You've likely heard by now, Charlie Weis and the Kansas Jayhawks are planning on employing a two quarterback systems when they travel to Norman this Saturday. You've also likely heard (we think) that the current starting quarterback for Kansas is Dayne Crist, formerly of Notre Dame. Crist played under Weis in South Bend and enrolled at KU to take advantage of one of those NCAA loop holes to play one more season.
You may or may not remember Crist from Notre Dame, but his game can essentially be summed up in the following. He's your prototypical pocket passer, decent but not great arm, questionable accuracy, limited mobility wise. And he's played well, and by well we mean crappy, enough to force Weis to bring in the subject of our little piece here last week to try and spark the offense.
And spark the offense he did. Michael Cummings is the player we're referring to and we are expecting to see a lot of him on Saturday. So who is Michael Cummings?
Well, we're glad you asked. Cummings was a three star, dual-threat quarterback out of Killeen, Texas and was a member of the 2011 class. According to Rivals, his only offers were from KU, Louisiana Tech, and Tulsa but that likely had more to do with this size (he's currently listed at 5'10", 201 lbs) and whether or not he was willing to play a position other than quarterback.
He put up more than respectable numbers in high school, playing in a spread system that allowed him to utilize his athleticism and strong arm. Here is ESPN scouting report on Cummings coming out of high school:
Cummings is a well-armed, athletic dual-threat quarterback that is still developing, is raw, but also very intriguing as a spread offense dynamic player. He lacks ideal measurables in terms of height, but is a well built athlete with good bulk.
Despite lacking great height, he is a shotgun passer with a high release point that is over the top with a smooth stroke. There is no questioning his arm strength-- the ball jumps out of his hands with velocity and power and he has shown he can make all the necessary throws both from within the pocket and outside where he is most dangerous. Changing the launch point and moving the pocket is where he is at his best. He throws very well on the move to both sides both designed and when improvising.
Appears most comfortable on the perimeter when he can see, buy time and be a legitimate run/pass threat that can get defenses caught in a pickle. He has the type of arm strength that allows for him to make throws off balance, across his body and will surprise you with overall accuracy on the move. In fact this is why the spread offense is so good for him.
He wants to move around and use his athleticism to make plays. He is an effective, quick runner with good elusiveness. Looks like a RB when on the move. Cummings has a lot of very likeable qualities as an athlete and passer and is blessed with an arm that can do some unique things in the passing game.
Weis put him in Saturday after Crist and the offense struggled throughout much of the game and Cummings lead the team to two scoring drives to make the game much closer than Oklahoma State ever would have liked. As you've read, he is a very different quarterback from Crist which obviously means they use him in very different ways.
There weren't a ton of highlights from last week's game, but in the video below you see a lot of zone read and short, quick passes. Given that the KU offensive line isn't stellar and the Sooners front seven are coming off easily their most dominant performance to date, we expect Cummings to see significant time if for no other reason than his ability to make something out of nothing.
Crist standing back there in the pocket as a stationary target does not project as a successful strategy in this game. Especially when you take into account OU putting out one of the best secondaries in the country and one that has a significant advantage over the KU receivers they'll be facing Saturday.
The downside, from an Oklahoma perspective, is the obvious necessity to prepare for both quarterbacks couple with the fact quarterbacks like Cummings have given the Sooners fits in years past. Much like they did against Collin Klein and K-State, Oklahoma will have to be disciplined in their rush and maintain their gaps to avoid creating rush lanes for Cummings. Very much unlike what they did against Klein, I do not expect Mike Stoops to give the redshirt freshman the courtesy of never blitzing the entire game.
While a talented player, and a player that will likely be splitting time, one has to remember he's still a first year guy who should be very prone to getting rattled. If Oklahoma can get to him or even just lay a big shot or two on him when/if he scrambles out of the pocket, it could discourage him from looking to make plays outside the pocket.
Unless Crist has what would amount to one of the better games of his career, I'm just not sure how effective I can see him moving the ball on this OU defense. That's the reasoning behind our belief that Cummings could see significant time in this game.
For some additional reference, we found some high school highlights for Cummings. If you're interested for more than a 30 second glimpse, the video is below.