David Beaty has added another title for the Kansas football team: kickoff and punt returners coach.
Beaty, in his second year as KU’s head coach, announced Tuesday that he would be taking over more duties this season after LaQuvionte Gonzalez lost two fumbles in the Jayhawks’ 37-21 loss to Ohio on Saturday. KU plays at Memphis at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“If it’s going to happen (fumbles), it’s going to be my fault,” Beaty said. “That’s why I’m doing it.”
It adds to a long list of responsibilities for Beaty. In March, he took over play-calling from offensive coordinator Rob Likens while also becoming the team’s quarterbacks coach.
In practices, KU’s coaching staff works with punt and kick returners during the rest of the team’s opening stretches.
“I’ve done it for a long, long time and I have a specific teaching progression that I want to use,” Beaty said. “I just think it’s sound and I know exactly how I want it taught and I know what I want it to look like.”
Through two weeks, KU has lost three fumbles, which all have come on punt returns. Derrick Neal coughed one up in the team’s opener before Gonzalez had separate miscues in the second and third quarters against Ohio.
Beaty emphasized that Gonzalez, a Texas A&M transfer, would get more opportunities on special teams. He also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Saturday that gave KU its only first-half points.
“He’s a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the football,” Beaty said. “So we have to find a way to help him with those things. His mistake was very simple. He didn’t beat the ball to the spot. He took his eyes off it. That’s a cardinal sin when you’re a punt returner.”
Beaty didn’t reveal who had previously coached KU’s punt returners — “That doesn’t matter,” he said — while saying the process was more complicated than simply telling a player to go back and catch the football.
“I’ve got an 87-year-old mother and the first thing she said was, ‘Y’all got to hang on to that ball when they punt it to you,’ ” Beaty said. “Yeah, absolutely we do. We’ve got to do a better job of that, and that’s not OK.”
QB rotation kept quiet
After rotating his quarterbacks in the opener against Rhode Island, Beaty went with Montell Cozart in all but two possessions last week against Ohio.
The coach was asked for his plans in Saturday’s game against Memphis.
“It will be very similar,” Beaty said. “Be very similar.”
When later asked specifically if Ryan Willis would rotate in, Beaty said he wasn’t going to answer.
“You’re not going to know that until we get to the game,” Beaty said.
The good news for KU is that Cozart appears to be OK after injuring his left shoulder in the fourth quarter against Ohio. It’s the same shoulder that required offseason surgery after four games last season.
“I feel really good. I’m sure everybody’s wondering,” Cozart said with a smile. “I’ve been going through treatment with Murph (KU trainer Murphy Grant) and everyone. I feel fine.”
The injury will require Cozart to wear a shoulder strap, though he already was wearing that since his offseason surgery. Cozart reported he had no limitations during Monday’s practice.