Big 12: Gunter Brewer

Lunch links: Behind the scenes of draft prep

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
12:30
PM ET
Yo, who's the grillmaster, dog?

Catching up with the coaching carousel

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
2:15
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Is your head spinning from the moves on the coaching carousel this weekend? No worries, here's a chance to catch up on what you've missed over the weekend.

Colorado
  • Hired Jon Embree as head coach.
  • Hired Eric Bieniemy as offensive coordinator.
Nebraska
  • Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was scheduled to interview with Vanderbilt on Sunday, according to ESPN's Bruce Feldman.
Oklahoma
  • Sources told ESPN's Pat Forde that Oklahoma offensive coordintor Kevin Wilson met with Indiana athletic director Fred Glass, presumably about the vacant head coaching job, and I had a chance to talk to Wilson about it after Saturday's Big 12 Championship game. He stopped well short of denying he'd had any contact, but he had no plans to detail it, either. "We'll see. I don't know. It's the time of the year where you're getting through the last game," he said when asked if he'd interviewed or had plans to interview with the Hoosiers. I asked if he'd had any contact with Indiana: "We'll just kind of see the way it goes,” he said.
  • I expect Wilson to leave if he's formally offered the job, and if so, look for quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel or receivers coach Jay Norvell to take over offensive coordinator duties.
Oklahoma State
  • Offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen's name has come up in a few different spots, but none look legitimate just yet. The guess here is he's in Stillwater in 2011. Keeping him around needs to be priority No. 1 for Oklahoma State when it comes to staff moves, and coach Mike Gundy has expressed as much previously.
  • Special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, a Louisiana-Lafayette alum, interviewed for the vacant head coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette, according to The Oklahoman.
  • Receivers coach Gunter Brewer may also be a candidate for the Ragin' Cajuns' job.
Texas
  • Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has resigned.
  • Offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive line coach Mike Tolleson are also leaving the program.
  • Look for former UT quarterback Major Applewhite to get serious consideration as Davis' replacement, but coach Mack Brown says an announcement on replacements won't be coming until after the bowls.

Big 12 lunch links: IRS could be looking at coaching salaries

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
12:44
PM ET
This is a history-making post for me, my 4,000th over the past 18 months.

When you figure roughly 500 words per post -- give or take a few extra during the season -- that's more than 2 million words that have been churned out about the Big 12.

I feel like we should celebrate -- with a few lunch links.

So how about these?

Holgorsen is new OSU offensive coordinator

January, 15, 2010
1/15/10
9:13
PM ET
Mike Gundy wasn't particularly happy about his team's offense this season after watching Oklahoma State's scoring decrease by more than 12 points per game this season.

That realization led Gundy to hire Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen as his new offensive coordinator, the school announced Friday night.

"We're elated that Dana is joining our staff," Gundy said. "He has a great pedigree, and a history of success. We're excited about what he brings to the OSU football program."

Only a day after Gundy vowed to retain control of his offense in a Tulsa World story, the new hiring brings one of the nation's hottest coordinators to Oklahoma State.

Holgorsen, a protege of Mike Leach's coaching tree, helped the Cougars lead the nation in scoring (42.2 points per game), passing yards (433 per game) and total offense (563 yards per game). Obviously, he was helped by having quarterback Case Keenum at his disposal. But there's still something to be said for that kind of production.

There apparently are no immediate changes in Gundy's staff, making current offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer's status iffy. It's undetermined if Brewer would take another role on Gundy's staff with Holgorsen's arrival, although the Oklahoman reports that specific duties have not been determined.

Brewer is close with new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. A persistent rumor has that Brewer, the son of former Mississippi coach Billy Brewer, might return to the Southeastern Conference to join Dooley's new staff with the Volunteers.

It will be interesting to see what Holgorsen's arrival will mean for Gundy, who has dabbled with his team's offense ever since taking over as the team's head coach in 2005.

I can't see Gundy giving that tinkering up. But I also can't believe that Holgorsen would take the OSU job unless he was given autonomy to run the Cowboys' offense.

Big 12 lunch links: 10 reasons why Texas could beat Bama

December, 16, 2009
12/16/09
1:00
PM ET
Seasons greetings.

How about a few Big 12 links that celebrate the conference while its original membership remains intact?

I'm not saying there is movement afoot, but Dan Beebe should have a contingency plan for new membership tucked away in case he ever needs it.

Here are some lunch-time morsels. Enjoy them.

Big 12 lunch links: Try to stump Gregory about any college stadium

November, 13, 2009
11/13/09
1:08
PM ET
There's a big day of games looming Saturday. Nebraska and Kansas State can take another step toward a pivotal North Division showdown next week in Lincoln. And Texas can come closer to a trip to the BCS title game by beating Baylor in Waco.

Here are some stories to get you ready for the upcoming games -- and more.

Hunter's injury shouldn't cripple OSU's ground game

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
2:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy confirmed that Big 12 rushing leader Kendall Hunter was doubtful for the Cowboys' game against Rice this week after sustaining an injury to his right ankle in the Cowboys' loss to Houston.

I would imagine that Gundy will be cautious bringing Hunter back. First, the Cowboys' upcoming schedule doesn't look daunting with home games against Rice and Grambling, followed by an open date before their Big 12 opener against Texas A&M on Oct. 10.

But the major reason why the Cowboys can afford to take their time getting Hunter back in the lineup is their depth at the position. Hunter led the Big 12 last season, but his backups Keith Toston and Beau Johnson might give them the deepest core of running backs in the conference and maybe in college football.

Toston and Johnson combined for 148 yards and averaged nearly 8 yards a carry for the Cowboys in the loss to Houston. And Gundy said the offense likely won't change much with either of those two players replacing Hunter.

“Obviously, (Hunter) is a great player and he’s our starter, but give credit to Keith Toston and Beau Johnson," Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer said. "I thought they played very admirably and carried the ball well.”

It Hunter can't play, it would be his first missed game since he failed to play since his freshman season when he failed to play in the Cowboys' season opener in the 2007 against Georgia.

Big 12 brunch links: No plans for immediate CU coaching change

September, 12, 2009
9/12/09
9:28
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


The Big 12's second week started with Colorado's resounding thud at Toledo.

Here are some links to get you ready for Day 2 of the conference's football weekend.
  • Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn tells the Denver Post’s Mark Kizla that he’s not considering an immediate coaching change after the Buffaloes’ shocking defeat Friday night at Toledo.
  • The Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson notes that the home team has won the annual Cy-Hawk battle between Iowa and Iowa State each of the last five seasons. Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State game will be played today at Ames.
  • Oklahoma’s sputtering offense needs improvement this week as the Sooners try to pick up the pieces of their season against Idaho State, John Hoover of the Tulsa World reports.
  • Despite facing a Wyoming team that produced five interceptions last week, the San Antonio Express-News’ Mike Finger expects Texas’ passing game will remain aggressive.
  • Kansas State players are preparing for hot, sticky conditions during their trip tonight to Louisiana-Lafayette, the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Austin Meek reports.
  • Kansas freshman running back Toben Opurum’s mohawk, his past career working at a children’s arcade/pizza parlor and his interest in "South Park" all are analyzed by the Lawrence Journal-World’s Jesse Newell.
  • The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel writes that Oklahoma State must immediately put aside last week's big victory over Georgia as they head into what offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer is calling a “trap game” Saturday against Houston.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmerman reports that Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is wary of a letdown Saturday against Bowling Green after the Tigers’ stunning first-game thumping of Illinois.
  • The Omaha World-Herald’s Mitch Sherman writes about Nebraska's youth movement. The Cornhuskers played five freshmen and 20 redshirt freshmen in last week’s opener and are poised for more Saturday against Arkansas State.
  • The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams writes about the inspiring career in the college classroom for Texas Tech defensive end Brandon Sharpe.

Tim's mailbag: Why Banks is Big 12's most underrated player

May, 29, 2009
5/29/09
5:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are some questions to get you ready for the weekend. They are representative of some of the best e-mails I received over the last week or so.

John Stinson of Des Moines, Iowa, writes: Tim, love your blog. Keep it coming during the off-season. I know of no better daily source of Big 12 information anywhere.
My question for you is this. Who is the most underrated player in the Big 12? Is there a player, or players, who are sometimes overlooked with all of the great talent like Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy in the conference.

Tim Griffin: John, thanks for the kind words. My appreciation for Oklahoma fullback Matt Clapp is well-known. He does a lot of dirty work as far as blocking, but is one of the best in the nation in what the Sooners ask of him. I think Alexander Robinson is overlooked sometimes at Iowa State. And Baron Batch doesn't receive the due he deserves because Texas Tech's offense is stacked so heavily to the pass. But I think the most underrated player in the conference is multipurpose Kansas State player Brandon Banks, who is a valuable receiver and return threat. He's a threat to score or break a big gainer every time he touches the ball. The plan is to use him as a quarterback in some "Wildcat" formations to get the ball in his hands more often next season. I think I would pick Banks first, followed closely by Batch and Clapp.


Jacob Traxler from Champaign, Ill., writes: Hey Tim. I've got a quick bone to pick with you in one of your items this week. You mentioned that Colorado had the best backfield in the Big 12. Have you ever heard of Oklahoma?

Tim Griffin: Jacob, I didn't say that Colorado had the best backfield, but merely the deepest with their collection of players like Darrell Scott, Rodney Stewart, Demetrius Sumler and Brian Lockridge. While the Buffaloes don't have the upper talent to match DeMarco Murray or Chris Brown on Oklahoma, I think they have a deeper collection of proven talent. An indication can be seen in the Sooners' struggles running the ball without Murray in the BCS title game against Florida. I wouldn't necessarily say the Buffaloes are better than the Sooners in running the ball, but they have a few more potential runners so there isn't quite the drop-off that Oklahoma would face if they had to withstand another injury to either Murray or Brown.


Steve Johnson from Tampa, Fla., writes: Tim, always enjoy reading your blog. You have a good handle on news in the Big 12 area. It's something I miss living in this part of the country.

My question is do you see any interest in the Big 12 returning to the old association the Big Eight used to have with the Orange Bowl to send its champion down here. I sure would like to have an occasional chance to see Big 12 teams in my area and that might be the opportunity.
What do you think?

Tim Griffin: Steve, while many old-time Big Eight fans would share your sentiments, I think the Big 12 is very happy with its current association with the Fiesta Bowl to keep sending its champions there when it isn't playing for a national championship. It would surprise me to see the Big 12 push for an association with the Orange Bowl.

And Steve, don't fret. You can occasionally see Big 12 teams end up at the Gator Bowl. And Oklahoma will renew its tradition-steeped rivalry at Miami at the newly named Land Shark Stadium on Oct. 3. You might consider driving down there and checking it out.


Jake from Horseshoe Bay, Texas, wrote: Tim, thanks so much for your blog. Your daily information is getting me through the down season until camps start later this summer.
Quick question for you. Who do you consider to be the best coach in terms of developing talent in the Big 12?

Tim Griffin: Jake, thanks for your compliment. I think the best way to judge your question is to look at who gets the most from players who aren't necessarily the four- and five-star recruits. Obviously, coaches like Mark Mangino of Kansas and Gary Pinkel of Missouri have done a nice job in turning their programs in recent seasons with those players. But the coach who consistently gets the most from less-heralded incoming talent is Mike Leach of Texas Tech. His coaching is one of the biggest reasons why the Red Raiders have been the only program to be bowl-eligible every season of Big 12 history.

Leach has developed a national reputation for his off-beat, quirky way of doing things. But don't ever underestimate his ability to develop players. He's among the best in the business.


Andy from San Diego, Calif., writes: I wonder if you could analyze Blaine Gabbert vs. Zac Lee vs. Carson Coffman. Which of the new Big 12 North QBs do you like at this point in time to have the best year? The stats will more than likely lean to Gabbert by the end of the season, but that isn't the best way to do look at it due to different systems. What do you see these three quarterbacks doing this season?

Tim Griffin: It wouldn't surprise me if all three end up leading their teams to bowl games before the season ends. Coffman still has to nail down the starting job and will be facing a big challenge this summer when Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas arrive in the Kansas State program. Coffman has the edge now, but it wouldn't surprise me if one of the other two players gets substantial playing time.

I think Zac Lee has already nailed down the starting job at Nebraska, as has Gabbert at Missouri. I expect the Tigers to run the ball more this season, but Gabbert will still provide better passing statistics than the other two. Lee won't match the numbers posted last year by Joe Ganz, but I look for the Cornhuskers to feature a tough running game keyed by Roy Helu Jr. and Quentin Castille. Lee doesn't need to post big numbers, but he should serve as a strong manager of his team's offense.

I would expect Gabbert to have better passing numbers, Lee's team to have the best record and Coffman to occasionally struggle to keep his job. But I still think the Wildcats could sneak into a bowl game -- mainly because of the coaching acumen of Bill Snyder and an underrated defense.


Justin from Kansas City writes: Great blog, Tim. I read it every day. It was a week or two ago when you were blogging about how many similarities there for this year compa
red to the year Texas won the National Championship (USC and Florida being the power houses and winning the Championship the year before, this year it will be in the Rose Bowl, etc ). To add onto that deja vu, Texas is now seeded No. 1 in the NCAA baseball tournament and also won the championship that season. That same year Texas football won it all, so did baseball. Let's hope the trend continues and we find Texas defeating Florida for the National Title like we did USC. Any thoughts?

Tim Griffin: You're correct in the fact that Texas claimed the baseball championship in the spring of 2005 and followed it up with a national championship in football in the fall. Before we start jumping too far in front of ourselves, let's remember that no Big 12 football or baseball team has won a national championship since that run. As a matter of fact, the last five baseball teams to win the national championship were not among the national seeds coming into the championship, including Fresno State, which was a No. 4 regional seed last season. And no Big 12 baseball team has even made it to Omaha since the Longhorns' last trip. That's on top of no Big 12 football championships during that span, although Oklahoma made the BCS title game last year. So it will be interesting to see how things play out.


Lance Cogburn of Tulsa, Okla., writes: Hey Tim, what are your thoughts on Zac Robinson's evolving into a pocket passer for Oklahoma State? His sophomore year was incredible and he kept defenses guessing with his running and passing. Last season, his rushing stats really fell off from the previous year. Now I hear that he's trying to put on more weight. I would think that would make him even less of a threat to run. What kind of impact do you think this will have on Oklahoma State's offensive production this season, if any?

Tim Griffin: I can sense Robinson gaining more comfortable in Mike Gundy and Gunter Brewer's offense. Because of that, he's less compelled to make things happen with his feet. That growing confidence in the offense has been bolstered by the developed of Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant, the best running/receiving combination in the conference and maybe in college football.

Like you mentioned, Robinson is bigger and stronger than he ever has been. I think that will change him even more into a pocket passer. If he can stay healthy, I look for him to have the best passing numbers of his career, although his rushing statistics might drop again.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. I'll catch some more again next week.

Big 12's lunch links: Toasting McCarney's title

January, 16, 2009
1/16/09
12:24
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Happy Friday. Here are some links about what people are talking about across the Big 12.

Five burning questions for Oklahoma State

August, 23, 2008
8/23/08
1:48
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

 
 AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
 The biggest challenge for the Cowboys? Keeping QB Zac Robinson healthy.

Coach Mike Gundy's 2007 season was marked by a celebrated rant that came after one of his team's biggest victories over Texas Tech.

A more sedate Gundy returns this season facing some big challenges in order to improve on his team's 7-6 record. The Cowboys finished with a victory in the Insight.com Bowl -- their second-straight bowl triumph in as many years -- and will be challenged to match that production.

Talented QB Zac Robinson is one of the nation's most underrated players. And the Cowboys should improve defensively with the addition of six junior-college players. But it remains to be seen how much of a step forward can be made in the rugged Big 12 South Division.

Heading into the season, here are five pressing questions that are facing the Cowboys as they prepare for their Aug. 30 opener in Seattle against Washington State.

1. Can Robinson remain healthy? This will be the major concern for Gundy all season. It remains to be seen if the Cowboys will be able to protect their quarterback, which will be no easy task considering his sometimes reckless running abilities. If backups Brandon Weeden or Alex Cate are counted on to take extended snaps, it will be a long season for the Cowboys.

2. Who will emerge at running back? Dantrell Savage led the Big 12 in rushing in conference games and his contributions can't be dismissed. But the Cowboys might not drop off as much as expected with a three-pronged rotation involving Beau Johnson, Kendall "Spud" Hunter and Keith Toston.

3. How will the offense develop without Larry Fedora? The Cowboys were one of the nation's most balanced and productive attacks under Fedora, the Cowboys' former coordinator who left for the head-coaching job at Southern Mississippi. Gundy and new coordinator Gunter Brewer will be challenged to do the same.

4. Will the junior-college arrivals really boost defensive production? Defensive coordinator Tim Beckman has six junior-college players he hopes can crack the two-deep roster: tackles Swanson Miller and Chris Donaldson, end Jeremiah Price, defensive backs Lucien Antoine and Maurice Gray and linebacker Donald Booker. Their development will be one of the biggest factors shaping Oklahoma State's season.

5. Can the Cowboys improve their special teams? Oklahoma State has traditionally been one of the nation's strongest teams under special-teams coach Joe DeForest, although a couple of disturbing trends were seen last season that demand immediate attention. Sophomore walk-on Dan Bailey beat back the challenge of heralded freshman Quinn Sharp for the starting kicker position. Whoever plays has to do better than OSU did last season (1 for 8 in attempts longer than 30 yards). And Oklahoma State will be challenged for better production from its  punt-return and punt-coverage teams after a minus 6.1 yard-per-return difference in 2007.

Big 12 morning links: Briles mum on starting QB

August, 19, 2008
8/19/08
10:31
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

New Baylor coach Art Briles is facing the challenge of his coaching career as he attempts to resuscitate a program that hasn't made a bowl trip since 1994.

The Big 12's South Division will never be a picnic for the Bears, who face the yearly challenge of playing schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

So it's understandable that a relatively problematic quandary like picking his starter for the Aug. 28 opener against Wake Forest isn't that big of a deal for the new Baylor coach.

Briles has a lot of ways to go in deciding whether to start record-breaking QB Blake Szymanski, transfer Kirby Freeman from Miami or heralded freshman Robert Griffin as his starter.

All have shown flashes in training camp.

Waco Tribune-Herald beat writer John Werner thinks Briles' wavering as far as choosing a quarterback is a good idea. It will make Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe prepare in a lot of different ways when he considers whether Szymanski (the better passer), Griffin (most explosive runner) and Freeman (best combination quarterback and most experienced) will get most of the snaps.

I agree with Werner on this. Indecision might be the best decision for the next couple of weeks. And maybe even up to game time against the Demon Deacons.

Hope there's no hesitancy in diving into this steaming pile of hot links. Dig in, because dithering means you miss out.

  • Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman went back to Youngstown,Ohio, to delve into Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' early football background. "He probably would be the ideal symbol of Youngstown," his old coach Don Bucci told Trotter. "I hate to say that, because I'm sure he thinks he was pretty talented. But he was someone with just very average talent, but had a competitiveness and a toughness that nothing was going to stop him from being successful. That's Bobby Stoops, and that would be Youngstown."
  • The Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo addresses the state of the Buffaloes in his weekly chat, with particular attention to uniforms, Darrell Scott and the crowded battle at cornerback.
  • Iowa State struggled mightily last season with its special teams. That's leading coach Gene Chizik to considering using leading 2007 rusher Alexander Robinson as his prime kickoff returner.
  • The Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCullough profiles Kansas WR/backup QB/P Kerry Meier, who might be the conference's most versatile player.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Stu Durando writes about the amazing stability on Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's staff. No assistants have left Pinkel's staff since he took over in 2001.
  • If it's Tuesday it's got to be time for "First downs and second guesses" from the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel. Among the topics are the remembrances of how Tampa Bay All-Star OF Carl Crawford was almost a Cornhusker and the recent collective struggles of formerly dominant programs Miami, Florida State and Nebraska.
  • Missouri offensive linemen were feeling pretty good after Monday's practice. The unit held up reasonably well against the Tigers' No. 1 defensive front and they were treated to popsicles after practice.
  • Oklahoma All-Big 12 DE Auston English returned to practice Monday after missing all of the Sooners' previous work this summer while recovering from an appendectomy.
  • Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says he won't decide until the weekend whether he or co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer end up calling plays this year. Former offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, now coach at Southern Mississippi, was the Cowboys' playcaller last season.
  • Some things never change -- like hard-nosed fullbacks populating the Nebraska program. Thomas Lawson is No. 1 at the position and sophomore Joseph Mackovicka appears ready to continue his family lineage at the position, following older brothers Jeff and Joel.
  • Healthy WR Adron Tennell could be ready to crack Oklahoma's receiving rotation, according to the Tulsa World's Guerin Emig.
  • Veteran Omaha World-Herald Big 12 reporter Lee Barfknecht picks Missouri to win the national championship.
  • Massive 250-pound converted high school quarterback Orie Lemon has emerged as Oklahoma State's likely starting middle linebacker.
  • Kansas' kicking depth has taken a hit after projected starter Stephen Hoge left the team to concentrate on academics and Jacob Brandstetter's status is iffy because of eligibility issues transferring from the Air Force Academy. That leaves Grady Fowler or P Alonso Rojas as the most likely survivor at the position.
  • Competition remains tight between Fozzy Whittaker, Vondrell "The Bulldozer" McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya for the starting tailback job at Texas.
  • Kansas State will likely use a committee of wide receivers to help replace Jordy Nelson's school-record 122 receptions.
  • The Associated Press' Eric Olson has a good story about Cody Glenn's transformation from I-back to linebacker.
  • Kansas lost to Missouri in the showdown for the North Division title last November at Arrowhead Stadium. Yet Kansas still is displaying its co-championship trophy for the division title at its football complex, according to the Kansas City Star's Jeffrey Flanagan.
  • Denver Post beat writer Tom Kensler blogs about the alleged Parade All-America jinx haunting Colorado this season. Watch out Darrell Scott.
  • The Bryan-College Station Eagle's Robert Cessna reported that QB Jerrod Johnson was getting some work as a tight en
    d
    in some formations. And third-string QB Ryan Tannehill made several nifty catches in the team's scrimmage. Sounds to me that Stephen McGee has a hammer lock on the starting QB job.
  • Left-footed K Donnie Carona, who rushed for more than 800 yards last season in high school, is looking forward to concentrating on special teams at Texas Tech. He's in a tight battle with senior Cory Fowler to replace Alex Trlica as the Red Raiders' kicker.

Five questions for Oklahoma State

July, 31, 2008
7/31/08
3:35
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma State will be the first team to begin fall practice as the Cowboys start work late this afternoon to improve on last season's 7-6 record.

Last season was highlighted by Mike Gundy's rant at an Oklahoma City newspaper columnist as much as anything the Cowboys achieved on the field. Even after finishing with an impressive 49-33 victory over Indiana in the Insight.com Bowl, the season was marked as much with close divisional losses against Texas and Texas A&M that ultimately kept them out of title contention.

Gundy has his work cut out this summer. Here are some of questions as the Cowboys start work.

1. How will the new combination of offensive coordinators replace Larry Fedora?

The Cowboys' former offensive coordinator left for the head coaching job at Southern Mississippi after last season. He will be replaced by Gunter Brewer and Trooper Taylor. Gundy promises no major changes in offensive philosophy. It will be interesting if the Cowboys can maintain their proficiency that enabled them to average 200 yards rushing and passing in each of the last two seasons.

2. Who will emerge as the featured running threat?

Dantrell Savage is gone, but Kendall Hunter is back as the leading returning rusher. Will Savage be able to withstand a charge from heralded junior-college transfer Beau Johnson for the starting job?

3. Can a backup quarterback be found? - Zac Robinson is one of the nation's most productive players, one of only tthree players along with Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour to pass for more than 2,800 yards and rush for 800 yards last season. But the Cowboys are sunk if Robinson is injured, unless either Alex Cate or Brandon Weeden really emeges during training camp.

4. Can playmakers be found to replace Adarius Bowman and Savage? - The Cowboys will be missing their top rushing and receiving threats. It will be important for Dez Bryant to emerge as a go-to receiving threat without Bowman. And whoever emerges at running back will struggle to replace Savage, who led the Big 12 in rushing in conference games and finished with 1,272 rushing yards last season.

5. Will six junior-college transfers really make a difference on defense? DE Jeremiah Price, DT Swanson Miller, DT Chris Donaldson, LB Daniel Booker, FS Lucien Antoine and CB Maurice Gray are counted to crack the two-deep roster. All but Booker participated in spring drills. If some step up it will vindicate the gamble that Gundy made in the heavy infusion of junior-college players.

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