Friday, December 4, 2009
Big 12 mailbag: Henery in line for unique honor
By ESPN.com staff
If it's Friday, we've got some letters to answer.
Here are some of the better questions I received this week.
Shawn Starostka of Omaha, Neb., writes: In response to your post about Nebraska special teams. You mentioned in the article that Alex Henery has reached near "rock-star status" in our state. I was just e-mailing to let you know that he is officially a rock star. I'm expecting a son in March, and I convinced his mother to name him Alex Henery Starostka. No joke. God willing, one day he will make a career out of kicking footballs, too. Enjoy your stuff, Tim. Keep it up.
Tim Griffin: Shawn, your story is an interesting one. I could tell that Henery’s popularity is massive among Cornhusker fans. The Nebraska fans really have an appreciation for what he does for the team. I think that Henery rivals only Ndamukong Suh among the most popular Cornhuskers, when you consider the reaction for him at games.
But I don’t think I’ve heard of anybody who has shown quite the compliment to him that you have. Congratulations and good luck on the birth. And hopefully, your son will live up to your dreams one day.
John Greenslade of Kaufman, Texas, writes: Tim, who do you think will be the starting QB at Texas Tech next year? I know we will not know until the first game of the season but I feel that there could be a real battle between Steven Sheffield, Taylor Potts, Jacob Karam, and Scotty Young.
By the way, Scotty Young has the potential of beating all of Garrett Gilbert’s Texas high school records he set last year. What are your thoughts on him as well?
Tim Griffin: John, I would expect Sheffield and Potts to be the favorites as Tech’s starter next season. The major reasons are because of their game experience inside Tech’s system. It would be tough for Karam and Young to immediately duplicate that.
But I’ve really been impressed with Young from what I’ve heard so far. He’s had a great high school career so far. It will be interesting to see if his skills translate to the next level.
Joshua Cunningham of Independence, Mo., writes: Hey, Tim. Do you think there’s any chance that Bob Stoops will fire Kevin Wilson as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and bring back Mark Mangino as offensive coordinator for next year?
Tim Griffin: Joshua, while this has been a disappointing season for Stoops and the Sooners, I would be shocked if Wilson’s job is in any jeopardy. Remember he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach last season when the Sooners rang up a school record for points and advanced to the BCS title game.
Stoops has never fired an assistant during his 11-season tenure at Oklahoma. I don’t think Wilson will be his first.
Eric Forbes of Hastings, Neb., writes: Tim, I know that Nebraska is struggling on offense and their defense is what is keeping them alive this season. But from what you know and what you’ve seen, do they have a shot at the Longhorns on Saturday. What will they have to do to beat them? Also, do you think that Bo Pelini is going to do better recruiting after what the Cornhuskers have accomplished this season?
Tim Griffin: I give the Cornhuskers a “puncher’s chance” of stealing an upset victory on Saturday night. In order to win, they will have to play mistake-free football on offense with a lot of success running the ball between the tackles. I know the Cornhuskers’ coaches feel they might be able to surprise Texas with their inside running ability. We’ll have to see about that.
Nebraska also needs to put consistent pressure on Colt McCoy. The toughest game he had was against Oklahoma when he faced a bunch of unusual blitz packages he wasn’t familiar with. Pelini could duplicate that.
And lastly, they really need to dictate field position with strong kicking from Henery and Adi Kunalic. They can’t let Texas have any cheap scoring drives and need to make them earn every point they score on long drives.
I also think the Cornhuskers could be primed for a better recruiting season after the bowl game. I think Pelini has done a good job trying to take his recruiting message across the country. It should resonate more now that they are Big 12 North Division champions.
Kyle Hobblet of Edmond, Okla., writes: Tim, what is your take on why Von Miller received no love from AFCA for its All-America team? After all he did lead the nation in sacks for the entire year.
Tim Griffin: Miller was the most dominant player on the Aggies’ team, and arguably one of the top players in the country. I can’t really answer for the coaches in their reasoning, but maybe they might have held Texas A&M’s struggling defense against him. The Aggies were 6-6 and ranked 105th in scoring defense and 107th in total defense. Miller had a large deal to do with their success because of his nation-leading 17 sacks. But I’m guessing the coaches probably didn’t just weigh pure sack totals when they made their decisions.
The AFCA picked Suh, UCLA’s Brian Price and Penn State’s Jared Odrick at defensive tackle. The defensive ends were Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan and TCU’s Jerry Hughes.
All of the teams have better records than the Aggies, with the exception of Price’s 6-6 record. I think the Aggies’ struggles, as well as Miller’s hybrid status at the “Jack” position, made coaches unsure if he really was a defensive lineman or a linebacker.
Jody Schrandt of Tampa, Fla., writes: So I read that TCU coach Gary Patterson thinks they can win without playoffs or joining a BCS conference. I think that’s highly doubtful. Wouldn't it make sense for TCU to try to replace Baylor in the Big 12? Baylor never fit the B12 very well anyway. TCU would provide another great shot in the arm to the league, and they would have to play through the B12 to earn their title shot. Why can't that happen?
Tim Griffin: Mainly because I don’t see any rush to get rid of Baylor from the other Big 12 teams at this time. The same unique challenges that Baylor faces as a Big 12 member would likely be in place for TCU as well. It can be argued that TCU became successful because it didn’t get chosen for the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs have taken some huge steps forward under Dennis Franchione and Gary Patterson. But could they have done that playing in the Big 12 rather than Conference USA or the Mountain West?
This season, the Horned Frogs would be a great addition. But would the Horned Frogs be able to sustain that success on a consistent basis in the Big 12?
We’ll never know.
Thanks again for all of the great questions and enjoy the championship game tomorrow. We'll check back again early next week.