Big 12: Andrew McGee

Lunch links: Defining Texas' season

December, 26, 2012
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Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, but it's Boxing Day celebration time.
The silly season can get dizzying at times. We'll update this if necessary, but here's where the Big 12 coaching carousel has currently landed after a few big spins.

BAYLOR
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Art Briles was reportedly contacted by Arkansas and Texas Tech, but signed a new extension with Baylor and hasn't expressed interest in any jobs or admitted to any interviews.
IOWA STATE
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Paul Rhoads reportedly drew interest from Wisconsin, but Rhoads went on the record this week to say he has no interest in replacing Bret Bielema in Madison.
KANSAS
  • No changes.
KANSAS STATE
  • No changes.
OKLAHOMA
  • Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was a candidate for the Louisiana Tech opening last week, but reportedly turned down the job. The Bulldogs eventually hired Skip Holtz to replace Sonny Dykes.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell has also reportedly drawn interest from other schools, but it sounds like he's staying at Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA STATE
  • Offensive coordinator Todd Monken left to become the head coach at Southern Miss.
  • Head coach Mike Gundy reportedly interviewed with both Tennessee and Arkansas and some local reports even indicated that he had accepted the Arkansas job, but they ultimately proved to be false. Gundy has since gone on record saying there's "no question" he'll be the Cowboys' head coach in 2013.
  • Defensive coordinator Bill Young on if he'll return next season or retire: "I don’t know, I don’t know," Young told The Oklahoman. "I’m going to think about it."
TEXAS
  • Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Arkansas State.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite replaces Harsin as the playcaller and will coach quarterbacks now. Texas plans to replace him as running backs coach after the season ends.
  • Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt was promoted to co-offensive coordinator.
  • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz reportedly interviewed with Florida International, but removed himself from consideration and will stay at Texas.
TCU
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Gary Patterson was reportedly a leading candidate to replace John L. Smith at Arkansas, but there were no reports of interviews or significant contact between the two parties.
TEXAS TECH
  • Head coach Tommy Tuberville left to become the head coach at Cincinnati.
  • Offensive coordinator Neal Brown left to become the offensive coordinator at Kentucky on Mark Stoops' staff.
  • Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury accepted an offer to replace Tuberville as Tech's head coach.
  • Ex-Red Raiders Kevin Curtis and Eric Morris will join Kingsbury's staff. Curtis told reporters he will likely coach the cornerbacks. Morris' role on the staff is still undetermined. He previously coached inside receivers for Mike Leach at Washington State.
WEST VIRGINIA
  • Dana Holgorsen relieved cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts of his duties and moved co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to defensive playcaller, replacing co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest as playcaller. DeForest is still on staff.
  • Graduate assistant Andrew McGee (who led the Big 12 in interceptions at Oklahoma State in 2010, with five) will coach cornerbacks heading into the bowl game, but WVU will find a permanent replacement after the season.
To begin the season, I see six teams with a legitimate chance to win the Big 12. Today we'll continue our series looking at why each team will or will not win the league. Next up: Newcomer West Virginia.

More contenders:
Why the Mountaineers will win the Big 12

[+] EnlargeWest Virginia's Geno Smith
Andrew Weber/US PresswireWest Virginia's Geno Smith passed for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns last season.
1. They have the most explosive offense. Nobody's got a better, more experienced pass-catch combo than Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Geno Smith and his top two targets, receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The running game with Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston isn't going to scare too many folks, but it's definitely good enough to make defenses respect it, and it benefits from the play of Smith, Austin and Bailey. WVU is entering Year 2 with Dana Holgorsen, and there's not a lot of reason to believe the trio won't be even better in 2012.

2. They've got plenty of inside knowledge. Dana Holgorsen's been in the Big 12 for nine of the past 12 seasons, and his new defensive coordinator, Joe DeForest, spent more than a decade at Oklahoma State. Running backs coach Robert Gillespie and new graduate assistant Andrew McGee, a former OSU cornerback, can help provide some insight into what the Mountaineers will expect on the field in the pregame preparation.

3. They're an unknown entity. Oklahoma has to make a trip to West Virginia on Nov. 17 in a game that may decide the league title. Nobody in the Big 12 has ever played this band of Mountaineers, and WVU can perhaps use that to their advantage. Big 12 defensive coordinators are familiar with Holgorsen's schemes, but nobody was really able to stop it when he was at Oklahoma State. Don't expect that to change with WVU this year, especially with the kind of talent he's fielding offensively.

Why the Mountaineers will not win the Big 12

1. Where's the defense? West Virginia lost essentially its entire pass rush from last year's team, which ranked essentially in the middle of the pack in the offensively-challenged Big East. It's a whole new world in the Big 12. Defensive backs Darwin Cook and Terence Garvin return, along with defensive lineman Will Clarke and cornerback Brodrick Jenkins, but this isn't the Big East, and WVU is changing schemes from Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 to a 3-4 with Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson. There could be a rough road ahead of the Mountaineers when it comes to trying to stop Big 12 offenses, which are in another stratosphere compared to what WVU traditionally sees on game day. The one advantage? They've gotten plenty of work in practice this offseason.

2. The Nebraska Effect: They've got too much to learn. Nebraska was picked by plenty of folks to win the Legends Division in its first year in the Big Ten. The Huskers had the talent, but instead, went 5-3 and finished third in the division behind Michigan and Michigan State. West Virginia has the talent to win the Big 12, but has to study up on nine new teams. The rest of the Big 12 only has to adjust to two new teams. NU got rocked by Wisconsin and Michigan, teams that weren't nearly as good as Nebraska's inexperience in the league made them look. WVU may see the same fate against unfamiliar opponents.

3. The inconsistency will catch up to the Mountaineers. Everybody remembers that nationally-televised bludgeoning WVU handed out to ACC champion Clemson. Doesn't seem like enough people remember a 26-point blowout loss to five-win Syracuse, or narrow wins over sub-.500 teams like Pitt and South Florida. West Virginia wasn't as impressive on a week-to-week basis as they were in their most prominent game in 2011. Even coach Dana Holgorsen admits that game has plenty of people thinking his team is better than it actually is. Will they improve enough between January and September to be a consistent team capable of winning a much tougher league? We'll find out soon.
We'll move on to the cornerbacks today in our position rankings across the Big 12.

Here's what we've covered so far:
This group? Well, it's not very good. And considering the crazy depth in the Big 12 at receiver, it could be a long season for cornerbacks in this league. I love the upside of many of the Big 12 corners -- namely the guys at Missouri and Texas Tech (especially working with Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 in Lubbock). Texas could also develop fast in its new defense, but outside of Texas A&M and Oklahoma, I don't see any Big 12 teams that should be completely comfortable with their cornerbacks.

Of course, for fans who love points, this could be a welcome development. For secondary coaches and defensive coordinators? Not so much.

[+] EnlargeJamell Fleming
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJamell Fleming returns as the Big 12's top cornerback.
1. Oklahoma -- Jamell Fleming is the Big 12's top returner at the position and gives the Sooners a huge boost after being reinstated last week. Fleming had withdrawn from the university because of academic problems following the season. Aaron Colvin moved to safety during the offseason, but Fleming will still have to beat out Gabe Lynn in fall camp to start opposite Demontre Hurst. Julian Wilson also adds depth.

2. Texas A&M -- Fleming's return pushed the Sooners over A&M as having the Big 12's best group of corners. But Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick could both challenge for first team All-Big 12 honors at the position. They are ahead of reserves Dustin Harris and Lionel Smith, who will get plenty of time on the field.

3. Missouri -- Missouri loses starters Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, but the coaches consider Kip Edwards a returning starter because of how much he played last season. Edwards could join E.J. Gaines in eventually becoming better than both Gettis and Rutland. Trey Hobson and Robert Steeples will get time in the rotation, too.

4. Oklahoma State -- OSU has to replace the Big 12's interception leader Andrew McGee , but Brodrick Brown's development should continue. He's likely a dark horse to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors after the season. The Cowboys didn't release a post-spring depth chart, but don't be surprised if return specialist Justin Gilbert edges out Devin Hedgepeth for the starting spot before the opener. Andrae May has earned playing time on special teams in both of his first two seasons on campus, but could be counted on for a much bigger role this year as the fourth corner.

5. Texas -- The Longhorns are fairly decimated at corner after losing three to the NFL in one offseason. Curtis and Chykie Brown joined Aaron Williams for one of the most talented sets of corners we've seen in this league, but now, secondary coach Duane Akina will have to replace them. Texas' depth chart is still as in flux as any in college football, but I'd be surprised if Carrington Byndom didn't emerge with a starting spot. True freshman Quandre Diggs might swipe the other, but A.J. White will be on the field, too.

6. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders are likely to ascend this list by season's end, but for now, find themselves at No. 6. Injuries were costly for the defense last season, but Tre Porter and Derrick Mays should be much better, and Tech fans can be encouraged by the upside in Jarvis Phillips, Jeremy Reynolds and Eugene Neboh.

7. Iowa State -- This group might be a bit underrated, but with Iowa State's defensive problems last season, it's a bit hard to tell. Jeremy Reeves and Leonard Johnson return with loads of experience, and Anthony Young is a great additional piece as the third corner. Matthew Thomas should be in the rotation, too.

8. Baylor -- The Bears return both starters. Chance Casey has 15 career starts to Tyler Stephenson's four, but the Bears secondary struggled last season, especially the corners. Tuswani Copeland should be on the field under new coordinator Phil Bennett, whose work is cut out for him at this spot.

9. Kansas -- Kansas loses Chris Harris from last season's team, but Isiah Barfield is a playmaker at the position. Greg Brown, Tyler Patmon and Anthony Davis fill out the group.

10. Kansas State -- The Wildcats have a huge talent in David Garrett, who led the team in tackles last season and was the nation's leader in tackles for loss, but he's still just one player at a position that needs lots of depth in this league. Also, his coverage leaves a bit to be desired. For now, K-State doesn't look like it has that necessary depth. Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison are gone, but the Wildcats need to find more talents at the position in fall camp. Watch for Thomas Ferguson to emerge as the other starter.

Assessing the contenders: Oklahoma State

July, 7, 2011
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Heading into the season, I see five teams in the Big 12 with a realistic chance to win the league. I'll be breaking them down in order (which won't be the same as my post-spring power rankings) of their chances to leave the season with the Big 12 title.

No. 1 on the list was the favorite: Oklahoma

No. 2 was Texas A&M.

Today, we take a look at the third-most likely Big 12 champion: Oklahoma State.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State's Levy Adcock
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtLevy Adcock (73) is the anchor of the Big 12's best offensive line.
Why the Cowboys will win the Big 12

1. The offensive line. You could point to a lot of reasons for the Cowboys' success in 2011, but it all started up front on the offensive end. OSU's big men entered the season as a patchwork group, but matured into one of the Big 12's best by midseason. They should be even better in 2011 when all five return, and the group adds juco transfer Michael Bowie, who could blaze his way into a spot into the starting lineup. Levy Adcock is the Big 12's best offensive lineman, and Lane Taylor, Grant Garner, Nick Martinez and Jonathan Rush fill out a unit that could block the Cowboys into their first Big 12 title.

2. It has the best pass-catch duo in the country. The distance between Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones is paper-thin, but Justin Blackmon established himself as a cut above Ryan Broyles during the 2010 season, and earned the Biletnikoff Award for his efforts. The pair had a joint news conference to announce their return, and the ensuing celebration was warranted. If Oklahoma State wins a Big 12 title, those two are taking them there.

3. The defense's rapid improvement could continue. OSU has to replace six starters on defense, but returns three starters in a secondary that matured late last season. Look no further than dominant defensive performances against prolific passing offenses like Baylor and Arizona, who the Cowboys blew out. Both safeties, Johnny Thomas and Markelle Martin, are back and make up a unit I named the Big 12's best. Justin Gilbert may be charged with replacing Big 12 interception champ Andrew McGee across from returning starter Brodrick Brown. OSU also held a high-scoring Kansas State offense (33.6 points, third in the Big 12) to just 14 points at home in a big game without Blackmon. There's a lot of turnover, but if you can stop the pass in the Big 12, you're going to be in good position to win the league.

Why the Cowboys won't win the Big 12

1. Todd Monken is not Dana Holgorsen. Monken may be a great offensive coordinator, but for now, we have no idea. What we do know is everywhere Holgorsen has coordinated the offense has become one of the best in college football. Sure, his system is part of it, but so is the effectiveness of his in-game adjustments. Ask Texas A&M and its 21-7 halftime lead in Stillwater. Monken has learned the system, but when things go badly, how will he adjust? One could argue that was one of Holgorsen's best attributes.

2. It hasn't proven it can beat Oklahoma, and has to go to College Station. Most pundits (yours truly included) were willing to overlook history and pick the Cowboys to finally beat an Oklahoma team that hadn't yet proven it could win big games on the road. OSU was favored and playing better football than Oklahoma, whose two losses earlier in the season came to solid Big 12 contenders in night games on the road. OSU, however, allowed its losing streak to Oklahoma to reach eight years and Mike Gundy is still 0-6 against his in-state rival. Additionally, the Cowboys have to go into Kyle Field, one of the most intimidating venues in the league, to face the other Big 12 contender. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

3. The heart of the defense is gone. Markelle Martin is a good leader, but Orie Lemon was the heart of OSU's defense last season, an experienced player that had been through a lot and made it obvious to his teammates how much playing his final season meant to him. Those kinds of things are always a bit intangible, and hard to peg until the marathon of a college football season kicks off. Can the Cowboys replace his leadership?

Oklahoma State spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
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OKLAHOMA STATE

2010 overall record: 11-2

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense (5) P/K (1)

Top returners: WR Justin Blackmon, QB Brandon Weeden, S Markelle Martin, LB Shaun Lewis, OL Levy Adcock, WR Josh Cooper

Key losses: RB Kendall Hunter, OC Dana Holgorsen, LB Orie Lemon, DE Ugo Chinasa, CB Andrew McGee, DT Shane Jarka, LB Justin Gent

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Kendall Hunter (1,548 yards)

Passing: Brandon Weeden* (4,277 yards)

Receiving: Justin Blackmon* (1,782 yards)

Tackles: Orie Lemon (133)

Sacks: Jamie Blatnick (5.5)

Interceptions: Andrew McGee (5)

Three spring answers

1. Offensive vision is clear. Oklahoma State had one of the nation’s best offenses a year ago, and returned nine starters from it. Former coordinator Dana Holgorsen said goodbye, but rather than have 50 players learn a new offense that everyone in the program wanted to stay, coach Mike Gundy brought in Todd Monken to learn the system and call plays. The Cowboys offense should look very similar next year.

2. More depth on the offensive line. The line brings back all five starters this year, but that doesn’t mean all five will start. Juco transfer Michael Bowie crashed the party this spring and is competing for a starting spot, which may mean some shuffling come fall.

3. Budding star at cornerback. Andrew McGee led the Big 12 with five picks last year, but the Pokes may have another great one on their hands very soon. Justin Gilbert contributed most as a kick returner his freshman season, but he drew rave reviews throughout the spring. He gets plenty of work trying to cover the best receiver in college football, Justin Blackmon. We’ll see if that pays off soon.

Three fall questions

1. Can that offensive vision become reality? Oklahoma State knows what it wants to do on offense, but Holgorsen won’t be in the booth running the show. Can talent, which there’s no question OSU has plenty of, outweigh inexperience in playcalling? And how will Monken look as a playcaller? It’s the big variable for the Cowboys this year, and if the offense struggles, blame is likely headed his way. We’ll find out the answers to those questions pretty quick this fall.

2. Can last year’s defensive progress continue? The raw numbers for Oklahoma State’s defense weren’t pretty, but those were over a lot of possessions, thanks to the big-time offense. The defense made big strides in every way late last season, but without two of its leaders, linebacker Orie Lemon and defensive end Ugo Chinasa, will it continue? More responsibility will fall on safety Markelle Martin and linebacker Shaun Lewis.

3. Who are the linebackers? Lewis has locked down the “Star” linebacker position, but the other two spots are up for grabs this fall after Lemon and fellow linebacker Justin Gent moved on. Caleb Lavey and Tyler Johnson are still competing to replace Lemon, and three players are competing to replace Gent as weakside linebacker.

Breaking down the defensive draft boards

April, 28, 2011
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We took a look at the offensive draft boards on Wednesday, and on the day of the draft we'll turn to the defense.

Analyst Todd McShay broke down the skill sets of each draftable player on the board and ranked them by those skill sets, divided up by position.

Here's what he had to say.

Defensive line
  • Missouri's Aldon Smith was No. 3 on his versatility list, ranking defensive ends by their athleticism and ability to change direction and play in space.
  • Baylor's Phil Taylor ranks No. 3 among defensive tackles as run-stoppers.
  • Smith is No. 7 among overall defensive line prospects.
  • Taylor is No. 11 overall at the position.
  • Texas' Sam Acho is the No. 24 defensive line prospect.
  • Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal is No. 25 on the list.
  • Oklahoma State's Ugo Chinasa is No. 44.
Linebackers
  • Oklahoma State's Orie Lemon is No. 3 on the strength/toughness list among inside linebackers.
  • Texas A&M's Von Miller is No. 2 among outside linebackers in range against the run.
  • Miller is the No. 1 surest tackler among outside linebackers.
  • Miller is the No. 1 overall linebacker prospect.
  • Lemon is the No. 22 linebacker prospect.
Defensive backs

The Big 12 and the draft: A wide-angle look

March, 24, 2011
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Scouts Inc. has put together a comprehensive draft board of each position, and as you've seen this offseason, plenty of former Big 12ers should hear their names called next month.

Here's a rough estimate of where each offensive prospect from the league is set to be drafted.

First round:
Second round:
Third round:
Fourth round:
Fifth round:
Sixth round:
Seventh round:

Want to see the full boards? Here's the offense and the defense.

The NFL combine is dangerously close

February, 23, 2011
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The NFL Scouting Combine kicks off Wednesday, and when it concludes next week, draft boards from media and NFL teams alike could look very different.

Physical tests won't begin until Thursday, but the first round of players will arrive Wednesday and take part in various preparatory tests before the real sizing up begins.

A week from now, stocks will be up. Others will be down.

Here are the players from the Big 12 slated to take part, in case you missed it the first time around:

Oklahoma State -- 5
  • Dan Bailey, K
  • Ugo Chinasa, DE
  • Kendall Hunter, RB
  • Orie Lemon, LB
  • Andrew McGee, CB
Texas -- 5
  • Sam Acho, DE
  • Chykie Brown, CB
  • Curtis Brown, CB
  • Kyle Hix, OL
  • Aaron Williams, CB
Oklahoma -- 4 Missouri -- 3 Baylor -- 2
  • Phil Taylor, DT
  • Danny Watkins, OT
Texas A&M -- 2 Iowa State -- 1
  • David Sims, S
Kansas State -- 1 Texas Tech -- 1
  • Colby Whitlock, DT

A sincere apology to a few Big 12 players

February, 14, 2011
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We kicked off our top 25 list today, but unfortunately, it's only a top 25 list.

Narrowing it down was incredibly difficult, and there were a ton of talents that didn't quite make the cut.

For that, I'm sorry. I legitimately feel awful about all of them.

Every guy on this list is a top-25 caliber player who just couldn't get inside my list. If somebody else made one, I'd be fine with them being on it. But this time, they didn't make mine. There are a lot of great players in this league, and I could only recognize 25.

But here are the rest who came so, so close, in no particular order.

Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado: Rushed for 1,316 yards to rank third in the Big 12. My biggest reason for leaving him off? His 4.54 yards per carry ranks 17th in the Big 12. He got it done this year, but he got 290 carries to do it. Other backs were more deserving.

Ricky Henry, OG, Nebraska: Nebraska's running offense was fearsome early this year, and despite some late struggles, still finished No. 1 in the Big 12. Henry was a big reason why, but other linemen slid on the list before him.

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: His 68 tackles were second on the team, and he broke up four passes, but it was hard to put Smith on the list over the cornerbacks who made it, even though the position is extremely important in the Big 12.

Roy Helu Jr., RB, Nebraska : Helu finished with another 1,000-yard season, but I didn't have very many running backs on the list. Helu had a great year, and I don't mean this as a knock on him, but I was more impressed with his 1,145 yards last year without much help. Defenses spent so much time defending Taylor Martinez, holes for Helu formed that weren't there in 2009.

T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: Moe has my title as the toughest cover in the Big 12, and his time in the top 25 is coming. Just not yet.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wright's production might have been higher had Baylor not found other receivers to give Robert Griffin III some help, but other emerging receivers pushed Wright off the list after he made our preseason list.

Colby Whitlock, DT, Texas Tech: Whitlock had a nice year with 57 stops and two tackles for loss, but it wasn't a great year for defensive tackles in the Big 12.

Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M and Jay Finley, RB, Baylor: Great years, obviously, but like I said, I just didn't put a lot of running backs on the list.

Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: Never would have believed in October that he wouldn't make this list, but he wasn't a top 25 player in conference play. He works well for Nebraska in its offense, but plenty of other quarterbacks are above the freshman.

Andrew McGee, CB, Oklahoma State: Led the Big 12 in interceptions, with five, but defending the pass is about blanketing receivers, not picking off passes. That's not to say picking them off is a bad thing, but other corners were better at shutting down opposing receivers.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Racked up plenty of tackles, third in the Big 12 with 130, and he's a great player, but the book on how to beat Iowa State was out early. Running the ball against the Cyclones weak front four was effective, and opponents did it 512 times this year. Only 22 teams in college football faced more rushing attempts, and no Iowa State lineman made more than 40 tackles this year.

Michael Hodges, LB, Texas A&M: Hodges was the heart of Texas A&M's defense, and racked up 115 tackles, but other linebackers slid above him on the list.

Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma: Fleming was all over the place after some early season struggles, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the list next year.

So, that's my list of close calls. Again, I felt terrible about not including every single one of those players, and if you want to make your own top 25 list and put them on it, they all definitely deserve it. But I can only fit 25 guys on my list, and putting one of these players on it would only mean another got snubbed.

Big 12 talent headed to the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
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The NFL released its list of invitations to the scouting combine late this month, and plenty of Big 12 players should be taking part.

Here's who got invitations:
That's a pretty solid (and lengthy) list. Add it up, and it's 36 players from 11 of 12 Big 12 schools, excluding Kansas. It's a little surprising that Missouri center Tim Barnes wasn't on the list. It's possible it was a mistake, but the first-team All-Big 12er and Rimington Trophy watch lister was named as one of the top centers in the draft last spring by Mel Kiper. Barnes had also earned some favorable reviews at the NFLPA Bowl this week.

It was good to see Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson get a shot to show scouts if he's regained any more strength in his arm, too.

Here's how it ranks by team, as well.

1. Nebraska - 9
2. Oklahoma State - 5
2. Texas - 5
4. Oklahoma - 4
5. Colorado - 3
5. Missouri - 3
7. Baylor - 2
7. Texas A&M - 2
9. Iowa State - 1
9. Kansas State - 1
9. Texas Tech - 1

ESPN.com's All-Senior Big 12 team

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
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Inspired by our friends at the Big Ten and SEC blogs, we'll put together a long-overdue team composed of the league's best seniors.

We made a team full of freshmen, so why skimp on the old guys? Well, we won't.

My All-Big 12 team featured 16 seniors, and they're all on the team below, but plenty of other guys put together distinguished careers and 2010 seasons that deserve recognition.

Their careers may be over, but you can bet all these players will live on in school lore for quite some time. Here goes:

OFFENSE

QB: Taylor Potts, Texas Tech
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
WR: Lyle Leong, Texas Tech
WR: Detron Lewis, Texas Tech
WR: Aubrey Quarles, Kansas State
C: Tim Barnes, Missouri
T: Nate Solder, Colorado
T: Danny Watkins, Baylor
G: Keith Williams, Nebraska
G: Ricky Henry, Nebraska

DEFENSE

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
DL: Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M
DL: Sam Acho, Texas
DL/LB: Brian Duncan, Texas Tech
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M
LB: Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State
LB: Michael Hodges, Texas A&M
CB: Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma
S: Byron Landor, Baylor

SPECIALISTS

K: Alex Henery, Nebraska
P: Derek Epperson, Baylor
Returns: Niles Paul, Nebraska

Selections by school: Nebraska (5), Texas Tech (4), Oklahoma State (3), Texas A&M (3) Baylor (3), Kansas State (2), Oklahoma (2), Texas (1), Missouri (1), Colorado (1)

A few thoughts:
  • It was kind of slim pickings at receiver, but only because the Big 12's top five and 11 of its top 15 receivers will be coming back in 2011. Colorado's Scotty McKnight only narrowly missed the team. I'd say he's probably a more talented receiver than Quarles, but Quarles' production was there in 2010. McKnight's, after adding freshman Paul Richardson to the mix, took a bit of a dive in his senior year.
  • That's a heck of a defense. All 11 guys weren't very far off from making the regular All-Big 12 team. The same is true of the offensive line.
  • Potts' year was a lot better than a few Texas Tech folks would have you believe, but he didn't have a lot of competition to make the cut on this squad. His own teammate, Steven Sheffield, was probably the only guy who could keep him from this squad. The only other Big 12 starters this year were Iowa State's Austen Arnaud, Kansas State's Carson Coffman and Colorado's Cody Hawkins.
  • It's a solid group at running back, too. Thomas and Hunter were the same two guys on my All-Big 12 team, getting the nod just over Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. and Baylor's Jay Finley. Definitely a great year for Big 12 running backs, especially the seniors.

Lunch links: Trash-talking Washington

December, 29, 2010
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It's like they say, sometimes God closes a door, but sometimes he closes it so hard, you can't get your wife out.

Alamo Bowl: Three keys for Oklahoma State

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
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1. Keep Arizona from YAC-ing all over the place. Oklahoma State fans will recognize Arizona's offense quickly. It's a close relative of the Air Raid at Texas Tech, not entirely unlike the Cowboys' own offense. Short, quick passes get the ball in the hands of playmakers who try to break a tackle or make a defender miss to move the ball down the field. If Oklahoma State's secondary, corners Brodrick Brown and Andrew McGee and safeties Johnny Thomas and Markelle Martin, and even the linebackers can get receivers and running backs down quickly, they'll stymie the offense and prevent the big play. Forcing Nick Foles to complete as many passes as possible to win is a solid recipe for a win.

2. Seriously, give Kendall Hunter the ball. Oklahoma State's offense has struggled most when Hunter has gotten the ball the least. Most notably, it happened in the first half against Texas A&M and the entire game against Oklahoma. The Cowboys scored 41 against the Sooners, but 14 of those points were non-offensive touchdowns and Hunter got just 13 carries. Oklahoma State ran only 66 plays in that game to Oklahoma's 107 (most in the FBS in 2010), but Hunter needed to have the ball in his hands for more than 13 of those 66. If that happens against Arizona, the Cowboys, favored by about a touchdown, should be fine.

3. No special teams mistakes. Kicker Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker, but he also missed four kicks in the three games before the loss to Oklahoma, including one from inside 40 yards against Baylor. Additionally, punter Quinn Sharp and his long snapper Marc Yerry are ineligible for the game. Bailey might end up with punting duty with a freshman snapping to him. Certainly, the potential for disaster is there. Prevent it, and the Cowboys can keep from giving away points that could come back to hurt them later.

The Big 12 North versus Big 12 South

December, 20, 2010
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Like it or not, the Big 12 will be without divisions after 2010, no matter how many legends or leaders made their mark in the league's short history as a two-part conference.

Over that history, the South has been dominant with a pair of national powers, Texas and Oklahoma who were consistently racking up big win totals over the last decade while the North has, more often than not, sent a significantly less impressive team to the title game. That's measurable in plenty of ways, but I'll settle for the 11-4 advantage in the championship game and a 13-4 advantage in BCS bowl game appearances.

But what about this year? The South is clearly the deeper division when you talk total teams, but then I got this e-mail, which got me wondering:

John in Omaha, Neb., wrote: Bored at work, thought I'd give you a blog topic idea. If you had to pick two all star teams, one made entirely of B12 north players at each position and then a B12 south all star team at each position and then had them play a game. Who would win and who would be the players. Off the top of my head I'd say the south would but I bet it's pretty close once you break it down player by player.

My interest was piqued. We know what the All-Big 12 team looks like, but what if you broke it down by division? For reference, my All-Big 12 team had 11 players from the North and 15 from the South.

Here are my picks, when broken down by division:

Big 12 South

OFFENSE
QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE/FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Danny Watkins, Baylor; Eric Mensik, Oklahoma; Matt Allen, Texas A&M, Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

DEFENSE
DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma; Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M; Colby Whitlock, Texas Tech; Sam Acho, Texas
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M; Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State; Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
CB: Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma; Byron Landor, Baylor

SPECIALISTS:
K: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Big 12 North

OFFENSE
QB: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
RB: Rodney Stewart, Colorado, Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
WR: T.J. Moe, Missouri; Scotty McKnight, Colorado
TE/FB: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Nate Solder, Colorado; Ricky Henry, Nebraska; Tim Barnes, Missouri; Zach Kendall, Kansas State, Ben Lamaak, Iowa State

DEFENSE
DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska; Aldon Smith, Missouri; Brad Madison, Missouri; Pierre Allen, Nebraska
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska; Andrew Gachkar, Missouri; Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska; Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
S: Eric Hagg, Nebraska; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State

SPECIALISTS:
K: Alex Henery, Nebraska
P: Alex Henery, Nebraska
KR: William Powell, Kansas State
PR: Niles Paul, Nebraska

So, there are my teams. I'll offer some further observations, plus my pick in a post Tuesday. But for now ... who you got?

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