WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The university once known as Quarterback U hasn’t had one drafted before the seventh round in 22 years. And now, less than three months from the opener at Louisville, UM is welcoming a quarterback, Jake Heaps, who lost his starting job for a 3-9 Kansas team and finished 126th of 127 major college football qualifiers in completion percentage last season.
What in the name of Brock Berlin is going on here?
UM’s decision to bring aboard Heaps --- who is eligible immediately --- and allow him to compete with Kevin Olsen and incoming long shots Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier for the starting job --- might seem desperate, but there is reasoning behind it.
Though Olsen could still win the job, there were serious concerns internally about automatically handing the position to him in the wake of Ryan Williams’ knee injury.
One UM official, after Williams’ injury during spring ball, admitted he was very worried. Heaps, while erratic throughout his career, is by far the most experienced option for the difficult season opener.
There’s no question about Olsen’s arm and raw talent. But several concerns have been voiced privately. Among them: Olsen needs to be more receptive to coaching, polish his mechanics (which contributed to his dismal 7 for 21 showing in the spring game), stop throwing into double coverage and not force the home-run ball when it’s not there. In other words, don’t be afraid to take what the defense gives him.
He must be studious about film work (he has improved somewhat in that area) and gain a complete grasp of the offense. Olsen was stumped when asked several questions by the offensive coaching staff during a meeting late in spring practice. One UM source said the impression is that he works harder when his brother Greg, the Carolina Panthers tight end, is in town.
UM has been trying to figure out what buttons to push, so that Olsen is motivated to work maniacally, instead of feeling entitled to the job with Williams out. Bringing in Heaps, who has one year of eligibility, solves that issue.
Here’s the good news on Heaps: He was rated Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 2010, set freshman passing records at BYU, has a strong arm, is intelligent and has 28 games of starting experience, combined, at BYU and Kansas. He has 32 TDs and 27 INTs in his career.
The bad news: ESPN’s quarterback rating system ranked him 122nd in 2013, sixth-worst among all FBS starters. His 49 percent completion rating was abysmal, though mitigated somewhat by 48 drops by Kansas receivers (not all thrown by Heaps). He twice left schools after being beaten out, at BYU after 2011 and Kansas this year.
Williams’ mother said Williams hopes to return for the fourth game, Sept. 20 at Nebraska, but UM has no idea if that will happen. So Heaps is an insurance policy, as one UM official termed it.
Heaps said he visited UM a month-and-a-half ago and has been studying the UM playbook for a while.
“This has been definitely been in the works for a while now,” Heaps, who's married and a devout Mormon, told our Manny Navarro. “If they didn't think I could bring anything to the program, this wouldn't have happened. All I wanted was a strong opportunity to compete.”
Adding Heaps also could allow UM to potentially redshirt Kaaya and Rosier, which could be of benefit down the road.
### Please see the last post for details about what LeBron James and Chris Bosh said today.
Here are two other notable comments from LeBron:
1) "I've been fortunate enough to play in five Finals. On the other end, I've lost three of them. That doesn't sit well with me at all, to be in this position, being able to get to this point, and be under .500 and not be able to be successful in those games."
2) "We need to get better. We have some holes that need to be filled." Heat fans can be encouraged by his use of "we."
### Perhaps Steve Kerr was right last summer when he said the Heat would ultimately be doomed by exhaustion.
“We’re playing until the [beginning] of the summer – to have to do that every year, it takes a toll,” Chris Bosh said Tuesday. “The whole thing felt forced [this season]. If we won, it would just be a relief. Pure joy – you didn’t see much of that. Toughest year I ever had.”
Bosh said “we’re going to have to find a way” next season to solve that conundrum. “I don’t know think there is an answer to it.”
As retiring Shane Battier put it Tuesday: “With the success we’ve had, you become numb to success and being able to improve from losing. Wins were relief and losses just nagged at you. When it gets to a point like that, it’s dangerous. I don’t know how you correct it.”
### Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether to retire but “if I came back, there’s no other place I’d rather be" than Miami.
### Bosh said communication among the three is better now than in 2010, when they came together.
"I think it's easier to get on the same page now," Bosh said. "Because we know each other. I didn't really know those guys. I didn't know LeBron and D back then, like that. We hung around each other, but not really. So we didn't really know each other. I think communication is so much easier, because we can get the kids together, we can go out together with the wives. We can do something, and we know how to talk to each other. And those things allow us to connect and feel each other out. Before, it was awkward."
### The Heat hasn’t told Michael Beasley if it wants him back, and Erik Spoelstra, even in praising his “courage” to come to Miami, said: “We’ll see what happens with his career; we’ll see where he goes next season.”
### As for Greg Oden, Spoelstra also declined to answer when asked if the Heat wants him back. Oden is the Heat's only free agent who has declined to say whether he wants to play in Miami.
"He'll have a very committed summer again, and then we'll see," Spoelstra said. "I loved having Greg around."
### ESPN reported "mutual" interest between the Heat and Toronto free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, but Lowry reportedly wants $11 million per season, and the Heat couldn't afford that unless the Big Three all take substantial pay cuts.... Mario Chalmers said he's "excited" about free agency while reiterating his desire to return.
### UM, which could use more size in its frontcourt, will host three-star, 6-foot-10, Class of 14 prospect Isaiah Manderson at some point soon and hope to convince him to enroll ASAP. Manderson committed to Oregon State but received his release after coach Craig Robinson (President Obama's brother-in-law) was fired.
Manderson --- who received offers from FSU, UCLA, Maryland and others during his initial recruitment --- is a good rebounder with a developing offensive game. He reportedly has no other visits scheduled besides Miami.
### Please see the last post for Dolphins tidbits and notes from Tuesday.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz