Big 12: Art Kaufman

Taking a page out of the book of our Big East bloggers, it's time to tab the best assistant coaches in the Big 12 over the past season. Anyone not a head coach is eligible.

1. Todd Monken, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Oklahoma State. Monken was robbed as a nominee for the Broyles Award as college football's top assistant coach. Monken dealt with injuries that no other assistant in the league had to and still kept Oklahoma State producing. The Cowboys had three (!!) 1,000-yard passers and had the nation's No. 5 offense.

2. Art Kaufman, defensive coordinator, Texas Tech. Yes, Tech backslid a bit late in the season, but Tech was one of the nation's worst defenses a year ago and Kaufman moved them into one of the better defenses in the league, including some early-season dominance. Texas Tech was 114th in total defense last season. Kaufman moved the Red Raiders up to 39th.

3. Mike Stoops, defensive coordinator/secondary, Oklahoma. Stoops had tons of talent in his unit, headlined by Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin, but he turned one of the Sooners' weaknesses from a year ago into one of its strengths. This was the highest-profile hire of the offseason, and it paid off. Oklahoma gave up 18 touchdown passes a year ago. This season: Just nine.

4. Joe Wickline, offensive line, Oklahoma State. Another year, another fantastic go-around by the big guys up front in Stillwater. Wickline had an experienced unit this year and didn't have to deal with the injuries of 2011, but OSU threw the ball 461 times and only gave up 10 sacks, the fewest in the Big 12. Additionally, the Cowboys boasted the Big 12's No. 1 running back, Joseph Randle, and the league's No. 2 rushing attack.

5. Wally Burnham, defensive coordinator, Iowa State. Burnham had a pair of star linebackers to play with, but helped produce breakout stars in DL Jake McDonough and safety Durrell Givens, too. Iowa State gave up more than 24 points in just four games.

Halloween in the Big 12

October, 31, 2012
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It's been a spooky season in the Big 12 this year. To commemorate Halloween on the blog, we're letting you know what to keep an eye on.

Jason Voorhies (team that refuses to die): TCU. The Frogs have taken their licks. Casey Pachall is gone. The team's top two running backs are gone. Receiver Brandon Carter is hurt now, and defensive end Stansly Maponga is banged up. Still, TCU keeps playing, despite losing more than 20 players from this year's team since the end of last season. The Frogs are 5-3 and playing tough in their first year in the Big 12.

Thrillers: Texas. The Longhorns can't stop playing heart stoppers. They converted huge fourth downs on game-winning drives in the final minutes to beat Oklahoma State earlier this season and Kansas last week. They came up short in a dramatic loss at home to West Virginia and hung on late for a six-point win over Baylor.

In the graveyard: Baylor's post-RG3 world. There was plenty of talk about this not being the "same old Baylor" despite losing the best player in the program's history, Robert Griffin III. It's not, and the Bears have been largely competitive, but you can't hide from the record. Baylor is 0-4 in Big 12 play, and that record doesn't look much different than pre-Art Briles Baylor, though the team on the field does. Will we see a second-half revival and a return to the postseason for the third consecutive season?

Frightful sight: Kansas State. Beware of the Wildcats and their ageless coach, Bill Snyder. Who has the highest scoring offense in the Big 12? It's not Oklahoma. It's not Oklahoma State. It's not West Virginia or Baylor. It's the Wildcats and their "slow, meandering offense." The Wildcats have had just two of seven games decided by fewer than two touchdowns this year.

Cursed: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys can't get away from costly injuries to quarterbacks this year. Wes Lunt suffered an ugly knee injury early on and missed more than a month while J.W. Walsh racked up impressive numbers. Then last week, Walsh suffered a knee injury and forced Lunt back into duty. Did someone on the team sell their soul for last year's Big 12 title? It's been a cursed season for QBs in Stillwater.

Haunted house: Owen Field. It's usually a house of horrors for opposing teams. Before this year, Bob Stoops was 77-3 at home. This season, the Sooners are just 2-2, with wins over Florida A&M and Kansas. Meanwhile, top three teams Notre Dame and Kansas State entered Oklahoma as double-digit underdogs and knocked off the Sooners anyway.

Time for a few Halloween costume suggestions:
  • West Virginia's entire team:Two-Face from the Batman series. Obvious reasons, I'd say. Juggernauts one week. Getting blown out the next.
  • Collin Klein: I mean ... what else could he be?
  • Bill Snyder:Richard from LOST. Hasn't aged a day in decades.
  • Texas Tech DC Art Kaufman:MacGyver. He's taken a group of jucos and signees with varying levels of experience and turned them into the bomb.
  • Terrance Williams: Vacuum cleaner. Throw something in his area code. It gets sucked in.
  • Charlie Weis: Sisyphus. The character from Greek mythology was once a king who believed he was more clever than Zeus. The gods punished him by making him push an enormous boulder up an endless mountain for eternity.
  • Art Briles: Eric Taylor. He climbed his way up the high school ranks, and he's as Texan as they come. Take state, y'all!
  • Arthur Brown: Predator. Once he's locked his radar in on you, you're going down, buddy.
  • Bob Bowlsby: President Andrew Johnson. His predecessor held together that which nearly crumbled under his term. Now, it's up to the new guy to begin building a brand-new country, er, conference.

I also asked those of you who follow me on Twitter for some suggestions. Here's the best of what you came up with (the ones that weren't too mean, anyway. Man, some of you were brutal):
And a couple costumes that just need to be seen:

The Big 12 Primer: Week 9

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
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I'll have my predictions up first thing in the morning, but here's when and where you can find this week's Big 12 games. I'll also be revealing which game I'll be attending this week in tomorrow's predictions column. Let's hear your predictions in the comments.

Here's a look at this week's schedule:

West Virginia is idle.

No. 23 Texas at Kansas (noon, Fox Sports Net): Kansas loves to run the ball. Texas can't seem to stop the run. Could the Longhorns make it interesting? It's been an interesting couple weeks in Austin, with Mack Brown quieting talk about his job security with a win over Baylor but making headlines with complaints about the Longhorn Network. The Longhorns are banged up, but getting a win here is a tall order for KU.

TCU at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net): Oklahoma State is trying to figure out if Wes Lunt is ready to reclaim his spot as the team's starter, but Trevone Boykin is coming into his own as TCU's quarterback, throwing four touchdown passes in consecutive weeks as a redshirt freshman. The Frogs have dealt with more injuries than anybody in the league, but OSU may need to lean on Joseph Randle more this week. Is the offensive line up to the task against an underrated TCU defensive front seven.

No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State (3:30 p.m., FOX): Kansas State thought it had grabbed a sizeable lead in the Big 12 title race, but Texas Tech has been the Big 12's biggest overachiever this season, and is already bowl eligible. With a win, the Red Raiders can put themselves in position to win the school's first Big 12 title, too. Texas Tech coordinator Art Kaufman's defense is improved, but this is a different challenge this week, and both sides of the ball showed weakness in a blowout loss to Oklahoma. Can K-State duplicate that blueprint?

Baylor at Iowa State (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net): There may not be two more unbalanced teams in the Big 12, and that makes this game wholly unpredictable. Iowa State's defense has been about as good as any in the Big 12 this year. Baylor's offense has been about as good as any in the Big 12. But the Iowa State offense and Baylor defense? Woof. The winner of this one gets a huge win and one step closer to a very special bowl bid. The loser might have to face a reality of a five-win season after reaching the postseason last year.

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma (8 p.m., ABC): There's all kinds of history on the field here, but Oklahoma is just 1-8 against the Irish. Notre Dame is 4-0 this year in close games, but OU will be by far the best team Notre Dame has faced this season. Few teams in the country have been more impressive the last three weeks than Oklahoma, and Notre Dame will try to win a game in Norman as a ranked team, a situation in which Bob Stoops has lost just once in 15 opportunites. The last time? Earlier this season versus now-No. 3 K-State, who is undefeated.

Who will transform tomorrow: Week 8

October, 19, 2012
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The Big 12 is the only conference with a ranked team taking part in every game on Saturday, but Texas Tech will travel to Fort Worth for one of two matchups between a pair of ranked teams. Fresh off last week's 28-point, fourth-quarter romp at Baylor, TCU crashed the BCS rankings and Texas Tech jumped to No. 17 after beating West Virginia by 35 points a week ago.

Who'll transform on Saturday? Texas Tech ... into a top-15 team.

The Red Raiders ran into an angry Oklahoma team two weeks ago, but turned heads last week by easily disposing of a West Virginia team that looked the part of a Big 12 co-favorite along with Kansas State.

"We're a better team than we were last year, but we're also a target. When you're ranked as high as we are now and people see what you've done, you're going to get their Agame," coach Tommy Tuberville told reporters this week. "So we've got to bring our Agame every week and just continue to improve."

Texas Tech's defense has gotten plenty of attention this year (TCU's banged-up offense will find out all about that on Saturday), but the Red Raiders have gotten the job done on both sides of the ball.

Tuberville's squad sits at 10th in the nation in total offense and fourth in total defense. They're the nation's only team in the top 10 of both stats and Tech is giving up less than four yards a play on defense while gaining almost seven a play on offense.

That's a recipe for success, and for Tuberville, it's been a recipe for getting off the hot seat. The memory of last year's five-win campaign gets hazier and hazier by the day and dreams of a first Big 12 title become clearer as the offense continues to produce and the defense showcases its reclamation project under new coordinator Art Kaufman.

The new challenge is keeping the momentum going after last year's five-game losing streak that led to postseason exile began with the biggest win at Tech in a long time, an upset of No. 1 Oklahoma.

"I hope we learn from last year because we pretty much around the same part of the season did the same thing. We did something nobody else thought we could do and we didn't win another game," Tuberville said. "We've got to get focused on every day of what we've got to do to get better."

That's happened this year, and it'll be on display against TCU when Texas Tech transforms and cracks the top 15 for the first time since 2008.

Big 12 stock report: Week 8

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
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Leveraged buyouts! Life annuity! Reproducible assets!

And you thought I was done? Nope. We're back with more fluctuating stocks and nonsensical financial terms. Let's get to the football.

Rising: TCU's ballhawkery

The Frogs are holding strong at 5-1, and the defense is the biggest reason why. Through six games, TCU leads the nation with 20 takeaways and 14 interceptions. Jason Verrett leads the Big 12 with four interceptions, and the Frogs picked off Nick Florence four times last week. Even better? It should have been five. Kenny Cain intercepted a pass off of Baylor RB Jarred Salubi's heel, but officials thought it hit the ground and didn't review the play. Seven different Frogs already have interceptions this season.

Falling: Oklahoma State's grabby hands ... again

This has to be a major, major concern now for Oklahoma State. It played the Big 12's worst offense in a rainstorm and still couldn't force a turnover. What's the deal? This defense prides itself on going for the ball and forced a nation-high 44 turnovers last year. It's finished in the top 11 in takeaways every year under defensive coordinator Bill Young, but this year, the Cowboys still have just four takeaways in five games. Only Buffalo has fewer.

Rising: Art Kaufman

Kaufman has completely turned around one of the league's worst defenses, and that's after playing arguably the nation's best offense lsat week, West Virginia. For my money, Kaufman is the frontrunner for the Frank Broyles Award as college football's top assistant. Texas Tech finished 114th in total defense and 117th in scoring defense last year. This year, the Red Raiders are fourth and 16th, respectively. Both are in the top two in the Big 12.

Falling: Manny Diaz

Diaz was one of the hottest names in coaching this offseason, and his stock figured to skyrocket with what looked like the Big 12's best defense. Instead, the Longhorns defense has been one of the biggest disappointments of the first half of the season. They've given up 1,255 rushing yards, 50 more than Kansas and 323 more than the next-worst Big 12 team. Opponents are gaining 5.14 yards a carry, the 111th-worst mark in the country. Texas ranks 102nd in total defense and 97th in scoring defense. That streak of the Longhorns leading the Big 12 in total defense in each of the past four years? All but over.

Rising: Fourth-down conversions

The Big 12 is getting it done on fourth down. Oklahoma and Kansas State are two of just four teams with a perfect mark on fourth down this season, even though they're just a combined 4-of-4. Baylor, meanwhile, is fifth nationally after converting 8-of-9 fourth downs. Baylor is a perfect 6-of-6 in the past three games on fourth down.

Falling: Kansas' defense

The Jayhawks got off to a great start defensively, but that's changed now. KU had five sacks in the first three games, but hasn't had a single sack over the next three games. After leading the nation with 12 takeaways in the first three games, Kansas has forced just two turnovers in the next three games.

Midseason report: Texas Tech

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
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TEXAS TECH

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.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 7

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
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Here's some hardware for a job well done across the Big 12 on Saturday:

Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma: Oklahoma dominated everywhere on Saturday, and with apologies to the Sooners' defense (who got a helmet sticker last week, I might add), I'm going with the man who maximized every touch in Saturday's 63-21 victory over Texas. Millard caught a 73-yard pass and scored on a 25-yard reception. He finished with five catches for 119 yards and ran three times for 45 yards. His day included one hurdle over a defender and another play in which he hurdled one defender while a second defender bounced off of his legs. Ridiculous.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein had a very Collin Klein-like day in Saturday's clutch 27-21 win at Iowa State. On the final scoring drive for K-State, with the Wildcats clinging to a 24-21 lead, he converted third downs of 8, 5 and 2 yards to extend the drive and milk eight minutes off the clock. He finished with 187 yards on 16-of-24 passing and rushed for three scores and 105 yards on 25 carries. Great day on what looked to be -- and was -- a tough matchup for the 'Cats.

Texas Tech's defense: Geno Smith wasn't sure what went wrong on Saturday, but everything went right for the Texas Tech D, who held the West Virginia quarterback to just one touchdown pass and forced stops deep in its own territory all game long. West Virginia had 408 yards of offense, but went just 2-of-7 on fourth down in the Red Raiders' 49-14 dismantling. The Texas Tech D constantly stymied the Mountaineers offense, and Smith had his lowest completion percentage of the season by far, at just 52.7 percent (29-of-55). That's a good of an offense as you'll see in the country, and Tech held it to 14 points. Did anyone think that was possible before Saturday? Coordinator Art Kaufman has these boys rollin'.

Quinn Sharp, P/K, Oklahoma State: Sharp provided the winning margin in OSU's wet, sloppy, storm-delayed 20-14 victory over Kansas by booming field goals of 42 and 49 yards and drawing a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a late punt that prevented KU from getting one more shot to win the game. He also boomed a 73-yard punt, put one inside the 20-yard line and averaged 53 yards on his five punts for the night.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: Boykin threw for one fourth-quarter touchdown and ran for another, redeeming himself for a rough outing against Iowa State a week ago on just one day's practice at quarterback the week of the game. Boykin finished the Horned Frogs' 49-21 victory at Baylor with four touchdown passes and 261 yards on 22-of-30 passing. He also ran for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Instant analysis: Texas Tech 49, WVU 14

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
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LUBBOCK, Texas -- That was a first-class beatdown from start to finish. Texas Tech turned in its best performance of the season on the same day West Virginia turned in its worst. The result: a 49-14 loss that ranks among the most embarrassing for West Virginia in a long time.

Geno Smith looked out of sorts and uncomfortable, and the Texas Tech defense played inspired all game. Let's take a closer look at some instant analysis:

It was over when: West Virginia failed to score on its first three drives of the second half and Texas Tech scored a touchdown to take a 42-7 lead. Any hopes of a comeback from a 35-7 halftime deficit were never realized.

Game ball goes to: Texas Tech defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. He confused Geno Smith (29-of-55, 275 yards, TD) and made the passer uncomfortable all day. The secondary covered well, but Smith was rushed constantly and flushed from the pocket with no options downfield for most of the day. The Red Raiders had a solid scheme and put together a complete team performance defensively. Smith avoided throwing his first interception of the season, but that was about the only bright spot for the Mountaineers' offense.

Stat of the game: West Virginia was just 2-of-7 on fourth downs. Last week against Texas, WVU was 5-of-5.

Stat of the game 2: Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is now 6-2 versus top-five teams all-time, with wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 West Virginia in consecutive seasons.

Unsung hero of the game: Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech. Much of the focus Saturday will be on what Texas Tech's defense did to West Virginia, but Doege shredded West Virginia's defense and found open receiver after open receiver. He finished with a career-high 504 yards and six touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, and put the ball on the money, into the hands of his playmakers all day.

What Texas Tech learned: This team has the potential to be much better than anyone expected. Iowa State? Good team. West Virginia? Obviously a good team. Oklahoma showed last week that Texas Tech can look very average if not bad, but the potential is clear. Can Texas Tech keep doing it every week? A Casey Pachall-less TCU team awaits next week. Texas Tech should win that game handily, which would make it officially bowl-eligible after a five-win season in 2011. Then again, Texas Tech beat No. 1 Oklahoma for its fifth win of the season last year and didn't win again the rest of the season. Which will it be?

What West Virginia learned: The road to a Big 12 title won't be an easy one. Texas Tech got blasted a week ago, and this week, the Red Raiders did the blasting on West Virginia's second trip west to Texas in two weeks. The travel woes and the wind? I'm not buying it. In an unfamiliar league trying to learn unfamiliar personnel, the potential was high that somebody would thwack West Virginia at some point. It just so happened to be Texas Tech. Lubbock has always had a Bermuda Triangle feel about it, and West Virginia experienced that firsthand Saturday, leaving with a blistered behind.

Lunch links: Big 12/Oklahoma State fallout

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
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Dana's back in Texas.

Big 12 game predictions: Week 6

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
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Time to pick this week's games across the Big 12. It's a small slate -- only four games -- but it should be interesting. Outside of Kansas State-Kansas, I'd say anything could happen in the other three games. Could be a very upset-filled Saturday.

I'll be in Austin, Texas, on Saturday to see the Longhorns host West Virginia in the Mountaineers' first Big 12 road game. I'm pretty excited about it.

Oklahoma State and Baylor are off this week.

On to the predictions!

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 29-5 (.853)

No. 7 Kansas State 44, Kansas 17: Nobody is taking this game more seriously than Bill Snyder. The man gets his teams ready for Kansas. Ron Prince never beat the Jayhawks. Snyder, meanwhile, is 16-4 against his in-state rival, including two of the most complete beatdowns the Turner Gill-coached Jayhawks ever received. Snyder gets his guys up for this game, and Collin Klein takes care of business against an improving KU defense.

Texas Tech 28, No. 17 Oklahoma 27: Give me the upset. Texas Tech's revamped defense harasses Landry Jones and proves it's here to stay. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's struggles in Lubbock continue. Seth Doege has a big game against the Sooners secondary and Texas Tech propels itself into the top 25. Art Kaufman might be something of a miracle worker with this defense.

No. 15 TCU 17, Iowa State 16: This will be a rare defensive struggle in the Big 12. Iowa State has an underrated defense and its linebackers are well-equipped to shut down TCU's running game. TCU's defense will force Steele Jantz into more mistakes, too. The Horned Frogs have major problems, but make the necessary plays in the fourth quarter to get a clutch win.

No. 8 West Virginia 41, No. 11 Texas 38: I'm taking the upset here, too. West Virginia's offense is too much in Austin and though Geno Smith throws his first interception of the season, his four touchdown passes are just enough to get one of the biggest wins in WVU history. The Mountaineers negate a Texas pass rush with a healthy diet of screens, and Texas' tackling issues are a major problem against a slippery Tavon Austin, who all too often looks like he's covered in some sort of grease. More on this game later today in my Game of the Week video.
Paul Rhoads enjoyed his time with the Texas Tech defense a whole lot more the last time he met them.

Against the nation's worst rush defense, Rhoads' Iowa State team rolled for 368 rushing yards in a 41-7 win that helped push the Cyclones into a bowl game. It also began Texas Tech's descent (the Red Raiders were ranked No. 20) out of the postseason.

This time around, though? The new Texas Tech defense looked a whole lot different. Texas Tech stuffed the run all night and didn't bother blitzing senior quarterback Steele Jantz.

The result: Just 116 rushing yards and 189 yards of total offense for an offense that entered the game averaging 429 yards in three nonconfernce games.

The Red Raiders forced four turnovers from Jantz this time, when sophomore Jared Barnett went without a turnover at quarterback a year ago.

[+] EnlargeD.J. Johnson and Ernst Brun
Reese Strickland/US PresswireThe undefeated Red Raiders have the top-ranked defense in the country.
The difference is clear.

"Up front, they were very physical. Did a nice job of getting off blocks, and just smothered our receivers in the pass game," Rhoads said.

A revamped defensive line has Texas Tech holding opponents to just 85 rushing yards a game. Combined with a solid pass rush and an improving secondary, the Red Raiders held their spot as the nation's leader in total defense just a year after finishing 114th in the stat. Texas Tech is giving up 24 fewer yards per game than No. 2 Alabama, though the Red Raiders have faced an FCS opponent and three teams that all rank at least 89th or below in total offense.

"In this league, in the Big 12, you’ve gotta have as much speed as you can," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We’re tackling better. We have speed on the team. We’ve made it a priority the last two years in recruiting to bring in height and speed on defense, guys that can run and rush the passer with speed and get their hands up and in the passing lane.

"It’s an ongoing process to get this defense where we need to be to play the Oklahoma State’s, the West Virginias, teams that throw the ball almost every down."

That speed showed up everywhere and hounded the Iowa State defense, whether it was getting to quarterbacks more quickly or breaking on thrown balls with more quickness. Jantz threw three interceptions, and former receiver Cornelius Douglas nabbed two. Douglas returned one 40 yards to set up a late touchdown and won the Big 12's Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Ball carriers were swarmed and didn't go anywhere after encountering one or two defenders.

"They were notably better on Saturday night," Rhoads said. "There’s a personality that you establish as a defensive coordinator of a team. Individually first, then on your staff, and it grows throughout the team."

Credit new coordinator Art Kaufman, as Tuberville's former assistant at Ole Miss was reunited with his old boss in Lubbock this offseason. It was Texas Tech's fourth coordinator in four years and third in three years under Tuberville, but Kaufman is the first to make a real impact.

"Do your job first. Be accountable for what you’re supposed to do. Everybody doing their job every play. We throw it in this league, but you still have to stop the run, because some of these throwing teams can run the ball on you. That just opens the floodgates for the passing game also," Tuberville said. "We’ve gone in and Art’s done a good job of training these kids in terms of playing the run, how to play with their hands, how to play with their eyes, gap control, all the little things it takes to be a run-stopping team and that filters down to playing pass defense and rushing the passer."

Kaufman's impact will get its toughest test yet when the Red Raiders host Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma's dealt with struggles of its own offensively, but through three games, the Sooners rank 25th nationally in total offense. That's been a bit of a disappointment, but there's no doubt Oklahoma's offense is in a different league that what Tech has faced to this point.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops has already taken notice of the change in Lubbock.

"They’re playing a lot more aggressive," he said. "They’re really physical up front. They’re covering people in tight coverage. Just everything looks stronger and more disciplined in how they’re playing."

Saturday, we'll find out just how much stronger and more disciplined Texas Tech can be as the season goes on.

Texas Tech rolls over Northwestern State

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
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Not much to take away from Texas Tech's 44-6 win over Northwestern State, besides the literal truth that the Red Raiders are in another league from their opponent on Saturday.

Seth Doege threw an interception (he had just 10 in 2011) before he threw a touchdown, but he finished 23-of-34 for 199 yards, a touchdown and the interception.

The biggest thing that brought a smile to my face? Seeing Eric Stephens return and score a pair of touchdowns. It's his first action since suffering a horrific knee injury against Texas A&M last year. The Red Raiders still weren't sure how he'd handle live contact.

Tommy Tuberville said this week the plan was to get Stephens 10-15 touches, and he did even more. Stephens carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards, and caught three balls, too. That's a good indicator for Stephens' future. Tuberville said that plan was flexible depending on how Stephens was feeling, and getting him 18 touches in a blowout win suggests he certainly felt good, or at least good enough.

Stephens isn't as fast as he was last year, but we'll see how he responds when Big 12 play starts.

Northwestern State isn't a team that's going to test your defense, but new coordinator Art Kaufman has to feel very encouraged about no major busts that cost the Red Raiders.

The Red Raiders gave up just 84 yards of offense and racked up 500 of their own. Texas Tech couldn't stop anybody from running the ball last year, but Northwestern State had just 13 yards on 28 carries.

Few outside Lubbock are going to be truly impressed by those numbers, but it's something to build on for a defensive unit that was one of the nation's worst last year.

Fresh faces: Texas Tech Red Raiders

August, 28, 2012
8/28/12
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Today we continue our look across the league at a few players from each team who had low profiles last year, but you'd better get to know before Saturday. They just might be household names by season's end.

More fresh faces:
Will Smith, LB: Smith's about to become the fresh prince of Texas Tech's defensive backfield. The juco transfer walked into the spring and before it was even over, had already secured a starting spot at middle linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 224-pounder showed up in West Texas via California and racked up 13 tackles for loss during his undefeated season in junior college last year. You never know how guys will handle the transition, but expect Smith to do well and fit in as a major piece that Tech's defense needed badly.

Delvon Simmons, DT: Simmons' growth is paramount to Texas Tech's improvement on defense. He didn't start last year, but made an impact with 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the rotation. It's easy to see why the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder was a super recruit who signed with North Carolina, but later decided he wanted out. Butch Davis' loss was Tommy Tuberville's gain. After a solid freshman year, it's time for Simmons to move into a starring role. He'll start at nose tackle for Art Kaufman's new 4-3 defense, but the Pennsylvania native should inspire plenty of excitement around Lubbock.

Le'Raven Clark, OG: The former high school All-American redshirted last season but will be the team's starting guard to start the season, despite no playing experience. Texas Tech's offensive line is pretty underrated and has big talents in tackle LaAdrian Waddle and center Deveric Gallington, both seniors. They ought to help the young guys along, but the biggest task for everybody on the line is staying healthy.
Last season, Kansas State shocked everyone by winning 10 games and reaching the Cotton Bowl after the group of unknowns was picked eighth in the preseason.

SportsNation

Who will be the Big 12's biggest surprise team?

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    21%
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    21%

Discuss (Total votes: 8,621)

Collin Klein emerged as a star and carried his team to a memorable season.

In 2010, Oklahoma State played the part of shocker. Despite losing Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys won a school-record 11 games and Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon made names for themselves along the way to becoming first-round NFL draft picks.

So who's going to be the surprise team this season?

Cast your vote in our poll.

KANSAS

The Jayhawks have won just one of their past 24 Big 12 games, but there are a ton of new faces these days, and ultimately, it'll be hard to predict what to expect from the Jayhawks. Coach Charlie Weis couldn't be more different than former coach Turner Gill, and the Jayhawks already got a big upgrade at quarterback with Dayne Crist. Add an avalanche of transfers and newcomers who are cracking the two-deep, and the Jayhawks could shock plenty of people this season by flirting with bowl contention.

TEXAS TECH

Texas Tech dropped its final five games last season after beating No. 1 Oklahoma in Norman, the first team to beat Bob Stoops' Sooners at Owen Field since 2005. That meant the first losing season since 1992, and the end of the Big 12's longest bowl streak. The catch? The Red Raiders were already thin, and fell apart once they were racked by injuries. Tech has one of the league's most underrated players in Seth Doege at quarterback, and a great set of receivers. With some defensive improvements under coordinator Art Kaufman and the end of its bad luck with injuries, could Texas Tech surprise and come close to a nine- or 10-win season?

OKLAHOMA STATE

The Cowboys are the defending champs, but the echoes of doubt won't be silenced. How will they replace Weeden and Blackmon? Sounds pretty familiar, no? (Read the top of this post for a refresher.) The defense is going to be pretty stout and still make big plays. True freshman Wes Lunt is progressing well and should have plenty of big targets. Will the Cowboys surprise and be a serious threat in the Big 12 title race?

KANSAS STATE

K-State won 10 games, finished the season ranked 15th and second in the Big 12, and return 17 starters. Yet, because of all the close and comeback wins last season, plenty of folks are chalking it up to luck. K-State begins the season ranked outside the top 20 and picked sixth in the Big 12. Will Bill Snyder prove everyone wrong once again and contend for a Big 12 title?

IOWA STATE

Paul Rhoads has a quarterback controversy on his hands to deal with first. Once that's settled, could Iowa State show it's making steps toward being a bigger player in the Big 12? The Cyclones have just barely made bowl games in two of the past three seasons, courtesy of huge upsets. ISU wants those wins to be much less shocking. Rhoads once again is saying that this is the best team he's ever had in Ames. Can he prove it and win eight games for the first time as the Cyclones' coach? (Note: Keeping the beard can only help.)

Cast your votes now.

Opening camp: Texas Tech Red Raiders

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
11:00
AM ET
Camp is open over in Lubbock. Before we get too deep in sweltering practices, I'll offer up a quick preview of what you need to know heading into the season.

See more fall camp previews.

Next up: Texas Tech.

Media's predicted finish: Ninth.

Biggest storyline: Texas Tech is on a little redemption tour of its own after breaking the Big 12's longest stretch without a losing season, one that reached back nearly two decades. Last year's 5-7 season was aided by injuries, but the defense simply wasn't good enough. The pundits clearly aren't convinced Texas Tech is ready to rebound and reach the postseason, but the Red Raiders should have the offense. Can they stay healthy and finally turn the corner after a couple of rough seasons to begin the Tommy Tuberville era? He's recruited really well. The Red Raiders have the athletes to make it happen.

Biggest question mark: The entire defense. Texas Tech was by far the nation's worst run defense last season. That's an accomplishment especially in the Big 12, where passing is the name of the game. The Red Raiders gave up 12 more yards a game than New Mexico, the next-worst rush defense and a team that won one game. They gave up 25 more yards a game than the 116th-ranked rush defense. New coordinator Art Kaufman is the fourth man in four years to be in charge of the Texas Tech defense, which fell victim to poor depth in 2011. Coach Tommy Tuberville says the basic terminology and schemes haven't changed, even though the alignments have, from a 4-3 in 2009 to a 3-4 in 2010 to a 4-2-5 last year and back to a 4-3 this year.

Who needs to step up: The defensive line. Even with the injuries, the offense was good enough to win 7-8 games or more last season, averaging almost 34 points a game. Still, there's no underestimating the importance of this unit's improvement. If Tech can't stop the run any better than last year, the offense won't have a chance. Defensive tackle Delvon Simmons must emerge at the front line of the defense. Tackle Kerry Hyder and ends Branden Jackson and Dartwan Bush are the guys who can have the biggest influence on whether or not Texas Tech's rise begins in 2012.

On the mend: This list could go on and on and on, but we'll focus on the biggest guys who need to be back on the field. That starts with running backs Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington who are returning from knee injuries. Receivers Alex Torres (knee) and Darrin Moore (ankle) are back and healthy, though Moore is facing disciplinary action after an offseason DWI arrest.

Breaking out: Texas Tech may have a pair of linebackers who are household names by the end of the season. Juco transfer Will Smith took over this spring and earned a starting spot at middle linebacker. Tuberville wants him on the field as much as possible. Terrance Bullitt, a converted safety, is playing outside linebacker and the 215-pound senior is a big hitter who can fly around and be everywhere. He just needs to prove he can be where he needs to be when he needs to be there. He's got the athleticism to make it happen.

Don't forget about: WR Eric Ward. Torres has had a great career already, and Moore has all the potential in the world, but Ward was the guy producing in 2011, and returns as the team's leading receiver. He was steady during a rocky 2011, catching 84 balls for 800 yards and 11 scores.

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