Big 12: Grant Gregory

Steven Sheffield gets a shot in Arena league

May, 17, 2011
Arena Football's Spokane Shock have lost two quarterbacks in recent weeks, and are bringing in three quarterbacks to try out?

Among them?

Former Texas Tech quarterback Steven Sheffield. The ex-Red Raider started a pair of games in 2009 and another in 2010 after narrowly losing the league's top quarterback competition last fall to teammate Taylor Potts.

In two seasons, he threw for 1,578 yards and 17 touchdowns, most notably engineering a comeback win against Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl at the end of the 2009 season.

It's always fun to keep track of former Big 12 quarterbacks, and Sheffield isn't the only one in the Arena League. Another alliterative passer, former Kansas State starter Grant Gregory, has been the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Storm this season.

Former Oklahoma State star Bobby Reid, the central figure in Mike Gundy's infamous rant, now plays for the Tulsa Talons after transferring from Stillwater.

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2011

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: Offense (5), Defense (6) P/K (1)

Top returners: QB Collin Klein, CB David Garrett, S Tysyn Hartman, LB Alex Hrebec, S Ty Zimmerman, WR Brodrick Smith

Key losses: RB Daniel Thomas, WR Aubrey Quarles, OL Zach Kendall, DL Prizell Brown, QB Carson Coffman, RB/KR William Powell

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Daniel Thomas (1,585 yards)

Passing: Carson Coffman (2,060 yards)

Receiving: Aubrey Quarles (765 yards)

Tackles: David Garrett* (92)

Sacks: Prizell Brown (5)

Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman* (3)

Three spring answers

1. Quarterback spot looks clear. It’s not over, but it’s obvious Klein will enter fall camp with a lead in the quarterback spot, ahead of Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle. He’s only thrown 18 career passes, but will the experience he gained on the field in 2010 should help entrench him as the starter next year.

2. Defensive playmaker emerges. Linebacker Arthur Brown returned home from Miami and sat out last year, per NCAA rules, but made an impact as a scout team defender. This spring, he moved up and will likely start next year. He made a game-high 14 tackles in the spring game and has speed unlike any other Wildcats linebacker.

3. Snyder works his juco mojo again. Juco cornerback Nigel Malone showed up to campus this spring from a junior college in California, and after just 15 practices he may be a starter across from one of the team’s stars, Garrett. Bill Snyder is known for his juco talent-mining skills, and with Malone it looks like he’s struck again.

Three fall questions

1. Who’s the running back? Daniel Thomas was a do-everything back for two years, but we may see a share of carries this year. Bryce Brown hasn’t had quite the impact his brother, Arthur, has, but he’s competing with John Hubert for a starting spot.

2. Where’s the D? Kansas State has found a few new pieces in Malone and Arthur Brown, but embattled defensive coordinator Chris Cosh is still there. The Wildcats defense struggled last year, ranking 11th in total defense. How much better can it be in 2011?

3. What’s in store from Klein? Even if Klein wins the job, he won’t be facing Kansas State’s secondary every week. Is he developed enough as a passer to give Kansas State a viable passing threat? That’s something the Wildcats didn't have with Carson Coffman or Grant Gregory, but can Klein buck the trend?

Mailbag: OSU hopes, A&M QB and streaks

September, 24, 2010
Good stuff today. Thanks for the questions, everybody. I'll be here all weekend via Austin, where I'll be covering the Longhorns and Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Curtis in Stillwater asks: Predictions in the pre-season for OK State were to finish last in the big twelve south due to a rebuilding year. Due you think we have a legitimate chance for the top spot considering the way TX and OU have been playing?

David Ubben: Well, I didn't pick them last, but the offense has looked way, way better than anyone outside Stillwater expected. That definitely moves them up the Big 12 ladder, and they shouldn't have big problems beating teams like Kansas and Baylor. The same goes for Kansas State, which doesn't match up well with the Cowboys; it'll be tough for them to score enough to win. Time of possession is almost irrelevant considering how fast Oklahoma State has shown it can score. Right now, I've got no idea how their games against Texas Tech and Texas A&M will look. I'm buying Texas Tech's defense as a whole, but they haven't played anyone as good as OSU has looked on offense. We've still got no idea what to expect from the Aggies, but they've looked pretty average through three games. I'll give OSU the slight edge for now, but those teams' most likely scenario is splitting the matchups with each other.

As for winning the South -- Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma are great defenses built to specialize in stopping spread offenses. There aren't many Eric Haggs or Tony Jeffersons in college football. Oklahoma State has to play all three. Best-case scenario, OSU wins one of those games. Going to the Big 12 title game with two losses in the Big 12 South is a rarity, and that's assuming the Cowboys beat Texas A&M and win in Lubbock. Oklahoma State won't have to sweat out a bowl game, but they're not going to win the South. Eight or nine wins sound like solid numbers.

Gabriel Younes in Omaha asks: Can you explain your ridiculous obsession with Texas? I think about 50 percent of your posts are about the Longhorns.

DU: I pretty much love them more than anything in the world. My policy is pretty simple: Why write about anything else when you can write about Texas?

Jerry in Dallas writes: I know you're from Oklahoma, but there are 11 other teams in the conference, whether you know it or not. Maybe yOU should try writing about more than OU for once.

DU: I'm actually not from Oklahoma, but my policy is pretty simple: Why write about anything else when you can write about the Sooners?

Jimmy in Haysville, Kan., asks: Bob Stoops has only lost two games at home since he started at Oklahoma. That is a 69-2 record in Norman. Why is Owen Field rarely mentioned when discussing toughest places to play?

DU: Probably because even though it's a huge stadium, it only gets loud when it wants to. That's pretty well known, and I've seen it in action. So has Bob Stoops. Oklahoma's home record has more to do with consistently being a good team than the crowds.

“I think maybe just our overall focus and our play overall are probably the biggest reasons,” Stoops said before playing Texas Tech in 2008. “I don’t think we’ve been known as an overly ruckus crowd, so that’s what you’d probably attribute it to.”

It was clearly loud for the Texas Tech game that night. It was pretty loud for Florida State two weeks ago. It's not that way all the time. At places like Florida and LSU, it is.

James C in College Station asks: David, it sounds like you're giving up on Jerrod Johnson. Do you really expect him to play like he did Saturday for the rest of the season?

DU: No way, I'm not giving up on him. That was a terrible quarter, but with his team down and his own struggles contributing to that, he tried to make plays and throws he wouldn't have made under normal circumstances. He's a smart guy; he learned from it. It's not like he's turnover-prone; he threw eight interceptions to 30 touchdowns last season. Only Grant Gregory at Kansas State threw fewer, and he only threw 175 passes all last year. Johnson completed 296 and threw more passes (497) than anyone in the Big 12. It was a bad night. Not the kind of night you want heading into conference play, but he'll be fine. It'll be interesting to see how he responds if he gets in a similar situation later this season, like throwing a couple interceptions in the first half and trailing by double digits. My guess is we'll see a different reaction from him. And let's give him a little credit. He didn't turn it over in the fourth quarter and the Aggies did win the game. Like I said last week, 3-0 is 3-0.

Tim in Portsmouth, Va., asks: How far down will the Big XII rank as a conference once Nebraska and Colorado leave? Would you put them behind the ACC, Pac-12, SEC, and Big Ten? Couldn't be any worse than the Big East but not any better than the others.

DU: My guess is it'll slip pretty solidly below the Big Ten, which I think is pretty close right now. The Pac-10 is deeper this year than it usually is, and you saw some of that last year. It's continued onto this year. But the conference still has two teams that will be in position for national title runs in most seasons. The Big East and ACC can't say that. We'll see about the Pac-12. If I had to guess, the Big 12 takes third most years and the Pac-12 is better in the other years. But like I've said all offseason, the Big 12's reputation will ultimately depend on teams like Texas Tech, Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State proving they can win 7-10 games every single year.

Sgt. McClellan in Okinawa, Japan, writes: I just wanted to say thanks for your work on the Big 12 Blog. I am stationed in Okinawa Japan with Combat Assault BN 3rd Marine Division, and have ESPNU set as my homepage at both work and home. The constant flow of articles from my home region (Particularly Texas) helps me stay in loop and feel a bit closer to home all the way out here in Japan. Please keep up the great work.

DU: Glad I could help, but I think I speak for everyone here when I say thanks for your work. Certainly more significant than anything that goes on in this space.

Iowa State focused on Daniel Thomas

September, 17, 2010
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads knows he has to stop Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas for his team to move to 2-1 on Saturday in Kansas City.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder knows it, too. And he's trying to make sure that's not all Rhoads' team has to do.

Last year at Arrowhead Stadium, the Cyclones held Thomas, the Big 12's rushing leader in 2009, to just 96 yards on 25 carries but lost on a blocked extra point. He might take a similar performance by his defense this year, but he's quite aware of what he'll face on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeDaniel Thomas
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelDaniel Thomas has rushed 49 times for 371 yards and four touchdowns this season.
"He combines both power and elusiveness, and that’s a heck of a combination. Usually when you’ve got a big physical back, he’s more of a north-south type of guy. Our guy, Alexander Robinson would probably rather make you miss," Rhoads said. "He can do both. To do that with his size and speed combination is scary."

Thomas, at 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, topped 90 yards in eight of 12 games last season. Already this year, he's put up 234 yards against UCLA and another 137 against Missouri State. That's made him college football's No. 3 rusher, up from No. 21 a year ago.

"He finds places to run the ball that, maybe a year ago, he wasn’t struggling with, but maybe wasn’t as quick to react to," Snyder said.

But the worst-kept secret in the Big 12 is stopping Thomas means stopping Kansas State. In games Thomas failed to top 90 yards, the Wildcats were 0-4. Iowa State came close. They also came close to winning. Which, in a tight Big 12 North race, doesn't mean much.

"We tackled well in the game and certainly you go into every game, and we go into this one especially, with a plan to stop the run. And have enough people close to the line of scrimmage and near the football to be able to do that," Rhoads said of last year's loss. "I don’t think we have any type of magic formula, I think we’re going to have to play better this year than we did a year ago, as a year more in a system, you have a better understanding of where your running lanes are and where you need to be, and he clearly does."

And for Kansas State, that's the challenge. Because of Thomas' success, they threw the ball the fewest times of any team in the Big 12. Because of that, they threw just seven touchdown passes, six fewer than the No. 11 team and 31 fewer than the No. 1 team.

It's tough to blame to 6-6 Wildcats for strapping their fate to the back of their workhorse, but the task this year is to turn that worst-kept secret into a fallacy.

The man who can do it is quarterback Carson Coffman, benched in mid-season last year for Grant Gregory. Coffman played through sickness in the first game, and threw for a career-high 280 yards against Missouri State in last week's 48-24 win. He's also the league's leader in passing efficiency through two games. His four touchdowns have already equaled his total from last season.

"When we put him on the field a year ago, he had not been a starting quarterback, so he really had not had a great deal of playing time and certainly had not had playing time in critical situations in close ball games, et cetera," Snyder said. "I think the experience has helped him, the experience both on the field and experience with the system, having different terminology as opposed to what he’d become accustomed to previously."

That's been apparent early in the season, after Coffman beat out Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur to re-win the job. Now they'll need him to continue to show that improvement in conference play, so maybe this year, stopping Thomas doesn't mean stopping the Wildcats.

Opening camp: Kansas State

August, 4, 2010
Schedule: Practice starts today

What’s new: The receiving corps. Kansas State's possible top three targets may all be new faces. Brodrick Smith is a Minnesota transfer, Chris Harper is from Oregon. And Aubrey Quarles missed all of last season.
Key battle: Quarterback. Carson Coffman began last season as the starter before ceding the responsibility to Grant Gregory. Coffman has a slight lead entering camp, in front of Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur, but coach Bill Snyder sees all three as possible starters.

New on the scene: Fullback Braden Wilson. He started four games last season, and he'll be the lead blocker for the conference's leading rusher, Daniel Thomas. Snyder raved about the sophomore's efforts this spring.

Breaking out: Defensive end Brandon Harold. An injury made him a non-factor in 2009, but he's is back to full strength and ready to regain the form from his freshman season, when he had 45 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, he'll be a force to block for opposing offensive lines.

Don’t forget about: The offensive line. It cleared the way for a 1,200-yard rusher in 2009 and brings back four starters from last year's team, led by senior guard Zach Kendall. He'll be one of the team captains this season.

All eyes on: Running back Daniel Thomas. The Wildcats need him to duplicate or surpass his 1,265 rushing yards from his first season at Kansas State, and he'll probably get the carries to let him do it. Thomas played through a minor shoulder injury last season, and he'll need to stay relatively healthy once again for the Wildcats to see success in 2010.

Quoting: "We came out of the spring with three young guys that were viable contenders for the number one quarterback spot. Is that good or bad? You could make a case either way." -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder

More opening camps:

Ranking the Big 12's best: No. 2

July, 2, 2010
Today is Day 24 of our countdown of the Big 12's 25 best players entering the 2010 season. The full results are locked in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player per day until we reach the top of the list.

We're inside the top 10 now, and I kind of expect discussion on this to get pretty heated. I feel pretty good about where I've slotted guys, but we'll see if we need to do a mega-mailbag at the end of all this so I can defend my order. You'll notice the list is intentionally weighted toward positions that have a greater amount of impact on a large percentage of the field.

Remember, this isn't a list of the top-25 NFL prospects in the league. It's heavily weighted toward players' actual accomplishments in their college careers, as well as their likely impact on their teams in the 2010 season.

No. 2: Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

2009 numbers: Led the Big 12 with 1,265 yards rushing on 247 carries, the most in the league. Tied for third in the Big 12 with 11 rushing touchdowns. Also caught 25 passes for 257 yards.

Most recent ranking: Thomas was unranked in the past offseason's ranking of the conference's top 40 players.

Making the case for Thomas: Here's what's perhaps most impressive about Thomas' first season in the league. The secret on his ability was out a few games into conference play. Teams focused on him. He got little help from his quarterback and he still put up staggering numbers. Grant Gregory and Carson Coffman completed under 60 percent of their passes for the fewest yards on the fewest attempts in the Big 12. The pair threw just six touchdowns. Sure, he had 16 more carries than any back in the league, but he was also one of just five Big 12 backs to average more than five yards per carry with at least 100 touches. Defenses focused on Thomas, and he still rushed for more than 90 yards in eight games. He was also held under 79 yards just twice. Without him, Kansas State surely loses to Kansas and Iowa State, and maybe Colorado and UMass.

The rest of the list:

  • No. 3: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
  • No. 4: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
  • No. 5: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
  • No. 6: Nate Solder, LT, Colorado
  • No. 7: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
  • No. 8: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
  • No. 9: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
  • No. 10: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
  • No. 11: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma
  • No. 12: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
  • No. 13: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
  • No. 14: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
  • No. 15: Sam Acho, DE, Texas
  • No. 16: Roy Helu, Jr., RB, Nebraska
  • No. 17: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
  • No. 18: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
  • No. 19: Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
  • No. 20: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M
  • No. 21: Tim Barnes, C, Missouri
  • No. 22: Brian Duncan, LB, Texas Tech
  • No. 23: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
  • No. 24: Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas
  • No. 25: Blake Gideon, S, Texas

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
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.

Big 12 spring game recap: Kansas State

April, 27, 2010
What happened:

  • Carson Coffman threw seven touchdowns and the Purple team won, 79-0.
  • Worth noting, the Purple team technically won 41-38 after its 38-0 halftime lead was reversed.
  • 16,326 fans attended.
What we learned:

  • My goodness, Carson Coffman. As you read last week, he was trying to solidify his spot as the starter after he lost both the fans' confidence and his own with a poor performance last season. After a spring capped by his seven-touchdown, 440-yard performance on 38 of 51 passing, consider the confidence restored. "I wanted to go out today and take hold of the quarterback spot," Coffman said after the game. “I think I did that.” No kidding. He threw two touchdowns, both in the opening game, all last season. On Saturday, he threw five in the first half.
  • Collin Klein's absence only strengthened Coffman's statement. Coffman's main competition for the job, Klein sat with a minor injury. Undisclosed, of course. Unlike Bill Snyder's.
  • Can't really overreact to Coffman's performance, which came against a second-team defense, but last season Coffman started against UMass and Louisiana-Lafayette, and didn't exactly light up the scoreboard. The defense also couldn't blitz, but a performance like that against anyone is a good sign. Consider Coffman officially the heavy favorite entering fall. “He commanded the respect of all of us as a leader,” senior center Wade Weibert said. “You could tell it in the huddle. He called plays so confidently that we just looked at each other and said, ‘All right, let’s go.’”
  • Kansas State might have one of the most-improved units in the conference at wide receiver. Brandon Banks was a fantastic kick returner, but an underwhelming receiver in 2009 after notching 1,000 receiving yards in 2008. The inconsistent quarterback play didn't help, but there's only so much a 5-foot-7 guy can do when his quarterback can't get him the ball. Now, presumably Coffman has Aubrey Quarles returning from a redshirt year and two transfers in Brodrick Smith (6-foot-2) from Minnesota and Chris Harper (6-foot-3) from Oregon. Smith caught 12 passes for 167 yards, and Quarles caught nine passes for 105 yards and a score. One of Smith's touchdowns was on a fade route, which could be a nice option in the red zone for the Wildcats, one that Banks couldn't provide.
  • Quietly solid day for Daniel Thomas against the second-teamers: 16 carries, 118 yards. Hard to earn much ink in a spring game when everyone knows what you can do and your quarterback does what Coffman did.
  • 79-0? Not a good sign for the depth on either side for the Wildcats.
  • Not much to say about the defense other than a shutout against anyone is a good sign. Safety Troy Butler had a game-high eight tackles and two interceptions.
They said it:

“He threw it half a hundred times, and for the most part he played well.”

-- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, steering clear of hyperbole while evaluating Carson Coffman's performance.

The Revolving Door: Kansas State

April, 13, 2010
Here, we'll take a look at a couple of key players going, staying and coming for each team in the Big 12.


Brandon Banks, WR/KR

Banks was far from unstoppable as the Wildcats' leading receiver (56 rec, 705 yards, 1 TD), but his kick returns gave the Wildcats an explosive special-teams unit and landed the 5-foot-7 Banks on the All-Big 12 team. He returned four kicks for touchdowns as a senior and averaged nearly 30 yards per kick return.

Nick Stringer, OL

The former team captain spent two seasons on the All-Big 12 team and played significant snaps for four seasons.

Grant Gregory, QB

Gregory only got to play for the Wildcats for one season after transferring from South Florida, but he took advantage of the opportunity coach Bill Snyder gave him. Gregory took over the starting spot for the Wildcats midway through the season in 2009, and got the Wildcats to within an upset of Nebraska of a bowl game.


Daniel Thomas, RB

Thomas led the Big 12 in rushing in just his first season of Division I football, and was a big reason the Wildcats' rushing offense ranked in the top third of the Big 12. As a senior, the juco transfer figures to be the central figure of the offense once again, with uncertainty at quarterback and a receiving corps full of newcomers at the top of the depth chart. Thomas loses his backup, Keithen Valentine, this season, and K-State would be well-served to find a serviceable backup this spring to help keep him healthy.

Tysyn Hartman, DB

Hartman had the fourth-most interceptions in the Big 12 as a sophomore, with five. His work earned him an All-Big 12 nod and he could secure a spot as one of the Big 12's top defensive backs this season.


Adam Davis, DE

Davis transferred to Kansas State from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College as one of the top junior college prospects in America. At 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds, he fits the mold of defensive end and could compete for a spot once fall arrives.

Chris Harper, WR

Harper is done with his year sitting on the bench after transferring from Oregon. He was originally thought to be in the running for the vacant quarterback gig, but Snyder is working Harper solely at wide receiver this spring, as was his preference, Snyder said on Monday. With sub-4.5 speed and a 6-foot-1, 234-pound frame, there's a good chance he'll find a spot to contribute on the edge instead of in the backfield.

More Revolving Door

Wildcats narrowing quarterback race

April, 6, 2010
Bill Snyder has a quarterback decision to make before his second season, and though it might not be made until fall, he's working toward it early this spring. Grant Gregory's graduation left him with Carson Coffman, Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur to step under center in 2010.

"I am not prepared to make any distinction at this particular point. When I say distinction, I mean a first-team, second-team, third-team," Snyder told reporters on Monday afternoon.

Coffman has the most experience of the three, earning the starting job in camp last season before later ceding the job to Gregory. He didn't appear in any of the Wildcats' final five games, but with that experience, he's the likely front runner.

Oregon transfer Chris Harper won't be taking reps at quarterback, instead working solely at receiver while Lamur plays the role of more mobile quarterback more in the mold of Ell Roberson and Michael Bishop, who Snyder saw plenty of success with.

"Sammuel probably has the longest route to travel because of inexperience, and not being involved with the offense for the same period of time that the others had," Snyder said.

Lamur worked mostly as a scout-team quarterback last season.

Klein, a 6-foot-5, 231-pound sophomore is back at quarterback after catching six passes for 38 yards as a freshman last season, when he worked as a receiver.

"We would like for someone to surface above someone else," Snyder said. "At this point in time that has not taken place, and I did not anticipate that it would this early. The sooner it happens the better, obviously."

Coffman, of course, is the conservative choice, and with Daniel Thomas likely to be the central figure in the Wildcats offense, the winner won't make or break the Wildcats season. But if Lamur can show some consistency and doesn't turn the ball over in camp, he could win the job, despite being a less-polished passer. Lamur's running ability could take some pressure off Thomas and open holes for him to run if Snyder turns to an option game. Thomas took snaps out of the Wildcat last season, so don't confuse Snyder as a coach who refuses to innovate.

Darrell Scott denies report he's planning to return to Colorado

February, 10, 2010
Former Colorado running back Darrell Scott has refuted a report by a Denver television station that he has met with Colorado coach Dan Hawkins and is interested in returning to the Buffaloes' team.

Scott told the Boulder Camera he has no plans to return to the Colorado team he left last season after playing five games while struggling with injuries.

"Nope, not at all," Scott told the Camera when asked if there was any truth to an anonymous report that was given by Denver station KCNC. "It is a lie. I don't plan on coming back."

Scott has been the most-heralded recruit signed during Hawkins' tenure, but struggled through two injury-plagued seasons with the Buffaloes. He rushed for only 95 yards last season, rushing for most of those yards against Toledo. He injured his knee in that game and underwent minor surgery before leaving the team in November.

The Camera also reported that senior running back Demetrius Sumler has appealed the decision where his Colorado scholarship was revoked by Hawkins for the spring semester. Sumler announced last month that he planned to graduate from Colorado this spring and then transfer to another program for his senior season next fall, utilizing an NCAA rule that allows graduates with remaining eligibility to make a move. Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory utilized the rule to transfer to the Wildcats from South Florida for his senior season last fall.

The departure of Sumler and Scott's rebuff of the Buffaloes' program has placed a huge priority heading into spring camp for running backs. Hawkins added four running backs among his Class of 2010 who could arrive when fall camp begins in August. But in the spring, the Buffaloes will have three scholarship running backs on their roster -- projected starter Rodney "Speedy" Stewart, Brian Lockridge and Corey Nabors.

Lunch links: KU Gridiron Club behind schedule

January, 22, 2010
Happy Friday.

Before we head into the weekend, here are some stories that people are talking about across the Big 12.

For your edification, here they are.

Final 2009 Big 12 power rankings

January, 13, 2010
Here's my final look at the Big 12 power rankings for this season.

1. Texas: Longhorn fans will always remember Colt McCoy’s injury in the national championship game and what could have been. Texas overcame every challenge during the regular season, but came up lacking without its leader in the biggest game of the year. The way the Alabama game played out will always haunt Texas fans. If they could have ever grabbed a touchdown lead or more over Alabama, was there any real indication that Alabama could have won with Greg McElroy and the Crimson Tide’s leaky offensive line? But it went the other way and the Longhorns were ground into submission by Alabama’s potent rushing attack to put a disappointing capper on an otherwise memorable season.

2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers finished 10-4 and were only five or six plays removed from winning three of those games -- losses to Texas, Iowa State and Virginia Tech. If that had happened, it’s not out of the realm of possibility the Cornhuskers could have finished in the top five or six teams nationally. But the convincing victory over Arizona, especially with the unexpected offensive firepower, should build confidence and embolden Bo Pelini and his team for bigger and better things next season.

3. Texas Tech: A roller-coaster season finished with Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeill looking for work despite an impressive 9-4 record where the Red Raiders overachieved to a Top 25 finish. Tommy Tuberville’s arrival will bring changes, but Tech returns with a strong nucleus starting of quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield and running back Baron Batch. If Tuberville can get the Red Raiders up and running quickly, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that his new team could challenge Texas and Oklahoma next season. But it will be tough as he tries to change the culture of the most memorable era of Tech football.

4. Oklahoma: A fast finish took some of the sting out of Bob Stoops’ most disappointing recent season. The Sooners’ hopes of a Big 12 four-peat were doomed as soon as Sam Bradford was lost for the season. And Jermaine Gresham’s injury before the season changed the way Kevin Wilson’s offense could operate. But at the end of the season, Landry Jones showed enough promise to give him a foothold for the starting position next season. The defense developed some young playmakers like David King and Demontre Hurst who showed promise in the bowl game for future growth. The Sooners will be back challenging for the Big 12 title next season if those players build on their late-season efforts.

5. Oklahoma State: All of the promise at the start of the season unraveled with a disappointing string of injuries and suspensions. And even with all of those struggles, the Cowboys still had a chance to play in a Bowl Championship Series game if they had beaten Oklahoma. Losses in the last two games of the season left a bad taste for what could have been Mike Gundy’s breakout season. The defense played much better than expected under new coordinator Bill Young, but the offense didn’t live up to the promise -- especially when Zac Robinson was hurt and his offensive weapons were stripped away. All things considered, a 9-4 record with everything the Cowboys overcame this season was better than could be expected.

6. Missouri: As well as the Tigers played at times during the season, their season was marked by their fourth-quarter home collapse against Nebraska and their confounding Texas Bowl upset loss to Navy. Truthfully, it was expected to be a rebuilding year after losing Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Co., but some of that was lost after a four-game winning streak to start the season. Blaine Gabbert surpassed expectations and is in line to become the conference’s best quarterback over the next couple of years. And Danario Alexander was the best receiver in the nation over the second half of the season. Defensive woes hurt them, but Gabbert’s return and some young defensive talent should have the Tigers pointed to improvement next season and maybe a challenge at the North title.

7. Iowa State: Was there a better moment in the 2009 Big 12 season than Paul Rhoads’ emotional response to his team’s upset victory over Nebraska which became a YouTube staple? Rhoads’ first season far surpassed expectations with a 7-6 record, the Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota and all of the other surprising accomplishments. Alexander Robinson was the most underrated player in the Big 12 and the gritty Iowa State defense played just like you would expect from a Rhoads-coached team. It won’t be easy for them to duplicate next year as they switch to the Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma gauntlet of South Division opponents. But it was a nice first step for Rhoads in building his program.

8. Kansas State: The Wildcats missed out on a bowl trip because of playing too many creampuffs during the nonconference season, but Bill Snyder’s first season was better than expected. The Wildcats received huge contributions from Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas, who both arrived before summer practice with no real expectations coming into the season. Thomas developed into one of the conference’s best backs and should return for more next season. If Oregon transfer Chris Harper can develop into a playmaker at either quarterback or wide receiver and the defense comes together, the Wildcats might be a threat to make a bowl appearance in 2010.

9. Texas A&M: For all of their offensive weapons, the Aggies’ defense and special teams were the primary culprits in a 6-7 season capped by a disappointing Independence Bowl loss to Georgia. Jerrod Johnson posted the top statistical numbers ever produced by an A&M quarterback and he’s surrounded by a bevy of strong offensive weapons. But Mike Sherman’s new coordinator is going to need to produce more improvement from a young defense if the Aggies have any hopes of contending in the South Division next season and beyond.

10. Kansas: The Jayhawks’ leaky defense did it with mirrors against a weak early schedule, but it all caught up with them during a seven-game losing streak to close the season that precipitated Mark Mangino’s resignation. Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe all finished careers that will go down among the top players in Kansas history. But the challenge for new coach Turner Gill and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush will be to rebuild a defense that allowed at least 31 points in seven of eight conference games.

11. Colorado: Dan Hawkins popped off about challenging for a Big 12 North title at the end of last season. Instead, his team’s struggling performance ended his hopes of “10 wins and no excuses” before conference play even began. The season started off badly with embarrassing nationally televised losses to Colorado State, Toledo and West Virginia and didn’t get much better once conference play began. The Buffaloes did start Kansas’ losing streak and beat Texas A&M, but sputtered offensively as they ranked in the bottom 10 teams in rushing, passing efficiency and sacks allowed and in the bottom 20 teams in total offense. Tyler Hansen emerged as the quarterback of the future. His development will be critical in Hawkins’ hopes at a contract extension.

12. Baylor: The Bears started the season with a confidence-building upset at Wake Forest, but their season for all intents and purposes ended as soon as Robert Griffin sustained a season-ending injury in the third game. Griffin should be back next season but key defensive players like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake won’t be. The quarterback's return will be critical in rebuilding offensive confidence that was booming heading into the season. The Bears might have the opportunity to snap the conference's longest bowl drought next season in a more balanced Big 12 South, but the key for the season will be developing a defense that can better challenge the South Division’s powers.

Kansas State season review

December, 9, 2009
Bill Snyder might never have accomplished more with a team than he did by taking Kansas State within a game of the Big 12 North division title this season.

The Wildcats entered the season with serious questions at quarterback and running back. Snyder plugged in South Florida transfer Grant Gregory at quarterback and converted Northwest Mississippi Community College quarterback Daniel Thomas into a power-running tailback. Both arrived in July, only a few days before spring practice started, but emerged as key players in a 6-6 season.

But Snyder, who returned to coaching after a three-season sabbatical, cobbled together a team that had legitimate North Division championship hopes until a late-season tailspin doomed them.

The Wildcats started the season with a 2-2 nonconference record that included road losses to UCLA and Louisiana-Lafayette.

But they returned to claim a tight 24-23 victory over Iowa State that was settled on a blocked extra point. And Snyder’s resilient bunch bounced back from a 52-point loss at Texas Tech to notch a 48-point victory over Texas A&M.

Kick returner/receiver Brandon Banks developed into KSU’s prime offensive playmaker and tied the Big 12 career record for kickoff returns for touchdowns. But when he wasn't involved the offense lagged miserably.

The Wildcats’ defense ranked in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin and rushing. But Snyder couldn’t overcome his sputtering offense against the best opponents. Among KSU’s six victories, only Tennessee Tech had a winning record.

Offensive MVP: RB Daniel Thomas

Thomas was projected as a quarterback by most scouting services when he arrived at Kansas State. But after switching to running back, he emerged as the Wildcats’ most consistent offensive threat and the focal point of the Wildcats’ offense. Thomas led the league with 1,265 rushing yards, 247 attempts, 11 rushing touchdowns and 105.4 yards per game, accounting for more than 100 rushing yards in five different games.

Defensive MVP: S Tysyn Hartman

The sophomore safety was KSU’s catalyst in the secondary with a team-leading five interceptions, 54 tackles and six pass deflections. His importance could be seen when he was injured early in the third quarter against Nebraska. While Hartman was being treated along the sidelines, Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee took advantage of the weak middle of the Wildcats’ defense on a two-play scoring drive that clinched the game and ended the Wildcats’ bowl and title game hopes.

Turning point: Nov. 14 vs. Missouri

The Wildcats returned home in first place in the North Division with two games remaining. Instead, offensive woes bit them in a 38-12 loss to Missouri in which they only scored four field goals. It got worse the following week in a 17-3 season-ending loss to Nebraska where the lingering offensive slump kept the Wildcats from making either a championship game or a bowl appearance.

What’s next?

The lack of bowl practice is a critical loss for Snyder, who is using the time away from game preparations to scour the nation for junior college players. Prime producers like Banks, Gregory, tight end Jeron Mastrud, tackle Nick Stringer and defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald all will depart the program. Snyder is excited about the possibilities of Oregon transfer Chris Harper to challenge Carson Coffman at quarterback. But he needs more talent -- particularly offensively -- to narrow the gap with teams like Nebraska and Missouri.

Wrapping up the Big 12 regular season

December, 8, 2009
Whatever happened to the Big 12 and all of those wild offensive numbers and great teams from last season?

With all of the promise from last season, more of the same was expected with many of the key players returning for another season. But an improbable rash of injuries and suspensions left top players like Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham, Baylor’s Robert Griffin and Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter sitting along the sideline rather than playing.

Instead, the defenses bit back in 2009, capped by a wild 13-12 victory by Texas over Nebraska in the conference championship game.

The results were seen on the field where the conference started slowly with a 4-7 record in out-of-conference games. Only one of those nonconference wins came after the first week of the season.

Taking advantage of Oklahoma’s injuries and a tight victory in Dallas on Oct. 17 over the Sooners, the Longhorns remained at the front of the Big 12 for most of the season. The Big 12 finished with only one team ranked among the top 19 teams in the final BCS standings and only three in the Top 25.

[+] EnlargeNdamukong Suh
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireNdamukong Suh finished third in the nation with 12 sacks.
The bowls will provide a tough challenge for Big 12 teams. Only Texas Tech and Oklahoma are favored among the eight teams that were selected for postseason play.

Texas will be a consensus underdog against Alabama in the Citi BCS Championship Game. It’s exactly the position the Longhorns were in five years ago when they stunned USC in the title game.

A Texas triumph in the Jan. 7 matchup will be necessary to help salvage some of the Big 12’s reputation.

Offensive MVP – Texas quarterback Colt McCoy

Although he struggled in the championship game and against Oklahoma, McCoy was the fulcrum of the league’s best team. Down the stretch he pushed himself into Heisman consideration with 300-yard passing games in three of his last four regular-season games to finish with 3,512 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. But his most impressive number was breaking David Greene’s career won-loss record to set the NCAA mark with a 45-7 record.

Defensive MVP -- Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh

After his stellar senior season, Suh might have progressed to a level never approached by a Big 12 defensive player. Suh dominated the game in ways unusual for a defensive tackle as he finished with a team-leading 82 tackles, including 50 solo stops. He was third nationally with 12 sacks, broke up 10 passes and also blocked three kicks. He capped his season with a career-best 12 tackles in the championship game, including a record 4.5 sacks in a performance that earned him a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy award ceremony.

Newcomer of the Year -- Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas

Thomas was projected as a quarterback when he arrived at Kansas State this summer from Northwest Mississippi Community College. Coach Bill Snyder thought he could help the team more at running back and he emerged as the focal point of a Kansas State defense that took the Wildcats within a game of the North Division title. Thomas led the league with 1,265 rushing yards, 247 attempts, 11 rushing touchdowns and 105.4 yards per game, accounting for more than 100 rushing yards in five different games.

Coach of the Year -- Texas’ Mack Brown

While some could argue for Paul Rhoads and Snyder as possible candidates, Brown’s ability to lead the Longhorns to a perfect 13-0 season, his second Big 12 title and his second BCS title game appearance elevates him over the rest. The Longhorns excelled from the first game as they charged to the first 12-0 regular-season record in school history. He’s also pushed the Longhorns into another BCS bowl game for the fourth time in six seasons. Texas has won all of those previous games, but will be challenged as it faces Alabama as a decided underdog.

Biggest surprise -- Kansas State

The Wildcats were picked to battle to stay out of the North Division cellar and had to break in new players at quarterback and running back. After a 2-2 start in nonconference play capped by a loss at Louisiana -Lafayette, Snyder’s team caught fire behind quarterback Grant Gregory, Thomas and a plucky defense. The Wildcats led the season with a month to go, but couldn’t nail down a title after losses to Missouri and Nebraska. Those losses cost them a bowl appearance, but Snyder proved he could still coach a little bit -- even at the age of 70.

Biggest disappointment -- Oklahoma

The Sooners entered the season as the nation’s No. 3 team and a potential challenger for the BCS title game. But a preseason injury cost them Gresham for the season, and Bradford played less than two complete games before he was knocked out for the season with a shoulder injury. An injury-ravaged offensive line struggled to remain solvent, and the Sooners’ hopes of claiming an unprecedented fourth straight Big 12 title ended after an early loss to Texas. It didn’t stop there as later road losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech left them free-falling all the way to a berth in the Sun Bowl. It left them with a 7-5 record that marked the most losses in the regular season in Bob Stoops’ coaching tenure.

Game of the Year -- Texas 13, Nebraska 12, Big 12 title game, Dec. 5

The defenses dominated this game as the two teams combined for only 308 total yards and converted only eight of 35 third-down plays. But after a fourth Nebraska field goal by Alex Henery had given the Cornhuskers a 12-10 lead with 1:44 left, Texas answered. McCoy mustered a late drive to put the Longhorns in position for a game-winning kick. But as he attempted to run a final play from scrimmage, McCoy appeared to have allowed the game clock to expire as he threw the ball out of bounds. Nebraska players charged the field thinking they had won the game, but game officials ruled there was one second left. Hunter Lawrence took advantage of the remaining time to drill a 46-yard field goal, pushing the Longhorns into the BCS title game. Memories of the extra play will resonate throughout history for Nebraska fans who already believe they were jobbed out of a chance at a surprise Big 12 title.