Big 12: Chase Coffman

Two Big 12 TEs up for Mackey Award

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
2:30
PM ET
The crop of Big 12 tight ends is pretty sad this year, and it shows on the Mackey Award watch list.

The award is given annually to the nation's top tight end, and just two Big 12 players are on the 33-man list.
Even sadder? One of those two players -- Ragone -- is a transfer from Notre Dame who's never actually played for Kansas and had 11 career catches in five injury-plagued seasons in South Bend.

Ragone is more of a blocking tight end, yes, but still. He came to Kansas with a modest résumé, but he already has a decent case as the league's second-best tight end.

There's a bit of potential this season for guys like Travis Tannahill at Kansas State and one of OU's four incoming tight ends, not to mention juco transfer Blake Jackson at Oklahoma State. Jace Amaro at Texas Tech could make some noise, too.

For now, though, the crop is raw, and it's likely to be a quiet year on the Mackey Award front for the Big 12. Clemson's Dwayne Allen won the award last season. Missouri's Chase Coffman (2009) was the last Big 12 player to win the award.

No current Big 12 teams have a Mackey Award winner since its inception in 2000.

More awards watch lists:

Who are the rising stars at quarterback?

November, 2, 2011
11/02/11
3:30
PM ET
ESPN's Brock Huard named his five quarterbacks in the "next wave" of stars, and topping the list?

None other than Missouri's James Franklin.

Writes Huard:
Sturdy, strong and athletic, Franklin is the most powerfully built of the quarterbacks mentioned here. He's been thrown right into the fire this season with road tests against the Arizona State Sun Devils, Oklahoma Sooners, Kansas State Wildcats and Texas A&M Aggies in his first eight games as a starter.

Franklin had his first signature win in College Station last weekend, and the early adversity he has faced in his career will pay dividends for him and the program in the future. Franklin has weathered the brutal schedule with 13 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 61 percent completion percentage, plus an additional 542 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He is calm, oblivious at times in the pocket, and his unwavering poise has won over head coach Gary Pinkel.

"This guy has a chance to be special," Pinkel said. "He is further ahead at this time in his career than the three quarterbacks who preceded him."

In case you didn't know, Pinkel's last three quarterbacks (Brad Smith, Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert) are all making a nice living in the NFL.

I'd agree with Huard. Franklin's been outstanding, one of a handful of great young quarterbacks in the league. Franklin's unorthodox passing mechanics present obvious questions, but he's hung tough in some really difficult situations. The 20-yard touchdown run against Texas A&M last week was arguably his best highlight of the seasons, with apologies to a clutch touchdown pass to Marcus Lucas against Arizona State.

Consider, also, that Franklin lacks an elite target at receiver or tight end like Danario Alexander in Gabbert's first year as starter or Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman or Martin Rucker in Daniel's first season.

Franklin's unusual calm in the pocket can look uncomfortably serene at times, but I see it working to his advantage in the future as his experience and accuracy grows.

His future looks promising, but he's not the only one in the Big 12. Which first-year starter has impressed you most this season? Vote in our poll.

Mailbag: Does the SEC want A&M?

August, 26, 2011
8/26/11
2:30
PM ET
Thanks for the all the emails.

B. Stautzenberger (@coachrock4) in OKC asked: I hear so much that the a&m will struggle in the sec but at there worst they r better than both miss schools and vandy Kentucky. They are on par with auburn and Arkansas. And that's just football. I don't see why the sec wouldn't love to have the aggies.

David Ubben: Yeah, I don't really get it. The folks that know what they're talking about know that the SEC is crazy not to want the Aggies, which they clearly do. The only problem could be the 14th team.

The fans are kind of another story. As an Arkansas native, I know a pretty large group of Arkansas fans, and the majority of them are not excited about bringing in A&M at all. I spent last weekend in Kansas City with a few of them, and the lack of big-time accomplishments on the résumé and a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach has them and lots of other Hog fans pretty lukewarm to the idea.

The program, facilities and fans make it a good fit from the SEC perspective, though I disagree with the move from the A&M perspective.

I think you'll see all three of those get at least a temporary boost with the move to the SEC. The atmosphere for games will be amped up a bit the first couple of years, but I think the Aggies will have to win over a reasonable percentage of the fans.

Fortunately for them, the same doesn't appear to be true for decision-makers.


Ryan in Tulsa, Okla., asked: David,Im an OSU fan. I just don't think new OC Todd Monken will have the same impact as Dana Holgerson did last year. Dana just had that knack to stay patient and not ever get overwhelmed when it came to crunch time in big games. I feel Todd might get flustered and nervous in those big game situations when he has to call the right play at the right time. He already has to be feeling pressure about it. How do you think he will do? Also, do you think Brandon Weeden will get to be like Peyton Manning and have the ability to make his own play calls at times?

DU: Well, the facts add up to this: We have no idea. There's not a lot to draw on regarding Monken's play-calling prowess. We have Gundy's endorsement. That's about it. Monken might be great. He might be a significant downgrade. He might be OK. We'll find out pretty quick. There's not a lot of evidence pointing to any of those options just yet.

What we do know is this: He's going to have a heck of a lot of talent running his plays. That makes everyone look better.

As for Weeden calling plays, I don't see that happening, but he'll no doubt have a lot of input and impact on what's called. And besides, even after a play is called or even snapped, he still has a lot of effect on what's going on during the play.


Chris in San Jose, Calif., asked: Dubbs, I think you did a great job on the top 25 list, but you missed the mark badly on Michael Egnew from Missouri. I'll be the first to admit that he's no Chase Coffman, but he was a All American and voted MVP of the Missouri team by his teammates (over the others you chose for the list). Your point about how average per catch being 44th among receivers is less spectacular when you figure that the highest TE on that stat is at 37th. That's just not a position that lends itself to high avg per reception. He's the only BCS conference TE in the top 100 in yards per game, and he's top 10 in receptions per game, so even though other teams know it's coming to him, they can't stop him.But more to the point, I just don't see how you can leave a returning consensus All American off your top 25 list. There are only 4 returning consensus All Americans in the entire country.

DU: You make some valid points. And it was close. He was probably the first player just outside the top 25. I may be wrong on this, but I just don't see the physical talents that Martin Rucker and Coffman had. And the facts are also this: The crop of tight ends in college football is weak.

There's no Jermaine Gresham or Martellus Bennett in this group.

Here's the core my general thought process: If Andrew Jones was the only tight end on Missouri's roster, and he was given the exact same opportunities Egnew was given, would he be able to have a similar output?

In my opinion, yes. I don't believe you could say that about the players behind guys like Gresham, Bennett, Rucker or Coffman.


JG in Enid, Okla., asked: This is just awesome. Quinn sharp booting a 62 yard field goal in practice. Not only that the whole team cheering against him and special team coach Joe Defo calling timeout to ice him. Backup QB Clint Chelf taunting him in a manner that makes you think of the Karate Kid. Plus, you have to love Jonathan Rush holding back Grant Garner as he barks like a dog earlier in the video.

DU: Outstanding. Had to get that on the blog somehow.


Andrew in College Station, Texas, asked: Have you noticed that Pac 12 blogger continually picks teams to "whip" A&M in _____ bowl in the Pac 12 Best/ Worst case scenarios? Seriously, I know I've seen it at least three times.

DU: No worries. It's all simple reverse psychology. I hear A&M is shopping a new conference, but not one in particular. Ted's trying to talk them into coming out west and proving him wrong. He's a fiend, but never forget: Those West-Coast types are much, much smarter than the rest of us in the heartland.


Jared in Portland, Ore., asked: Dubbs, what's up with this years bowl schedule? No games on New Years Day? Did the BCS forget about tradition? Am I supposed watch parades when I'm hung over?

DU: No worries, fans. It happened a few years ago, and it's happening again. Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, so the NFL will be playing that day. The good news: College football will be well-sandwiched around those games.


John Thomas in LeBary, Fla., asked: Not a single Red Raider in the top 25? From the team that has the longest string of bowl appearances in the Big 12? David, Southwest Airlines has several flights a day between Dallas and Lubbock. Book a flight. Spend some time there.

DU: Oh, I've made that flight quite a few times. I was out in Lubbock this spring. This isn't the Red Raiders' year, but who, exactly, would you suggest I put in the top 25 or near it?

Someone from the defense that ranked 118th nationally in stopping the pass and 114th nationally in total defense? Or someone from an offense that lost its top two quarterbacks, a three-year starter at running back and the two top receivers?

The Red Raiders have a lot of potential, but not a lot of proven players. Lonnie Edwards or Cody Davis was probably the closest to making the top 25, but they're going to have be a lot better this year.

Here's betting a few of them make the postseason top 25, but they'll only be there once they earn it.


Daniel in St. Louis, Mo., asked: I hear Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown are doing pretty well in the preseason. Is there any other school who produces more potential nfl starters at defensive back?

DU: No doubt about it. Texas is absolutely DBU. Credit Duane Akina for that, though. He's one of the league's best position coaches, and his secondary proves it every season.

Guys like Quandre Diggs have a lot of potential. Akina grooms them into stars.

Assessing the contenders: Missouri

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
3:45
PM ET
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.

Oklahoma State came in at No. 3.

Why the Tigers will win the Big 12

1. Experience. Missouri returns 105 starts on the offensive line, losing only center Tim Barnes. That's the most in the Big 12 and 11th most in the nation on an offensive line that was fantastic in 2010. Just less than 80 percent of its total lettermen return, eighth-most in college football. That's a lot of guys who have been around, and the Tigers knocked over a big wall last year when they toppled the Sooners. Eliminate Mizzou's curious road hiccup at Texas Tech, and the Tigers would have been back in the Big 12 title game instead of sharing the Big 12 North with Nebraska after a third 10-win season in four years.

2. Dave Steckel. The Tigers' defense has steadily improved under Steckel, who previously coached linebackers under Matt Eberflus. Missouri had its best defense under Gary Pinkel last year, and that could continue this year with a great mix of experience and upside at linebacker, with Will Ebner and Zaviar Gooden set to knock around a few folks. Missouri's defense is noticeably tougher under Steckel, and though the Tigers must replace Aldon Smith and both starting corners, don't expect it to take a big jump back. Though Kip Edwards and E.J. Gaines lack the experience of Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, they may prove to be better corners very soon.

3. The defensive line. And what's the best way to negate inexperience at corner? How about the Big 12's best defensive line. Brad Madison is arguably the Big 12's best returning pass-rusher, and his counterpart at defensive end, Jacquies Smith, is one of the better ends in the Big 12, too. Missouri also has the best depth of any defensive line, with Michael Sam and Kony Ealy itching to spell Madison and Smith. At defensive tackle, Terrell Resonno could be poised for a breakout year, and blue-chip recruit Sheldon Richardson, if/when he actually makes it to campus, should join Dominique Hamilton at the opposite tackle spot, making sure Missouri's front four are not to be trifled.

Why the Tigers won't win the Big 12

1. The quarterback has never started a game. Sometimes, it's just this simple. James Franklin may blossom into a star at Missouri, but as a first-year starter, he's bound to have a few bad nights. Can Missouri survive them? Its Big 12 title hopes depend on it. If Blaine Gabbert had stayed, Missouri would likely be a top-15 or top-10 team and join Texas A&M and OSU as the chief contenders to knock off Oklahoma. Instead, the Tigers are relegated to a dark horse/wild-card role that depends heavily on how Franklin performs in his first year. The one advantage he has is after Tyler Gabbert's post-spring transfer, fall camp will be more about cementing his role as starter than winning it. Franklin walked in as a true freshman last spring and eventually won the No. 2 job behind Blaine Gabbert. That says a lot, and he earned some playing time last year, but his sophomore season won't be anything like 2010, when he threw all of 14 passes.

2. The passing game is limited. NFL teams knew Blaine Gabbert had a cannon, but he didn't get very many chances to showcase it to college fans last year, and Franklin may be forced to do the same. T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew are a great duo with some of the best hands in the league and a great sense of space, but without a deep threat to keep defenses honest, their production declined late in the season. Danario Alexander and Jeremy Maclin were able to stretch the field for guys like Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker in the past, but Moe and Egnew won't come close to 2010's production if the Tigers can't find someone to haul in a few passes over the top of the secondary.

3. Trips to Norman and College Station are on the schedule. I hear you, Missouri fans. I was there for the destruction of Texas A&M at Kyle Field last year. But that was a very different Texas A&M team than you'll be facing this time around. And the return trip may not be quite as enjoyable. Jerrod Johnson struggled against the Tigers, but the 30-9 loss was his penultimate start and Ryan Tannehill is driving the bus now. Also, don't count on this one being an 11 a.m. kickoff. I'd plan for prime time, and Kyle Field is a very different place at 8 p.m. than at lunch time. Ask Nebraska. Missouri knocked off Oklahoma last year, too, but don't think the Sooners have forgotten the fourth-quarter meltdown in Columbia. Oklahoma gets both of its losses in 2010 -- Missouri and Texas A&M -- in Norman this year, where it carries a 36-game home winning streak, the nation's longest, into 2011.
We've taken a few passing glances at some 2012 mock drafts, but NFL.com's Gil Brandt ran down his top 100 draft-eligible prospects for 2012. Here's a look with some thoughts on my end.

From the list:
  • No. 5: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
  • No. 7: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

Lewis could be this year's version of Von Miller, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Lewis is a three-year starter at Oklahoma and had 109 tackles in 2010 and 362 in his college career. Lewis, who was a high school running back has the speed and athletic ability to play at the next level.
Named after former Dallas Cowboys coach and Hall of Famer Tom Landry, Jones has the size and arm strength teams look for in quarterbacks but is not a good runner. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in 2010. Oklahoma does a great job of coaching quarterbacks; former Sooner Sam Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
He has the speed and quickness to be explosive, much like the Eagles' DeSean Jackson. Broyles had 131 receptions last season for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns
  • No. 21: Kelechi Osemele, OT, Iowa State

He's a left tackle for the Cyclones who will likely play guard or right tackle in the NFL. Teams will make the trip to Ames to check this kid out. A few thoughts:
  • All in all, it's a solid list. That's as high as I've seen Kendall Wright on any list, but he's a solid player with a whole lot of experience and even more speed. Brandt has him as the 14th-best receiver.
  • I won't dwell on it, but my thoughts on Michael Egnew remain the same. If he goes that high, I'd be shocked. If somebody wants to tell me what separates him from Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman at the next level, I'm all ears.
  • I was pretty surprised to see Travis Lewis that high. He's obviously got great toughness and even better football IQ, but I've never been very impressed with his speed in coverage. The comparison to Von Miller is one I haven't seen before. Clearly, he doesn't have that kind of speed, but if he proves himself a solid coverage linebacker as a senior, I could see him making a jump into the top half of the first round.
  • Osemele is the only player NFL teams will be watching from ISU, but I also wonder if anyone from the Cyclones will catch NFL teams' eyes when they're in Ames getting a look at Iowa State's solid bookend.
  • Cyrus Gray seems to be a little polarizing among NFL analysts, just like Landry Jones. I'd expect his production to suffer this year with Christine Michael back on the field, but there's no denying what he did at the end of last season. I always pegged Gray as a balanced guy that leaned toward speed as the lesser half of that duo, but he showed some nice power during his late-season tear. There's no such thing as easy yards against Nebraska and LSU.

Tigers continue growth in secondary

March, 16, 2011
3/16/11
2:00
PM ET
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- In 2008, Missouri's secondary ranked as the Big 12's worst, giving up more than 4,000 yards, 700 more than the next worst in the Big 12. That ranked 118th out of 120 teams in college football.

A year later, the Tigers ranked 11th in the Big 12 and couldn't crack the national top 100.

But finally, with a pair of corners who struggled in those two seasons, 2010 was a breakthrough season for Missouri's secondary.

"We have good players and they played at a very consistent level," said coach Gary Pinkel. "And I think the athleticism and experience level of our guys, with all that we saw a little more consistency."

Kevin Rutland and Carl Gettis helped Missouri's pass defense improve to No. 3 in the Big 12 and No. 37 nationally, behind only Nebraska and Texas, who both were in the national top 10.

Most importantly, the Tigers improved to 10 wins, the same number the team had in 2008, when Missouri fielded an offense with NFL talents like quarterback Chase Daniel, receiver Jeremy Maclin and Chase Coffman.

But now, Rutland and Gettis are gone, as is safety Jarrell Harrison. Those stepping into their voids are charged with building on last year's successes without the experience (and lessons learned) from Rutland and Gettis' early years.

"Our expectations are to be No. 1 in the league in pass defense. That’s our goal," said cornerback Kip Edwards.

The Tigers classify him as a returning starter because he was on the field in all of Missouri's nickel and dime packages, and often rotated in with both Gettis and Rutland.

Sophomore E.J. Gaines entered spring as the other starter, ahead of senior Trey Hobson. Edwards was counted on for plenty in 2010, but Gaines, Hobson and new free safety Tavon Bolden will have a lot asked of them in trying to continue the growth the unit showed last season. Junior Robert Steeples should contribute as the team's second corner behind Edwards, similar to how much Edwards played last year.

"I don’t say you don’t miss a beat, but Kip is obviously good enough to win a championship with, and E.J. is really improving. Steeples is going to try to earn a job. Hobson is going to try and earn a job," Pinkel said.

Along with the only other returning starter in the secondary, strong safety Kenji Jackson, the Tigers will know where to look for guidance.

"I should be able to step in and guide the young guys through it," Edwards said. "Really, we have the talent to be the best secondary in the Big 12."

A look at the All-Time All-Big 12 team

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
3:45
PM ET
You might have heard something about this, but 2010 is the last season of the Big 12 as we know it. To commemorate the league's run as a 12-team conference, a panel of 20 media members compiled their all-time Big 12 team. Here's who made it, and you can see the full votes here.

All-time Top Offensive Player: Vince Young, QB, Texas

All-time Top Defensive Player: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

All-time Coach: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

OFFENSE:

QB: Vince Young, Texas

RB: Ricky Williams, Texas and Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech and Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State

TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri

OL: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska; Jammal Brown, Oklahoma; Aaron Taylor, Nebraska; Justin Blalock, Texas; Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska; Tommie Harris, Oklahoma; Grant Wistrom, Nebraska; Brian Orakpo, Texas

LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas; Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M; Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma; Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma

DB: Roy Williams, Oklahoma; Terence Newman, Kansas State; Derrick Strait, Oklahoma; Michael Huff, Texas

SPECIAL TEAMS

All-purpose: Darren Sproles, Kansas State

K: Mason Crosby, Colorado

P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor

Here's how it breaks down by team:

1. Oklahoma: 7
2. Texas: 6
3. Nebraska: 4
4. Kansas State: 2
4. Oklahoma State: 2
6. Baylor: 1
6. Colorado: 1
6.Missouri: 1
6. Texas A&M: 1
6. Texas Tech: 1
11. Iowa State: 0
11. Kansas: 0

Who got snubbed? Who doesn't belong?

Mizzou TE Egnew a Mackey finalist

November, 22, 2010
11/22/10
2:30
PM ET
Missouri tight end Michael Egnew was named one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, given annually to college football's top tight end.

Lance Kendricks of Wisconsin and D.J. Williams of Arkansas join him on the list.

Egnew leads all tight ends with 78 receptions and 663 receiving yards and caught a game-high seven passes for 77 yards in Missouri's 14-0 win over Iowa State on Saturday. That included a first-quarter touchdown catch.

Egnew is Missouri's third Mackey Award finalist in four years, after Martin Rucker was a finalist in 2007 and Chase Coffman won the award in 2008.

Tigers go up top to get on board first

November, 20, 2010
11/20/10
7:47
PM ET
Michael Egnew made the cut as a Mackey Award semifinalist earlier this week, and showed why with an impressive touchdown catch to put Missouri up 7-0 late in the first quarter against Iowa State.

Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert tossed it over the head of the defensive back, where the 6-foot-6, 235-pounder hauled it in for the score.

Egnew doesn't have blazing speed, but he's a tough matchup for any defender in the Big 12. He's got excellent hands and he's tough to bring down in the open field, just like the Missouri tight ends that came before him and contended for the Mackey Award, Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker.

His 73 catches this year and over 600 yards are by far the best of any tight end in the Big 12, but when he makes catches like that, it's obvious why Missouri uses players like him more as a receiver than as a traditional tight end.

Mizzou's Egnew a Mackey Award semifinalist

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
4:00
PM ET
Missouri tight end Michael Egnew is one of eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's most outstanding tight end. Egnew is the only Big 12 representative on the list.

Egnew leads all tight ends with 71 catches for 586 yards. He ranks 10th nationally in receptions.

Three finalists for the award will be named on Nov. 22.

Egnew continues a tradition of receiving tight ends at Missouri. The Tigers' Chase Coffman won the award in 2008 and Martin Rucker was a finalist for the award in 2007. Both were also All-Americans at the position.

Midseason review: Missouri

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
9:00
AM ET


Missouri Tigers

Record: 5-0 (1-0 Big 12)

Missouri has safely secured its fourth 5-0 start in five years under coach Gary Pinkel, but the Tigers' real tests start now. Missouri's offense hasn't replaced the big-play threat it lost in Danario Alexander, but possession receivers Michael Egnew and T.J. Moe have helped pace the offense while racking up 83 receptions, 829 yards and five touchdowns between them. Both players rank in the top-10 nationally in receptions, with bubble screens, underneath routes and sure hands to thank. The longest play of Missouri's young season was also its biggest, a 68-yard, go-ahead touchdown in the final minute against San Diego State. Missouri's offense may lack the explosiveness it's had in the past, but with an improved defense, it hasn't needed to be. The Tigers gave up more than 25 points a game last season and ranked outside the top 100 in pass defense. This year, they're giving up just more than 11 points, tops in the Big 12 and No. 3 nationally. We'll find out just how good the defense is with games against Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the next two weeks, but the Tigers have clearly looked like the only real competition between Nebraska and a second consecutive North title.

Offensive MVP: WR T.J. Moe – This has been the year of emerging offensive stars in the Big 12. Like Justin Blackmon at Oklahoma State and Taylor Martinez at Nebraska, Moe has emerged as one of the Big 12's rising stars with five more catches and 129 more yards than Missouri's next-best receiver. Moe's hands are reminiscent of past Missouri star Chase Coffman, and Moe announced his presence loudly with 13 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Illinois. Since, he's had at least seven catches and 79 yards in every game. But Moe will forever be remembered for his game-winning catch against San Diego State, saving Missouri from what could have been an embarrassing early defeat.

Defensive MVP: DC Dave Steckel – Missouri's battled injuries and suspensions all season, but Steckel, who took over as coordinator after the 2008 season, has kept his unit together and better than it's been in a long time. The Tigers have played without star defensive end Aldon Smith (broken fibula), linebacker Will Ebner (suspension), linebacker Luke Lambert (hamstring) and safeties Jarrell Harrison (meniscus) and Jasper Simmons (knee injury, suspension), who are all major contributors. But their replacements have stepped in and helped push the Tigers to a fantastic start defensively. Steckel's crew should be fun to watch if it can ever get back to full strength during conference play.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 3

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
10:00
AM ET
1. Not much about Oklahoma State's offense. I know the numbers look impressive. So do the highlights. But I've seen this show before, and it was called Missouri in 2007 and 2008. The truth is, spread offenses can look absolutely unstoppable against inferior athletes. So far, that's all Oklahoma State has seen, and for the most part, it's looked unstoppable. But in 2008, Missouri rose to as high as No. 3 in the polls, scoring 52 points three times and 69 points in another one of its first five games -- all against bad defenses. Then came the teeth of conference play. The Tigers lost to Oklahoma State at home and found themselves down 35-0 in the second quarter to Texas a week later. Will Oklahoma State see a similar result when it reaches the bulk of its Big 12 South schedule? Maybe not. I don't know. But I do know that Missouri team had a better quarterback (Chase Daniel), a better top receiver (Jeremy Maclin) and a Mackey Award-winning tight end (Chase Coffman) as a reliable alternate option in the passing game and the No. 1 option in the red zone Oklahoma State has in Justin Blackmon. Clearly Oklahoma State has a superior running game, headlined by Kendall Hunter. Will that mean results that look more like what Texas Tech has been able to do at home against Texas and Oklahoma and less like what had made Missouri 0-11 against those teams under Gary Pinkel? Considering Dana Holgorsen's resume, the former might be reality. We'll find out soon. But I'm not ready to crown Oklahoma State's offense as a Big 12 South gamechanger just yet. Its Week 1 opponent, Washington State, beat Montana State by a point and lost convincingly to SMU. Its Week 2 opponent, Troy, lost to UAB on Saturday. We know Oklahoma State's offense can dominate defenses it's clearly better than. We don't know how it will look against a well-coordinated defense with similar or superior athletes.

[+] EnlargeKendall Hunter
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtKendall Hunter and the Cowboys haven't been tested during nonconference play.
2. Missouri and Texas A&M have to get better fast. Neither team had any business winning its game this week. Each was rescued by clutch fourth-quarter performances. Play like that in conference play and you lose big. Period. Texas A&M is off next week. Missouri plays Miami (Ohio). Both open conference play in two weeks. If the kinks aren't worked out by then, both can forget being factors at the top of their divisions. Play like that, and they're more likely to slide down well below where each was picked to finish in the preseason.

3. Baylor isn't ready for the big time. TCU is a very good team. So are several teams in the Big 12. Baylor looked helpless against the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, letting TCU earn a lopsided win against a major conference opponent. If Baylor plays like that against the rest of the Big 12 South, it can brace for similar losses and make plans at home for bowl season.

4. Nebraska's running game is terrifying. Yeah, Washington's defense is weak. But plenty of teams play plenty of weak defenses. Few, if any, have three 100-yard rushers that are all threats to do it again on any week. Nebraska's defense looks on track to be as good as it was a year ago, and it will only get better as the season progresses. If the running game does the same, the Huskers will be a team in the national title picture. So far, the Huskers are the only team in the conference with three blowout wins, and their three includes a road blowout against a Pac-10 team. Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead give this Huskers offense an edge that was missing in 2009 behind an offensive line that's turned in outstanding performances for the season's first three weeks.

5. So is Texas' defense. The offense clearly has to make strides, but this was a "Wow" performance from the Longhorns. Most "wow-worthy" was how easy the Longhorns made it look. They stopped the run. They rushed four guys. That left the rest to a secondary and linebacking corps full of pro talent, who gave Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts nowhere to go with the ball, while running from those four rushers who provided constant pressure and finished with four sacks. Coach Mack Brown said in August he thought this year's version had a chance to be his best defense ever. More performances like the one it turned in on Saturday night in Lubbock will prove Brown right.

Opening camp: Missouri

August, 5, 2010
8/05/10
10:00
AM ET
Schedule: Practice starts today

What’s new: Not much, and that's a good thing. Missouri's coaching staff is intact and the team lost just three starters from a season ago. Two of those starters were leaders on last year's team (receiver Danario Alexander and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon), and replacing them will be key for Missouri to make a run at its third North title in four years.

Key battle: The secondary returns all four starters, but junior Kenji Jackson enters camp as the strong safety over last year's starter, senior Jarrell Harrison, who had two minor run-ins with the law this summer for shoplifting and trespassing. Missouri doesn't have a lot of battles for starting positions, but Jackson and Harrison should be the most exciting and impactful. Missouri gave up the second-most passing yards of any team in the Big 12 in 2009, and the back line has to improve for Missouri to improve on its eight-win season in 2009.

New on the scene: Blaine Gabbert's top target. Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp both have experience and could share the job pretty equally of catching balls from Gabbert, one of the conference's best quarterbacks. Alexander's 1,781 yards last season were more than any receiver in college football, but Kemp and Jackson could both realistically top 1,000 yards.

Breaking out: Receiver T.J. Moe or tight end Michael Egnew. Moe will be working the slot and had one of the best springs of any Missouri player. Egnew caught just three passes a season ago, but should be featured more prominently in the screen game like past tight ends at Missouri like Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman.

Don’t forget about: Kicker Grant Ressel. He missed just one kick (26-of-27) last season -- a 43-yarder in a downpour against Nebraska -- and eases the pressure on the offense to put the ball in the end zone deep in opponent's territory. If it doesn't, Ressel's pretty close to a sure thing in making sure three points get on the board.

All eyes on: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert. He's got an argument as the conference's best quarterback, but he'll try to prove it this season. Former Missouri star Chase Daniel established himself as a star and Heisman finalist his junior year. Gabbert will try to do the same.

Quoting: "When you look at our program, and I constantly evaluate everything we're doing, I think we've made a lot of progress. There's a consistency of winning that we have. There's a lot of things we have to accomplish, and I want to win at a higher level on a more consistent basis. So I think we look back to evaluate, and then you look forward. You know, I just want to continue to build our program and raise the standards of the winning." -- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel

  1. Kevin Rutland

    K_Rutland Fall camp is finally here. I can smell the practice grass in the air! Time to work...

Mailbag: Missouri edition

July, 23, 2010
7/23/10
3:00
PM ET
Miss your team's mailbag? Here's who we've covered so far:

Jeremy in Fort Smith, Ark., asks: Could Blaine Gabbert end up being a better QB in Mizzou history than Chase Daniel? I don't even think Chase Daniel was that great. Gabbert seems like he could be a good one

David Ubben: Well, Chase Daniel was pretty good, first of all. You can’t short the guy who led Missouri to one of the best seasons in school history in 2007. But it’s hard to make a direct comparison between Gabbert and Daniel. Gabbert is obviously the better pro prospect and clearly built to play the position at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. The biggest difference between the two is that while Gabbert has much better arm strength, he lacks not only Daniel's absurd accuracy, but also Daniel’s deep knowledge of the system. Daniel ran the system during his entire football career from high school through his time at Missouri.

But they were in different situations. In Daniel’s junior year, he had three future NFL draft picks to throw to, along with a couple of other good ones behind them. Gabbert has some talented guys on his team, but he doesn’t have anyone even close to the level of Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman or Martin Rucker. Danario Alexander, who always had the tools to be a good receiver, surprised everyone with just how much he could produce last season. But if Maclin, Coffman or Rucker had been depended upon as heavily as Alexander, they might have produced plenty more than they already did.

Circling back to your main point, it depends on how you want to measure them. If Gabbert had the same skill players around him that Daniel had, he might be able to do what Daniel did as a junior. But Gabbert will be playing against better defenses and against a much tougher Northern division -- specifically Nebraska -- than any Daniel played against. So total wins might not even be a fair comparison.

Generally, I think Gabbert is a better “quarterback” than Daniel. But for the system and what Missouri needed -- someone who was accurate and could make plays -- Daniel might have been better. But like I said earlier, because of all the variables -- better defenses, more talent around Daniel -- it’s tough to make a definite comparison.


Mike in southern Illinois writes: If Aldon Smith has a great season, what are your feelings on him leaving Missouri for the NFL after this season and by-passing his final two years?

DU: It’s possible, but we’ll see how he does this year. He probably needs to add some weight on his lanky frame to be a force in the NFL, and he needs to become a more well-rounded defensive end to help his stock. The coaches may not want him to put on much weight and have it slow him down because he had so much success with his current size, but I have trouble thinking he’d be as successful against NFL offensive lines at 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds. He’s got plenty more potential to live up to, and we’ll get to see him do it this season.


Steve in Kansas City, Mo. writes: David, Missouri has been waiting for College Gameday to come to Columbia for some time now. What are the chances of the show broadcasting the homecoming game against Oklahoma on 10/23/2010?

DU: I touched on this earlier this month, but it’s looking like a possibility. It is easily the best game in the Big 12 that week, but other national matchups include LSU at Auburn, Washington at Arizona and North Carolina at Miami. If both those ACC teams live up to the hype, that's going to be a fantastic game. But of course, there's a lot of football to be played between now and then.


Ty in CoMo writes: Why is there no pre hesiman hype for Gabbert??? the dude only put 3,400 yards and 24tds and won 8 games... I get tired of hearing about the Lucks, Locker, Mallets. Gabberts is every bit the NFL prototype any of those are. I am willing to bet mizzou has a better year than all those teams and we will hear whispers of a top 5 pick coming out CoMo! MIZ-

DU: I assume the intent of your second sentence is sarcasm, but you’ve inadvertently hit on the biggest reason why: The dude only won eight games. I’d probably agree that Missouri will win more games than Stanford, Arkansas and Washington, but let’s separate NFL draft status from Heisman hype.

I look at Missouri’s schedule and I see nine or 10 wins. They’ll probably win one or two games out of Oklahoma, at Texas A&M, at Nebraska and at Texas Tech. They should be clearly favored in the rest. Then you add a bowl game, which is probably a toss-up by nature. That’s not going to be enough for him to win the Heisman. If Missouri strings together three wins from that group of games and has 11 wins after the Big 12 Championship week -- North title or otherwise -- then he might push himself into the conversation.

As for the NFL, Gabbert’s probably a toss-up to leave after this season. His performance over the next six months will obviously have a lot of influence over that. I don’t pretend to be an NFL scout, but I know he has the size, arm strength, brain and pedigree to be a top-tier NFL pick. He’s not a first-rounder right now in what looks like a pretty deep 2011 class, but if he has a year with the numbers and wins like Chase Daniel had in his junior year, that might change.


Mark J in Jefferson City, Mo., writes: Which newcomer (be it first time starter or incoming frosh) do you think will have the biggest impact on the field this year?

DU: After his performance over all of spring practice, it’s tough to think you’ll hear any newcomer’s name more than sophomore T.J. Moe at receiver. He was catching everything this spring, and Gary Pinkel kept bringing his name up during my visit to Columbia this spring. But here’s a few other guys to look out for.

Coffman gunning for lost starting spot

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
9:00
AM ET
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- It was supposed to be Carson Coffman's time. He'd sat behind first-round draft pick and starting quarterback Josh Freeman for two seasons, and now he was going to take his turn, continuing a family tradition. His father, Paul Coffman, was a standout at Kansas State before going on to a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. Older brother Chase Coffman caught more balls at Missouri than any tight end in college football history.

[+] EnlargeCarson Coffman
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerCarson Coffman is again battling for the starting quarterback job.
Carson Coffman's looked ready to carve out his own legacy, especially after beating out transfer Grant Gregory for the starting job in fall camp after Bill Snyder regained the rein for the Wildcats.

Before long, Coffman says, the pressure got to him.

"All of it," he said.

As a first-year starter, he'd never had a whole team counting on him every time the ball was snapped. By the time conference play arrived, Gregory took over as starter.

"I think it was just a mind game last year. My head was just messed up," Coffman said. "I was thinking way too much."

Coffman didn't have to think much when he watched from the sidelines as Gregory helped the Wildcats knock off Iowa State in the conference opener at Arrowhead Stadium, the same place his father finished his career with the Chiefs in the NFL.

"I felt a lot of pressure last year, I felt a lot of pressure from the coaches and my family and the players and the team," Coffman said. "I just think I need to go out there and play and have fun. I’ll play a lot better that way."

He's tried that this spring, and he's emerged, along with former receiver Collin Klein, as a frontrunner to re-win the job he lost last season. The issue likely won't be settled by Saturday's spring game, but Coffman will try to beat out Klein again in the fall like he did last season, prompting Klein's position change. Sammuel Lamur is also hoping to win the job.

"If one of those three individuals would gain the kind of consistency we're talking about, then I think the depth chart would define itself a little bit more clearly than it has," Snyder said.

Klein and Lamur can't compete with Coffman's experience. Coffman can't compete with either player's athleticism.

"Ultimately, it’s going to be what the team needs at the time they need it," Klein said. "And I think we’re still developing some identity as an offensive unit. So, [the starter will be] whoever fits that picture the best and who’s best able to serve the team."

Coffman knows he's been there. Made his mistakes and learned from them. He remembers what it was like before those four interceptions were thrown, open receivers missed.

"I learned a lot just about myself through sitting on the bench and being benched. I could have been real down on myself and had a bad attitude, but I feel like I handled it pretty well and supported the rest of the team, Grant and everything they were doing," Coffman said.

Both know they have a long way to go to separate from the other. Asked where he needed to improve to do so, Klein laughed and glanced at the ceiling.

"We could be here for awhile," he said.

Snyder wants his quarterback to understand the game. Every day, he stresses not trying to force the offense through defenses set up to stop it. That's where Coffman hopes he has the advantage.

"If me or Collin check a play, I think he gets pretty excited about that," Coffman said. "I feel I have a leg up, just with the confidence to check those plays, because I’ve been in there. I know what I’m doing and the other guys I’m competing against haven’t had a chance to do that."

They'll be able to showcase their skills on Saturday. Coffman hopes his second chance comes in August and doesn't end until December -- or maybe January. He just wants to stay there.

This time, he says, he's ready.

SPONSORED HEADLINES