Kansas coach David Beaty began his news conference Tuesday like he normally does — offering an update on all the team’s injured players. That Beaty had to mention eight players only underscored a major theme of this football season. For a program plagued by depleted roster numbers, the Jayhawks haven’t been blessed by the Gods of Football Injuries.
Down three quarterbacks and a couple wide receivers, the Jayhawks have also struggled to stay healthy on the defensive line. On Tuesday, Beaty said that Jacky Dezir, a sophomore defensive tackle, had suffered an MCL tear in his knee, leaving just three defensive tackles on the roster with significant experience entering a matchup with Texas Tech at 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“That hurts us pretty good,” Beaty said.
Dezir is expected to miss a few weeks, Beaty said, keeping the timetable fluid. He also confirmed that junior quarterback Montell Cozart (shoulder sprain) would be out another week, leaving true freshman Ryan Willis to start his second game. Sophomore receiver Bobby Hartzog and junior defensive end Damani Mosby will also miss Saturday’s game, while Beaty is hopeful that senior receiver Tre’ Parmalee can return after battling a concussion. Beaty also said junior receiver Joshua Stanford has been limited by a nagging hamstring injury.
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For many college football programs, injuries are a fact of life. That’s true for Kansas, too, but with little to no depth at many positions, the injuries can compound the issues for a KU team that is 0-5 in Beaty’s first season.
Beaty, though, has not used the injuries as any form of excuse. When asked about his thin defensive line on Tuesday, Beaty said it could provide opportunity for younger players.
“Our depth is down just a little bit there,” he said. “It gives an opportunity for somebody young to step in there and try to make some plays.”
Beaty knows Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury better than most, having spent time together on Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Texas A&M. The relationship, Beaty says, actually dates back to when Kingsbury was at Houston and Beaty was at Rice. Although most know Kingsbury as a debonair young coach, Beaty said Kingsbury is much more than that.
“He’s such a good-looking dude,” Beaty said. “That’s kind of something people talk about all the time. But man, if you knew this guy, I don’t know if I know five humans better than Kliff Kingsbury. I really don’t. He’s a humble, hard-working, blue collar — up at 4:30 every morning working out (and) grinding.”
In the days after Kansas’ 66-7 loss, Beaty offered one bit of praise to Willis, his freshman quarterback. Willis, who threw a deep touchdown pass in the first quarter, became the first KU true freshman to throw a touchdown pass since Todd Reesing in 2006, and Beaty made sure Willis knew that.
“That’s a big deal,” Beaty said. “That’s something we talk to him about, and high five him and say: ‘That’s a big deal.’ ” That’s hard to do in college football. Hopefully, he can continue to improve. He’ll stay humble.”