Big 12: 2012-midseason-team-reports

Midseason report: TCU

October, 16, 2012

Record: 5-1, 2-1 Big 12

The Frogs' season feels a lot more traumatic than it's actually been. In four days, TCU lost its best player and its first game, and it felt much like the sky was falling. After last week's 49-21 win over Baylor, things are looking up in Fort Worth.

Casey Pachall's DWI arrest and disenrollment from the university to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction was the biggest story of the season for the Frogs, and Iowa State came into the new Amon G. Carter Stadium and ruined the first Big 12 game ever in the Frogs' new pond. Trevone Boykin struggled and turned the ball over four times.

Last week, with a full week to practice at QB after playing just one day at QB the week before, he threw four touchdowns. The Frogs are second in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in total defense. The team's best running back, Waymon James, is out for the year with a knee injury and Matthew Tucker's been banged up, too. He sat out the loss to Iowa State. That was a big loss, and with no QB and a running game left to B.J. Catalon and Aundre Dean, the Frogs looked pretty average. That defense leads the nation in turnovers forced, though, and will keep the Frogs in plenty of games down the stretch. The final six games of the schedule will be brutal and truly tell us just how good TCU can be.

Offensive MVP: Brandon Carter and Josh Boyce, WRs. I'm not going to put Pachall on here, though he's the clear candidate. He's gone. Carter and Boyce have been outstanding and produced similar output in the passing game. They've combined for 56 catches, 806 yards and eight touchdowns over the first half of the season, which included a rain-soaked night against SMU, too.

Defensive MVP: Devonte Fields, DE. Fields is my defensive player of the year in the entire Big 12, and the true freshman has been the breakout star of the entire league, even though he hasn't gotten much press on a national level. He leads the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss, two more than any player in the Big 12.

Midseason report: Baylor

October, 16, 2012

Record: 3-2, 0-2 Big 12

The season started bright, and even a seven-point loss at West Virginia was a reason for encouragement. The panic outside the program though is starting to set in after getting outplayed in about every way a team can be outplayed in a 49-21 loss to TCU at home on Saturday. The loss included nothing short of a fourth-quarter meltdown on both sides of the ball.

The Bears' best performance of the season came in the opener against SMU, when a 45-3 lead in the third quarter suggested both offense and defense would be in excellent shape. A road comeback against a decent Louisiana-Monroe team showed plenty of guts but lots of questions, too. The defense isn't any better under Phil Bennett, and though the offense has played well, it's still not like it was a year ago.

Nick Florence has filled in fantastically for Robert Griffin III, even though he lacks the eye-popping physical attributes of the school's lone Heisman winner. The running game looks a little confused with no clarity between the three backs, Jarred Salubi, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. Terrance Williams has been as good or better than Kendall Wright, and offered Florence a big-time target alongside Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson.

Baylor has been a bit underwhelming early, and a loss to Texas next week would mean a three-game losing streak and a big 0-3 hole to try and climb out of over the season's final six games. Nobody in Waco wants that.

Offensive MVP: Terrance Williams, WR. If you had any doubts that Williams could be a No. 1 target, there's no way you could any more. His 830 yards lead the nation, and he's averaging 22.4 yards on his 37 catches. He's stretching the field for Florence and validating his status as one of the best NFL receiver prospects in the country. His eight touchdown catches are tied for third-most nationally.

Defensive MVP: Bryce Hager, LB. I was torn on this one. You could definitely give this one to Ahmad Dixon, but I lean Hager because of the secondary's shortcomings this season. Hager leads the team with five tackles for loss and has 61 tackles to lead the team by 13. He's also forced a pair of fumbles and has a sack, too.

Midseason report: Iowa State

October, 16, 2012

Record: 4-2, 1-2

The Cyclones are overachieving yet again, but Paul Rhoads isn't kidding around when he says this team is capable of winning five league games, which would put them at 8-4. It'll be difficult, but the Cyclones have showed they're capable of doing it.

The defense is among the Big 12's best, led by linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, two of the league's best at the position. The Cyclones won in Iowa City over rival Iowa for the first time since 2003 in a 9-6 "Game of the Century," and nobody but Iowa State has beaten Tulsa yet.

TCU was playing shorthanded and on short notice, but Iowa State dominated a 37-23 win in Fort Worth before nearly knocking off Kansas State in Ames last week.

Three ranked teams remain on the schedule, but there's not a game left that the Cyclones can't win. Finding some clarity and consistency at quarterback would help make any of those wins happen. ISU showed up at No. 24 in the BCS rankings and Jared Barnett is likely the man to try and keep the Cyclones among the nation's top 25 teams. If he can't keep it going, though, Steele Jantz will be ready to go off the bench if he's needed. Jantz started the first three games of the year, but four turnovers in a loss to Texas Tech forced Rhoads to make a switch.

Offensive MVP: Josh Lenz, WR. You could give this to Shontrelle Johnson, James White, Aaron Horne or any of Iowa State's quarterbacks in a win, but Lenz has been the biggest threat on this offense and the most consistent throughout the season. Kansas State somehow held him without a catch last week, but he's caught 18 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a touchdown on a trick play in the win over TCU.

Defensive MVP: Jake Knott, LB. Knott has a team-high 57 tackles and his 41 solo tackles are 16 more than any player on the team. It's amazing how much better he can look when he's back at full strength. He's already got a pair of interceptions and five tackles for loss. He's also forced a fumble and broken up three passes with half a sack, too. Klein's not far off, but Knott's been better over the first half of the season.

Midseason report: Kansas

October, 16, 2012

Record: 1-5, 0-3 Big 12

Second verse, same as the first. In a lot of ways, Kansas is better than it was under Turner Gill. The defense looks more sound. The offense has something of an identity.

The record, though? There's no getting around that. Kansas is sitting at 1-5 and the hope of grabbing a second win to equal last year's win total seems like one in which the odds do not favor. Kansas' 1-5 record came courtesy of a pair of blown fourth-quarter leads to Rice and Northern Illinois. The Huskies are a good team with just one loss (by one point) to Iowa, but even Memphis (winners of six games in the past three seasons) beat Rice, a feat the Jayhawks couldn't duplicate, even at home. No Big 12 team had ever lost to the Owls, too.

Dayne Crist doesn't look any better than he did at Notre Dame, and after completing just 49 percent of his passes, might lose his job to Michael Cummings. That's natural, considering every other Big 12 starting quarterback is completing at least 60 percent of his passes.

Dave Campo has the defense looking much more sound, but even that growth looked a bit like a mirage in a 40-point loss to Kansas State. Last week's 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State offered a little hope, but the weather and a hurt quarterback had a lot to do with the Cowboys' struggles, and late mistakes undid the Jayhawks late.

The Charlie Weis Reclamation Project in Lawrence is off to a rough start, and the second half of the season will require a whole lot of improvement if anything's going to change.

Offensive MVP: Anthony Pierson, RB. Nobody on Kansas' team has really stood out this season, but Pierson is the biggest home-run hitter on the team and offers a threat in the passing and running game. He's down with an elbow injury for a bit, but it doesn't sound like a major injury. He's turned his 59 carries into 319 yards and two touchdowns, the highest yards per carry on the team. He's also second on the team with 15 catches and third on the team with 198 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive MVP: Bradley McDougald, S. This one's pretty easy. McDougald is the team's best player and could start for a number of other Big 12 teams. The former receiver is making plays all over the field and is tied with Ben Heeney for the team lead with 50 tackles. He's picked off two passes and has three tackles for loss with a sack. He's also forced a pair of fumbles and broken up a pass.

Midseason report: Kansas State

October, 16, 2012

Record: 6-0, 3-0 Big 12.

They tried to tell you, but nobody seemed to be listening. Kansas State's doing all its talking on the field this season. Through the first half of the season, they're perfect -- the only Big 12 team that can make that claim -- and have already done what no team has ever done before: Beat a Bob Stoops-coached Oklahoma team in Norman as a ranked team. That's the best win of any team in the Big 12 this season, and one of the best wins of any team in the country.

Through six weeks, Kansas State sits at No. 4 in the BCS rankings, and Collin Klein is within striking distance of the Heisman Trophy. He'll get a big chance to get his paws on it with a showdown on Saturday in Morgantown against West Virginia.

The Wildcats looked sluggish early on in wins against North Texas and Missouri State, but a 39-point win against a decent Miami team is one of the best wins for a Big 12 team in nonconference play, too. The Wildcats offensive and defensive lines are as good as any in the Big 12, and winning those battles along the line of scrimmage are paying off in the win column. The line is where it all starts for the Wildcats, an old-school team in a league full of new-school offenses.

Offensive MVP: Collin Klein, QB. Klein is back to his old ways and looking better than ever. He's tough as ever, but a better passer than he was a year ago and easily stakes his claim as the Big 12's best dual-threat quarterback. He has completed 66.9 percent (79-of-118) of his passes for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions, the second fewest in the Big 12. He's also rushed for 515 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 5.26 yards a carry, up from 3.60 a year ago. No player in the Big 12 means more to his team.

Defensive MVP: Arthur Brown, LB. Brown is still in the mix for the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Year race, and he's been outstanding this season. He's eighth in the Big 12 with 47 tackles and has four tackles for loss with one sack. He's also broken up three passes. Last year was his breakout season, but he's been just about as good this season. He's still the same speedy, sure tackler that anchored this defense a year ago.

Midseason report: Oklahoma

October, 16, 2012

Record: 4-1, 2-1 Big 12

The Sooners have had the most up and down (and up again) season of any team in the Big 12. Oklahoma began the year looking like the Big 12's best team and the league's best hope for a national title.

After a lackluster win at UTEP, the questions were mounting. After a loss to Kansas State, the Sooners looked like a vulnerable squad susceptible to being swallowed up by the depth of the Big 12. They had to sit and wait a week to take the field again.

The Sooners rolled over a good Texas Tech team by three touchdowns (a week later, the Red Raiders dispatched No. 5 West Virginia by five touchdowns) and saved their best overall performance of the season for the Red River Rivalry, where the Sooners delivered a 42-point beatdown to a Texas team that looked completely overmatched.

The Sooners have the Big 12's best defense through the first half of the season, and the biggest question offensively is Landry Jones' completion percentage. The running game looks more physical than ever. Damien Williams has been a hidden gem from the juco ranks to lead the Sooners in rushing.

Oklahoma looks back on track for a Big 12 title, playing better than any team in the league these past two weeks. That big loss in Norman, though, means Oklahoma needs K-State to lose twice in order to win the league. That looks like a tall order these days.

Offensive MVP: Damien Williams, RB. Williams ascended a crowded depth chart to earn the starting gig ahead of Dom Whaley, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. He is one of just three Big 12 backs averaging at least 100 yards a game. That's even more impressive considering he hadn't received more than 10 carries in a game before last week's win over Texas Tech. He's got 508 yards and six touchdowns on just 66 carries, averaging 7.7 yards a carry.

Defensive MVP: Aaron Colvin, CB. Colvin is far from the biggest name on a loaded Oklahoma team, but he's been the team's most valuable player to this point. He has 20 tackles, two picks and six pass break-ups. The 6-foot, 180-pounder might be making himself a lot of money this season.

Midseason report: Oklahoma State

October, 16, 2012

Record: 3-2, 1-1 Big 12

The Cowboys' first season as defending league champs hasn't quite gone according to plan. It's never a good sign when the most memorable moment of the first half of your season is your starting quarterback clutching his knee in pain. Wes Lunt turned heads when he enrolled early at Oklahoma State and beat out two older players to win the starting job as a true freshman. But he suffered a knee injury before conference play even began.

His return is still up in the air, but J.W. Walsh has filled in admirably. Both quarterbacks have a loss on their records -- a three-touchdown loss to Arizona for Lunt and a five-point heartbreaker at home to Texas for Walsh.

Oklahoma State has the weakest set of wins of any team in the Big 12, with an 84-point romp against Savannah State, a blowout against Louisiana and a six-point win against the Big 12's worst team, Kansas. The Cowboys still have a lot to prove, and the second half of the season to do it.

The defense has been a bit disappointing to this point, and the grabby hands have been a lot less grabby. A whole lot less grabby. Oklahoma State has forced just four turnovers through five games (120th nationally) after forcing 44 last season to lead the nation by five. Hyped corners Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown have still been shut out after picking off five a piece last season. Not what the Pokes had envisioned, but there will be plenty of opportunities to crack the polls and earn some respect in the second half.

Offensive MVP: Joseph Randle, RB. Randle's been as good as Oklahoma State needed him to be so far this season, leading the Big 12 with 614 yards. He had his best performance against Texas with 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but inexplicably was held to 80 yards on 29 carries against Kansas. Expect a big second half from the junior.

Defensive MVP: Shaun Lewis, LB. No one on Oklahoma State's defense has stood out on a conference level so far, but I give the nod to the Pokes' impact player at linebacker. He's made 3.5 tackles for loss to tie for the team lead and has 1.5 sacks.

Midseason report: Texas

October, 16, 2012

Record: 4-2, 1-2 Big 12

Just about everyone thought the Longhorns would have the Big 12's best defense, but that unit's shortcomings have been the biggest development of the first half of the season, as well as the biggest reason for the Longhorns having two losses already.

Defensive linemen Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor have been productive and about as good as advertised, but tackling issues have plagued the rest of the unit and negated the development of sophomore quarterback David Ash, who has looked like a new man and had Texas' offense humming before suffering a wrist injury in Saturday's 63-21 loss to Oklahoma.

The secondary has been a disappointment, but the biggest hole has been at linebacker, where inexperience and injuries are showing up in painful ways for the Longhorns, who are giving up 5.14 yards a carry. That's the worst mark in the Big 12 and 111th nationally. There's a whole lot to fix on defense.

Despite the offensive struggles, you can't ignore what David Ash has done to this point, though it may be Case McCoy's show for awhile entering the second half of the season. He's thrown 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions and ranks 17th nationally in passer rating. The running game has been solid, too. The Longhorns are fourth in the Big 12 in rushing offense. Surviving without Ash is the biggest task awaiting the second half of the season, though. The onus for doing that has to be on the defense.

Offensive MVP: David Ash, QB. Ash was money in a huge win at Oklahoma State, and though an injury against Oklahoma and some struggles against Oklahoma have marred his season, he's still completing 72 percent of his passes and his decision-making is much, much better than a year ago. He's already accounted for 1,389 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and three picks. Ash's wrist isn't fractured, but how much, if any, time will he miss?

Defensive MVP: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE. He narrowly edges out his almost equally productive teammate, Alex Okafor. Jeffcoat's been all over the place, though, scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery against West Virginia and currently sits in second in the Big 12 in both tackles for loss (9.5) and third in the Big 12 in sacks (4.0). You could make a case for either of these guys, but at least Okafor will keep playing. Jeffcoat is out for the season after tearing his pectoral.

Midseason report: Texas Tech

October, 16, 2012

Record: 5-1, 2-1 Big 12

It's been a fun season in Lubbock so far, and at the season's halfway point, the Red Raiders have already equaled all of last year's win total. The offense has been good but not great, but the reason for the success and top 25 ranking halfway through this season: the defense.

Art Kaufman came in to become Tech's fourth defensive coordinator in four years, but he's working with speed, depth and talent unlike anything his predecessors had. It's already paying off. Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in total defense and is the only team in the league giving up fewer than four yards per play. That defense was never more impressive than when it held West Virginia to just seven points for most of the game. The No. 5 Mountaineers did manage a late meaningless touchdown in Texas Tech's 49-14 win .

The Red Raiders have impressive depth at receiver, and Eric Stephens' return has bolstered quarterback Seth Doege's efforts. Outside of a lopsided loss to an angry Sooners team, Texas Tech has looked great every single week. A Week 6 win over Iowa State in Ames was nothing easy, and last week's rout of West Virginia shot the Red Raiders into the polls after a strong 3-0 start against weak nonconference teams. That schedule's toughened up now, and Texas Tech's looking a whole lot tougher. Last year's victory over No. 1 Oklahoma gave Tech five wins for the season, but it didn't win again all season. The second half will be about changing that after knocking off the Mountaineers last week.

Offensive MVP: Seth Doege, quarterback. Only Geno Smith has more touchdown passes than Doege's 21, and the duo are the nation's only quarterbacks with at least 20 touchdown passes over the first half of the season. Doege's spreading it around, too, which makes Texas Tech's offense even more difficult to cover. Darrin Moore's caught seven touchdown passes, but no Tech receiver has more than 400 yards receiving, despite Doege throwing for almost 1,900 yards in six games.

Defensive MVP: Cody Davis, safety. Apologies to defensive lineman Kerry Hyder on this one, but I'm going with Davis, the team's most experienced player and leading tackler. A year ago, Texas Tech couldn't stop much of anything, but Davis has been a rock on the back line for the Red Raiders and has 45 tackles with a pair of interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown against Texas State. He also has 1.5 tackles for loss and a pair of pass breakups.

Midseason report: West Virginia

October, 16, 2012

Record: 5-1, 2-1 Big 12

It was all going so well. The Mountaineers had scaled the mountain, looking like the Big 12's best team and ready for the task of trying to stay there for the next six weeks.

That didn't take long. The first trip to Texas was fun. WVU left with a win over Texas and a top-five ranking. Trekking to Lubbock, though? Considerably less fun. West Virginia lost by five touchdowns and is now looking way up at two Big 12 teams in the polls with Texas Tech just one spot behind.

Geno Smith has been unbelievable to this point, with 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions, but he'll have to keep being on a Heisman pace every single game to outpace the Mountaineers' defensive issues.

West Virginia ranks 117th in total defense and is giving up 6.33 yards per play, good for 107th nationally. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin look likely to battle for the Biletnikoff Award all season long, but the defense still must figure out what's gone wrong and adjust to new coaches and a new scheme in a new league. Those three factors put West Virginia behind the eight ball a bit, but there's no time for excuses with Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State on the schedule in the next three weeks. All will test the WVU defense.

Offensive MVP: Geno Smith, QB. No contest here. Smith is the guy who makes it all run for the Mountaineers. He's thrown for 2,271 yards through just six games and leads the nation with 25 touchdown passes. He's also just one of four passers to start each game for his team and not throw an interception yet this season. Every other Big 12 quarterback still playing has at least two interceptions.

Defensive MVP: Isaiah Bruce, LB. No, I'm not just going to put "no one" on this list. Bruce has flown all over the place for WVU, leading the team by 14 with 57 tackles though six games. He earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors in Week 1, too. The freshman returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and has five tackles for loss with half a sack and a pass breakup.