University of Kansas

KU’s Montell Cozart to teammates after loss: ‘That game was on me’

Memphis defender Genard Avery knocked the ball away form Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart causing a fumble during last Saturday’s game.
Memphis defender Genard Avery knocked the ball away form Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart causing a fumble during last Saturday’s game. The Associated Press

Before Monday’s practice, Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart sent a text to coach David Beaty: “Can I get the guys together and talk with them one-on-one?”

After spending Sunday watching film in his room of his three-turnover performance against Memphis and being distracted Monday during a finance class, Cozart decided he needed to say something. After Beaty spoke to the team at Monday’s practice, Cozart and safety Fish Smithson addressed the group.

“I told them, ‘That game was on me,’ ” Cozart said. “I feel like I let everyone down, turning the ball over and not giving us a chance before we even got out there.”

Two of Cozart’s three giveaways appeared to be mental mistakes. Twice, when receiving pressure, he elected to throw off-balance passes into traffic for interceptions, which included a pick-six.

His fumble was a physical error, as he lost the ball after faking a shovel pass as part of a misdirection play.

Cozart, who was voted a team captain before the season for the second straight year, said Beaty was fine with his decision to speak up.

“I just wanted to let those guys know — just being a man and being responsible for my actions — just let those guys know I’d be much better this week,” Cozart said, “and then going into (Texas) Tech next week.”

KU’s quarterback competition remains unsettled. Cozart and sophomore Ryan Willis were rotated throughout Saturday’s 43-7 loss to Memphis, with both coming short of the 100-yard passing mark.

Cozart completed 13 of 22 passes for 87 yards.

“After the game, guys were texting me. Coaches were texting me and saying they still believe and they still trust that we’re going to win some games and we’re going to do some great things this year,” Cozart said. “As a player and as for me, that was uplifting, but I just wanted to let those guys know that I’ve got their back and that won’t happen again.”

KU, which opens Big 12 play Thursday at Texas Tech, finished the nonconference season 1-2. After defeating Rhode Island 55-6 in the opener, the Jayhawks have combined for 28 points in their last two games.

Cozart says he’s worked to get extra reps in this week, staying after practice to throw routes to receivers and take snaps from the team’s centers. KU lost another fumble against Memphis following a bad snap from Jacob Bragg.

“Just the little things,” Cozart said. “It’s just so many little things that we’ve seen on film that we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit.”

Cozart, in his fourth year with the program, says he’s seen positive signs following the team’s two losses.

“I know in the past, when we’ve been in this position, we’ve had guys dropping out and starting not to believe in the process. I feel like we’re not there,” Cozart said. “I feel like we have the guys on the team where everyone’s still believing. We’ve just got to keep things going. This bye week will help us get back to the fundamentals.”

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell