University of Kansas

Kansas, West Virginia coaches play quarterback games

Updated: 2013-11-16T02:17:55Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

On the way to kickoff for Saturday’s Kansas-West Virginia game, the coaches engaged in a bit of gamesmanship when it came to announcing the starting quarterbacks.

The Jayhawks’ Charlie Weis and the Mountaineers’ Dana Holgorsen insist the starters will come from a pool of five candidates.

For the first time this season, Kansas listed Jake Heaps, who started the first nine games, as a co-starter with Montell Cozart, who played the entire second half in last week’s loss to Oklahoma State.

“I know who’s starting at quarterback,” Weis said on Tuesday. “But why should I tell them?”

Holgorsen took the same approach during his weekly radio show on Thursday. Clint Trickett has started the past six games, but didn’t play after the first quarter in last weekend’s game against Texas after taking a blow to the head. Paul Millard took most of the first-team reps in practice this week and Ford Childress has recovered from a chest muscle injury and is cleared to play.

“I may start all three of them,” Holgorsen said.

The idea is to make the other side spend time preparing for multiple players, and in West Virginia’s case that means practicing against different styles. Heaps is a pocket threat who has thrown for seven touchdowns. Cozart, a freshman from Bishop Miege, is a dual threat.

“Not that we’re trained killers on offense, but you have to practice,” Weis said. “Jake’s in the game at quarterback. What do they do when Jake’s in the game? Montell’s in at quarterback. What do they do when Montell’s in?”

The Jayhawks are forced into the same guessing game predicament with the West Virginia trio, and there’s plenty of this going around in the Big 12 this season. Seven teams have started more than one quarterback this season, and two of three that have started one —Kansas and Kansas State —play two during the game.

Only Baylor’s Bryce Petty has held the starting role and dominated his position this season.

Big 12 quarterback starts

•  Baylor: Bryce Petty (9)

•  Iowa State: Sam Richardson (8), Grant Rohach (1)

•  Kansas: Jake Heaps (9)

•  Kansas State: Jake Waters (9)

•  Oklahoma: Blake Bell (7), Trevor Knight (2)

•  Oklahoma State: J.W. Walsh (5), Clint Chelf (4)

•  Texas: Case McCoy (6), David Ash (3)

•  TCU: Trevone Boykin (6), Casey Pachall (4)

•  Texas Tech: Baker Mayfield (5), Davis Webb (5)

Other story lines

MORE OFFENSE? This begins a two-game stretch for Kansas facing statistically weaker defensive teams. If the Jayhawks are ever going to reach 20 in a league game, it’s Saturday and next weekend at Iowa State.

BOWLING? West Virginia is thinking bowl game. The Mountaineers, 4-6, need to win out to clinch postseason eligibility, and that’s a motivation Kansas doesn’t have.

FEEL THE BREEZE: Weather could be a factor. The forecast calls for 25 mph winds. Punters Trevor Pardula of Kansas and West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole are among the Big 12’s best, but the Mountaineers’ place kicking has been more consistent. It may come down who has the wind at their back in the fourth quarter.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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