Position Outlook: Quarterback

The season opener is less than a week and a half away, and the position battles have begun to resolve themselves with the Kansas Jayhawks. The depth chart for Sept. 1 comes out Tuesday, but here are a few thoughts on how things are shaking out at each position through the eyes of Phog.net

Dayne Crist.

For most Kansas fans, that's all anyone needs to know about the quarterback position. Dayne Crist is a Jayhawk for one year, and he's the starter. End of story.

Well...yes and no. Crist is absolutely the man under center for Head Coach Charlie Weis in his first year, but interested parties would be wise to look a little deeper when evaluating the position.

Why? Well, for one thing, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound quarterback doesn't have the best track record with injury, suffering a pair of the season-ending variety during his four years at Notre Dame. But even without Crist's injury history, players go down all the time in college football - especially quarterbacks. All it takes is that one blind side hit, that one wrench of the knee on a scramble, and a season's fortunes can change for an entire team.

Right now, the battle for the backup spot is perhaps more intriguing. With another highly-touted transfer, Jake Heaps, redshirting during the 2012 season due to NCAA rules, the competition rests in the hands of redshirt freshman Michael Cummings and JUCO transfer Turner Baty.

Thus far, Weis has maintained Cummings - a native of Killeen (TX) High School - maintains a small lead over sophomore Baty; the most recent statement coming Tuesday of this week.

It probably comes as a surprise to many. Baty led City College of San Francisco to a JUCO national championship last season, and is an excellent talent in his own right. Possessed of decent size, a strong arm, an excellent football pedigree and a mind for the game, he has all the tools.

However, Cummings entered fall camp with the one weapon in his arsenal Baty didn't have – a spring spent learning the Charlie Weis offense.

That head start, combined with hard work, has helped the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Cummings keep his edge. It doesn't hurt that he may have the strongest arm on the team, and yes, that includes Crist. The ball absolutely explodes out of his hand, and there isn't a throw on the field he can't make.

And while he was billed as a dual-threat quarterback out of high school due to his outstanding athleticism, when Weis looks at him he sees drop-back ability, as does quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus.

But what about Crist? Thus far, he's been everything Kansas fans could have expected. He arrived on campus and immediately began the process of ingratiating himself to his teammates, earning their respect so completely they elected him as one of the three team captains along with Tanner Hawkinson and Toben Opurum.

He's healthy. He's got optimal size and a rocket arm. Doubters may look at both his injury history and his unimpressive numbers in current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's offense, but Weis has maintained his successor ran a system not suited to Crist's talents.

In fact, the familiarity shared by Weis and Crist may be one of the team's biggest assets this season. Crist will be granted an unusually large slice of confidence by the coach who first recruited him to South Bend, Ind., with the authority to change the play at the line of scrimmage if he deems it appropriate.

So intelligent is he from a football standpoint, that he recalls audibles from the playbook he learned four years ago at Notre Dame - something Weis pointed out with a smile at Tuesday's press conference.

Since the departure of Todd Reesing following the 2009 season, the quarterback play on Mount Oread has been inconsistent, to put it kindly. If the Jayhawks can keep Crist healthy, he will calm those rough waters and bring stability back to the single most important position on the field.

Phog.net Top Stories