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Thursday, August 4, 2011
Mailbag: Changing Os, double standard?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Many thanks for all the emails. We'll wrap up the week with another mailbag on Friday, so if your question didn't make the cut, feel free to send me another.

Max in Tulsa asked: Great blog Dave, hoping you could give your opinion on a debate I've been having with a Sooner friend of mine (well, sorta friend.. there are limits). Anyway, why do the Sooners get a free pass when comes to questions about replacing Kevin Wilson? Last I checked, he was THE offensive guru in 2008 before Holgorsen staked claim to that title in '09 and '10. Yet I haven't read a single article about how the Sooners might have trouble breaking in two new co-coordinators who have zero experience in that role or calling plays. Is it just because they served under Wilson? Just seems like significantly more questions are being directed toward Todd Monken than his Gooner counterparts.

David Ubben: I've heard this a lot, but I think it's a combination of two things.

One, Heupel has coached quarterbacks for the Sooners since 2006, five seasons that include two working closely with Landry Jones. He's been right alongside Kevin Wilson upstairs in the coaching booth over that span, when Wilson was cementing his reputation as one of the game's best playcallers. It's hard to believe he didn't learn a ton over that time. Additionally, he's been in the meetings and knows Jones' game well.

Second, don't underestimate the effect of what Heupel did in the Fiesta Bowl. He was getting some of the same questions leading up to the Fiesta Bowl, but with the way Oklahoma's offense looked in that game, he answered a lot of them. Yes, it's UConn, an eight-win team from the Big East. But it's still a big stage, and Heupel helped the offense look pretty flawless. That's prevented a lot of those same questions from rising up.

Monken also had to spend one offseason learning a system that was somewhat unfamiliar to him, while Heupel has been ingrained in Oklahoma's fast-paced offense for the past few seasons.

I think the treatment has been fair. I don't see a lot of people writing off Monken, but the optimism toward him is a lot more cautious than it is toward Heupel, mainly because we just don't know, and haven't seen Monken call plays. He'll obviously have a ton of talent to work with, and whatever he calls will look better behind the Big 12's best offensive line, so I think he'll be fine.

But the bottom line is, we don't know for now.


Alex in Prairie Village, Kan., asked: Hey David. I was wondering why you are just not high on Bryce Brown. As a K-State student I keep tabs on your blog and I just have noticed that you dont have much faith in Bryce Brown to suceed. I just wanted to know why. Thanks

DU: We haven't had much of a chance to see him in action, but you can tell a lot from coaches' comments and from how the depth chart takes shape.

It's pretty obvious that the raw talent is there for both Arthur and Bryce Brown. Arthur, meanwhile, has taken over as one of the likely playmakers for the defense and racked up 14 tackles in the spring game. Snyder has lauded the linebacker and brought him to media days, which is a big deal for a newcomer. You don't see that very often. Brown was the only player at Big 12 Media Days that didn't suit up in the Big 12 last year.

Bryce, meanwhile, didn't exactly get a ringing endorsement from his coach at media days.

"They’re different in that respect,” Snyder told reporters. "I haven’t seen the same thing out of Bryce. It’s just the way it is. They’re two different people. Bryce hasn’t put himself in the same position that Arthur has."

Look at who Bryce Brown is competing with: John Hubert and Robert Rose. Hubert is a 5-foot-7, 185-pound redshirt sophomore who carried the ball five times last year. He had a lot of success as a high schooler in Waco, Texas, but William Powell was the clear backup to Daniel Thomas last year before he was injured.

Rose, meanwhile, is a 5-foot-4, 173-pound walk-on who has almost no experience and no career carries.

It sounds like the job will come down to Hubert and Brown, but if Brown can't separate himself clearly from Hubert, despite being in the program for two springs and a season on the scout team, that doesn't bode well for his potential. We'll see once the lights turn on and we do it for real, but if Brown was going to light up the Big 12 next season, I don't think there would be much question about whether or not he could start over Hubert.

For now, there is. And thus, my doubts that Brown is going to be a big game-changer. I think he'll be a good back, but a guy like Thomas who could run for 1,000 yards easily and handle a huge load of carries? I'm not betting on it.


GTCat in Tonganoxie, Kan., asked: Ubbs,Why so many media folk think OSU is a better shoe-in for runner up this year over aTm? As much as I want to see a new contender face in the Pokes (probably the school I can relate to most as a K-stater), it seems to me their recent history, namely the last two years, have been nothing but let downs when expectations rise. I had the pleasure to get to hear pre game radio call in complaints in 2009 while in OK for a wedding the week after losing to Houston and supposedly that was to be "the year". I personally think aTm's a better runner-up candidate. Am I missing something? Is replacing one of the nation's best offensive coordinators a successful equation for runner up in a competitive league?

DU: Hey now, don't look at me. I picked Texas A&M ahead of Oklahoma State, if for no other reason than the Cowboys' schedule is tougher. I think the difference between those two teams is miniscule, but I'm not real worried about either team choking like Oklahoma State did against Houston in 2009.

The potential is there, with A&M lining up against SMU and Oklahoma State scheduled for games against way underrated Tulsa and Arizona teams, but I really do think the Cowboys, Aggies and Sooners will all reach double-digit wins.

Texas A&M is a more complete team that should be a lot better on defense than OSU, and I feel more confident in their ability to do a wider variance of things on offense, but they don't have the explosiveness that Oklahoma State has on offense.

It's close, but I picked Texas A&M to finish second. Ultimately, I do see the winner of their matchup on Sept. 24 finishing second in the league and going to a BCS bowl .


Matt O. in Wildwood, Mo., asked: I saw that you said Mizzou has no chance of making it to the B12 championship game, and that you would bet your life on it. In my opinion, if OU lost their starting QB and MU won that game. Then I don't understand your logic. Just saying, that one game could push us there. Stoops isn't invincible, just close to it. There is always that chance you forget about when betting your life.

DU: Nah, man. I'll take my chances. Oklahoma could forfeit that game, and I still think Missouri would have the same chances (that is: zero) of playing in the Big 12 championship.

Consider my life still on the line.

Let's make this real, though: If Missouri plays in the Big 12 championship game this year, I will see to it that you, Matt O. from Wildwood, Mo., become the new Big 12 blogger. That is a promise.

Better yet, the same deal stands if Texas or Texas A&M play in the Big 12 title game this year, too.


LASooner28 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. asked: DU...love the blog. Any truth to the rumors that your time off coincided with the NFL lockout talks heating up and finally concluding? No one has ever seen you and DeMaurice Smith in the same room at the same time...

DU: You guys act like there's no reason I don't wear fedoras for my videos on the blog.