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Friday, June 3, 2011
Mailbag: Unis, upset watch, finding TEs

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for all the mail, readers. As always, if your answer didn't make the cut, ask a better one and maybe that will change.

Ben in San Antonio asked: Now that you have written about the helmet...who has the best overall uniforms?

David Ubben: Ha, I'm sure I'm not asking for trouble here. But here's how I'd rank them, using each team's best uniform.

1. Texas - The all whites are all right.
2. Texas Tech - Conversely, the all blacks are all that. (I'm done, I swear.)
3. Texas A&M - Maroon jerseys on white pants are worth whooping about. (Ok, not done just yet.)
4. Oklahoma State - Black jersey, black pants and white helmets need to see the light more often. (Now we're done.)
5. Oklahoma - The red jerseys on white pants are just OK, but "SOONERS" across the chest looks great, and makes the get-up.
6. Missouri - The rare combo of black jerseys on gold pants is fantastic.
7. Kansas State - As lame as I think the Powercat is, the purple jersey, grey pants combo is sweet.
8. Kansas - The classic blue jerseys on silver pants are where it's at.
9. Baylor - I'm a fan of Baylor's all-whites, but they slip behind what I realized today is a pretty solid set of unis across the league.
10. Iowa State - No, 'Clones. Just no.

How would you rank yours?


David in KC asked: Do u think ISU can upset a team like Oklahoma or A&M? before you answer I bet at this time last year you never thought ISU would beat Texas. You probably never thought the cyclones would upset Neb in Paul Rhoads first year either.

DU: No, I don't see it. Oklahoma and A&M might have the two best offenses in the league, and like I've mentioned before, Iowa State pulled off their upsets against teams that had really bad offenses. Also, Iowa State has to go back to Norman, where it lost 52-0 last year.

If Shontrelle Johnson and whoever wins the quarterback battle up there learn quickly, I do think the Cyclones have a decent shot at a bowl game, but they're not beating either of those teams.


Buck in San Antonio asked: Howdy Dave, good to talk with you.Where has the art and science of having a stud TE, a la Derrick Spiller, gone these days? Will Sherman (and other Big XII teams) utilize this dangerous and undervalued weapon more in the coming seasons?

DU: It's a good question. The obvious answer is the advent of spread offenses, but we've still seen some pretty good traditional tight ends in recent years in this league, like Jermaine Gresham at Oklahoma, Collin Franklin at Iowa State and Martellus Bennett at A&M.

Missouri, of course, has done their own damage with receiving tight ends.

Texas A&M has a big body in Nehemiah Hicks, but he hasn't been a big factor in the passing game. I thought Tim Biere at Kansas was due for a big year in 2010, but that didn't necessarily happen. It could in 2011.

We'll see what Jace Amaro does at Texas Tech once he arrives.

If you want to see great, traditional tight ends, I suggest you wake up and catch an 11 a.m. Big Ten game. Outside of reception machine Michael Egnew at Missouri, you won't see much in the Big 12 this year.


Andrew in St. Louis asked: Do you think that some teams could benefit from the round-robin scheduling new to the conference this upcoming season? While obviously teams like Iowa State and Kansas will be hurt because they're schedules made it so they missed out on both OU and Texas some years, it seems a team like Missouri or Oklahoma State that's been on the cusp of BCS bowls recently could have a better chance of proving their strength with more quality opponents.

DU: Yeah, the teams that are going to benefit are the ones used to tougher nonconference schedules that get to add some of the weaker teams from the North every year.

Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M immediately jump to mind, but Baylor could benefit from getting to play Kansas, K-State and Iowa State every year. The Bears have had a tough time in the South, but if they were in the North, that bowl drought might have ended a few years earlier once the North started to decline midway through the last decade.

Your example, I don't think will happen. I don't think it makes it easier for OSU or Missouri to get into a BCS bowl. Texas and Oklahoma are still in the league and you can't get three teams in the BCS. But you might see those South teams that have struggled to get over the hump get a bump in their conference win percentage.


Alistair in College Station, Texas, asked: 2 part question for you Dubbs. First, why do you apparently hate every school in the Big 12 and write totally biased articles against them? And second, how is that even possible? I'm impressed...But really, what do you think Johnny Manziel's chances are of getting some playing time this upcoming season as either Tannehill's backup, or perhaps following the route Tannehill took and playing some receiver?

DU: Good question. It's an acquired skill, I guess.

As for Manziel, I think you've got to redshirt him. If this were Texas, Kansas or Iowa State, a team starved for receivers, then he's got to see the field immediately.

On the scout team, I think you get him some work at quarterback and receiver, just in case, and next fall, throw him in the race with Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel to replace Tannehill.

Texas A&M is too loaded at receiver this year to waste a year of eligibility on him, but Tannehill will be gone next year, and so will Jeff Fuller. They'll bring everybody else back at receiver, but opportunities to make an impact will be there.

If he loses the quarterback battle next year, then you've got to look hard at who you want as your backup: Joeckel, Showers or Manziel, and then you've got Trevor Knight coming in, too. If Manziel isn't clearly your No. 2, I think you've got to move him to receiver something just short of permanently. Only an injury should change that.

Competition decides so much of this and I've rambled a bit, but really, my main point is yes, he needs to keep getting reps at receiver unless he's the starting quarterback.

Just don't put him out there this year. A&M is too good at his two positions.


Blake Fite in Jenks, Okla., asked: I find it interesting that the Tulsa World and the Daily Oklahoman have not come out with a statement from Coach Stoops saying he is not interested in the Ohio St. job. Do you think he should make a statement?

DU: Nope. It would only backfire on him and make him look presumptuous. Plus, like Stoops has learned in the past (i.e., Notre Dame, Florida) even releasing a statement doesn't end speculation. Unless Ohio State makes him an actual offer, Stoops won't say a word about the job, maybe even if he's asked.


Paul in Austin, Texas, asked: Do you ever feel like people don't give Christen Michael enough credit? I've been hearing so much about Cyrus Gray because of the finish, but people refuse to realize that he stunk it up the first half of the season. Is it because Michael isn't as explosive of a runner?

DU: It seems that way in the last few months, but it seems like a bit of "What have you done for me lately?" syndrome. Michael was outplaying Gray before he got hurt -- there's no doubt about that. Michael had just under 600 yards in the Aggies' first six games, while Gray had just seven yards on 11 carries during the three-game losing streak that landed A&M at 3-3 midway through the season.

But Gray took a page from Marshawn Lynch and shifted into Beast Mode after Michael went down.

The good news for A&M is they've already got what looks like a franchise back, and if Michael is back to his usual self this fall, they'll have two now.