Tom Keegan: Two sets of numbers tell tale of Montell Cozart

photo by: Nick Krug

Memphis defensive lineman Michael Edwards (95) recovers a Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) fumble during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.

If limited to three numbers for a statistical evaluation of quarterbacks, I prefer yards per attempt, touchdowns and interceptions. Those three statistics tell two distinctly different stories about Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart, a fourth-year junior.

One is a happy story, the other a sad tale.

First, the uplifting one: In three games vs. Football Championship Subdivision schools, Southeast Missouri State, South Dakota State and Rhode Island, Cozart has averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt, thrown seven touchdown passes and two interceptions.

In 17 games, some as a starter, some as a reliever, vs. Football Bowl Subdivision competition, Cozart has averaged 5.3 yards per attempt, thrown five touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

That disparity illustrates that when leading a team that is equal or better than the opponent in terms of speed and size, Cozart generally does a nice job of throwing and securing the ball, although his failure to execute a spike killed KU’s shot at defeating South Dakota State in the 2015 season-opener.

Another way of looking at the numbers shows that Cozart has thrown a touchdown pass every 12.4 attempts vs. FCS schools, one every 56 attempts vs. the FBS. He has thrown an interception every 43.5 passes vs. FCS, one every 25.4 passes vs. FBS competition.

Since Kansas plays 11 times as many FBS schools as FCS, the relevant numbers are five touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and 5.3 yards per attempt.

Obviously, the in-game juggling of quarterbacks hasn’t worked, so look for Beaty to decide on one quarterback throughout the Texas Tech game, barring injury.

We’ll never know if Cozart would have had a better day vs. Memphis had Beaty ridden with him the whole game, but since he didn’t and Cozart had a very rough day, Beaty likely will turn to Ryan Willis in the nationally televised game one week from Thursday. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that if Carter Stanley has more impressive practices between now and then, Beaty could hand the ball to the redshirt freshman from Vero Beach, Fla., to shock Texas Tech, but Willis likely is next in line.

Every quarterback embraces the opportunity to face Texas Tech, which ranks 122nd of 128 FBS schools in pass defense, allowing 324.7 per game, and ranks 120th in scoring defense (43.3). Then again, every defense dreads the Red Raiders, who rank No. 1 in the nation in scoring (61 points per game) and passing yards (547.7).

Time to see how Willis does as a gunslinger.