Big 12: Aaron Jones

Big 12 lunch links

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
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Somehow I can't help but think about "Bad Boys II" when Stephen Jackson talks about guys trying to talk to his daughters.

Baylor Bears spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
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2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 4-5
Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners: OL Cyril Richardson, RB Lache Seastrunk, S Ahmad Dixon, WR Tevin Reese, LB Eddie Lackey, DE Chris McAllister, LB Bryce Hager, K Aaron Jones

Key losses: WR Terrance Williams, QB Nick Florence, WR Lanear Sampson, S Mike Hicks, C Ivory Wade, DT Gary Mason Jr.

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Nick Florence (4,309 yards)
Rushing: Lache Seastrunk* (1,012 yards)
Receiving: Terrance Williams (1,832 yards)
Tackles: Bryce Hager* (124)
Sacks: Chris McAllister* (6)
Interceptions: Eddie Lackey* (4)

Spring answers:

1. Bryce is the guy. It was going to take a lot for Bryce Petty to lose his starting spot, but he looked like a guy who suited up for his fourth spring this year and cemented his status as the heir apparent to a crazy-good quarterback tradition under Art Briles. He'll follow Robert Griffin III and Florence, who both set school records for passing yards.

2. Defense changes its identity. The Bears didn't have a ton of speed in the secondary last season, and as a result, relied heavily on zone and didn't play a lot of tight coverage. To start fixing the problem, Dixon moved back to traditional safety, and as the defense's most physically skilled talent, that was a wise decision. Baylor wants to play more man and play tighter this year, and we'll see if it pays off in the fall.

3. Offense finds its playmakers. Williams is gone and so is Sampson, two of the team's top three receivers. Reese returns, but Antwan Goodley and Jay Lee emerged to win starting spots this spring, and both look like big-time targets for one of college football's best offenses. Count on those guys and Clay Fuller to keep the tradition going.

Fall questions

1. Can the defense prove itself? The Bears were definitely one of the best defenses in the Big 12 over the last month of the season. The same unit, however, was also a big reason why Baylor limped to an 0-5 start in conference 12 play before ripping off four wins to end the season. The defensive line should be improved and young talents like Javonte Magee and Shawn Oakman could make names for themselves this fall.

2. Is the offensive line deep enough? Baylor's history under Briles at this position makes me pretty confident, and the Bears have a solid starting five. But losing Troy Baker this spring is a big knock, and the Bears only had 10 healthy offensive linemen this spring. Come fall, more injuries could force the Bears to force inexperienced players into the rotation. This was probably the biggest concern for Briles all spring.

3. Just how good is Petty? He looks good for now, and was productive and impressive during the spring. That's also the spring. RG3 and Florence broke school records for passing yards in consecutive seasons, though, so the bar is sky-high. There's every reason to believe in Petty, but expectations are high and reaching them won't be easy. The good news is he has a huge talent in Seastrunk and a solid receiving corps around him to support his efforts.

Art Briles remembers the first time he led Baylor to a bowl game. It took a rain delay and a dramatic win over Kansas State that had him chuckling years later about the world never making it easy.

Baylor's 52-45 win on Saturday over Texas Tech had to feel pretty similar. It wasn't easy. This time, it even took extra possessions in overtime after a missed 48-yard field goal by Aaron Jones as time expired, his third miss on four attempts in the game.

Still, add it all up and you get six wins for Baylor and a third consecutive trip to a bowl game for the first time in school history. Fresh off last week's upset of No. 1 Kansas State, the Bears rescued what once felt like a lost season and an 0-4 start in Big 12 play to reach the postseason yet again.

Baylor's defense won the game with a turnover on downs in the bottom half of the first overtime, surviving a wild game with four fourth-quarter lead changes and an unlikely interception from Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege off his offensive lineman's helmet that set up Jones' miss as time expired.

Terrance Williams stated a strong Biletnikoff Award case with a week left in the season, grabbing seven balls for 175 yards and a touchdown. Texas Tech's Darrin Moore had a big game of his own, besting Williams with 13 grabs for 186 yards and two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter to put the Red Raiders ahead.

It wasn't enough, though, and last year's Heisman winner -- Robert Griffin III -- was one of the first players on the field to celebrate with the Baylor defense, which made a stop that will be remembered for a long time in Waco. The Bears have a chance to win a seventh game next week against Oklahoma State. But for now, it's time to celebrate.

Nick Florence finished 22-of-37 for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Lache Seastrunk had another big game, rushing for 136 yards on 19 carries. Glasco Martin added 98 yards and two scores on his 23 carries, including the game-winning score in overtime.

After a 14-point loss to Iowa State back on Oct. 27 to fall to 3-4, almost no one gave the Bears a chance to reach six wins. Baylor got itself up off the mat and proved the doubters wrong. Now, the Big 12 will have 90 percent of its teams bowl eligible.

I have to think that's a first.

Big 12 did you know: Week 3

September, 14, 2012
9/14/12
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Time for our weekly collection of fun facts and tidbits, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, as well as sports information departments around the Big 12. Thank you, folks. We love you.

Did you know ...
  • Since the beginning of 2011, when West Virginia has two running backs in its offensive formation, Geno Smith has thrown 17 touchdowns and one interception. Just one of those touchdowns came with Smith under center.
  • Over the same time period, he's thrown 18 touchdowns and two interceptions out of the Pistol formation.
  • When facing five or more pass-rushers, Smith is completing 63 percent of his passes in his last 14 games, including a 6-of-7 performance against Marshall.
  • Oklahoma State's seven-game home winning streak is its longest since 1984-85, when it won nine consecutive games.
  • Last season, 17.1 percent of kickoffs in college football went for touchbacks. This year, thanks to kicks being moved up five yards, 39.7 percent of kickoffs are going for touchbacks.
  • Through two games, David Ash is 7-of-8 passing when facing third downs of six yards or longer. He's converted those downs five times already, and did so just 10 times all of last season.
  • Joe Bergeron has run for 152 of his 159 yards inside the tackles, including 4.2 yards after contact per rush.
  • Outside the tackles, Malcolm Brown is averaging 6.2 yards per carry for his career.
  • Through two games, David Ash has amassed 24.1 percent of his passing yards on screen passes.
  • Rice ended an 11-game road losing streak last week by beating Kansas. It's last road win before that? A 32-31 win at North Texas on Sept. 11, 2010.
  • Against non-AQ opponents, Collin Klein is averaging nine carries a game on designed runs, and 7.9 yards a carry on those plays.
  • Against AQ opponents, Klein averages 18 designed runs a game, and 3.9 yards a carry.
  • Inside the pocket, Klein completed 58 percent of his passes a year ago. This year, he's completing 71 percent of his passes inside the pocket.
  • Since 2009, Ole Miss' turnover margin is -22, the worst in college football. In that span, Texas is 17-0 when winning the turnover battle.
  • TCU has been affiliated with five conferences since 2000. It opens Big 12 play this week.
  • The Horned Frogs own the nation's longest win streak, at nine games, and have the nation's longest conference winning streak, at 24 games.
  • West Virginia's opponent this week, James Madison, is ranked No. 4 in the FCS Top 25.
  • West Virginia is 12-0 all-time against FCS schools.
  • Iowa State held Iowa without a touchdown in Iowa City last week. The last time Iowa didn't score a touchdown at home: 1978. Iowa had scored a touchdown in every game dating back to 2005, too.
  • Kansas had eight interceptions last year. It has five already after two games.
  • TCU has completed 19 consecutive passes, dating back to last year's bowl game win over Louisiana Tech.
  • Since 2010, TCU is just the fourth team to complete a game with 10 or more passes without zero incompletions.
  • TCU forced Grambling into a three-and-out on 7 of 12 drives (58.3 percent) last week. That's the highest percentage in a game for TCU since October 2008, and the third-highest for a team this season.
  • The Big 12's .882 win percentage in nonconference play is the nation's best. Big 12 teams are outscoring opponents by an average score of 48.4-11.9.
  • In his last two games, Geno Smith is completing 81 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns, 730 yards and no interceptions. He's also run for two scores.
  • West Virginia's scored at least 69 points in its last two games. The last team to do it for three consecutive games? LSU in 1930.
  • James Madison is averaging nearly 50 points in two games this season (48.5 ppg).
  • Baylor's Nick Florence set the Big 12 freshman passing record in 2009, when he threw for 426 yards in a win over Missouri. Last week, Oklahoma State's Wes Lunt broke it, with 436 yards in a loss to Arizona.
  • The 436 yards were the fourth-most in OSU history.
  • When forcing at least two turnovers under Phil Bennett, Baylor is 9-0.
  • Big 12 offenses are averaging 6.9 yards per play this season.
  • Baylor's scored at least 40 points in five consecutive games.
  • Kansas State has scored 50 points in each of the past two games. That hasn't happened since 2002.
  • Since 1992, Kansas State is 44-2 in Manhattan when playing in September.
  • Oklahoma scored eight rushing touchdowns last week against Florida A&M, the most for any Bob Stoops' coaches team at Oklahoma.
  • Texas hasn't played an SEC opponent since losing the national championship game to Alabama at the end of the 2009 season.
  • The Longhorns opponent this week, Ole Miss, has lost 14 consecutive games against BCS conference opponents. A 2010 win over Kentucky is the only win in the past three seasons for the Rebels against a BCS conference team.
  • Last week, David Ash threw for 221 yards against New Mexico. That was a career high.
  • Texas Tech's Seth Doege threw his 10th 300-yard game last week against Texas State.
  • Oklahoma is 51-12 outside Big 12 play under Stoops.
  • Texas and Ole Miss haven't met since 1966, when the Horns beat the Rebels, 17-0, in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
  • Baylor has won eight consecutive games at home, the second-longest streak in school history. The Bears can equal the school record with nine on Saturday, when they face Sam Houston State.
  • With his next field goal, Baylor kicker Aaron Jones will be Baylor's all-time scoring leader. He's got 218 points now, trailing Alfred Anderson, with 220.
  • Kansas has won its last three meetings with TCU.

The best Big 12 games of 2011

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
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We took a look at the best atmospheres on Tuesday, and today, it's time to rank the top 10 games involving Big 12 teams of 2011.

1. Kansas State 53, Texas A&M 50 (4 OT): Kansas State erased a double-digit lead in the final half of the fourth quarter to force overtime. Collin Klein burrowed into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to earn a huge win and a memorable night in Manhattan.

2. Baylor 50, TCU 48: The first game of the entire season for the Big 12 began in style. Robert Griffin III began his Heisman campaign with five touchdown passes, but the Bears blew a 47-23 lead in just over 11 minutes, giving up 25 fourth-quarter points. Griffin, though, hauled in his only catch of the season to extend a game-winning drive on third down, and Aaron Jones booted a 37-yard game winner with just over a minute left, cueing the Baylor fans to storm the field after a game-clinching interception.

3. Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT): This was what we thought it was. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense, and Oklahoma State converted a fourth down from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon to extend the game and take the lead, but Stanford drove back down the field and missed a 35-yard field goal as time expired. It missed another kick in overtime, and OSU kicked a game-winning field goal after Colton Chelf's game-winning touchdown was overturned to just a 24-yard gain.

4. Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38: This gave way to the signature moment of Robert Griffin III's Heisman campaign, and it wasn't the 87-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright off Tevin Reese's helmet. The teams traded second-half leads and Oklahoma erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead before Griffin extended a play and hit Terrance Williams for a 34-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

5. Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2 OT): This game made our top 10 moments of 2011, too. The Cowboys lost a 24-7 second-half lead and missed a game-winning field goal. Brandon Weeden threw an interception in the second overtime and Jeff Woody set off the biggest party in Ames in a long while with his game-winning, four-yard touchdown run in the second overtime.

6. Texas 27, Texas A&M 25: The Aggies led 10-0 and 16-7, but once again, it didn't matter. Jeff Fuller gave the Aggies back the lead with a big 16-yard touchdown with 1:48 to play. The two-point conversion failed, though, and Case McCoy got free for a 25-yard scramble that set up a 40-yard, game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired to give the Longhorns bragging rights in the heated rivalry for as long as they want, perhaps forever. The two teams aren't scheduled to meet again after A&M leaves for the SEC.

7. Oklahoma State 52, Kansas State 45: OSU fell behind 24-14 early after a pick six by Weeden, putting the undefeated season in doubt. The teams traded three touchdowns in just under two minutes, and Joseph Randle's 23-yard run gave OSU the lead for good with 3:16 to play, making it four touchdowns in three minutes. Kansas State drove to tie the game and possibly win it with a two-point conversion, but two Collin Klein passes fell incomplete, and OSU survived to move to 9-0.

8. Baylor 31, Kansas 30 (OT): This game wasn't televised, but it was quietly a classic. Baylor struggled to stop the run, and trailed 24-3 in the fourth quarter before RG3 broke a 49-yard run and hit on two long touchdown passes to tie the game. The two teams traded touchdowns in overtime, but Kansas failed to convert a game-winning two-point conversion, and Turner Gill's guts went unrewarded. Kansas also went without a win in conference play. Baylor loses this game, and RG3 doesn't win the Heisman.

9. Missouri 31, Texas Tech 27: This is a sneaky pick for our top 10 list. Texas Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and Missouri trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter, but James Franklin threw one touchdown pass and ran for another to take the lead. Texas Tech drove inside the Missouri 10-yard line in the final minute, but a tipped Seth Doege pass was intercepted to give Mizzou a dramatic win.

10. Missouri 38, Texas A&M 31 (OT): The SEC bowl helped bury Texas A&M's season and spark Missouri's. The Tigers trailed by 14 early and 11 points at half before taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Randy Bullock tied the game with a field goal in the final minutes to force overtime. James Franklin hit Marcus Lucas for an 11-yard score and Ryan Tannehill's final pass was batted down as Missouri stormed the field and celebrated the end of their three-game losing streak. The Tigers would win four of their final five games, and that bounced Mizzou to 4-4 instead of 3-5. That loss for then-No. 16 Texas A&M keyed off four in the final five regular-season games, including two in overtime (K-State, Mizzou) and another as time expired (Texas).

Honorable mention: Kansas State 28, Miami 24; Baylor 67, Washington 56; Iowa State 44, Iowa 41 (3 OT); Texas 17, BYU 16; Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38; Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29.

An inside look at Baylor's win over TCU

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
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Baylor invited cameras from CBS College Sports into its fall camp, and those cameras followed the Bears through its Week 1 game, which also happened to be the weekend's most thrilling game, won 50-48 by the Bears in dramatic fashion.

If you didn't get to see the show, here's a bit of what you missed, plus some observations from yours truly, who was in Waco on Friday night:
  • First off, here's the entirety of our coverage from the game, if you missed any of it.
  • The Bears' confidence was pretty obvious as cameras caught some candid moments before the game. Robert Griffin III and coach Art Briles said this was a more confident team than a season ago, a team more sure of its ability. It's hard to tangibly represent that, but body language is a good indicator. Baylor was a team that looked like it knew it was going to win. That was true in the practices leading up to game week as well as all the activities leading up to kickoff. "The first game of the season is always exciting, because from week to week, you have other games that you're focused on," linebacker Elliot Coffey said. "So, the first game of the season, you've had eight months, nine months where really, your single focus has been that game, and we're three days away from it, and it's kind of like, you know what? It's real now. It's here."
  • Unbelievable coincidence revealed by defensive coordinator Phil Bennett: Both he and Briles were born on December 3, 1955.
  • Part of Briles' pregame speech to the team: "Come out of the gates playing, alright? Deliver the first blow. Mean. Aggressive. Tough. But with passion and with intelligence. Play hard. Play with passion. This is our family."
  • Kaz Kazadi, the Baylor strength coach, is one of the most intense coaches you'll see in the game. I've been to a handful of practices at Baylor and that's obvious. It didn't change on the sidelines during the game.
  • Before the final, game-winning drive, cameras got a glimpse of Griffin offering a few words to his offensive line. "Don't ever relax. Don't ever relax, alright?" he said, slapping high fives with them as he walked by.
  • The Baylor sideline after Aaron Jones' game-winning kick? You can imagine what it was like. For as much talk lately of TV markets and revenue sharing, that's what this game is about. Working hard and accomplishing something meaningful to a whole lot of people with a group of guys you've been through everything with. Those eight months that Coffey was talking about? All the buildup and tension from the anticipation of waiting finally was released on those sidelines after the kick and once Mike Hicks' interception sealed the game. "One of the biggest wins in years!" exclaimed Baylor radio broadcaster John Morris.
  • In the locker room after the game, cameras got a pretty hysterical shot of Briles taking his shirt off and being picked up by a few of his players while he flexed his biceps. I didn't make that up. And you thought Briles' personality was compelling with the media...
  • Coffey after the celebration: "I've never seen Coach Briles like that before. I've never seen Coach Briles' arms before," he said of Briles, clearly a longsleeve turtleneck enthusiast. "He went all out, shirt off, so I was kind of blown away. I didn't really know how to perceive it, but I figured we did something right to see Coach Briles like that."
  • Said Griffin of the comeback: "Like coach said. They stole our bike, and we wanted it back. We got the bike back."

Big 12 players of the week announced

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
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Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie took home offensive and defensive player of the week honors in the Big 12 this week.

Baylor kicker Aaron Jones and Oklahoma State kicker/punter Quinn Sharp shared the special teams award for Week 1.

Griffin III completed 21 of 27 passes for 359 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in Baylor's 50-48 upset of No. 14 TCU. It was Baylor's first win over a ranked team since 2004 and its first win over a top 15 team since 1991. Here's video with Griffin after the game.

Jerod-Eddie had just two career sacks entering this week's game against SMU. In the 46-14 win, he made three of Texas A&M's eight sacks, and finished with six tackles. Here's video with Jerod-Eddie on his thoughts about the game.

Jones made a 37-yard, game-winning field goal to beat TCU on Friday night, and took over kickoff duties in the second half for a struggling Baylor special-teams unit. TCU's average starting position on his kicks was the 18-yard line. Here's video with Jones talking about his historic kick.

Sharp does everything for Oklahoma State and did it all well in a 61-34 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. He made all four field goal attempts (46, 27, 22 and 23 yards) and made all six of his extra points. He also had punts of 48 and 52 yards on his only two attempts, and notched touchbacks on all seven of his kickoffs. He's led the nation in touchbacks the last two seasons.

Video: Baylor's Aaron Jones

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
1:54
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David Ubben interviews Baylor kicker Aaron Jones, who scored the game-winning points in the Bears' 50-48 win over No. 14 TCU.

Bears complete the comeback

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
11:51
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WACO, Texas -- Baylor was down, but one thing didn't change: It still had the best player on the field.

Robert Griffin III extended the winning drive with a gutsy catch on a double pass over the middle of the field and brought Baylor back into TCU territory.

Aaron Jones finished the drive with a pressure-packed 37-yard field goal that proved to be a 50-48 game-winner for the Bears, who squandered a 24-point fourth quarter lead.

Mike Hicks sealed the game with an interception.

My question: Which comeback was more impressive?

I'm headed down for interviews. We'll have plenty more right here as the night continues.

Big 12 kickers/punter up for awards

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
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The Lou Groza Award is given annually to college football's best kicker. Here are the Big 12 players on the watch list:
  • Randy Bullock, Texas A&M
  • Aaron Jones, Baylor
  • Grant Ressel, Missouri
  • Jimmy Stevens, Oklahoma
  • Justin Tucker, Texas

The Groza Award is reasonably stat-based each year, so it's hard to peg true favorites. Grant Ressel is probably the most likely of this group to string together a good season, but Baylor's Aaron Jones got off to a strong start before struggling late in the year.

Oklahoma State's Dan Bailey won the award last year, over Nebraska's Alex Henery. He became the Big 12's second winner in the 19-year history of the award and the first since K-State's Martin Gramatica in 1997.

Florida State has three winners and is the only program with more than one, which, considering, you know, their righted tendencies, is a bit surprising.

Every player on the watch list would be the first Groza Award winner in their program's history.

The Ray Guy Award, given to the nation's best punter, also announced its five-man list.

Oklahoma State's Quinn Sharp was the only Big 12 player to make the cut.

Roundup: Sooner hurt, OSU surgery, Bear D

March, 28, 2011
3/28/11
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A look back at the happenings across the Big 12 this weekend.

Sooners lose another starter

It's been a less-than-ideal offseason for Oklahoma, which heads into the fall as one of the favorites to win the national title. It got even less ideal when starting right tackle Jarvis Jones suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee.

"We were in a team period and it just buckled on him," coach Bob Stoops said in a release.

Jones started four games last season, but he's expected to miss six months and return in late September or October. That's a big deal for the Sooners, who play at Florida State, a likely top five opponent, on Sept. 17. If Jones can get ahead of schedule on his rehab, it wouldn't be shocking if he returned by then, but it's another setback for the Sooners.

Three starters had run-ins with the law before spring practice, and All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming, the team's best cover man, is not currently enrolled at Oklahoma after reported academic dishonesty. His future is still in flux, and though none of the offseason happenings are complete game-changers, they're all unnecessary distractions for the Sooners, who have admitted themselves that this season is all about gunning for the national title.

Baylor defense bounces back

Baylor's defense couldn't have played much worse in the team's last scrimmage, but new coordinator Phil Bennett had to be pretty happy with the effort in a weekend scrimmage.

The Bears had eight sacks and scored three touchdowns. Defensive end Willie Jefferson, a converted tight end, led the team with three sacks and scored on a 30-yard fumble return. Jared Edwards also had a pair of sacks.

"I thought we made some strides this week. I think we are starting to get some people in the right positions," Bennett told reporters after the scrimmage. "As I told them, we aren’t there yet, but I saw some steps. We put them in some tough situations. We moved the ball downfield, we did some red zone with one minute and they responded better. But like I said, we are not there yet. I told the guys that if we can stay on an even keel with our offense, we are going to get better and win some games.”

Terrance Ganaway put up a nice stat line with 42 yards on seven carries and a touchdown, and Darius Jones led all receivers with 70 yards on six receptions.

Kicker Aaron Jones struggled down the stretch after a fast start last season, but he was 4-of-5 on field goals, including a 57-yarder and another from outside 50 yards.

Oklahoma State sits Markelle Martin for spring surgery

Safety Markelle Martin should be one of the leaders of Oklahoma State's defense next spring, but Oklahoma State elected to end his spring for shoulder surgery.

"We cleaned his shoulder up,” coach Mike Gundy told reporters. "He really didn't need the surgery right now, but there was no reason [to delay the surgery], because we have a lot of depth at safety."

Top among those remaining safeties is Daytawion Lowe, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but has impressed throughout the spring. Lavocheya Cooper is listed behind Martin at strong safety on the spring depth chart.

Cyclones snatch another Knott

Linebacker Jake Knott is already one of Iowa State's best players after making 130 tackles in 2010, third-most in the Big 12.

Now, his little brother, quarterback Luke Knott, is ready to follow. The native of Lee's Summit, Mo., gives Iowa State two 2012 commitments, both quarterbacks.

California native Grant Rohach committed to the Cyclones this month.

Texas Bowl: Three keys for Baylor

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
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1. Robert Griffin III has to look to run, but not force it. Baylor's offense really gets going when Griffin breaks a defense's contain, and the quickest way to beat the Bears is to limit Griffin's legs. TCU did it early in the season and beat the Bears 45-10. Oklahoma State did it as well. Griffin can't look explicitly to run the ball, but if the opportunity is there, he'd be well served to take it. When defenses constantly have to account for Griffin as a runner, it makes his already excellent accuracy as a passer even more dangerous and even more difficult to defend.

2. Wrap up when they get the chance. Illinois' zone-read scheme with running back Mikel LeShoure and Nathan Scheelhaase and is hard enough to defend, but anytime Baylor defenders aren't fooled by the fake, someone has to make a play and wrap up while the defense swarms. The Fighting Illini demand teams play assignment football, and part of that assignment is making a tackle and limiting yards after contact. Racking up broken and missed tackles is the surest way for the Bears' defense to put tons of pressure on its offense. Do that, and Baylor will be waiting until next year for another chance to celebrate a bowl win.

3. Cash in when the opportunity arises. Some games, like Texas A&M's win over Nebraska this year, can be won with field goals. This certainly won't be one of them. The over/under for the Texas Bowl is 63 points, and for the Bears, capitalizing in the red zone is a must in a game like this. That's especially true considering Baylor's field goal kicking struggles late in the season. Freshman Aaron Jones looked like one of the Big 12's best kickers early in the season, but suffered through a disastrous 1-for-4 night with a missed extra point in a loss to Texas A&M. Baylor would be well served to get it across the goal line rather than leave it up to special teams.

ESPN.com's Big 12 All-Freshman team

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
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You saw my picks for the All-Big 12 team earlier this week.

Now, here's who I'm taking for the All-Freshman team. And no worries, the party is for everybody. True freshmen and redshirts are invited. (Blackshirts not allowed, but only because they play almost no freshmen, with apologies to Ciante Evans and his stellar performance against Missouri.)

OFFENSE

QB: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
RB: James Sims, Kansas
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Paul Richardson, Colorado
WR: Mike Davis, Texas
FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma
OL: Jeremiah Sirles, Nebraska
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: David Bakhtiari, Colorado
OL: Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
DL: Michael Sam, Missouri
DL: Tevin Elliott, Baylor
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
LB: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
LB: Tom Wort, Oklahoma
LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas
CB: Tre' Porter, Texas Tech
CB: Jarvis Phillips, Texas Tech
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
S: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State

SPECIALISTS

P: Kirby Van Der Kamp, Iowa State
K: Aaron Jones, Baylor
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
PR: Tramaine Thompson, Kansas State

Selections by team: Oklahoma (4), Oklahoma State (3), Texas (3), Texas A&M (3), Baylor (3), Colorado (2), Nebraska (2), Texas Tech (2), Kansas State (2), Iowa State (1), Kansas (1), Missouri (1)

With freshmen, putting together these teams is a little tougher, but I feel pretty good about this group. We'll get to see plenty of these guys in the future.

Who got snubbed, and who doesn't belong?

Big 12 Stock Watch: Week 12

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
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Rising: Long runs from Kendall Hunter

No running back in the nation has more runs of longer than 10 yards than Hunter's 41, and Louisville's Bilal Powell is the closest competitor, with 36.

In the Big 12, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has the next-most with 30 and Daniel Thomas of Kansas State has 29.

Falling: Sacks

Six players in the Big 12 had at least 9.5 sacks last year, including the nation's leader in Von Miller, who had 16.5.

This year? The Big 12 leader is Jeremy Beal, has just 7.5, which ranks 16th nationally. Nebraska's Jared Crick and Missouri's Brad Madison are second with 6.5, which ranks 31st nationally.

The league looked like it would have a defensive identity in 2010, but Texas' fall, along with the rise of Oklahoma State and Nebraska's offenses hasn't brought that to fruition.

Rising: Perplexing penalties

I've got no idea what this means, but get a load of this stat:

The Big 12 team who has drawn the most penalties this year: Kansas, with 82.

The team whose opponents have been flagged for the fewest: Nebraska, with 46. No. 11 in yardage is Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys opponents have been flagged 60 times. Colorado's opponents have been flagged 57 times, the next fewest.

Clearly a wide-ranging conspiracy is the only explanation, right?

Falling: Baylor kicker Aaron Jones

Jones got off to a big start, hitting 17-of-21 field goals to start the year, but had a disastrous outing in a loss to Texas A&M last week. The man they call "Stork" hit his first attempt of the day, a 38-yarder, but the rest of the day was a forgettable one. He missed an extra point after Jay Finley's touchdown run that would have given the Bears a three-possession lead. Then, his 41-yard attempt at the end of the half was blocked and nearly returned for a touchdown.

Then he missed a 27-yard attempt at the beginning of the second half, a half that ended with zero Baylor points. He missed again from 39 yards on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, finishing off a 1-for-4 day that featured his first missed extra point of the season.

"I will talk with him to see where he is at emotionally and mentally, but he can't let it beat him up," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "He is still a good kicker. It just didn't work out the way he anticipated or any of us did [on Saturday]. Lot of home run hitters strikeout a bunch, so you can't worry about the times you strikeout, you have to get ready for your next home run."

Groza semifinalists: Four from Big 12

October, 29, 2010
10/29/10
1:30
PM ET
Four players from the Big 12 were named to the 20-man list of semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the nation's best kicker.
  • Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State
  • Alex Henery, Nebraska
  • Aaron Jones, Baylor
  • Grant Ressel, Missouri

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