Spring is in the air and the Kansas Jayhawks have a ton of work to do this season if they plan on bettering the 2013 football season’s three total wins. And despite entering just the third year of a five-year deal, this could be head coach Charlie Weis’ last chance to prove he can make a winner out of a program that has won a total of nine games in the past four seasons combined.
Last year’s struggles had everything to do with inconsistent quarterback play and junior Jake Heaps, who was ineffective in all but two games, just failed to get it done. Heaps finished the 2013 campaign with 1,414 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while completing 49.0 percent of his passes. The lone offensive bright spot on any sort of consistent basis was the steady rushing of senior running back James Sims, who posted 1,110 yards and eight touchdowns.
In the Kansas spring football game this past Sunday, the depth chart was wide open, particularly at the quarterback position where three other quarterbacks besides Heaps were all given a chance to showcase their wares. While Heaps began where he left off last season, hitting 3-of-9 for 41 yards, last year’s number two and the favorite to win the start under center this season, freshman Montell Cozart, was the game’s offensive standout. Cozart completed 6-of-10 for 58 yards and rushed for 70 yards, but likely put his name at the top of the list with a 60-yard touchdown scamper. Also taking snaps were redshirt sophomore T.J. Millweard, a UCLA transfer who finished 2-of-8 for 16 yards and sophomore Michael Cummings, who completed 3-of-10 for 42 yards.
Replacing Sims in the backfield will be a tall order, given the fact that he was most of the reason the Jayhawks won at all in 2013. In Kansas’ three wins, Sims totaled 383 yards and five touchdowns. However, sophomore Darian Miller and junior Brandon Bourbon, last season’s second and third backs, respectively, could prove to be a solid rushing duo. Bourbon ran well, leading all rushers with 96 yards on 12 attempts and Miller added 50 yards on seven carries. Senior Taylor Cox, who saw limited action last season with just six attempts for 44 yards, also ran well, carrying 15 times for 63 yards. The Jayhawks receiving corps does boast some talent if someone can actually deliver them the football. Junior Andrew Turzilli, a 6-4 deep threat who sat out half of the 2013 season with an injury, caught 3 balls for 57 yards and Miami (OH) transfer Nick Harwell, had 4 receptions for 31 yards.
Defense was one of the few areas last season in which the Jayhawks looked like they might not be overmatched. And they were reportedly very good in the spring game. Sophomore linebacker Jake Love, 58 tackles in 2013, was the standout on the defensive side, posting 10 tackles, six of which were solo efforts. And junior linebacker Ben Heeney, 87 tackles and three interceptions in 2013, also promises to add to a solid Kansas linebacking corps. Junior defensive lineman Keon Stowers (29 tackles) also stood out with eight tackles. Sophomore safety Isaiah Johnson, a heat-seeking missile in the defensive backfield who had 73 tackles and five interceptions last season, had the game’s lone interception.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat
College Football News