University of Kansas

Montell Cozart rallies starters to victory in KU spring game

As halftime approached, the burning question was what would become of rule 5.

Kansas Spring Game Rule 5 stipulated that the score of the game would be reversed, and the players wouldn’t discover this rug pull until settling into the locker room at halftime. The idea being, the starters wearing the blue uniforms would gain experience playing with a deficit against the white-clad reserves.

But no provision was made for the reserves’ 7-0 halftime lead.

“That was a little disappointing, the play in the first half,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “When I set up the teams, personnel-wise you’d think that the blue would have a decided advantage, which they did not show in the first half.”

Not in the least. The team that started Jake Heaps at quarterback and used him for two of the three possessions in a continuous-clock first half went nowhere. By halftime the starters had logged 53 total yards and four first downs — to 126 yards and nine first downs for the reserves.

Spring games are glorified scrimmages, but an outcome where the reserves defeated the starters would have dogged the program into the season.

That didn’t happen. The starters emerged from halftime with the scoreboard unchanged and a motivated bunch — especially quarterback Montell Cozart — and wound up with a 20-10 victory.

Cozart was voted the game’s offensive MVP for an effort that produced 58 passing yards and 70 on the ground, including a 60-yard tightrope down the sideline. Cozart tucked the ball for two short touchdown runs and may have taken the lead in the Jayhawks’ quarterback derby with Heaps as the primary contender, although Cozart wouldn’t anoint himself.

“We’re all pretty even,” Cozart said. “Today gave me a confidence boost. I felt like I showed more patience today, letting the game come to me.”

Cozart, a sophomore from Bishop Miege, seemed headed to a redshirt season last year when he appeared in the team’s sixth game. He wound up starting three and guided Kansas’ lone Big 12 victory last season, against West Virginia.

“That wasn’t the easiest decision to make,” Weis said. “I am really happy we did because he looks like a different player.”

Cozart is more mobile than Heaps, and last season rushed for nearly as many yards (214) as he passed for (232). Three other quarterbacks — Michael Cummings, T.J. Millweard and Jordan Darling — played Saturday, all for the reserve squad.

Weis said the starting QB, who will operate the offense of new coordinator John Reagan, won’t be revealed until fall camp, and there hasn’t been a breakaway candidate in spring. But he gave Cozart a shout-out.

“I don’t think you can go by one day or one game,” Weis said. “Obviously, on this day, I was most pleased with No. 2 (Cozart). I watched the same game you did.”

So why wait to name a starter?

“There are different quarterbacks who can do different things, and by about midway through training camp the dust has to settle.”

And not until then.

“Why should we tell the opponents?” Weis said. “When the dust settles, I think it will be pretty clear.”

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