Big 12 dots and dashes from Monday teleconference

August, 25, 2008
8/25/08
7:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

You sometimes don't miss it until it's gone.

That's what I was thinking when I didn't have wireless access for a couple of hours this afternoon as I waited for a flat tire to be fixed. It kept some of these nuggets from this morning's teleconference from being filed as quickly as I would have liked, but here goes -- late rather than never. And there will be some more filed later this evening, because my car still isn't fixed.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino doesn't expect last season's success to develop any overconfidence in his team. "Last year has no bearing on this year in a lot of ways," Mangino said. "We have a confident team, but we also have smart kids. There are still a lot of areas that we can improve." Converted QB Kerry Meier will return to wide receiver and won't be used as a punter unless Kansas needs him ...Mangino had an interesting description of QB Todd Reesing's strength as a leader. "He's a confident guy, but he's confident because he prepares himself so well. When you prepare yourself well, you have a high level of confidence. The team sees that confidence he has and it helps. It rubs off on everybody."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops expects new Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to have a big impact at his new job, "Bo will do an excellent job," Stoops said. "He has the background on defense and the knowledge to make a difference where maybe they struggled a year ago." Stoops is pleased with the quick return of DE Auston English, the preseason All-Big 12 selection who missed most of training camp after his appendix was removed. "Auston has looked fantastic," Stoops said. "He hasn't missed a beat since he's come back. He makes such a difference." Stoops also said that NT DeMarcus Granger has looked strong at recent practices. "He had minor spasm with his back early, but he's made a really good improvement and has looked good," Stoops said.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said raising a family is one of the biggest challenges for football coaches. "I don't know if we are ever really fair to them," Gundy said. Gundy said an old coach gave his some advice about the demands of his profession. "I heard a guy say you spend your career coaching everybody's son but your own," he said. "I've kind of noticed that to be true." Gundy is pleased with the development of his offensive line, considered one of his team's biggest strengths. "Our line is better this year ... we have a third guard and tackle for the first time and feel like we have some guys who can make plays. Those guys give us firepower. We feel pretty good about where we are on offense."

Kansas State coach Ron Prince is pleased with the development of junior-college transfer Keithen Valentine, a product of Mississippi Delta Community College who earned a starting job in training camp. "We could see in the spring that he could run in a way that's pretty fluid and elusive," said Prince, who compared the 5-foot-8, 197-pound Valentine to former Virginia standout Wali Lundy. "I didn't know he was capable of power running and I hadn't seen that like I have in training camp. Keithen ran with toughness and power and extra yards at the end of runs. And because of that, we were very impressed." Prince chuckled about making Playboy's Top 25 ranking, although he's happy for the notoriety of his team's only national ranking. "It's great when people project and want to be on the front end of a trend ... it's very flattering," Prince said. "But at the same time, we have 12 weeks in front of us. We want to be in a poll at the end."

The growth of junior Kansas State QB Josh Freeman under new KSU quarterbacks coach Warren Ruggiero has been noticeable to Prince. "I think Josh is our most improved player on offense. I would attribute it to Warren doing a great job. His knowledge of the scheme and the little small things within those really has given our quarterback a boost of confidence," Prince said. But he also knows that Freeman will be judged by his on-field success after struggling late last season in the Wildcats' dismal 5-7 finish. "We all know it's result oriented," Prince said. "Quarterbacks are judged by how many pelts they bring home. We understand that and look forward to it."

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said LB Van Alexander (knee) is doubtful for Saturday's game against Illinois and WR Danario Alexander (knee) is out. "Van is really close, but we'll see how it goes. He'll travel and dress and prepare like he's playing," Pinkel said. "Other than that, we're in pretty good shape." Pinkel said that sophomore WR/KR Jeremy Maclin provides him with a threat unlike any he's ever seen. "He's certainly an impact player," Pinkel said. "Very rarely do you have a guy who every time he touches the ball can change a game. I haven't had guy like this in 30 years."

Texas Tech's RB rotation for Shannon Woods, Baron Batch and Aaron Crawford should receive relatively equal playing time against Eastern Washington, coach Mike Leach said. "It might break down one-third, one-third, one-third," Leach said. "They all are bringing things to table. We don't lose anything playing one to the next." ... Leach said that the Big 12 might now be the toughest conference in the country. But he judges it in different ways than having five Big 12 teams among the top 14 teams in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches' poll. "One thing that makes a good conference isn't the teams at the top, but those in the middle. That's ultimately what will makes it the toughest." ... Leach has never released injury information and didn't on Monday about CB L.A. Reed, who was seen hobbling with an ankle immobilized in a protective boot last week. "The Red Raiders haven't had any injuries happening," Leach said. "It's been kind of remarkable. To the best of my knowledge, he'll (Reed) play well ... like gangbusters."

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