Kansas head coach David Beaty may feel that he has two quarterbacks capable of starting, yet one thing was painfully clear watching the Jayhawks get roughed up 55-19 by Texas Tech. If he wants his offense to achieve any type of consistency, he’d better pick one of his signal callers and stick with them.
Beaty has spent the first four games of the season playing both Montell Cozart and Ryan Willis under center, and all the Jayhawks have to show for it is inconsistency on offense and a 1-3 record. While the two quarterback system (they even used third-string quarterback Carter Stanley for a bit) helped them roll up more than 500 yards of offense in a 55-6 season-opening rout of Rhode Island, the results since then have been less than encouraging.
Beaty admitted he didn’t trust Willis in a key situation during the Jayhawks loss to Ohio and sticking with the system was completely ineffective the following week in a 43-7 blowout loss to Memphis. While it is understandable that Beaty has confidence in his “Air Raid” offense and feels that any QB can run it as long as they stick to the rules, the results say otherwise. Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are,” and the Jayhawks record says they are a bad team with an inconsistent offense.
Maybe Beaty is right that he could have multiple QBs run his offense in the same game, but the problem in Lawrence is that the QB’s he’s using don’t play the same style. Both have strong arms, but Cozart is at his best when he’s on the move, as opposed to Willis, who needs a clean pocket to operate from. Switching them back and forth throughout the game leads to many rhythm issues such as the offense line having to block differently for a mobile QB versus one who prefers to sit in the pocket. This issue, along with a host of others, are why many coaches will tell you that the two QB system simply doesn’t work.
As Beaty continues to stick with his broken system to rebuild the Jayhawks struggling program, all he is really doing is messing with the confidence of his QBs and his offense, forcing them to learn two different styles of play and potentially multiple game plans each week based on who’s under center. While Beaty hasn’t been clear on exactly how he divides up playing time each week, we do know that the process to determine first-team reps in practice was getting pretty juvenile leading up to the start of the season.
While the Jayhawks may not be able to dig themselves out of the hole they’re in at the moment, if they are going to have any chance of becoming bowl eligible, Beaty needs to pick one QB and stick with him. If he does, the smart money is on Cozart. Coming into the season, Cozart was named the starter and he has put up better numbers than Willis in the first four games. He has also shown he has the character to lead, which is something that can’t be overlooked.
On Monday, Beaty announced that Willis will start Saturday at QB. However, if KU continues to switch back and forth, it really doesn’t make much of a difference who starts.
The two QB system has proven to be largely ineffective. LSU won a title in 2007 using two and Florida had some success with Chris Leak and a freshman Tim Tebow, but looking at the records of some teams who are using it this season (Notre Dame, 1-3; South Carolina, 2-2; Iowa State, 0-3) it’s a losing strategy. If Beaty is serious about rebuilding the program, he needs to start by settling on a QB to build around.
Steven Callahan contributes content weekly each Tuesday. View his archive here.