Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Big 12 mailbag: Will Leach pick Sheffield or Potts?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If it's Tuesday, the mailbag should be filling up with some letters from earlier in the week.

Here are some of the better missives.

Scott Carleton of San Antonio writes: Tim,Do you think that Steven Sheffield should continue to start for Texas Tech? I do for three reasons:1. Mobility 2. Potts throws off his back foot a lot.3. Potts forces the ball rather than throwing away or scrambling.

Tim Griffin: I might add a fourth big reason is the Red Raiders’ recent surge. Texas Tech has scored 14 touchdowns and a field goal in the last 19 possessions with Sheffield in charge.

Those numbers are hard to argue with. It seems that for whatever reason, the Red Raiders have really gravitated to Sheffield and his leadership when he's in the lineup.

It’s hard to bench Taylor Potts, who ranks second in the nation in average passing yards and is tied for fourth in touchdown passes. That’s why I think Mike Leach will drag the decision out as long as possible before he makes a determination on who starts Saturday against Nebraska.

Another interesting factor in this quarterback controversy is that both are juniors, making it unlikely that either would transfer away for their senior seasons. We could have this battle for playing time continue throughout the next year.




Blake from Abilene, Texas, writes: Is there a bigger game-changer anywhere than Jordan Shipley? He had the kick return against Oklahoma last year that changed the game and led to the Texas win. He had the punt return in the game against Texas Tech last year and this year. He set a receiving record against Colorado on Saturday. It looks as if he will put up the best numbers of any wide receiver by the end of the season. And that doesn’t even include the boost the Longhorns get from his punt returns. And over the last two years his best receiving games have come against Texas' highest-ranked opponents. Sounds like Mr. Clutch to me? Do you see him with chances for individual awards after this season?

Tim Griffin: For whatever it’s worth, I voted Shipley No. 5 on my weekly Heisman poll for ESPN.com this week. He’s doing things that I haven't seen a Texas player do since the days of Eric Metcalf. Texas coach Mack Brown said yesterday that Shipley’s game against Colorado was one of the greatest in the school’s history. And who knows, if he keeps having productive games both as a receiver and returner, he could sneak his way into Heisman consideration. Without a prime Heisman candidate making a major statement, it appears wide-open to me and we could have somebody like Shipley involved. And after the first five games of the season, he definitely deserves to be considered.



Matt from Irvine, Calif., writes: Tim, Iowa State is leading the Big 12 in rushing, and Alexander Robinson is second in rushing yards per game less than two yards per game behind Roy Helu Jr. of Nebraska. And Robinson’s total came despite getting only four carries against Kansas State two weeks ago because he was hurt. Also, our offensive line leads the nation in sacks allowed per game (0.33). When are Robinson and the O-Line going to get some love?

Stop. All of us Cyclone fans know the answer: as soon as Iowa State start winning these close games.But seriously - with his rushing performance and his eight receptions for 139 yards and two TDs this season, name a running back in the conference playing better than Robinson this year.

Tim Griffin: Matt, I can’t, so I won’t. As I said before the start of the season, I thought Alexander Robinson was one of the most underrated players in the conference. And his rushing and receiving skills appear to be an ideal fit with Tom Herman’s spread offense, which is turning to be a little more run-oriented than we might have thought before the season started.

I really like what Robinson does in the offense. And I think the most underrated facet of his game is his pass blocking. If you get a chance, watch him when he does that.



Lane from Oklahoma City writes: Tim, just wondering how you justify writing in your blog that Ndamukong Suh and Shipley should be among the conversation for the Heisman but fail to put them in your top five when you vote?

Tim Griffin: I lived up to that column this week. Lane, you would have been proud of me. I had Suh third behind Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy and Shipley fifth behind Jimmy Clausen. And a big finish from either Suh or Shipley could result in a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation. Both are starting to capture the attention of football fans and the media across the country.



Adam Offner of Elmwood, Neb., writes: Tim, I noticed your story on the Texas Tech and Kansas State game. You had mentioned that Texas Tech's kicker Donnie Carona tied for Tech's team lead in tackles with five -- playing merely on the kickoff team. Did I read that right?Is that a new NCAA record? If not what is the record?

Tim Griffin: You did read that right, as Carona tied for the Texas Tech team lead with five tackles against Kansas State. Unfortunately, the NCAA or the Big 12 doesn’t break down its statistics into special teams-only situations. I think if it did, it would highlight Carona’s effort.

As it is, I think Carona's performance is significant for a couple of reasons. First, I think he’s an aggressive player on special teams, which isn’t surprising because he was a linebacker in high school. And secondly, the Red Raiders needed a lot of chances to kick off for him to produce that total. Which they did as he kicked off 11 times in the Red Raiders’ 66-14 triumph.

That’s all the questions I have for now. Check back on Friday andwe'll answer some more.

Thanks again and keep them coming.