Big 12: Chris Carney

Big 12 links: Are prying eyes on the Jayhawks?

August, 20, 2008
8/20/08
9:59
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Kansas coach Mark Mangino is notoriously reclusive, preferring to prepare his team behind locked gates to maintain some semblance of privacy.

That's all changing after the Jayhawks moved to the new Anderson Family Football Complex, which provides a more expansive viewing by spectators outside the complex of Mangino's practices.   

And according to Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan, it's providing the Kansas coach with a tough decision. He can practice behind closed gates, irritating fans who want to watch the proceedings. Or he can open his practices and allow all the world to see.

I've known Mangino a long time. I first met him back when he was working as an offensive assistant for Bill Snyder at Kansas State. That same Bill Snyder who used to order his players to huddle around injured teammates along the sidelines at games to keep the prying lens of television cameras away so they couldn't provide a picture that could determine the severity of the injuries.

Considering every one of Snyder's coaching proteges has shared a similar disdain for open practices, I'm betting you won't teach the Jayhawks coach new tricks. And that's why I would imagine some kind of barrier will be erected to keep unwanted eyes from watching Kansas' practice.

On the other hand, these links are present for your enjoyment. Don't be satisfied with just one reading. Come back many times throughout the day. Tell your friends about them.

Read them often. They're good for you.

  • Colorado LB B.J. Beatty (fractured bone in left leg) and CB Cha'pelle Brown (fractured left hand) continue to participate in practice drills despite their injuries. Beatty originally thought the injury was a bad bruise and spent one practice pushing wheelbarrows full of sand for Colorado strength coach Jeff Pitman, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
  • John Helsey of the Oklahoman delves deeply into the background of how Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione hired Bob Stoops in 1998. And a healthy dose of pragmatism helped convince Stoops to come to Oklahoma rather than take an open job at his alma mater at Iowa.
  • Iowa State TB Alexander Robinson is bracing for a lot of work as the Cyclones break in two new quarterbacks.
  • Veteran Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz admires the moxie of Playboy sports editor Gary Cole, who ranked Kansas State 22nd in his preseason top 25 poll. It's the only top 25 mention the Wildcats have received this season.
  • As a team, Kansas watched the movie "The Express," about 1961 Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis of Syracuse. And Mangino gave it a solid endorsement. " 'The Express' was both inspiring and educational," Mangino told the Kansas City Star. "It is a movie not just for sports fans, but for everyone. It was outstanding."
  • Missouri's experienced linebackers should provide the backbone of the Tigers' rapidly improving defense.
  • Tad Stryker of the Web site huskerpedia.com writes that Nebraska must reclaim its home-field advantage. The Cornhuskers were lucky to escape with a 4-3 home record last season. Hall of Fame Nebraska coach Tom Osborne lost 15 home games in his 25-year coaching career.
  • Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will put his team through a "mock game" on Friday, practicing every detail of game day. "[We'll practice] putting the game uniform on, substitutions," Gundy told the Oklahoman. "Everything."
  • Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles has been waiting two years for his chance to play with the Sooners, Tulsa World beat writer John Hoover writes.
  • Austin American-Statesman columnist Cedric Golden calls T Adam Ulatoski the Longhorns' most important offensive starter, considering he has the job of protecting Colt McCoy's blind side.
  • Houston Chronicle reporter Joseph Duarte had a busy day as a multitooled reporter Tuesday in Austin. He captured Texas LB Sergio Kindle for a video interview and provided one of the first glimpses of the Longhorns' new wall of fame at Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium's Ring of Honor, which honors five players with retired jersey numbers.
  • Starting Texas Tech CB L.A. Reed was carted off the field with his right knee and right ankle iced after suffering an injury at practice Tuesday afternoon. Tech coach Mike Leach declined to release any information about his injury. Sophomore LaRon Moore took Reed's spot for the rest of the practice.
  • Backup Oklahoma SS Quinton Carter will miss at least two weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Freshman Joseph Ibiloye will take his place.
  • Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple says that Nebraska hasn't has this much depth and talent along its offensive line since the 2001 team that played for the national championship.
  • Texas CB Deon Beasley said the Longhorns didn't always play with passion during their 10-3 season last year.
  • Missouri WR Danario Alexander was running routes and doing catching drills after being cleared for light practice as he recovers from a torn ACL.
  • Kansas State S Chris Carney was so disappointed in his team's late-season collapse, he failed to watch any bowl games last season.
  • Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue breaks down the Cyclones in his weekly chat. Logue said that QBs Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates remain even in the battle for the starting job and calls the Big 12 North more competitive this season than in any previous year.
  • Baylor extended a four-year contrac
    t
    with former Southwest Conference rival Rice. The series begins in 2013 in Houston, with games in 2014 and 2015 in Waco and 2016 in Rice.
  • Nebraska coach Bo Pelini still hasn't distributed "Blackshirt" jerseys to his top defensive players and said there's no timetable. "When I feel it's right," he told reporters.  "It's not right yet."
  • Nebraska CB Armando Murillo promises a more aggressive secondary under Pelini. "We're going to attack the ball this year," Murillo told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "That's what we're going to do -- no ifs, ands or buts about it."

Big 12's best defensive backs

August, 15, 2008
8/15/08
6:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Considering the spread passing offenses in the Big 12, the conference's defensive backs should receive an extensive workout this season. The Big 12 has some productive players. Here is my choice for the 10 best.

  1. William Moore, Missouri: Unquestioned heart and soul of Tigers' defense after leading conference with eight interceptions last season.
  2. Nic Harris, Oklahoma: Physical safety has knack for making big plays and delivering shivering hits.
  3. Jamar Wall, Texas Tech: Closest thing that the Big 12 has to a lockdown cornerback.
  4. Jordan Lake, Baylor: Counted on for too many tackles in Baylor's sieve-like defense, produced 120 stops last season -- 30 more than any Big 12 secondary players.
  5. Darrell Stuckey, Kansas: Hard-hitting strong safety who led Kansas secondary in tackles; broke up six passes last season.
  6. Chris Harris, Kansas: Big 12 newcomer of the year last season after producing 65 tackles, two interceptions in 2007.
  7. Devin Gregg, Texas A&M: Workmanlike player who has started 32 straight games for the Aggies.
  8. Larry Asante, Nebraska: Once a special-teams tackling machine, he now is a disciplined pass defender after working with Bo Pelini.
  9. Chris Carney, Kansas State: Produced 64 tackles and four interceptions last season and should be even better with infusion of junior college talent around him.
  10. Lendy Holmes, Oklahoma: Can be torched deep occasionally, but Sooners have opted to move him around the secondary to help plug holes.

KSU defense aims to rebuild after 2007 collapse

August, 6, 2008
8/06/08
7:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State coach Ron Prince has a succinct description of his defense's painful late collapse last year.

"It was horrible," Prince said.

After jumping out to a 5-3 record with several strong performances earlier in the season, the wheels fell off for the Wildcats down the stretch.

KSU was torched for 198 points in four losses to finish the season. It was the most points the Wildcats had ever allowed in a four-game period. And the defense was blistered for at least 500 yards in three of their final six games.

Improving that unit was Prince's primary goal during the offseason. It was the major aim of a junior-college class that will bring 19 new players into the program.

The school does not provide a depth chart prior to the season, but Powercat Illustrated.com has two junior-college arrivals on an unofficial listing of the starting defense heading into training camp. Defensive end Jack Hayes and cornerback Blair Irvin both are listed with the first-team defense.

Irvin, a transfer from Coffeyville Community College, is perhaps one of the most interesting stories on the team. He played professional baseball for four seasons in the Tampa Bay Devils Rays system, but topped out at Rookie ball before returning to play football at junior college.

"I enjoyed playing pro ball for four years, but I just liked football better," Irvin said. "It crossed my mind what I could have done (with Tampa Bay), but I didn't love it. I was good at it, but I didn't love it like I do playing football."

Now 25, Irvin is married with a 1-year-old son. He's using the maturity from his life experiences to help unify the KSU defense. And it's girded him for the challenges of playing against the high-powered offenses in the Big 12.

"It's changed my perspective of things," Irvin said. "And playing at junior college, you learn some other lesions. It's not like high school and it makes you hungry for another chance. And if you aren't hungry, you won't last in junior college."

Returning players say the disappointments of last season taught them a hard-learned lesson, but one they believe will help the team grow from the struggles.

"It was embarrassing to finish any season like that," junior free safety Chris Carney said. "We know that and we've filed it away in the backs of our minds. And we're going to use that as a little motivation to work harder."

Most preseason predictions have the Wildcats scrambling to make a bowl game this season. Their secondary will be challenged by a tough schedule with passing juggernauts like Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Louisville.

Prince said that his team is excited to blot out the bad memories, building on what they learned during the spring.

"Everybody in the organization understands what the expectations are," Prince said. "They are excited to demonstrate that we're trending the right way. But it's all rhetoric until we get out there and play."

SPONSORED HEADLINES