Big 12: Emmanuel Lamur

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
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2011 overall record: 10-3
2011 conference record: 7-2
Returning starters: Offense 9; defense 7; P/K (2)

Top returners:
QB Collin Klein, RB John Hubert, LB Arthur Brown, CB Nigel Malone, WR Tyler Lockett, LB Tre Walker, WR Chris Harper

Key losses:
CB David Garrett, LB Emmanuel Lamur, S Tysyn Hartman, DL Ray Kibble, DE Jordan Voelker

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Collin Klein* (1,141 yards)
Passing: Collin Klein* (1,918 yards)
Receiving: Chris Harper* (547 yards)
Tackles: Arthur Brown* (101)
Sacks: Meshak Williams* (7)
Interceptions: Nigel Malone* (7)

Spring answers

1. Filling the void left behind by Garrett: David Garrett was one of the biggest playmakers for the K-State defense, but Allen Chapman seems to have locked down the assignment of replacing him in 2012. The California juco transfer broke up four passes last year and returned his only interception 60 yards for a touchdown. K-State's secondary should be solid. Kip Daily will also help out at corner.

2. Collin Klein can chuck it: You have to take into account that Klein did it against second-teamers and that the quarterbacks have put up big numbers in spring games, but his 47-of-56, 480-yard performance is encouraging. He won't do that during the fall, but it's a good sign that Klein's improvement was obvious in the one practice fans or media were allowed to see.

3. Lockett returns: Tyler Lockett was the most explosive talent on an offense mostly devoid of home run threats, but a lacerated kidney ended his 2011 season early. Lockett returned and practiced this spring, but reportedly had another minor injury before the spring game, depriving us of a chance to see him back in action. Still, it sounds like he'll be back in the fall.

Fall questions

1. Can Kansas State validate its surprising 2011? The Wildcats memorably won eight games in 2011 by a touchdown or less, ascending to a second-place finish in the Big 12 after being picked to finish eighth. Advanced college football statistics suggest K-State is due for a regression in 2012, but this is Bill Snyder we're talking about. His team will be better in 2012. Can its record improve, too? Klein must remain healthy after leading the Big 12 in carries last season.

2. Who's filling in for Tysyn Hartman? Hartman had loads of experience and was one of the most intelligent players on the team. The Wildcats don't have many question marks, but who replaces Hartman is one. They'll still have competition between Thomas Ferguson, Randall Evans and Jarard Milo this fall to win the job.

3. What will the offensive line look like? Kansas State was the Big 12's most physical team in 2011 because of their strong offensive line. K-State loses three starters, and there's no doubt that if there's one thing that derails K-State in the fall, it's the new faces on the line. B.J. Finney is a stud at center, and Nick Puetz is solid, but the other three spots on the line didn't sound like they were sewn up by the end of spring.

Spring superlatives: Kansas State

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
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Time to continue our series breaking down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. Kansas State is up next.

More spring superlatives:
Strongest position: Linebacker

K-State must replace converted safety Emmanuel Lamur, but the Wildcats have a great base in the middle of the defense. Senior Arthur Brown will be on the short list of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year candidates in 2012, and his partner in crime, Tre Walker, has tons of potential and good speed.

Brown holds down the middle while Walker, a junior, roams the weak side. Who takes over on the strong side? Like Lamur, K-State needs someone with great speed. Watch for that battle this spring. The Wildcats start spring practice on April 4.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

I'll preface this by saying Kansas State doesn't have what I'd call a true weakness at any position. There are few positions in which the team truly excelled (I'd point to offensive line and cornerback as the team's best positions in 2011), but relative to the rest of the Big 12, the Wildcats need help at wide receiver.

Part of the low numbers for the position is Kansas State's offense, which threw the ball just 290 times last year, the fewest attempts in the Big 12. Three teams in the league (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech) literally doubled Kansas State's pass attempts.

Still, K-State returns its three leading receivers, so there's hope at the position. Tyler Lockett is a shifty speedster, but Chris Harper and Tramaine Thompson are the best pure receivers on the team. Beyond that duo, however, K-State lacks much additional, reliable depth at the position.
We're moving on with our postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for linebackers. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

At this position, depth is a major factor in these rankings. Additionally, I included nickelbacks in this grouping. Hybrid defensive end/linebackers will be grouped with defensive lines.

[+] EnlargeJake Knott
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireIowa State linebackers Jake Knott, 20, and A.J. Klein combined for 231 tackles in 2011.
More postseason position rankings: 1. Iowa State: The Cyclones top the list after a huge year from their outstanding duo, Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. They combined for 231 tackles in 2011, both finishing among the top four in the Big 12 in tackles. They had 241 together in 2010, but this season Knott played through injuries and Klein was awarded co-Defensive Player of the Year honors from the league's coaches.

2. Texas: The Longhorns will sorely miss an outstanding duo of their own with tons of experience. Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho are both NFL-bound after combining for 215 tackles.

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners weren't quite as good as expected in 2011, but part of that was because of a Travis Lewis preseason toe injury that slowed him for much of the season. Lewis, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort all topped 70 tackles in 2011, and are a solid group.

4. Kansas State: Arthur Brown reinvigorated this group, finishing eighth in the Big 12 with 101 tackles, but the Wildcats linebackers were more than just Brown. Tre Walker and converted safety Emmanuel Lamur combined for 135 stops and helped lead one of the league's most underrated units and a much-improved run defense.

5. Texas A&M: The Aggies' backers were big pass-rushers, though they struggled in coverage this season. Sean Porter was the Big 12's sack champion with 9.5, and Caleb Russell and Jonathan Stewart combined for six more. Damontre Moore is the rawest talent of the bunch, but built on that in 2011, making 72 tackles.

6. Oklahoma State: OSU's group was good, but not great. Alex Elkins' crazy story came to an end with 90 stops in 2011. He showed up everywhere for the Cowboys, but reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year Shaun Lewis didn't quite have the sophomore season some had hoped. Caleb Lavey added some solid play for the turnover-hungry unit, producing 74 tackles and five tackles for loss.

7. Missouri: Zaviar Gooden wasn't quite the impact player Mizzou had hoped, but he was solid alongside a group that's been injury prone over the past two years. Sophomore Andrew Wilson emerged as the team's top tackler with 98 stops, and Luke Lambert added 82 more. A high ankle sprain in the season opener kept Will Ebner off the field, but he'll be back in 2012 after the NCAA granted him a fifth year of eligibility.

8. Kansas: Steven Johnson led the Big 12 with 119 tackles, but the rest of the unit left a lot to be desired. Darius Willis has some potential, but the rest of the team's linebackers have their work cut out for them in 2012. Tunde Bakare also returns from a unit that ranked ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense.

9. Baylor: The Bears needed help just about everywhere. Elliot Coffey was solid, and finished tied for fourth with 114 stops, but Baylor was eighth in the Big 12 in rush defense. Baylor has solid athlete in the secondary and on the defensive line, but at linebacker, Rodney Chadwick and Brody Trahan leave a bit to be desired. Ahmad Dixon was better in 2011, but still has a lot of potential that needs to be filled.

10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are looking for a new defensive coordinator and the 4-2-5 made a short stop in Lubbock. The Red Raiders were awful everywhere on defense, but especially up front. Nobody in college football was worse at stopping the run, and D.J. Johnson, Daniel Cobb and Cqulin Hubert turned in forgettable performances. Time to get better for 2012.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kansas State defensive end Meshak Williams was injured late in the first half of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic after helmet-to-helmet contact with a teammate while trying to make a tackle.

Williams remained on his back after the play in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

Medical personnel tended to Williams on the field for several minutes before putting him on a stretcher, then on a cart. Williams gave a thumbs-up signal while being placed on the cart, then extended his right arm high and flashed a Wildcats sign.

Williams was pursuing Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who ducked to avoid being hit. Williams then made contact with linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, who was coming from the other side.

There was no immediate word of Williams' specific injury or condition.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
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Here's what I'm watching in Saturday's set of games.

1. Missouri's offensive mindset. Oklahoma State is going to score at least 30 points. Period. So, how does Missouri combat that? The Tigers have a lot of playmakers, though it lacks a truly fearsome home-run hitter. Does it lean on Henry Josey and try to control possession a bit to keep the ball out of OSU's hands? Or does it come out guns blazing and look to sling it and outscore an underrated but suspect OSU defense?

[+] EnlargeDustin Harris and Terrance Williams
Patrick Green/Icon SMIDustin Harris finally got the A&M defense a turnover last week, intercepting Baylor's Robert Griffin.
2. Turning point for Texas A&M defense. The Aggies finally busted their 22-quarter slump without a turnover last week, and did it against the nation's stingiest quarterback when it comes to turnovers, Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Now, they face Iowa State's Steele Jantz or freshman Jared Barnett, or perhaps both. Jantz's eight interceptions are two more than any quarterback in the Big 12. We may see a big, big day for the defense in the turnover column.

3. Kansas State's front seven. Kansas' offense is better this year behind Jordan Webb, but the real heart of the offense is its running game. Kansas State has the ability to reduce the offense to one dimension with a strong defensive line and great group of athletic linebackers, headlined by Arthur Brown and Emmanuel Lamur. Does K-State do it and make the rival Jayhawks try to beat them with the pass?

4. Oklahoma State's defense. The raw numbers for OSU's defense aren't encouraging. A closer look shows they're deceiving. Want to prove it? Here's a good chance against a good offense. The Tigers will be tough and Oklahoma State's on the short list of possible upset candidates this weekend. A dominant defensive performance like the Cowboys had against Baylor last year would quickly put a stop to that idea.

5. Changing of the tide? Texas Tech has struggled mightily in Norman. I picked it to lose big to the Sooners. Tech has two quality losses that could have easily gone the other way. With a bowl game looking like no guarantee, does Tech respond? The Red Raiders have had a lot of success against Oklahoma in Lubbock, but can they sneak up on the Sooners in Norman in a game most see as an easy Sooners victory?

6. Iowa State's quarterbacks. Is Jantz's foot the biggest reason Barnett has become a factor in the quarterback race? Or if he starts and makes a few mistakes, is Barnett due for some time? It'll be something to watch in a tough matchup for the Cyclones.

7. Oklahoma's defense. This team has been dominant, but Texas Tech is slinging it as well as any team in the league. Without running back Eric Stephens, look for that to continue. Is the Sooners' secondary up to the task?

8. Progress at Kansas. The Jayhawks took a big step forward against a high-powered offense in Oklahoma last week. This week, they'll face a much more grounded, grinding approach from Kansas State. The Jayhawks have big, physical linebackers led by Steven Johnson. Can they derail K-State's dream season for their first Big 12 win?

Midseason review: Kansas State

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
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KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Record: 5-0 (2-0 Big 12)

Kansas State has earned the title of the Big 12's most surprising team through its first half, and like Oklahoma State in 2010, is all alone in collecting the honor. It's happened via a disciplined defense that's exponentially faster than it was a year ago, buoyed by newcomers Arthur Brown at linebacker and cornerback Nigel Malone. Additionally, the development of junior college transfer David Garrett and sophomore Ty Zimmerman, as well as converted safety Emmanuel Lamur playing linebacker alongside Brown, has completely changed the face of Kansas State's team.

The season started modestly, with a 10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky, but the Wildcats have racked up wins against Miami, Baylor and Missouri since. Collin Klein is carrying the team on his back, leading the Big 12 in carries. All the focus entering the season was on the Brown brothers, and while Arthur has blossomed into a star and one of the league's top talents, Bryce Brown's status with the team is tenuous at best as he deals with a personal situation. It hasn't mattered on the field for the rest of the team. John Hubert has assumed the role of featured back and served the team well.

All that stands between K-State and one of the biggest games in school history, when they Oklahoma in two weeks, are trips to Texas Tech and Kansas. The second half of the season will be much dicier as the meat of the schedule hits. So far though Kansas State has been as good as anyone could have expected, and as a result, it has ascended to just outside the top 15.

Offensive MVP: Collin Klein, QB. Klein's passes aren't pretty, but he's getting it done for the 'Cats and taking a beating along the way. He's leading the Big 12 in carries with 115. There are eight running backs on the carries list before another quarterback. Klein's rushed for 468 yards and seven touchdowns, and thrown for 593 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes.

Defensive MVP: Arthur Brown, LB. Brown has a legit case as the Big 12's best defensive player through the first half of the season. The linebacker's been flying around and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 38 tackles, with 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also came up with the biggest play of the year, intercepting Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (the only player to score a pick off of Griffin) that helped set up the game-winning field goal that kept K-State undefeated.

Surprises on K-State's debut two-deep

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
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Bill Snyder unfortunately abandoned his stealth approach and handed out the Wildcats two-deep at the media gathering on Tuesday.

A few thoughts:
  • The big headline is obvious: Bill Snyder wasn't kidding about a) his running back spot being the most competitive on the team and b) Bryce Brown not exactly setting the world on fire like some in Manhattan had hoped he would. Brown debuted as a co-starter at the position with juco transfer Angelo Pease and John Hubert, but is listed third. Everybody's getting touches in the season opener, but being impressive early is going to be a key for those guys.
  • Collin Klein is the starting QB of course, but juco transfer Justin Tuggle isn't listed, and Sammuel Lamur is the clear No. 2.
  • As expected, Nigel Malone snatched the other corner spot opposite David Garrett. He'll be backed up by Allen Chapman and Kip Daily at the other reserve corner spot. In the Big 12, the Wildcats are going to need all those guys to get it done if this defense is going to improve.
  • Shuan Simon made a big move in fall camp to grab the starting center spot, and B.J. Finney's been moved over to right guard.
  • With Brandon Harold, probably the most physically gifted defensive lineman on the team, gone now, the Wildcats will go with Adam Davis and Jordan Voelker. That group struggled last year and has a lot to prove. The front seven was a big struggle for the defense last year, but the line will be backed by a pretty solid group of linebackers. Arthur Brown starts in the middle between Tre Walker and converted safety Emmanuel Lamur. Alex Hrebec is a solid reserve at middle linebacker, too.
We've taken a look at the Big 12 offensive skill positions in our position rankings, and we'll circle back along to the lines eventually. For now, though, we'll flip to the defensive side of the ball, starting with linebackers.

There's a lot of turnover in this space, and the bottom half was pretty hard to sort out. We haven't seen a lot of these new faces on the field for extended periods of time, so it's somewhat of a crapshoot. I don't feel like there's a wide gap between teams 7-10, and each of those squads have at least one linebacker who could be due for a huge year and shoot them up this list.

I see Nos. 1-3 possibly being great, with dropoffs before the No. 4 and No. 7 teams.

Also, if you missed them, here are the other position rankings we've done so far.
So, without further ado, here's how I ranked the linebackers. (Nickel backs are included in this list, hybrid DE/LBs will be with defensive lines)

[+] EnlargeTravis Lewis
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma's Travis Lewis is the Big 12's top returning defender.
1. Oklahoma -- The Sooners boast the Big 12's top returning defender in Travis Lewis, who has notched at least 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons, and he'll be joined by the Big 12's co-Defensive Freshman of the Year, Tony Jefferson. Tom Wort and Corey Nelson are both loaded with potential, and will fill out the rotation, after the starter at middle linebacker, Austin Box, died on May 19.

2. Iowa State -- The Cyclones boast two of the Big 12's best in Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, who combined for more tackles than any two teammates in the Big 12 last season. They had 241 stops, and, after healing from a broken leg suffered midseason last year, Matt Tau'fo'ou should join them at middle linebacker.

3. Texas -- Texas' offense may be lacking, but the defense will be strong once again, led by two others likely to earn spots as some of the Big 12's best. Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho were Texas' top two tacklers last year with 187 stops, and return as likely captains come fall camp. Texas' depth chart is wide open, but look for former blue-chip recruit Jordan Hicks to emerge as another star this year, despite being forced to sit out spring camp with a broken foot. Dravannti Johnson played some defensive end last year at the Buck position for the Longhorns, but may find his way back to linebacker. Tevin Jackson was ineligible last year, but he's ready for 2011, and could make an impact.

4. Oklahoma State -- The Cowboys "Star" linebacker is occupied by co-Defensive Freshman of the Year Shaun Lewis, and sophomore Caleb Lavey is charged with replacing Orie Lemon, the leader of last year's defense. Oklahoma State has questions on the weak side, but LeRon Furr and Chris Dinkins will compete next fall. Kris Catlin could be a factor, too.

5. Texas A&M -- The Aggies must replace their leading tackler, Michael Hodges, and don't have a clear replacement heading into fall camp. The good news: They've got two others with lots of experience in the linebacking corps that look like budding stars. Garrick Williams should be one of the defense's leaders and Sean Porter returns after making 74 tackles last year to rank third on the team.

6. Missouri -- The Tigers have lots of experience at middle linebacker, where a pair of seniors (albeit frequently injured seniors) Will Ebner and Luke Lambert will be on the field a lot. One of the Big 12's most exciting players, junior Zaviar Gooden, will hold down the weakside and perhaps become a household name by season's end. Sophomores Andrew Wilson and Donovan Bonner, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, will likely compete for strongside duties in fall camp. Andrew Gachkar, the team's leading tackler, is gone, but here's guessing Gooden emerges as the defense's top playmaker.

7. Kansas -- The Jayhawks linebackers were solid last year, and could be pretty good again, despite losing Drew Dudley and Justin Springer, two of the team's top four tacklers. Steven Johnson, the team's leading tackler in 2010, is back and he'll be joined by possible star Huldon Tharp, who missed all of last season with a leg injury. Fellow sophomore Darius Willis earned a starting role after spring.

8. Kansas State -- K-State's front seven struggled last year, but will get a big boost from Arthur Brown. One man won't be enough to totally fix the Wildcats rush defense problems, though. K-State gave up 26 more yards on the ground per game than any other team in the Big 12 (more than 231 per game) but Brown may be playing in a 4-3 next fall rather than the 4-2-5 the Wildcats have employed since Snyder's return. Alex Hrebec, Emmanuel Lamur, Tre Walker and Blake Slaughter will likely fill the rotation along with Brown.

9. Baylor -- Baylor's defensive depth chart, like Texas', is a bit amorphous after bringing in a new coordinator, but Elliot Coffey figures to be the Bears biggest playmaker at linebacker. Chris McAllister should be solid and Ahmad Dixon is promising at nickelback, too. Brody Trahan is a great story, but him going from third-string quarterback to starting linebacker isn't a ringing endorsement for Baylor's depth at the position.

10. Texas Tech -- Tech will be moving to a 4-2-5 this year under new coordinator Chad Glasgow, and could rise up this list, but the Red Raiders lose a lot of talent from last season's team, which ran the 3-4. Bront Bird and Brian Duncan are both gone, and youth will be a big factor with this group. Cqulin Hubert's outstanding potential is matched by his more outstanding first name, and freshman Blake Dees showed promise after arriving early this spring. They'll likely be the rotation at middle linebacker spot alongside Daniel Cobb and Zach Winbush. Terrance Bullitt could be a playmaker at his new safety spot, listed as a strong safety but with plans to spend lots of time near the line of scrimmage, a la nickelback.

Spring superlatives: Kansas State

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
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Today: The fourth in our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the Big 12: The Kansas State Wildcats.

Strongest position: Secondary

Key returnees: David Garrett, Tysyn Hartman, Ty Zimmerman, Emmanuel Lamur

Key losses: Terrance Sweeney, Troy Butler, Stephen Harrison

Analysis: This group helped Kansas State rank fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. It easily has the most proven playmakers of any spot on the field for a team that needs a new running back, a new quarterback, replaces three offensive linemen and a pair of defensive linemen.

Garrett led the team in tackles and made 15 tackles for loss, adding nine broken up passes and an interception. Hartman will be one of the team's leaders again as a senior, and finished second on the team with 86 tackles, picking off a pair of passes.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman was one of the league's best freshmen in 2010, picking off three passes on the year, including two against Texas and making 74 tackles.

Kansas State will have a lot of new faces in a lot of places next year, but the secondary should be even better next year.

Weakest position: Quarterback

Key returnees: Collin Klein, Sammuel Lamur

Key losses: Carson Coffman

Analysis: Quarterback has been a problem for Kansas State, but the past two seasons, Daniel Thomas' performance in the running game has helped the team rack up 12 wins. Thomas is gone now, though, and the Wildcats offense has big questions at the skill positions. In the Big 12, that matters most at quarterback.

Lamur has almost no real experience, and Klein was a valuable runner last year, but has to show progress as a passer. Neither's ceiling is very high, and the Wildcats fans are hoping Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle can provide some pop to the position. Like Klein and Lamur, he fits the dual-threat mold that has been most successful under Bill Snyder, but he has to win the competition first.

More spring superlatives:

Big 12 predictions: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
9:00
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Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

I'm making my way to Manhattan, Kan. today for tonight's game between the Wildcats and Huskers, but I'll be back in Dallas in time to see the Aggies and Hogs go at it in The House That Jerry (or some guys he paid) Built.

Last week was a rough one for the Big 12 Blog, with my missed picks equaling my total from the previous four weeks. You knew the breakdown had to come sometime.

I missed my upset pick of Texas A&M over Oklahoma State and whiffed on a couple of swing games in Ames and Boulder.

Here's how I stand:

Last week: 2-3 (.400)

Overall: 41-6 (.872)

Let's get to this week's picks:

THURSDAY

No. 7 Nebraska 31, Kansas State 21: This thing smells like another possible upset, and Kansas State should be able to move the ball pretty well with Daniel Thomas, but the Wildcats don't have the talent or speed in the front seven to slow Taylor Martinez's legs. Look for defensive backs Emmanuel Lamur, Troy Butler and Tysyn Hartman to make a lot of tackles, on Martinez and receivers Brandon Kinnie and Mike McNeill. That's not a good thing. Martinez wasn't rattled in the passing game in his first road start, and him throwing a couple of costly interceptions is the only thing that turns this in Kansas State's favor.

FRIDAY

No. 22 Oklahoma State 51, Louisiana-Lafayette 20: The Sun Belt has some good teams. The Ragin' Cajuns are not one of them. Georgia lost at Colorado on Saturday night, but beat these guys 55-7 in Athens for its only win of the season. Puntos, puntos, golly.

SATURDAY

Baylor 27, Texas Tech 24: This is definitely the toughest pick of the week. Comparing the depth charts, Texas Tech looks like the better team, but Baylor is getting it done and has all the momentum and confidence. Texas Tech looks lost on defense and inconsistent on offense. In 2008, the Bears almost took down the best Tech team in recent history, losing 35-28 after taking a lead into the fourth quarter. They almost did it again in 2009 in Cowboys Stadium. With Robert Griffin back, they get it done this time. Enjoy the corny dogs, Bears.

No. 11 Arkansas 38, Texas A&M 28: Come back later today for a video of me explaining my pick of the week.

No. 24 Missouri 41, Colorado 17: Colorado says it's sick of getting blown out by the Tigers. They'll still be sick on Saturday night after hitting the road for the first time since a 52-7 loss at Cal. All of the Buffaloes' wins have come over mediocre teams. Missouri's running backs have carried the load so far this year, but Blaine Gabbert has his first big game, staying away from big-time corners Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown in favor of more bubble screens to the flats and underneath routes to T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew. The Buffaloes can stop Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson. Good luck with the rest of the Tigers' offense.

No. 10 Utah 24, Iowa State 21: I really do think Iowa State has a great chance to upset the Utes. I just don't have the guts to pick it. Iowa State's offense is better, but it's not "hang 52 points every week" better. Two of the Cyclones' touchdown drives were less than 40 yards, and another score came on an onside kick return. One other scoring drive was a one-play, 61-yard run by Shontrelle Johnson. Can't count on those every week.

Idle: Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas.

Get primed for Week 3 in the Big 12

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
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We've got a pretty nice set of games this week. My predictions will be up tomorrow, but let's hear yours first. All times ET.

FRIDAY

Kansas at Southern Miss (ESPN, 8 p.m.): The Jayhawks take their act to national television for a Friday night game at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles were tied with then-No. 20 Kansas heading into the fourth quarter of the Jayhawks' 35-28 win in Lawrence last year.

SATURDAY

Iowa State vs. Kansas State in Kansas City (Fox Sports Net, noon): Two of the conference's best running backs, Daniel Thomas and Alexander Robinson, go head-to-head at the new Arrowhead Stadium in this year's edition of Farmageddon, after Kansas State won last year's game on a blocked extra point by Emmanuel Lamur.

No. 8 Nebraska at Washington (ABC, 3:30 p.m.): The Blackshirts face their first big test in Jake Locker and the Huskies in Seattle. Also being tested: the Huskers' freshman quarterback, Taylor Martinez.

Air Force at No. 7 Oklahoma (Fox Sports Net, 3:30 p.m.): The Falcons' option attack comes to Norman for a very different challenge than the passing attack the Sooners faced from Florida State last week.

Hawaii at Colorado (Fox College Sports, 3:30 p.m.): The Warriors have scored over 30 points in games against USC and Army, and stayed on the mainland this week instead of flying back to Hawaii after the win over Army. Colorado's defense -- and offense, for that matter -- will need to play better than it did in last week's 52-7 loss to California.

Baylor at No. 4 TCU (Versus, 4:30 p.m.): The Horned Frogs already have a quality win over Oregon State, and the Bears come to Fort Worth as three-touchdown underdogs trying to pull the upset.

San Diego State at Missouri (pay-per-view, 7 p.m.): San Diego State's offense averages 44 points a game, and quarterback Ryan Lindley has topped 300 yards in both Aztec wins. A big game from the Missouri secondary would be a good sign moving forward.

Tulsa at Oklahoma State (7 p.m.): The in-state rivalry has been renewed, and Oklahoma State will try to clean up a sloppy offensive performance from last week's 41-38 win over Troy.

Florida International at Texas A&M (7 p.m.): The Aggies take on a perennial member of ESPN's Bottom 10 in College Station, who lost to Rutgers last week, 19-14. This is the next in a line of tune-ups before a bye for Texas A&M preceding its conference opener against Oklahoma State.

No. 6 Texas at Texas Tech (ESPN, 8 p.m.): The ghosts of the 2008 game will be everywhere, despite lots of new faces everywhere on both teams, including Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech and Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, making his first start in a true road game.

Experience winning out in QB battles

August, 30, 2010
8/30/10
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Kansas State coach Bill Snyder ended speculation Monday morning, naming Carson Coffman his starter for Week 1, a year after he did the same with the senior, who lost the job to Grant Gregory midway through the 2009 season.

[+] EnlargeCarson Coffman
Chris Williams/Icon SMICarson Coffman's experience gave him an edge over Collin Klein and Emmanuel Lamur.
Snyder said Coffman was better and more consistent than his competition, Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur.

"There were days when Collin threw the ball well, there were days that Sammuel threw the ball well," Snyder said. "And there were days that they didn't."

Snyder's reasoning behind the decision shouldn't be a surprise: Experience. Coffman has it, even if it was poor at times in 2009. Lamur and Klein don't.

"Nothing changed," said Snyder, who made his decision sometime last week. "He just solidified the fact that he was going to be our No. 1 quarterback."

That means the Big 12 has just one team that hasn't settled on of its starting quarterback -- or at least, hasn't made its decision known: Nebraska.

But look around the Big 12. Kansas, Texas Tech and now Kansas State all went with the starter who had more experience. The only exception is Colorado, but last season, Tyler Hansen played more than the older player he beat out, Cody Hawkins, and was the heavy favorite to retain his starting spot after coach Dan Hawkins reopened the competition in spring.

Tommy Tuberville eschewed a fan favorite (Steven Sheffield) when the more experienced candidate (Taylor Potts) outperformed his competition on the closest thing to game day, preseason scrimmages. Even a few snaps from 2009 as a freshman were enough to give Kale Pick the edge over Jordan Webb at Kansas.

Which is why if anyone in Nebraska is still hoping to see Cody Green or Taylor Martinez trot out to open the season against Western Kentucky on Saturday, they should be prepared for disappointment. Zac Lee's offseason surgery on his throwing arm allowed Green and Martinez to creep up and close the gap in the spring.

His experience has likely widened it this fall.

Lunch links: Big 12 in high demand

August, 16, 2010
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First off, a lion? Swimming? In the ocean? Lions don't like water. If you'd placed it near a river or some sort of fresh water source, that might make sense. But you find yourself in the ocean, 20-foot waves -- I'm assuming off the coast of South Africa -- coming up against a full-grown, 800-pound tuna, with his 20 or 30 friends? You lose that battle. You lose that battle nine times out of 10.

Big 12 preseason power rankings

August, 10, 2010
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1. Texas: Texas' big-time freshmen receiving recruits Darius White and Mike Davis are on campus to compete with the remainder of the Longhorns receivers after the departures of Jordan Shipley and Dan Buckner. Whoever develops solid chemistry with quarterback Garrett Gilbert first should have a nice advantage heading into the season. Very few questions surround the Longhorns on defense, who also have exciting freshman Jordan Hicks competing for playing time at linebacker.

2. Oklahoma: Honestly, my gut tells me to slide the Sooners above the Longhorns based on coach Bob Stoops comments at media days, but I'll give the champs their due entering the preseason. Oklahoma loses its top three blockers from a season ago, and any growth from Oklahoma's eight-win team last season will have to start on the offensive line. Stoops believes it will. If it does, look for the Sooners and Longhorns to switch positions if Oklahoma earns wins against Florida State and Cincinnati while Texas beats up on Rice and Wyoming. A convincing win at Texas Tech might keep the Longhorns on top.

3. Nebraska: The Huskers quarterback issues can't end soon enough. The Big 12 blog's pick: Zac Lee. With its offensive line and quality running backs, Nebraska will be able to run the ball. If Lee can establish himself as the best passer of the group, his skills will better serve the offense than the more athletic Cody Green and Taylor Martinez. We won't know very much about how good the defense will be again this year until the Huskers' date with Jake Locker and the Washington Huskies on Sept. 18 in Seattle.

4. Missouri: A solid contender in the North, Missouri's key to hopping over the Huskers lies in the secondary. That group returns all four starters and has another experienced player in junior Kenji Jackson entering camp as a new starter at safety. If it solidifies, Missouri will be a force that spends most of the season in the top 25. Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp should share the spotlight catching balls from Blaine Gabbert along with slot man T.J. Moe and tight end Michael Egnew.


5. Texas A&M: The Aggies have the conference's best player, but its worst defense. Both will need to improve for the Aggies to earn a South title. On defense, new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter will have to build around tackle Lucas Patterson, linebacker Von Miller and safety Trent Hunter. Three freed-up offensive line spots -- which might all be filled by freshman -- will have to be solid and consistent for the offense to remain one of the Big 12's best, despite the Aggies' talent at the skill positions.

6. Kansas State: Running back Daniel Thomas led the Big 12 in rushing with almost no help from the quarterback spot last season, so the competition between Carson Coffman, Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur isn't immensely important to Kansas State's success. No doubt, they'll be a lot better with great play from one of those three, but they won't be a bad team without it. Two of the Wildcats' top four tacklers will be junior defensive backs in 2010, Emmanuel Lamur and Tysyn Hartman.

And yes, I am very proud that I'm still batting 1.000 in not mixing up Sammuel and Emmanuel Lamur. Stay tuned, though.

7. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have a great chance to move up this poll after hosting Texas on Sept. 18. Whoever wins the quarterback competition between Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield should excel, which not every team in the Big 12 with a quarterback battle can say. Tech's aggressive new defense will have to limit big plays to see success in the first year under coach Tommy Tuberville and defensive coordinator James Willis. A convincing opening-week win against SMU will look better in December than some Tech fans might think after the team's Sunday, Sept. 5 debut.

8. Oklahoma State: One of the conference's wildcards, the Cowboys bring back just eight starters from last season, and will showcase a radical new offense in Dana Holgorsen's version of the Air Raid. Oklahoma State's receiving corps, led by Hubert Anyiam and Tracy Moore, is extremely underrated and could surprise plenty of folks in 2010. Their first real test comes Sept. 30, when they'll get a chance to knock off media darling Texas A&M in Stillwater.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones nonconference schedule has made plenty of headlines this offseason, and Iowa State isn't shying away from its dates with Northern Illinois, Iowa and Utah. The legal issues surrounding defensive star David Sims appear to be resolved with an opening-game suspension, and running back Alexander Robinson looks ready for another big season after rushing for over 1,000 yards in his 2009 breakout season. Iowa State will need to steal a few games like last season to qualify for a second consecutive bowl game.

10. Baylor: Freshman safety Ahmad Dixon is impressing early in camp with a few big hits, and is making good on his status as one of the best recruits in Baylor history. Another -- Robert Griffin -- is already dealing with the pressures of delivering a bowl game to Waco. Coach Art Briles will need more players like Dixon and Griffin to move the Bears goals past just making a bowl game.

11. Colorado: The only team to move up from its position in the post-spring power rankings, Colorado simply brings back more talent than Kansas, and added two new receivers in UCLA non-qualifier Paul Richardson and Travon Patterson, whose transfer from USC was finalized on Monday. The offensive line has a lot of talent in Nate Solder and Ryan Miller, but the other three members will have to improve if the Buffs are going to rush for more than 1,055 yards like in 2009 (11th in the Big 12) and give up fewer than 43 sacks, 11 more than any other team in the Big 12.

12. Kansas: Losing your three best players from a team that finished last in the Big 12 North a season ago -- plus implementing a new coaching philosophy -- is a recipe for a rebuilding year. That's where the Jayhawks sit to begin 2010. They've got a good young talent in sophomore receiver Bradley McDougald, but they face major questions at quarterback with inexperienced candidates Jordan Webb and Kale Pick battling for the No. 1 spot. Last season's leading rusher, Toben Opurum, is also nowhere to be found on the depth chart after battling injuries throughout the spring. The Jayhawks were the only team in the conference to return all five starters on the offensive line, but a season-ending injury to tackle Jeff Spikes eliminated that status. Brad Thorson, who played both guard and tackle last season, is also recovering from a broken foot. A win against Southern Miss and a competitive loss to Georgia Tech would earn the Jayhawks some more respect.

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
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2009 overall record: 6-6

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense (7), Defense (6) P/K (2)

Top returners: RB Daniel Thomas, DB Emmanuel Lamur, DB Tysyn Hartman, DB Troy Butler, DT Prizzell Brown

Key losses: WR Brandon Banks, QB Grant Gregory, WR Lamark Brown, DB Joshua Moore, TE Jaron Mastrud, OT Nick Stringer, DT Daniel Calvin, DT Jeffrey Fitzgerald


2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Daniel Thomas* (1,265 yards)

Passing: Grant Gregory (1,096 yards)

Receiving: Brandon Banks (705 yards)

Tackles: Emmanuel Lamur* (68)

Sacks: Jeffrey Fitzgerald (7)

Interceptions: Tysyn Hartman* (5)

Three spring answers

1. Coffman states his case…loudly. The spring began with a three-man quarterback race, and ended with Carson Coffman throwing seven touchdown passes in the spring game. Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur will be back to compete in the fall, but Coffman’s performance, combined with his experience last season, will likely be too much for either to overcome.

2. Chris Harper won’t be taking snaps. Oregon transfer Chris Harper figured to be a factor in the quarterback race, but he elected to move to receiver and stayed there throughout the spring. His impressive size and athleticism will be used on the sidelines, rather than in the backfield.

3. Butler shining in the spring. Juco transfer Troy Butler won a starting safety job last season, but made just 46 tackles and was held without an interception. In the spring game, he picked off two passes and made eight tackles. They came against the second-team, but he’s getting to the ball, and that’s something he didn’t do often last year.

Three fall questions

1. How will the new-look receivers fit in? Kansas State has plenty of size at receiver, something it didn’t have last season. But it’s possible that all three of the Wildcats top receivers won’t have caught a pass since the 2008 season. Aubrey Quarles sat out the 2009 season, and transfers Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper could also make big impacts this season.

2. Are the Wildcats deep enough? For all the celebration around Coffman’s performance, his team’s 79-0 win in the spring game over the second-teamers suggests a wide gap in talent between only the first and second teams. If Kansas State suffers a couple injuries in the right place, could the season fall well short of expectations?

3. Playmakers wanted. Daniel Thomas is a reliable option at running back, but can the Wildcats find a way to give the offense some additional firepower? The Wildcats were short on big plays in 2010; Thomas broke runs of 25 yards or longer in just two plays. If the receivers can prove they’re deep threats, and Coffman can get them the ball, it’ll be easier for both them and Thomas to operate and produce big plays.

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