Big 12: Andrew Hudson

Mailbag: Bears' title, Texas O, Sooner woes

April, 8, 2011
4/08/11
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Thanks for all the questions. One of the better groups this week.

Justin Hancock in Chengdu, China, asks: Hi David,Thanks as always for your dedication to the blog. You've been my favorite way to keep up on my Ags and the rest of "the Ten" for quite a while now. Looking outside of Aggieland for a moment, what's the word coming out of Waco concerning the Bears and new DC, Phil Bennett? Do you see his addition to their staff bringing about results similar to those of DeRuyter in College Station? Seems like the Bears with a strengthened defense would be a good dark horse pick for conference title contender.

David Ubben: I really think that's a good comparison. The folks at Baylor were tentative about it, but comparing A&M in 2009 and Baylor in 2010 are pretty accurate. The biggest critique of both teams? They didn't beat anybody. A&M's best win was over Texas Tech, but Arkansas and Oklahoma blew it out, Texas beat it at home and Georgia blew it out in the bowl game. Kansas State also blew that team out and the Aggies lost at Colorado.

Well, guess what? They were way better in 2010 and beat a ton of good teams. Two in the top 10 in fact. They won nine games and were one nightmarish night in Stillwater away from winning the Big 12 South outright and playing for a league title.

Last year people wanted to crack on Baylor for getting worked over by TCU, Oklahoma, A&M and Oklahoma State as well as Illinois in the bowl game and not beating anyone better than seven-win Kansas State. That's fair, but there's a precedent for the Bears to have a big year in 2011.

How did A&M beat those two top-10 teams? With dominant defensive performances, not because of offense, which both teams had plenty of when they went to second-tier bowl games. A&M held Nebraska without a touchdown, shut out Oklahoma in the first half and had three goal-line stands. Baylor has the athletes to have a good defense, just like A&M did in 2009. I feel confident about that. But Bennett has to do what Tim DeRuyter did at A&M this year.

It wouldn't shock me at all if Baylor was a major factor in the Big 12 title race, but if that happens, it won't be because of anything the offense does. The defense has to be the one to give the offense opportunities.


Khaled in Austin, Texas, writes: Everyone needs to stop putting too much stock into Case McCoy's performance in the Texas spring game, right? It's just a scrimmage!

DU: I don't know, I think most people have been pretty measured about it. Anyone with some sense about them understands that a) it was a scrimmage and b) he didn't look fantastic, though his numbers were very good. At this point, I'm not sure what to think of the Texas quarterbacks, but outside of a half in that national title game for Gilbert, I don't see a ton of upside in the immediate future for any of the three Texas QBs. The receivers aren't helping that.


Alex in Duncanville, Texas, asks: After watching the TEXAS spring game, are you excited to watch the Harsin/Applewhite offense next season? I understand there will be growing pains, but it should be fun to watch.

DU: I definitely agree with that. It's going to be fun. Long-term, the Bryan Harsin hire was great. I like what Mack Brown wants to bring to Texas, and getting ahead of the curve and using the physical advantages (i.e., bigger offensive linemen) that Texas can have over the rest of the league is a good idea. We got a good look at the trick plays in the spring game, but there's no doubt Texas will have a handful of special deliveries for Oklahoma in Red River.


Jon in CoMo asked: With the new scheduling format of the Big XII, it is very hard to see developing programs such as Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor, or Texas Tech get off the ground as easily as the could have in the old Big XII. What do you think about the possibilities of these programs, will they ever rise? or forever be bottom dwellers?

DU: I don't know that it's fair to call all those teams bottom-dwellers. Kansas won an Orange Bowl in 2008 and Texas Tech was in the top five in 2008 and still has the longest bowl streak of any team in the Big 12.

I do think it'll be harder for those teams to win a Big 12 title (having a better record than Texas and Oklahoma in any given year is harder than beating them for 60 minutes), but I like their chances to eventually get into a BCS bowl game in the second slot for the league. The divisions made it easier for a North team to win a Big 12 title, but the problem is, even if you're really good, a loss in the Big 12 title game could mean being relegated to a lower-tier bowl game. A good example is Missouri in 2007 losing as the No. 1 team and being sent to the Cotton Bowl, rather than the BCS. It'll be harder for North teams to have to see every team from the South every year, but I don't see it having a huge effect on Kansas or Iowa State trying to build a program.


Jason in Oklahoma asks: How good will Oklahoma State's running game be this year without Hunter?

DU: It should be fine. Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith complement each other well with Randle being a pretty explosive, elusive back who can catch the ball out of the backfield or line up in the slot. Smith is a bigger back who is better suited to handle things between the tackles. Oklahoma State's offense will have both of them on the field plenty of times. Plus, with an offensive line bringing back all five starters, it should be a good situation for both of them to get opportunities against defenses who also have plenty to worry about in the passing game with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. I wouldn't worry much about OSU's running game next year.


Ben in Norman asks: Have the Sooners completely overcome their road woes or are they prone to collapse under pressure (cue David Bowie) at Florida State like they did last year at Mizzou and A&M?

DU: That's an interesting question. I talked to Travis Lewis about that on Thursday actually, and he said the team was pretty motivated by so many people doubting them late in the season and used that for a huge fuel boost. I'm definitely in that group. I picked them to win a close game at Baylor and lose to Oklahoma State. The Sooners blew Baylor out and beat the Cowboys in Stillwater to win the Big 12 South. Well, nobody's expecting Oklahoma to blow out the Noles, but I'd hardly say people are doubting Oklahoma this time around. How will the Sooners respond this time around? Well, that's why we play the games. I won't be picking that game until we know who exactly will be on the field for the Sooners.


Mike Gundy in Stillwater asks: Where's all the coverage from when you came and watched our practice? One article, half article at that. I thought we were best buds.

DU: I was really surprised at how many OSU fans sent similar emails in the past couple days. Patience, folks, patience. It'll be a little bit longer. At no point in my spring tour have I posted all the stories from my visits that quickly. I've got plenty. They'll be up soon.


Corrine Meyerson in Stillwater, Okla., writes: Hey there! I read a while back that you had blogged about Andrew Hudson and the illegal block that resulted in a pretty bad concussion. I caught up with him and did a pretty big feature on his journey and where he is today. When he arrived at OSU, he first had a broken back, then dislocated his finger, then got a concussion before the Texas Tech game and that last concussion against Nebraska is what finally kept him from playing again. But now he's throwing discus for OSU. I just thought you may find the story interesting and put the link in your lunch links. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!!

DU: Good stuff there. I actually hadn't heard anything about Hudson after the concussion and didn't know about his injury history. Sounds like he had a much more difficult time than anyone realized after the injury.

Like I said when it happened, the Eric Martin hit wasn't malicious, but it was illegal, and too often, the stories of the players impacted most by these kinds of hits get swallowed up by coverage of the punishments given to the players inflicting them. I'd encourage you guys to check that story out.

Nebraska: Perhaps even more interesting

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
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Chronicling 12 months in a few hundred words is never easy. I tried yesterday, when I laid out a case for Nebraska as college football's most interesting program.

We still missed out on a few incidents that made headlines.Thanks for all the e-mails. You folks are sharp and don't forget much.

A few that were overlooked:

July 2010: Nebraska releases a video promoting its new website, RedOutAroundTheWorld.com, but the tagline at the end of the video reads, "Wear Red. Be Loud. Beat Texas." That raised plenty of interest, but Nebraska maintained it picks a game each year to emphasized. Later, the video is taken down and re-done without "Beat Texas" at the end.

Oct. 16, 2010: Nebraska receiver Niles Paul dropped a pair of touchdown passes in a 20-13 loss to Texas and tells the Associated Press that Nebraska fans yelled at him as he walked to his car from the stadium, and flooded his Facebook with so many negative messages he chose to deactivate it.

Oct. 28, 2010: Linebacker Eric Martin, an enforcer on the special teams, is suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oklahoma State's Andrew Hudson during a Niles Paul's kickoff return for a touchdown in a 51-41 Nebraska win. The rule that allows suspensions was instituted before the season, but Martin was the only player suspended by the Big 12 for a hit all season.

Nov. 3, 2010: A hit that looked like helmet-to-helmet contact on Blaine Gabbert from Nebraska safety Courtney Osborne is sent for review to Big 12 offices by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. No action is taken.

Nov. 20, 2010: ESPN cameras catch Texas A&M defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie jabbing or poking at the back of Nebraska lineman Ben Cotton's legs, near the groin area. Video of the incident hits YouTube before the game even ends, and Jerod-Eddie is reprimanded by not suspended by Aggies coach Mike Sherman. Cotton, asked about the incident, says Jerod-Eddie was simply trying to find the ball. If his tongue wasn't in his cheek, it should have been.

Dec. 10, 2010: With the Miami job vacant and rumors of Pelini as a candidate swirling, he issues a statement saying he has no plans to leave Lincoln. Personally, I didn't think this would ever happen, and nothing really came of it, so it's not surprising I forgot it. But still, it was big news in college football for obvious reasons.

An already crazy year might have been even crazier for the Huskers, no?

Another Huskers hit under review

November, 1, 2010
11/01/10
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Midway through the fourth quarter of Missouri's 31-17 loss to Nebraska on Saturday, Huskers safety Courtney Osborne blitzed off the edge of the line toward Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert's front side. He was left unblocked and delivered a huge hit that had Gabbert slow to get up.

Gabbert appeared to crouch in anticipation of the hit, but Osborne made helmet-to-helmet contact with the quarterback, whose fumble on the play was ruled dead, allowing Missouri to retain possession. No penalty was assessed on the play.

Monday morning, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he sent video of the hit to the Big 12 for review.

"We'll see what happens," said Pinkel. "I don't know if there was malice involved there."

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he "thought it was a good tackle."

"They gotta do what they gotta do," Pelini said of Missouri's decision to ask for a review of the play. "Like I said, he tucked a little bit at the last second. It was a good hit. The Big 12's going to do what they have to do. I don't know; I can't control that."

What he can control is how his players are coached to play. Reserve linebacker and special teams player Eric Martin was suspended for last week's game after a hit on Oklahoma State's Andrew Hudson on a Nebraska kick return.

Asked how the review and last week's suspension could affect the way his team played, Pelini kept his answer succinct.

"It won't," he said.

OSU, Nebraska face player suspensions

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
8:01
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Oklahoma State and Nebraska will both be without suspended players on Saturday.

Oklahoma State announced a one-game suspension for receiver Justin Blackmon, currently the nation's leader in receiving yards and touchdowns. Blackmon attended Monday night's Dallas Cowboys game, and was pulled over by police doing 92 mph in a 60 mph zone just north of Dallas in Carrollton, Texas at 3:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Police charged Blackmon, 20, with a misdemeanor DUI. In Texas, persons can be charged with a DUI for any amount of alcohol if they are under 21 and driving. An officer said Blackmon fell into that category.

"I made a mistake and I take full responsibility for it. I am embarrassed to be in this position. I am truly sorry. To my family, to my friends, and to Oklahoma State as a whole, I look forward to redeeming myself and proving to everybody that this isn't who I am. I am humbled by this experience and I will grow from it," Blackmon said in a statement, before briefly taking questions from reporters.

Blackmon declined to discuss where he got the tickets to Monday's game.

""I have apologized to my teammates for being a distraction and that I brought this on the team. I apologize to this program and to the school. I brought a lot of bad press to Oklahoma State and I am really sorry for that," Blackmon said.

Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said Blackmon spent Wednesday's practice on a stairmaster.

"I compiled all the information just like I do with any situation that happens outside of our football program," Gundy said. "I call it like it is and I make the decision. No one else makes that decision but me. I decide what the punishment will be depending on the situation and I think what took place once I gather all the information. There are no two that are alike. Sometimes the procedure outside of here based on the court system is involved, and sometimes it is not. We are always going to follow the law and in our opinion what he did deserves a suspension from this game."

No. 20 Oklahoma State plays at Kansas State on Saturday. Blackmon will not travel with the team.


Elsewhere, the Big 12 announced on Wednesday afternoon that Nebraska sophomore reserve linebacker Eric Martin would be suspended for an illegal hit in the Huskers' 51-41 win over Oklahoma State last week.
Nebraska kick returner Niles Paul returned a kick 100 yards for a score with 6:27 to play in the first quarter of the Cornhuskers' 51-41 win over Oklahoma State last week, but on the play, Martin made helmet-to-helmet contact on a block with Cowboys freshman defensive end Andrew Hudson.

Hudson was attended to for several minutes before being carted off the field.

"Mr. Martin committed a flagrant act of targeting an opponent with the crown of his helmet in violation of NCAA football rules," commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement. "This dangerous hit is one that we in the football community are trying to remove from the game."

No penalty was assessed on the play, but Big 12 officials reviewed the game tape and issued a suspension in accordance with NCAA Football Rule 9-6-3, which states, "if subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game."

No. 14 Nebraska hosts No. 6 Missouri on Saturday.

Lunch links: RG3's postgame proposal

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
12:00
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ERIKSEN!

Big 12 morning inks: New Aggie president loves her Hawks

July, 18, 2008
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin 

New Texas A&M president Elsa Murano is saying all the right things to the most tradition-steeped of all fan bases in the Big 12. Murano told the San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman that she has developed into a big sports fan since arriving in the country from Cuba in 1961.

Murano has quickly embraced all things dealing with Aggie athletics since taking the job. She's had members of A&M's women's basketball team over to her office for cake and ice cream.

And she's told new A&M football coach Mike Sherman she's pining for a victory over the college team from her hometown when the Aggies meet Miami on Sept. 20.

"I'm counting on a win," Murano told Zwerneman. "I've told Coach Sherman if you win nothing else, you've got to win this game for me."

But one thing that might give Aggie fans some concern are Murano's favorite professional teams she follows. It's understandable she would follow the recently downtrodden Miami Dolphins, considering its her home town. But she lists the Atlanta Hawks as her favorite basketball team - particularly those of the Spud Webb/Jon Koncak vintage in the late 1980s.

I've followed the NBA for 40 years. And I can legitimately say that I've never heard anyone from outside the greater Atlanta area ever claiming that the Hawks were their favorite team.

Here are some stories that had me thinking from around the conference this morning.

  • Natalie England of the San Antonio Express-News catches up with Ken Rucker, Texas' new director of high school relations and player development. The new job should be ideal for the Longhorns' former running backs coach, who was diagnosed with and overcame prostate cancer last season.

My take -- This is a great move for one of the nice guys in the coaching profession. It will also help the Longhorns to have a mentor like Rucker around the program. 

My take -- It's just not right seeing a recent Heisman Trophy winner as a retail manager so close to the end of his playing career.

My take -- Chip is right, or there's no telling what kind of tantrums that could be in store for Mike Gundy.

  • Former Texas Tech assistant coach Dave Brown will be among this year's class enshrined Saturday into the College Football Hall of Fame. Others with Big 12 titles in the 2008 class include Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney and Texas defensive back Johnnie Johnson.

My take -- Although he played at Michigan, Brown's legacy as a leader has been embraced at Texas Tech as if he were an original Red Raider.

My take -- So does Mack Brown.

My take -- It's not a good time to be a defensive coordinator in the Big 12.

  • Nine of 12 Big 12 coaches arrived with offensive backgrounds, according to Rivals.com's Tom Dienhart. Stoops, however, is one of three national championship winners during the BCS era with a defensive pedigree.

My take -- Another reason why it's not a good time to be a Big 12 defensive coordinator.

My take -- The Cornhuskers need a surge defensively from a lot of people this season.

My take -- Me, too. I was kind of surprised that DeMarco Murray beat out Mike Goodson for the second running back slot. But maybe the rest of the media knows more about A&M's offensive line than I do.

  • Missouri junior-college transfer defensive end Brian Coulter has earned the nickname "Godzilla II" before his first game with the Tigers. The Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond writes that some Missouri fans are already saying that Coulter could develop into a pass-rushing threat like the original "Godzilla," Justin Smith. 

My take -- Coulter might talk a good game, but he'll have a long way to go to match the production of Smith, who might be the pass rusher in Missouri history.

  • The web site Pro Fantasy Sports rates Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree as the best potential quarterback and wide receiver -- for fantasy purposes -- in the conference this season. Other top choices include Nebraska running back Marlon Lucky, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert and the Oklahoma defense.

My take -- C'mon, fantasy football for college players? Give me a break.

My take -- Great idea. When your football is as loaded as Missouri's should be for the next couple of years, strike while it's hot. Cha-ching!

My take -- Gundy probably envisions Hudson adding 40 pounds or so after arriving at college and learning about the merits of extensive weight training and midnight burritos.

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