Mailbag: System QB, A&M doubt, upsets?

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
4:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions this week. As always, send them here if you want to show up here next week.

Matt Walters in Dallas asked: Graham Harrell was labeled a "system quarterback" in 2008. Should players like Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum be given this label since they are in the exact same 'system'?

David Ubben: Here's the deal with the whole "system quarterback" knock: Most of the time, the criticism comes when quarterbacks don't make difficult throws and mostly rely on dink-and-dunk plays blocked downfield for big yardage. Anybody who watches Oklahoma State knows the Cowboys offense is nothing remotely of the sort. OSU throws it downfield plenty, and Weeden can make every throw. He's got a much bigger arm than Harrell or Keenum has, and OSU's offense shows it.

Also, Weeden is relied upon to make a lot of split-second decisions after the snap. OSU runs a number of plays that have the option to be a run or a pass, and he's the guy who has to read the defense and make the apt decision. I don't know if you've taken a look at OSU's offensive numbers lately, but it seems like he's done OK.

John Schultze in College Station, Texas, asked: After watching Von play at the next level, is Timmy D a great defensive mind? Or just a decent coordinator with an absolute freak on his side of the ball?

DU: It can't be both?

I had a chance to sit in on a lecture about the 3-4 that defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter gave to a couple hundred coaches at a coaching convention in January, and trust this: The guy knows his stuff. A&M's defense has fallen apart for a number of reasons, but DeRuyter's not the only one. You forget how bad this defense was in 2009, before DeRuyter arrived. It gave up about five more points a game than any other Big 12 team.

Former Aggies linebacker Von Miller is an unbelievable player who is having exactly as much success in the NFL as most of us thought he would, but DeRuyter's still a solid coordinator, and one of the best in the Big 12.

John in Ames, Iowa, asked: How big of a deal would it be if ISU pulled off the upset against Oklahoma State?

DU: Uh, the term "Poke Choke" comes to mind. Simply put, Iowa State doesn't have the necessary offense to win this game. Uncharacteristic mistakes like drops, turnovers or a weird night for Weeden is the only way Oklahoma State loses this game. Prepare for it, Iowa State fans. If the Cyclones win this, it's going to be about OSU.

John in Olathe, Kan., asked: What will it take for Collin Klein to be considered nationally as a legit QB talent? He is putting up ridiculous numbers in the nation's second best conference. On ESPN's Heisman Expert polling, there is no mention of his name. Do you think they will ignore him next year, too?

DU: It took a while for a couple reasons, most of which is he's not a big-play guy and he doesn't throw a pretty ball, which is sort of a prerequisite as a quarterback. You saw Taylor Martinez and Denard Robinson get Heisman hype last year because they made highlight runs and terrified defenses. Klein pushing the pile for a 3-yard touchdown run isn't exactly the stuff of legend.

Combine that with an underwhelming early-season schedule and it took a lot of folks (myself included) to realize what Klein really could be. Now, with K-State proving itself as a top 15-20 team or better, and Klein putting up some big-time numbers, he's gained attention. He'll definitely be a guy on Heisman watch lists next year.

Lee in Raleigh, N.C., asked: How can you say that the Texas defense is the best that Kansas St will face? The OU defense stiffled Kansas St (in Manhattan). I think the Wildcats will put up a lot more points on Texas, than they did on OU. And they'll do it in Austin.

DU: It might have something to do with that pesky rumor that Texas is giving up 47 fewer yards per game than any team in the Big 12 and more than 85 fewer than the Big 12's No. 3 team. Combine that with a ton of fantastic athletes at all three levels, and, well ... you get the point.

Kansas State might score a few more points on Texas, but that doesn't mean Texas' defense isn't better. The Longhorns D is legit.

Arnav in St. Louis asked: LSU couldn't score off of Alabama's defense, and if Alabama had had any passing attack whatsoever instead of having [Trent] Richardson try to run through 10 defenders, they might have scored a touchdown. Does OK State's passing juggernaut and pretty solid defense find a win there?

DU: I'm not ready to predict a win just yet, but I think it'd be close and a game that nears the 30s, probably something like 23-20 or 28-24. Could probably go either way. OSU's defense is better than I thought it was early in the year, and the offense isn't going to get totally shut down by any defense.

Mark in Corpus Christi, Texas, asked: BCS selection(s) aside. Which Big 12 team would you consider must watch out of the following. Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Baylor, Texas or Kansas State. List them in order of preference. Thanks.

DU: Give me OSU, Baylor, OU, K-State and then Texas. Oklahoma State's offensive athletes are a thing of beauty. The same's true of Baylor and Oklahoma, especially Robert Griffin III. He might be the most fun player to watch in the league. K-State and UT are doing it ugly.

Chris in Manhattan, Kan., asked: Everyone is saying K-State's offense isn't sexy. But Collin Klein is our offense, right? For the most part yes. Collin Klein is rugged, right? Yes. And being rugged is generally considered sexy, right? I think so. Therefore K-states offense is generally sexy when Klein is on the field.

DU: You just blew my mind.

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