LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Charlie Weis described sophomore starting quarterback Montell Cozart this week as “confident bordering on cocky,” making it clear that such a phrase was meant as a compliment.
Cozart and his offensive peers describe his attitude a little differently.
“I’m going to say swag,” Cozart said with a grin. “Cocky might be his word, but I’m going to say swag. I feel that’s something that I carry around.”
The sophomore quarterback will carry it right into Saturday night’s season opener against Southeast Missouri State. He won the starting job with a strong spring, and hasn’t done anything to jeopardize it throughout a fall camp in which his leadership has only grown.
“I wouldn’t say he’s cocky at all,” tight end Jimmay Mundine said. “He’s very humble. He’s always trying to get better. Obviously with all the things that are going on and the way he’s been practicing and the work that he’s put in, he believes in himself. There’s nothing wrong with having a little confidence and showing a little swagger every once in a while.”
The Jayhawks could certainly use it out of their quarterback.
After failed experiments with high-profile transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps the past two seasons, Weis has decided to go with a more athletic quarterback in new offensive coordinator John Reagan’s spread attack. And so far the results have been encouraging.
After completing just 36 percent of his passes for 227 yards last season, Cozart went 6 for 10 for 58 yards while adding another 70 yards on the ground in the Jayhawks’ spring game.
“He should be pretty confident,” said wide receiver Nick Harwell, a transfer from Miami of Ohio. “He’s been playing well in the spring and the summer and throughout camp. He should have a little bit of swagger and confidence.”
Especially when Weis puts a little bit of pressure on him.
“The passing game has been anemic,” he said. “Our completion percentage (last year) was crummy. He was a part of that. Everyone else was a part of that, too.”
Need an example of his confidence? When asked what a successful opener would be Saturday, he replied: “Throw for about 350, run for 50-plus and to beat ‘em up.”
“He started off (fall camp) on fire,” Weis said. “Then he had this little lull right in the middle of camp. I pulled way off of him after the lull because I thought his arm was tired. Since that, he’s been on fire, knock on wood. When you’re on fire that means you’re completing most of your passes. That means everyone around you is feeding off that.”
That includes the Jayhawks’ wide receiver corps, Harwell first and foremost.
“I’ve been around a couple good quarterbacks before,” Weis said. “When quarterbacks start looking for a guy, they know they’re going to be open most of the time. They know when they throw it to them, they’re usually going to catch it. That’s what Nick has brought to the team.”
Harwell said he’s been working to develop chemistry with Cozart since the spring.
“We’re pretty much on the same page,” he said, “as well as with a lot of other receivers.”
Tony Pierson, who began his career as a running back, is back for his senior season. Maryland transfer Nigel King and former Oklahoma wide receiver Justin McCay are also poised to contribute.
“The combination of Harwell being in the slot and Tony being a full-time wide receiver, just starting with those two guys on every single play is a benefit,” Weis said. “Then you have McCay and (Rodriguez) Coleman and Nigel and Tre (Parmalee). You have a bunch of guys who have a clue. This is just a better fit.”
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