing his best to check his sarcastic tongue, Weis didn’t give boring answers to the questions sent his way.

Some of his statements understandably don’t sit well with administrators and athletes, but for reporters, Weis’ candor is a dream come true.

My seven favorite answers from what could be his final Tuesday presser:

1 — Question: “What was the Duke defense doing that shut down (Nick) Harwell?”

Answer: “Montell (Cozart) shut down Harwell. Duke’s defense didn’t shut down Harwell.”

That’s 100 percent accurate. KU’s vastly improved receiving corps doesn’t have the numbers to show it because, in order, a) Cozart isn’t finding open receivers; b) He often misses them when he finds them; c) He’s too entrapped by rushing defenders to see them.

Not many coaches would respond in such a colorful way and would be too fearful of hurting the quarterback’s confidence.

2 — Question: “This may be kind of a simple, dumb question, but ...”

Answer: “Go ahead. Dumb is right up my alley.”

That’s not ersatz humor so often uttered by coaches. You know, C material that gets A laughs. Instead, it was genuinely funny, especially coming off a 41-3 loss to Duke, a game in advance of which he had sounded “confident, bordering on cocky,” to use a phrase he recently used on another topic.

3 — Question: “You already mentioned (running back Corey) Avery, but first road game for a bunch of your freshmen and obviously a lot of them got out there, too. Just the whole experience, what do you think of how those guys handled the road trip?”

Answer: “Well, Avery doesn’t act like a freshman, so it’s tough for me to look at him like a freshman. I think there are different guys you look at different ways. There are a couple guys that looked like they were more looking at the opposing stadium, and really it wasn’t a very intimidating place now. There were about 25,000 people there. They’re far away from you. It wasn’t loud. So there really was nothing to be intimidated about.

“I mean, you’re playing against a nice, solid team. They’re not great, but they’re a nice, solid team that’s turned the corner and they’re winning, so you’re going to have to play well, so really there should have been — field was in great condition, weather didn’t turn out to be an issue, but I mean, really you could look for reasons. There really isn’t one. We’ve gone to places where a freshman walks in and says, ‘My God.’ You walk in and there are 88,000 people there or 100,000 people there, and some of them get overwhelmed, but that game, that should not have been the case.”

It would be difficult to find another coach who just lost to a team by a 41-3 score refer to the victor as, “a nice, solid team. They’re not great, but they’re a nice, solid team.” What does that make Weis’ team? Well, at least 38 points worse than “nice” or “solid.”

4 — Question: “We saw how well your team played in the first quarter with the emotion against Southeast Missouri. Is that a big key for you guys, just playing with that emotion in a home game coming up?”

Answer (second half of it): “The problem really started between the quarterback and the center, okay, and before you know it, you’re punting and you never even gave your team a chance.

“Put it like this: I’m glad there are lights out there because when the practice is over, the quarterback and center are going to hang out together for quite some time. I don’t know what time tutoring starts, but hopefully they’ll be in in time for tutoring. We (coaches) can’t be out there because that would exceed the four‑hour day.”

Weis paints a nice picture with words and in this case what I pictured was being forced to stay after school to pound chalkboard erasers to clean them, scraping used gum off the bottom of desktops, etc.

5 — Question: “How much did having (suspended running back Thomas) Rawls and not having Rawls have to do with the two different outcomes (a decisive victory against Purdue; a blowout loss to Syracuse).”

Answer: “I mean, he’s a 100‑plus yard rusher every single game, and looking at, following the issues that are going on, I’d be kind of surprised if he played this week. Sign me up for that.

“But I’ve got my own guys’ issues on and off the field. I don’t wish bad on anyone else, but I think that the kid is a legitimately front‑line player. I think he’s really good. So would it have affected them, yeah, it probably would have affected them.”

Regardless of whether it was his intention, Weis pretty much let it be known he thinks it wouldn’t be right to play Rawls, given his off-the-field issue. In fairness, all he said was that he didn’t think he would play, so I’m taking a little bit of a leap there.

Rawls was scheduled for a Tuesday court appearance on larceny and credit-card fraud charges, dating to an April 8th incident at a casino. Rawls, who rushed for 155 yards in a 38-17 victory against Purdue on Sept. 8, is accused of stealing a woman’s purse and using her credit cards.

Rawls, the Chippewas’ best player, was arrested by Saginaw Chppewa Tribal Police the day after his big game. Who would have ever guessed casinos employ video surveillance. I mean, with all that money changing hands, what a shock!

6 — Question: “The problems on third down, is that just another example of the passing game needing to be more efficient, or is there anything more to that?”

Answer: “Well, it really was the passing game on every down. Third down gets magnified. If you’re not throwing and catching, if you’re not throwing and catching, third down gets magnified because now you’re punting. It wasn’t like every third down was third and 12. We had third and and 4s, we had plenty of manageable situations right there, but our efficiency in the pass game was not good, and it’s definitely magnified on third down.”

Good point.

7 — Question: “Referencing what you said earlier about some guys playing a pretty good game, was Michael Reynolds one of those guys?”

Answer: “No, I would not put him in that group of people that played really well. ... I think when Michael Reynolds was rushing the passer, he looked good. When he wasn’t, he didn’t look very good. You’re not going to get me to say, ‘Yeah’ on very many players you could bring up right now.”

Given the final score, that’s appropriate.


Offensive line needs better performance at Duke

Durham, N.C. — The last 27 times Kansas has played a football game outside of Lawrence, it has lost. Upsetting Duke today could do more than make for a pleasant flight home for the players.

“I think coming back here it would change a lot for us,” right tackle Damon Martin said.

For one thing, the concrete proof that would come with a victory on the road against a team coming off a big season would convince every Jayhawk that he is playing for a better team. It also would convince a fan base starving for a positive sign that this is a team worth watching for four quarters.

To pull off the upset, the KU O-Line in general and Martin specifically must deliver a better four-quarter performance than in the 34-28 victory against Southeast Missouri State last Saturday.

Offensive coordinator/line coach John Reagan gave his line a better grade in the first half than the second.

“I think that’s fair,” said Martin, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound junior from Arlington, Texas. “We stopped executing in the second half.”

Martin, who in the spring made the move from guard to right tackle, had a particularly rough game.

“I still feel like I think like a guard sometimes, which could be a bad thing, but might not be that bad,” Martin said.

And then there was the play that was just plain bad. Near the end of the first half, Martin stood over a loose ball for a brief eternity and belatedly fell on it.

What happened?

“I don’t know,” Martin said. “Just a brain (freeze, but smellier), I guess. At least I got on it.” Seeing him standing over the loose ball was one of the stranger things you’ll ever see in a football game.

“It was a weird play for me, too,” Martin said. “People were yelling from the sideline, and I realized people were running at me, so I made sure I got on it really quick. I don’t know what was going through my mind. It was weird. It won’t ever happen again.”

Martin said the ribbing he received for the play during a film session, “wasn’t too bad, but everyone made sure I knew to get on the ball: ‘If you see the ball, get on it.’ So from now on, that’s what will happen.”

Larry Mazyck, a 6-8, 360-pound junior-college transfer from Washington, D.C., played some at right tackle and could ultimately take the position from Martin if the former guard doesn’t upgrade his performance from last week.


Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s confidence not lost in translation

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

The man working the television camera looked to the media relations staff for help and asked for a microphone check. After Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk was asked to say "check" into the mic, he leaned forward over it and softly said, "Boo!" with a little smile.

Nothing about the 17-year-old basketball star from Ukraine suggested he was uncomfortable or in any way overwhelmed.

Whether he brings enough strength, skill and athleticism at such a young age to earn significant playing time on a loaded Kansas team remains to be seen, but if he doesn't, it won't be because he doesn't believe in himself.

Asked what he does best as a basketball player, Mykhailiuk answered with one word: "Everything."

Asked what position he considered himself, he said without hesitation that he's a guard. He will join a crowded field on the perimeter that includes small guards Frank Mason, Devonté Graham and Conner Frankamp and wings Wayne Selden, Kelly Oubre and Brannen Greene.

Kansas coach Bill Self typically likes to play four bigs and five perimeter players, but there is nothing typical about the depth of this team, even by Kansas standards.

Oh well, it's better to have too much depth than not enough.


Seven ways Kansas must improve to have any shot at upsetting Duke

Kansas receiver Justin McCay can't quite get to a pass as Southeast Missouri State cornerback Reggie Jennings covers him on an end zone pass during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Justin McCay can't quite get to a pass as Southeast Missouri State cornerback Reggie Jennings covers him on an end zone pass during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Seven things that must improve significantly from Week 1 to Week 2 to give Kansas any shot at pulling off the upset against Duke, which opened as a 20-point favorite:

  1. The pass rush has to force Duke quarterback Anthony Boone to hurry. In victories against Elon and Troy, Boone has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for an average of 6.96 yards per pass with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He rushed for 47 yards in a 34-17 victory against Troy. Boone threw as many interceptions (13) as touchdowns last season, so he can be rushed into mistakes. Southeast Missouri State quarterback Kyle Snyder had way too much time to pick out receivers in KU’s shaky 34-28 victory.

  2. The secondary has to do a better job. Dexter McDonald played so well that he earned Big 12 defensive player of the week honors with two interceptions and two pass breakups. He was such a force that SEMO quarterback Kyle Snyder stopped throwing anywhere near him. Smart move. Safety Isaiah Johnson and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd didn’t have their best games and Snyder’s fourth-quarter shredding of the defense was extremely unsettling.

  3. KU’s four-man pass rush must improve significantly. If the Jayhawks can’t apply pressure against an FCS offensive line, when can they? Sure, blitzing can cause panic in the pocket, but that also leaves holes in the coverage. It has to start up front and it didn't against Duke.

  4. Quarterback Montell Cozart will need to put a better touch on longer passes to reward Harwell for busting open so often. Harwell gives a defense a huge headache, but if Cozart can’t hit him consistently when he breaks open for potential big gains, the defense can pack it in to take away runs and short passes.

  5. The offensive line needs to do a better job of providing Cozart time to scan the field. Snyder had more time to throw than Cozart did. Typcially, in the trenches is where FBS schools have the biggest advantage against FCS teams. That wasn’t the case Saturday, which is a huge concern. De’Andre Mann praised the run-blocking, so that hasn’t been a problem so far.

  6. Obviously, KU needs to finish better. In its past three games, including at Iowa State and at home vs. Kansas State at the end of last season, Kansas has been outscored, 62-10. What’s going on? Is it a stamina issue, a lack of in-game adjustments, a shortage of the mental toughness needed to bounce back when things start going the other way? Every area needs to be examined to find the answer or answers.

  7. Cozart showed significant improvement, which makes it all the more important to keep him healthy. Even so, Cozart could stand to put a little more pressure on the defense as a running threat. There were a couple of plays that he could have turned it up field for potential first downs and did not. The quality of the opponent takes a huge leap forward Saturday, so KU will need to use every means possible to keep pace.


In search of minutes for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk of Ukraine competes during the U16 Eurobasket 2013 first-round match between Ukraine and Latvia at Palace of Sport in Kiev, Ukraine, on Aug. 8, 2013.

Question: What is more difficult for a 17-year-old basketball player to achieve: Making the Ukrainian national team or cracking Kansas University’s 2014-2015 perimeter rotation? Answer: We’ll soon find out.

Former NBA coach and broadcaster Mike Fratello, head coach of Ukraine’s national team, told Kansas coach Bill Self he didn’t see how incoming KU freshman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk could compete well enough against “men” to make the roster for the FIBA World and expected him to play for the junior national team. Mykhailiuk exceeded Fratello’s expectations and made the roster. Good sign. Great accomplishment.

It will be quite the accomplishment if Mykhailiuk, 17, can earn playing time on KU’s loaded perimeter.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at how the perimeter minutes might get distributed had Mykhailiuk not been recruited to Kansas and then try to make time for him by subtracting minutes elsewhere.

Three perimeter positions times 40 minutes equals 120. Add 10 minutes for when one of the perimeter players slides to the power forward position, meaning 130 minutes are split among the following six players: Small guards Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp and Devonte Graham and big wings Wayne Selden, Kelly Oubre and Brannen Greene.

Obviously, these guesses are all way premature and mean nothing, which doesn’t take the fun out of the exercise. Give 25 minutes to Mason, 15 to Frankamp and 15 to Graham. That leaves 75 minutes for the three big wings. Give 30 minutes to Selden, 30 to Oubre and 15 to Greene. It’s difficult to picture Mykhailiuk cutting into the minutes of Selden or Oubre.

That leaves Greene, a skilled scorer with a big body and a reputation as an underachiever at the defensive end. Nothing motivates the way playing time does, so if Greene has the maturity to realize how much he must improve his defense in order to play and has it in his body to play much better D, he could become the team’s most improved player. And if a 17-year-old can beat him out, then that 17-year-old is one serious talent. Any way you look at it, KU has tremendous perimeter depth, regardless of how the minutes are distributed.

The question of how to pronounce Mykhailiuk's name no longer is a mystery, but the readiness of his game remains one.


Miami becomes third school to bench Jake Heaps

Nobody wanted it more and studied harder than Jake Heaps at three different Football Bowl Subdivision schools. But landing a starting quarterback job requires far more than trying. The University of Miami became the third Heaps school to hand the football to someone else, the only difference here being that he lost the job before winning it.

True freshman Brad Kaaya beat out Heaps, Hurricanes coach Al Golden announced Sunday. The easy answer for why Heaps, who has a strong enough arm to zip passes into tight spots, didn’t become a productive college quarterback is to point to his lack of mobility. But it’s more than that.

How quickly the mind reaches the conclusion as to when and where to throw the ball can predict success every bit as well as the quickness of a quarterback’s feet and the velocity of the ball that flies out of his hand.

Heaps always looked like a guy who had trouble pulling the trigger, a fatal flaw for that position. That’s a quality not easily scouted at a quarterback combine, where physical tools are emphasized. Heaps came out of high school ranked by recruiting services as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback prospect in part because of what he did at camps.

Heaps has played or at least practiced for five different offensive coordinators and has watched three different quarterbacks chosen as start over him at various stages of his career: Riley Nelson at BYU, Montell Cozart at Kansas and now Kaaya at Miami.

Heaps’ best statistical season came at BYU as a freshman (57.2 completion percentage, 6.05 yards per pass, 15 touchdown passes, nine interceptions), his worst at KU as a junior (49 percent, 5.42 yards per pass, eight TD’s, 10 interceptions).

Heaps told the Miami Herald he is not considering transferring and that he does not think missing the team’s second scrimmage because of elbow soreness had anything to do with the coach’s decision. At the moment, he is listed at No. 2 on the 'Canes' quarterback depth chart.

Under ideal circumstances, Kaaya, because he is a true freshman, and Cozart, because he didn’t play the position regularly until he was a junior in high school, would be holding the clipboard, learning the ins and outs of the job and refining mechanics, before leading teams. That’s why both schools presented good opportunities for Heaps. So it doesn’t appear to be a case of Heaps choosing the wrong schools, rather a case of not quite having the right stuff.


Charlie Weis praises Montell Cozart’s decisions

In a football program loaded with depth, sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart would be in an understudy role, holding a clipboard, trying to improve at a steady pace.

Kansas doesn’t have that luxury, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the coaching staff is demanding rapid growth from the QB who turned 19 Monday. If Cozart plays well enough to hold the starting position for the rest of his career, he’ll be far better at this time his senior year than he is now.

Where is he now?

“The best thing for me with Montell is I just see him getting better every day,” third-year head coach Charlie Weis said. “From the quarterback position, when you start having highs and lows, that’s what you really get concerned about. He’s growing in confidence every day.”

Weis hasn't made the mistake he made with Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps in terms of creating ultra-high expectations. He did make one statement Wednesday discussing Cozart that will be criticized because Weis has a 4-20 record. If his record were 20-4, he would be praised as funny, colorful, frank and a "real character," when asked about the role nervousness played in Cozart's poor performances at the end of the season.

“I probably made a mistake," Weis said. "I probably should have gone to the brown pants for the past couple of games, but because we played him, we’re in a different position now than if we hadn’t played him. ... I’m so glad we did."

Weis then referenced two shortcomings that stood out from Cozart's rookie year.

"He acknowledges the fact that he was nervous and he threw some balls away or he’d run out of bounds," Weis said. "You won’t see him running out of bounds now unless it’s a wise decision. He’s been making a lot of good decisions for a relatively inexperienced guy. I’d like to think that things are definitely moving in the right direction with the ball in his hands.”

The true test regarding such decisions, obviously, will come against defenses capable of putting the quarterback under duress. Based on what Weis has seen in practice so far, he's comfortable sending Cozart onto the field in any and all uniform hues.


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