Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I had a lot of fun last season coming up with some of the inside topics that coaches and players were talking about around the Big 12.
Here's our first installment of "internal affairs" for the upcoming season.
1. No other Big 12 wide receiver caught a higher percentage of his team’s passes than Dez Bryant for Oklahoma State. Anybody who watched the Cowboys’ offense grind to a halt in the Holiday Bowl against Oregon when Bryant was hurt knows how dependent Zac Robinson has become on his top receiver. The biggest determiner of success for Oklahoma State’s offense will be developing some receiving balance and a secondary receiving threat. Hubert Anyiem, Justin Blackmon and DeMarcus Conner all need to step up to lessen the Cowboys’ reliance on Bryant.
2. Does any Big 12 defensive lineman have a better playing situation than Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick? Lined up next to Outland Trophy candidate Ndamukong Suh and flanked by defensive ends like Pierre Allen and Barry Turner means that Crick likely won’t likely see a double-team block this season for the Cornhuskers.
3. Texas will be running more under center plays this season, but it will come with a caveat. The Longhorns would love to continue the up-tempo scheme that was so successful against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, feeling it wore the Buckeyes down and could the same trick to other opponents this season.
4. One item of concern for new Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads -- other than his team’s tackling problems -- is its lack of height in the secondary. The Cyclones’ tallest starter is 5-foot-11 free safety Michael O’Connell. That won’t be as much of worry against early opponents like North Dakota State Thursday night. But it could be a huge cause of apprehension once the Cyclones start playing Big 12 action against early opponents Kansas and Baylor.
5. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach loves the composition of his offensive line. By moving starting guards Brandon Carter and Mickey Okafor from tackle, the Red Raiders will have two huge 6-foot-7 offensive linemen inside who are accustomed to the demands of playing in space against outside pass rushers. With the wide splits favored by Leach, these skilled former tackles should bring a dimension of athleticism to the Red Raiders’ offensive front that has been missing in previous seasons.