Big 12: Johnny Manziel

Big 12 stats that defined the season

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
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Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leaned on defensive improvement in several statistics to finish in the top half of the Big 12 while several stats reveal why Kansas, Iowa State, TCU and West Virginia didn't reach bowl eligibility.

Here is one stat from each Big 12 team that helped define the season:

[+] EnlargeBaker Mayfield, Ahmad Dixon
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesBaylor's offense got most of the pub, but the Bears' defense -- led by senior safety Ahmad Dixon -- was one of the stingiest when it comes to yards allowed per play.
Baylor’s yards per play allowed: The Bears offense has been explosive and high scoring for the past several seasons, so seeing it again in 2013 was nothing new. But, this season, their defense more than held up their end of the bargain allowing 4.53 opponent yards per play, leading the Big 12 and ranking sixth among FBS teams. A defense laced with veterans, including safety Ahmad Dixon, helped BU’s unit rank among the nation’s best, and the athletes that have become commonplace on the Bears offense are starting to surface on the defensive side of the football with talented young guys such as defensive end Shawn Oakman and safety Terrell Burt.

Iowa State’s sacks allowed: The Cyclones allowed 37 sacks in 12 games, an average of 3.08 per game. ISU finished last in the nation and tied for No. 113 among FBS teams in the category. The trouble protecting the passer speaks volumes about the injury struggles Paul Rhoads’ team had along the offensive line. Ten different ISU offensive linemen started games this season, with nine different starting lineups starting the first 11 games. All of ISU’s offensive problems began up front.

Kansas’ yards per play: It’s amazing to think how bad Charlie Weis’ offense was this season. The Jayhawks ranked among the worst in the nation in several categories, but their 4.28 yards per play was No. 120 among FBS teams. KU entered the season with much higher expectations for this offensive unit, particularly with BYU transfer Jake Heaps as the triggerman. Yet the Jayhawks never really found any consistency, as Weis and company tried several different things to jump start the unit. KU scored more than 20 points twice this season, letting down a defense that was much improved over last year’s group.

Kansas State’s yards per play: When you think of the top offenses in the Big 12, it takes a while to get to Kansas State. Yet the Wildcats featured a surprisingly explosive offense despite losing uber-productive quarterback Collin Klein off last year’s squad. This year’s K-State offense averaged 6.3 yards per play, second to only Baylor in the Big 12 and No. 28 among FBS teams. Bill Snyder’s ability to find harmony while using Jake Waters and Daniel Sams in a two-quarterback system led to 33.4 points per game by an offense that didn’t enter the season expected to be among the Big 12’s best.

Oklahoma’s yards allowed per game: The Sooners allowed just 336.3 yards per game to lead the Big 12 and finish No. 13 in the FBS. OU entered the season with a lot of questions and concerns about a defense that was embarrassed by Johnny Manziel in last year's Cotton Bowl and was losing a bunch of starters, yet the Sooners defense improved thanks to several young players, including defensive end Charles Tapper and Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year Dominique Alexander. OU's defense was the foundation of the Sooners' 10-2 season and Sugar Bowl berth.

Oklahoma State’s opponent third down conversion rate: The Cowboys defense was among the Big 12’s best in its first season under Glenn Spencer. Their third down production was superb, allowing opponents to convert just 31.3 percent of their third down attempts to lead the Big 12 and finish seventh among FBS teams. OSU’s veteran defense and willingness to be more aggressive on third downs under Spencer played a key role in its success in those situations and eventual 10-2 finish.

Texas sack percentage: The Longhorns' ability to get after the quarterback played a key role in their success. UT featured two of the Big 12’s top pass rushing threats in Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed. That duo helped UT sack opposing quarterbacks on 8.6 percent of passing plays, ranking No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 9 among FBS teams while finishing with 37 total sacks, including 35 during Big 12 play, helping UT to a 7-2 conference record.

TCU third down conversion rate: The Horned Frogs converted just 32 percent of their third down attempts this season, ranking eighth in the Big 12 and No. 113 among FBS teams. It’s easy to see why the Horned Frogs have brought in former Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to take over their offense. TCU’s defense was good enough to be in the Big 12 title race, its offense was not.

Texas Tech passing yards per game: It was a terrific debut season for head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense despite some musical chairs at the quarterback position. The Red Raiders averaged 392 passing yards per game to lead the Big 12 and rank second among FBS teams despite having true freshmen Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb running the offense. Without one of the nation’s elite passing offenses, it’s unlikely the Red Raiders earn a bowl bid with a 7-5 record.

West Virginia’s opponent third down conversion rate: The Mountaineers allowed opponents to convert 42.7 percent of their third down attempts, ranking last in the Big 12 and No. 91 among FBS teams. WVU’s inability to get off the field in those important moments was one reason the Mountaineers’ defense allowed 455 yards per game, leading to the team's 4-8 finish.

Texas Tech season preview

August, 8, 2013
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Today we take a look at Texas Tech. There is plenty of excitement in Lubbock, as Kliff Kingsbury returns to head the Red Raiders' program.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Coach: Kliff Kingsbury (1st season as a head coach)

2012 record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12)

Key losses: QB Seth Doege, WR Darrin Moore, S Cody Davis, S D.J. Johnson, DT Delvon Simmons, OL LaAdrian Waddle

Kliff Kingsbury
AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-JournalKliff Kingsbury has his guns up in Lubbock again, as the former Texas Tech quarterback returns to coach the Red Raiders.
Key returnees: WR Eric Ward, TE Jace Amaro, DT Kerry Hyder, HB Kenny Williams, DB Tre' Porter, DT Dartwan Bush, LB Will Smith

Newcomer to watch: CB Dee Paul. His combination of speed and competitiveness could earn the true freshman some immediate playing time for the Red Raiders. A small-school star at Munday (Texas) High School, Paul should get plenty of opportunities to make his mark in 2013.

Biggest games in 2013: The Red Raiders could send a message during an early season Thursday night tilt with TCU on Sept. 12. Their conference slate is the toughest down the stretch, as Texas Tech faces the Oklahoma schools --at Oklahoma (Oct. 26) and hosting Oklahoma State (Nov. 2) -- in consecutive weeks before finishing the season with Baylor in Arlington, Texas, (Nov. 16) and at Texas (Nov. 28). Those four games should define Kingsbury's first season as a head coach.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Red Raiders need to find a quarterback to become the face of the offensive system that made Johnny Manziel a Heisman Trophy winner under Kingsbury at Texas A&M last season.

Sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb are the main competitors. Brewer is the odds-on favorite to win the job after backing up Seth Doege last season as a redshirt freshman. But Webb, a true freshman who graduated early to participate in spring football and impressed enough to insert himself into the competition, should not be overlooked.

Forecast: With Kingsbury breathing new life into the program, Texas Tech is already starting to make waves on the recruiting trail. The Red Raiders hope that momentum transfers onto the field as well.

Wide receiver Eric Ward is one of the Big 12’s top offensive threats and joins tight end Jace Amaro to give the Red Raiders a receiving duo that will be difficult for any defense to handle. Now, they just need to find a quarterback who can get them the football. Receiver Jakeem Grant brings explosive speed to the table and DeAndre Washington joins Kenny Williams to give Kingsbury multiple options at running back.

Defensive tackle Kerry Hyder and defensive end Dartwan Bush lead the way as the Red Raiders transition to a 3-4 look on defensive. Bush and Hyder combined for 11 sacks and 26 tackles for loss last season and will be counted on to provide the foundation of Texas Tech’s defense this fall. An experienced and talented defense (eight returning starters) returns for the Red Raiders, which could be the key to any championship run they hope to make in Kingsbury’s first season.
Texas Tech opens up preseason camp on Saturday after players report today. Let's take a closer look at Kliff Kingsbury's squad going into camp.

Schedule: The Red Raiders begin practice on Saturday, and will also host a local media day that day. The Red Raiders open their season in Dallas on the road at SMU on Friday, Aug. 30.

Setting the scene: Tommy Tuberville's exit came out of nowhere this season, but AD Kirby Hocutt gave Tech fans exactly what they wanted: Kliff Kingsbury. He took a measured approach in spring practice, waiting to learn more about his personnel before he locked in what he wanted to do on offense or defense.

Eyeing clarity: Michael Brewer was the assumed starter in Lubbock, but true freshman Davis Webb enrolled early and made a big impression on the coaching staff. For now, there's no starter, but Kingsbury wants to name one in about two weeks, or halfway through fall camp. "We did that last year at Texas A&M and it worked out a little bit for us. Hopefully, we have that same success," Kingsbury noted. Jameill Showers was the assumed starter for the Aggies until midway through fall camp when Johnny Manziel pulled a big surprise and won the job. He did OK once the season arrived.

Fixing a big hole: Delvon Simmons was a solid defensive lineman for the Red Raiders after signing as a blue-chip recruit, but he left for USC back in June in a surprising decision, his second school change since signing a letter of intent with North Carolina in 2011. Tech has to figure out what to do with the tackle spot the 290-pounder left behind. Another top-level recruit, Michael Starts, also transferred. Kerry Hyder is a star, but the Red Raiders need Jackson Richards to step up in their absence. Hyder might slide over and replace Simmons in the middle, with Branden Jackson moving to defensive end. Redshirt freshman Anthony Smith has an opportunity in camp, too.

All eyes on: Kingsbury. He's attracted a ton of attention since taking the job, which is no surprise after he helped Manziel win the Heisman and returned home to his alma mater at 33, making him college football's youngest major conference coach. He brought back a ton of young assistants to Lubbock with Texas Tech ties, and the youth across the staff can be argued as a major positive or negative. Wins will decide which it is. There has been so much talk between visits with media and alumni. Kingsbury said this week he's tired of it. The heavy-duty work will start on Saturday. I'm sure you'd be hard-pressed to find someone more excited than him.

On the mend: Linebacker Terrance Bullitt is a big-time talent that's a little underrated across the league. He suffered a shoulder injury down the stretch in 2012, and that shoulder has been a constant issue since he first hurt it back in 2011. He sounded psyched this spring, saying the game was "fun again" and he's back to full health. Tech's defense will benefit.

Emphasis: Kingsbury knew two big things had to be fixed right away: Penalties and turnovers. The Red Raiders committed almost a full penalty more than any team in the Big 12 and ranked 121st nationally in the stat. They also forced just 11 turnovers in 12 games, less than all but two teams in college football. That has been the focus all offseason, and if he fixes that, Tech will improve in a hurry.

Outlook: The Red Raiders didn't get a vote in the coaches poll, and the Big 12 media picked the Red Raiders seventh in the league. That's a fitting spot, but Tech is an experienced team with a lot of upside, even if it is short on truly elite talents. Eric Ward and Jace Amaro are fantastic 1-2 targets in the passing game, and Jakeem Grant adds some major explosiveness to the offense. Tech will be able to beat anybody in the Big 12, but in a deep league, they can lose to most teams, too. This looks like a 7-8 win team to me.

Quotable: Kingsbury, on the SEC's dominance as he moves into the Big 12. "I think anytime you win seven national championships in a row, you're on top. That's hard to dispute that. Great defenses, great coaches in that league, and I feel the same about the Big 12. I think it's cyclical in a way that in a couple years the Big 12 may be making the same sort of run."

The Big 12-SEC dream games

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
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The SEC and Big 12 announced an annual challenge on the basketball court, but colleague Edward Aschoff wondered what it would look like if that challenge extended to the football field.

There are already two games on the schedule this season -- between TCU and LSU, and Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. What else would I like to see?

Let me start by saying that renewing the Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas rivalries are a given. I'm omitting those matchups, but I'd love to see them.

Let's get started:

Oklahoma State vs. Alabama: OSU narrowly missed out on playing for the national title back in 2011, and both are among their conference favorites again in 2013. When the BCS "snubbed" the Pokes after the 2011 regular season, OSU coach Mike Gundy half-jokingly suggested these two play for the right to play LSU in the title game. It would be fun to see this one finally played out on the field.

Baylor vs. LSU: Straight up offense vs. defense. That's the Big 12 vs. SEC debate at its heart. Baylor just might be the Big 12's best offense, and LSU will put together another strong defense. These are the matchups we want to see. The Big 12 has faltered on the big stage, helping the SEC stretch its run of national titles, but seeing Bryce Petty sling it around against an athletic defense would be a lot of fun.

Texas vs. Arkansas: Arkansas' exit from the Southwest Conference helped usher in the birth of the Big 12 after the SWC crumbled. Texas has bigger rivals like Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but these two played some of the greatest games in college football history, and as an Arkansas native, I've seen up close how much Razorbacks fans detest the Longhorns to this day. The result would be a great game and a hyped atmosphere.

TCU vs. Texas A&M: Texas A&M fans take exception to the idea that TCU was an on-field "upgrade" over the Aggies in the Big 12. The Aggies largely struggled in the Big 12 after some early success and a Big 12 title under R.C. Slocum. Since leaving for the SEC, the Aggies have gone nowhere but up, and ended 2012 as the hottest team in college football. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has a Heisman Trophy. Could he shred the Frogs? Want to prove TCU is not an upgrade? Beat TCU on the field.

Kansas State vs. Florida: Kansas State is perpetually underrated and wins with a bunch of junior college guys, and high school players overlooked by major programs. Florida won big under Urban Meyer, but has been largely overrated since Meyer left and was whacked by Louisville to end 2012. The Gators would be suiting up an army of recruiting stars, but could Bill Snyder, the Manhattan Magician, grab a win for the Big 12?

Oklahoma vs. Georgia: Mark Richt and Bob Stoops have one big thing in common: Neither fan base truly appreciates what their coach has accomplished. Consider this an opportunity for both to quiet the hot-seat talk. It's been a lot more intense for Richt, who endured a 6-7 season back in 2010, but he's won the SEC East in each of the past two seasons. Stoops has averaged just over 10 wins a season at Oklahoma, and Richt has averaged just under 10 wins. Call this the "Underappreciated Bowl."
Oklahoma's defense made it through the second week of November and had given up more than 21 points just twice. The Sooners lost both games, but any good Big 12 offense can feel good about its chances if its defense gives up just 24 and 30 points, especially at home.

[+] EnlargeMike Stoops
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesDefensive coordinator Mike Stoops says that Oklahoma's defense needs to be better schematically next season.
New defensive coordinator Mike Stoops looked like he'd made an impact, but after beating Iowa State in Ames, the streak of strong defensive play from the Sooners stopped. It survived 34 points from Baylor and big plays late from quarterback Landry Jones helped the Sooners beat West Virginia and rival Oklahoma State despite giving up 49 and 48 points, respectively.

Jones' heroics overshadowed the defensive struggles a bit, but there was no hiding from an embarrassing 41-13 blowout loss at the hand of ex-Big 12 rival Texas A&M, lowlighted by 229 rushing yards and 287 passing yards from Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who also accounted for four touchdowns.

"You can’t give up that many yards and that many points and expect to win. We’ve got to find ways to be better against those kinds of teams. That’s what we’re concentrating on [this spring]," Stoops said. "A lot of teams you can go out there and it doesn’t matter what you play, you can beat a lot of teams, but when you go up against the top-level teams, you’ve got to come up with something a little different and variations and that’s where we came up short, those kinds of games."

There's no excusing the points, but how much of those struggles were the Sooners playing poorly, and how much of it was going head-to-head with four teams that ranked in the top 10 in total offense and scoring offense?

"Our plan was off against Tavon Austin, they kind of caught us with our pants down, and we didn’t have really an answer. Structrually, you’ve got to be better than that," Stoops said. "A&M, I think that was probably one of the hardest teams we’ve had to defend here ever, maybe."

Austin spent almost all his time at West Virginia as a receiver, but the Mountaineers moved him to running back against the Sooners. He promptly racked up a school-record 344 rushing yards and had 572 all-purpose yards, seven short of the NCAA record. Against the Aggies, the Sooners' pass rush went absent and the linebackers and secondary consistently lost contain on Manziel, who turned broken plays into big plays on countless occasions in the Aggies' romp.

"Those three teams average more than 550 yards a game so that’s their average. You’ve got to look at it, but certainly we want to have our expectations," Stoops said of the Aggies, Cowboys and Mountaineers. "It’s a little bit of us not being good enough schematically and position by positon. When you get stressed like that when you play good teams, you get stressed across the board, and we have to be better than we were a year ago, and that’s individually and schematically."
How many hours until we get to take another visit to Dunk City?
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds made headlines this week when he reiterated his stance against playing Texas A&M any time in the near future, though he admitted the game would likely happen at some point. Who gets to decide when?

"They're the ones that decided not to play us. We get to decide when we play again. I think that's fair," he said.

Another old Texas A&M rival from the Big 12 has struck a different tune, though. Texas Tech wants to play Texas A&M, and it doesn't sound like it'll be too long before it happens.

"I would think soon,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal of the renewal's timeline. “(Athletic director) Kirby (Hocutt)’s excited about it. I’m excited about it, so hopefully we can come to an agreement and get that thing rolling. I just think it’s a great thing for the state. It’s a great rivalry, a great football game and it would be great for Texas."

He added that he'd "love to be a part of that again."

At last week's Big 12 basketball tournament, Hocutt expressed a desire to resume the series in a meeting with media.

"We would welcome the opportunity to play Texas A&M in every sport," Hocutt told reporters. "It was a fun rivalry, a good rivalry and one in the future that we can begin again."

Texas A&M athletic director Eric Hyman doesn't sound like he's standing in the way of the renewal either.

"We would entertain anything," he told the Dallas Morning News.

It's great to hear talk like that, and just like the Texas series, A&M's rivalry with Texas Tech will be a great game to get renewed. It's not the crown jewel like the Thanksgiving tradition between the state's two biggest football rivals, but it's a step in the right direction for sure.

Texas A&M and Missouri's 2011 exit to the SEC, less than a year after the Big 12 momentarily stabilized with 10 teams, inspired plenty of bad blood across the Big 12, but those feelings shouldn't stop rivalry games that helped make college football great from happening again. Texas Tech isn't Texas A&M's chief rival, but both programs love beating the other, and it can only help marquee rivalries like Texas and Texas A&M and Missouri and Kansas to resume before long.

Kingsbury, who took the head coaching job at Texas Tech after just one season as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator, joked that the Red Raiders should wait to schedule the game until Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel packs his bags and leaves A&M's campus.

The Red Raiders open spring practice on Friday, and Kingsbury met with reporters after throwing out the first pitch -- he says it was a strike -- at Texas Tech's baseball game against Arizona State on Tuesday.

The Journal noted that Hocutt spoke last fall of beefing up the nonconference schedule, but that it wouldn't be a possibility until 2015 of 2016, when the schedule was a bit clearer.

That would be fine with me, but the sooner Texas A&M gets to take the field against its old rivals from the Big 12, the better.

Lunch links: Much to gain at the combine

February, 19, 2013
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I just want to be really clear: Chopsticks is not the measure of a man.

Seastrunk the Big 12 Heisman favorite?

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
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After Joseph Randle elected to take his 1,400 rushing yards to the NFL and skip his senior season, the Big 12 looked pretty thin in terms of Heisman candidates.

The sports betting entertainment website Bovada released its 2013 Heisman odds, and no Big 12 player appeared in the top 15, and no player had better than 20/1 odds. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman winner, led the pack, but in what could be a quiet Big 12 season near the top of the final BCS standings ever, the league's Heisman favorite according to the site is the same man who says he's winning the trophy in 2013: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk.

The last three award winners (Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton) emerged from relative preseason obscurity to win the title, so maybe Seastrunk's chances are better than some think, but only one other Big 12 player cracked the list of the top 23 players who could win the award.

He's never even started a game, too. Oklahoma's Blake Bell sits with 30/1 odds and still has to officially win the starting job for the Sooners.

Can one of the league's new starting quarterbacks emerge to win the award like Manziel did? With very little preseason Heisman hype in the league, that may be the Big 12's best chance to win its third Heisman since 2008.
Thanks for all your emails this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Mark Rose in Manhattan, Kan. writes: David,I love reading your stuff, thank you. I am a big Colin Klien fan and I think he was a master at running the K-State offense. My question is where do you see him in the NFL? If he called you what advice would you give him, stay a QB, or become a tight end, or maybe switch to defense? Let me know your thoughts.Thanks,Mark

David Ubben: Love Klein, and I do think he'll be successful at something if he puts his mind to it. But in the NFL, he's going to face questions at every corner. It's up to him to prove them unfounded. He doesn't have enough velocity or accuracy to become an NFL starter. That's tough to change. If he wanted to become a receiver or a tight end or maybe an H-back, he'll have the raw skills, but can he prove himself as a blocker? That kind of stuff gets way overlooked, and it's the most difficult part of guys trying to move positions at a higher level.

I don't see him as a guy who could have a long career as an NFL QB, but I could see him working on his blocking and finding a place on an NFL roster for a long time. It won't be easy. He'll have to really want to do it, but he's a big body and a physical presence. Getting his technique down is something he can change.


Blake Kennis in Austin, Texas, writes: All right, last week I acknowledged that I believed you were correct in your power rankings by having the Horns 5th, but you took your criticism too far with these "season report cards." How is it you can give the Longhorns a C+ when they finish 9-4 and went 2-3 against top-25 teams, one of which was in a strong finish against a top-15 opponent. All the while giving Baylor a full letter grade higher with a B and Okie State an A-. This is an outrageous analysis that neglects the fact that you don't have to be smart to get a quality grade. You just need to get the right score on test day, and both Baylor and Okie State did not do that. The only teams that truly earned a higher grade than Texas are K-state, Oklahoma, and maybe TCU if you're generous. There is now arguing this Ubben, the proof is in the pudding.

DU: I wrote about this on the report cards, but preseason expectations and overall talent definitely plays into these grades. Texas returned a lot of talent from an eight-win team and won ... nine games. That's pretty average, especially for Texas. You can't belabor the point enough: Since 2009, Texas hasn't looked like the team on the field that has so, so many advantages off the field. This year was certainly included.

Meanwhile, Baylor and Oklahoma State lost some of the best players to ever play in this league or play for their respective schools and won eight games. Oklahoma State did so despite having two quarterbacks suffer significant injuries. If you don't think that's more impressive than what Texas did, well, we're just going to have to agree to disagree.

Brian in Raleigh, N.C., writes: Now that the NFL has improved their overtime rules, any chance college football adopts the new NFL scheme?

DU: I don't see it ever happening. It's all about where you're coming from. NFL overtime was terrible, and far too reliant on luck. The percentage of teams that won the coin toss, scored and won without the other team touching the ball wasn't super high, but it was ridiculous that it was a possibility. Fixing that is a step in the right direction, but college football overtime is amazing. Few want it changed. Public opinion is certainly not in favor of it. That's pretty powerful in stuff like this.

The new NFL format made NFL overtime better. If college went to it, it would make college overtime worse. I'd support teams getting the ball at the 35 or 40 instead of the 25, so you aren't gifted a field goal and defenses could make a bigger impact, but I'd never want to see a wholesale change away from college football's current overtime.

Chris in Stillwater, Okla., writes: Remember when you accused Iowa State of copying USC because of their very similar uniforms. Thats what I think of the Baylor helmet, only its a knock off of the Notre Dame helmet. I know Baylor usually has gold colored helmets, but solid gold is Notre Dames brand.

DU: I hear you on this, Chris, but it's not the same thing. For one, the gold facemask is amazing. Notre Dame doesn't do that. For two, Iowa State's entire uniform looks like USC. Baylor's obviously look nothing like Notre Dame's so adding the gold helmet would hardly cause folks to notice the similarities. Also, the gold helmets would be an alternate for special games, not the norm. Iowa State's jerseys are the norm. And look exactly like USC's.

Reagan F. in Texas writes: What are the chances Michael Brewer has similar stats to Johnny Manziel considering they have the same play style and Brewer now has Kingsbury? Could Tech get 10+ wins?

DU: That's asking a lot -- particularly with his legs. I could definitely see Brewer equaling Manziel's passing stats. Throwing for 3,700 yards or so, completing 68 percent of his passes with 26 scores and nine picks is a high bar, but certainly a realistic goal. But scrambling around and running for 1,200 yards? That's absurd. That's what set Manziel apart. Brewer will be good. I've got high hopes for him. I don't think it's too critical to suggest he's not going to equal the season of the first player to ever win a Heisman Trophy as a freshman.
We're continuing our countdown of the Big 12's top 25 players from the 2012 season. Here's more on my criteria for the list. You can take a look at how the preseason list looked here.

The official list is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we'll be revealing one player a day moving forward.

Let's keep this train rolling.

No. 24: Nick Florence, QB, Baylor

2012 numbers: Completed 286 of 464 (61.6 percent) passes for 4,309 yards, 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ran 139 times for 568 yards and 10 touchdowns. Also punted twice for an average of 46.5 yards.

Most recent ranking: Florence was unranked in our preseason list of the Big 12's top 25 players.

Making the case for Florence: It feels a little wrong to have the Big 12's leading passer this low on the list, a guy who averaged over 9.0 yards a pass attempt this season. He had tons of help in the form of the Big 12's best two deep threats, Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese, but Baylor needed someone to fill the shoes of Robert Griffin III. Florence was outstanding. He struggled at times early in the conference season, but he was a big part of Baylor's late-season surge and four-game winning streak to close the season. His questionable decision-making at times kept him from finishing higher on this list, but it's clear that Art Briles did it again: He found, developed and started a fantastic quarterback to make his high-flying offense run. Florence finished second nationally in total offense, at over 375 yards a game. Only Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M averaged more, but last year RG III averaged only nine more per game. This season, Florence even broke Griffin's school record for passing yards, topping RG III by 16 yards with a strong performance in the Bears' bowl win over UCLA.

The rest of the list:
Here's a bit of what you missed over the weekend in the Big 12, excluding Sunday's big news out of Fort Worth.

Stoops draws ire with Johnny Manziel comments

I don't know what you'd necessarily call this. A straight insult? A backhanded compliment? Either way, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops raised eyebrows with a quote near the end of an appearance on an Oklahoma City radio station on Friday.

Transcription courtesy of The Oklahoman:
I’ve never felt as helpless as we were the other night, that’s for sure. You know, anytime you can go for 500 yards against a team like Alabama, what they did to Notre Dame, you don’t need to say anything else. On the road, at Alabama, that guy was phenomenal that night, and he just creates so many problems for your defense, and he knows what those problems are. He understands them very, very well. They’re gonna be tough to deal with. If they can keep him out of jail or keep him eligible, he’s gonna be pretty good. If they can keep him off the Twitter, he might win three or four Heismans. He’ll have that type of ability.”

Hello! Stoops later apologized for the comments through a spokesman, expressing his regret, but it's not a good look. Manziel has a pretty active Twitter account that drew some heat for photos that were posted in the days following the Aggies' win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, and Manziel was also arrested before the season after presenting a fake ID to police following his alleged involvement in a fight in College Station.

You could call it bulletin board material, but the Aggies and Sooners aren't scheduled to play for the foreseeable future, considering Texas A&M's SEC membership. Stoops' comments were clearly a joke, albeit one in poor taste. It's never good for a coach to joke at the expense of a 20-year-old kid, especially in a public forum. Manziel already responded (kind of) on Twitter, tweeting a post from the blog "Every Day Should Be Saturday" that read "[puts ten bucks on Manziel staying at his current job longer than Mike Stoops]."

Jokes aside, it sounds like both of these guys could use a timeout.

McCoy, Hicks reinstated to Texas' team

Case McCoy and Jordan Hicks have been reinstated and rejoined the Longhorns after being sent home from the Valero Alamo Bowl.

"Obviously when you break team rules there's a certain amount of trust that has been broken, and that will be addressed with further discipline," Brown said in a statement. "That discipline will be handled within the team."

McCoy, a senior quarterback, and Hicks, a junior linebacker, were both suspended from the team the day before the Valero Alamo Bowl for reasons that Brown declined to specify. The suspensions followed a KENS-TV report that two unidentified Texas players were being investigated for sexual assault.

For more on our story, go here.

Sooners, Cowboys chasing top receiver

LaQuon Treadwell spent the weekend in Stillwater, giving Oklahoma State the last word in the chase for the nation's No. 1 receiver and No. 19 on our ESPN 150.

Treadwell has narrowed his top three to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and likely favorite Ole Miss. Treadwell visited Oklahoma back on Dec. 14. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout from Illinoise had this to say to ESPNChicago.com:
"Once I get home this weekend, I will know where I want to go," Treadwell said in a telephone interview while at Oklahoma State. "Just want to be comfortable with the coach. I want it to be some place I can step in and make an impact on the program and help them out.

"I want it to be a place where they treat you as more than just a player. I understand it's a business. It's a business for the coaches and everything. But I want to go with a coach who knows you as a person and not just a player. I want to go somewhere where I could see myself living there and not just as a football player."

Both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma need impact players at receiver, but we'll see where Treadwell elects to go on Thursday.

Texas Tech finds its defensive coordinator

Texas A&M linebackers coach Matt Wallerstedt is headed to Lubbock to become Texas Tech's new defensive coordinator under Kliff Kingsbury, according to a report in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Kingsbury, formerly the offensive coordinator at A&M, made Wallerstedt the Red Raiders' fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons.

Before that, Wallerstedt spent four seasons under Troy Calhoun at Air Force.

Oklahoma defense still in decline

January, 5, 2013
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- After yet another Johnny Manziel touchdown, Mike Stoops didn't hop and scream. Didn't track down the defender who missed the assignment. Oklahoma's otherwise fiery defensive coordinator simply took his headset off and hung it at his side. He didn't say a word. There was nothing to say.

Friday night, it was Johnny Football's turn to sock it to this punching bag of an Oklahoma defense as Texas A&M rolled to a 41-13 pasting in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

The Aggies set a Cotton Bowl record with 599 yards of offense, even after letting off the gas pedal long before the fourth quarter mercifully came to an end. Manziel broke the individual yardage record, too, making the Sooners look even more ridiculous than they did against West Virginia's Tavon Austin.

"Best player I've ever seen," said Stoops, who also said the same of Austin after he rushed for 344 yards facing the Sooners.

During the offseason, head coach Bob Stoops brought his brother back to resuscitate a defense that had been on the mat the previous two seasons.

Like they had been for decades, the Sooners were dominant defensively through Mike Stoops' first stint in Norman. SEC dominant. Championship dominant. Even against Heisman winners. Ask Florida State's Chris Weinke.

But it has been five years now since the Sooners were serious national title contenders past October, and hope-for-the-best defense is a major reason why. Yet even with the regime change from Brent Venables to Mike Stoops, the defense continued its decline in 2012.

For Jake Trotter's full column, click here.


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Oklahoma's defense had heard the legends about Johnny Football. They'd seen the highlight reels and trophy acceptance speeches.

Until Friday, though, they had never stepped on the same field with the first freshman to win a Heisman Trophy. After Texas A&M's 20-year-old superstar rolled over the Sooners for 516 total yards (229 rushing, 287 throwing) and four touchdowns in a 41-13 Cotton Bowl victory, Oklahoma couldn't help but be glad his college years will be spent on fields across the SEC and not the Big 12 -- where the Aggies would have been if not for some conference upheaval over the past two years.

"Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He makes everybody miss him. He was what you've seen on tape the whole year."

Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops called Manziel the best player he'd ever played, which carries a special significance considering Stoops' defense gave up 344 rushing yards and 572 all-purpose yards to a shifty, speedy receiver named Tavon Austin from West Virginia barely six weeks ago, the second-most all-purpose yards in a game in FBS history.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel, Tony Jefferson
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsJohnny Manziel sprints away from Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson during a second-half run.
"He's not a Heisman winner for no reason," said Oklahoma safety Javon Harris, who scooped up an interception off Manziel when receiver Malcome Kennedy bobbled what likely should have been Manziel's fifth touchdown of the night. "You saw what he did to the SEC all year. We knew exactly what we were going to get into."

Stoops' defense refused to blitz Manziel for most of the night, but the Aggies' strong offensive line -- led by bookends and future NFL first-round picks Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews -- hardly allowed Oklahoma's defensive linemen to make Manziel notice they were even trying to chase him down. For much of the game, Oklahoma's secondary would cover the Aggies' receivers, but Manziel would find a crease and turn a broken play into a big gain.

"It's hard if you've got an angle on him," Bob Stoops said. "He stops, goes the other way. If you don't he outruns you."

Despite spending the past month making a post-Heisman nationwide media circuit and losing his offensive coordinator, Kliff Kingsbury, Manziel strung together one of the best highlight reels in bowl history, which was set to a soundtrack of "Johnny B. Goode" from Chuck Berry on the big screen at Cowboys Stadium as the final minutes of the game ticked away and Texas A&M fans serenaded the exiting Oklahomans with an "S-E-C" chant.

More like Johnny B. Great.

"There wasn't anything holding us back. No rust. There was no nothing," Manziel said.

He energized the crowd as few have ever had the ability to do, the volume level in Cowboys Stadium rising quickly any time he fled the pocket. Oklahoma's defense could do little to stop him or to quiet the Aggies-friendly crowd of 87,025, the biggest Cotton Bowl crowd ever at the venue.

A media flock hounding him while he did required postgame TV and radio interviews couldn't catch him either after he sprinted from midfield to the corner of the stadium to finish the last few bars of the "Aggie War Hymn" with his teammates in front of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.

"This is kind of a game that turned the page again," Manziel said. "People asked me earlier in the year about what game made it all click. There was the Arkansas game, and this game tonight made me flash back to that."

That's a scary thought for the rest of the SEC, which could spend the next three years chasing a quarterback nobody can seem to catch, inside or outside the pocket. He helped Texas A&M become the first offense in SEC history to amass 7,000 total yards, and there's no reason he won't do it again. With Manziel taking snaps and breaking tackles, there will be plenty of national title talk in Aggieland over the next few months, with a blowout victory over the Sooners serving as springboard. Texas A&M proved it was better than national title game favorite Alabama on a November afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Can it be better than everyone in the nation for three months next fall?

"For everybody next year, this is the first game of the new year," A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "It sets the bar."

Manziel will be around to help us all find out if the Aggies will clear it.

Instant analysis: Texas A&M 41, OU 13

January, 4, 2013
1/04/13
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Another Cotton Bowl, another bad loss for the Big 12. Excluding current SEC member Missouri's win back in 2008, the Big 12 has lost the Cotton Bowl to an SEC opponent in eight consecutive seasons. Johnny Football put on a show after a month away and showed zero signs of rust and a zillion signs of being an endless source of frustration for Oklahoma's defense.

The Big 12 finished 4-5 in its nine bowl games, and the SEC improved to 4-3 in its bowl games. Let's take a look at some instant analysis for Texas A&M's 41-13 blowout win over the Sooners.

It was over when: Facing a fourth-and-5 late in the third quarter, Manziel hit Ryan Swope over the middle on a short slant. Swope shed a tackler and raced 33 yards to put the Aggies up, 34-13. That capped a run of three Oklahoma three-and-outs to begin the second half and spelled doom for the Sooners.

Game ball goes to: Johnny Manziel. I mean, who else? He broke the Cotton Bowl record for total yards with 516 and accounted for four touchdowns. It could have even been five, too, if not for Malcome Kennedy's bobbling a pass in the end zone that was eventually intercepted by Oklahoma's Javon Harris.

Stat of the game: Oklahoma averaged 4.8 yards per play. Texas A&M averaged 9.6 yards per play. It was really that simple in this one. Johnny Football made the Aggies dangerous on what seemed like every snap. Oklahoma's offense played well in the first half, but it rarely looked easy, and Texas A&M prevented the Sooners from breaking big plays. It also clamped down in the red zone.

Unsung hero of the game: Texas A&M's offensive line. Get a good, long look at Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews serving as bookends on this line. They might be gone soon, cashing big-time checks as NFL first-round picks. Mike Sherman had well-chronicled struggles, but the offensive line guru left some big beef for Manziel and the Aggies offense to operate behind. It showed tonight. Oklahoma rarely blitzed, for fear of Manziel running loose in the second level, but he had all day to throw and little pressure on most snaps.

What Texas A&M learned: Heisman jinx, December distractions, coaching changes, whatever. It all seemed pretty irrelevant in this game. Johnny Football looked like his usual self, if not better. He broke loose for 47 rushing yards on Texas A&M's opening drive and didn't slow down from there. Kliff Kingsbury checked out as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator, but Clarence McKinney had a solid performance in his debut as play-caller. Manziel insisted he wasn't distracted and that the whirlwind of awards and television appearances after winning the Heisman hadn't changed him. His performance validated those claims.

What Oklahoma learned: Just like Kansas State and Notre Dame, the Sooners were incapable of beating the elite teams in college football this year. A 10-3 season isn't bad, but it's not good enough at Oklahoma. The Sooners might not have even been happy going 1-2 in those losses, but 0-3 will leave a very bitter taste in their mouths thinking back on a season that was very average by the Sooners' sky-high standards. Any notion that it had a formula for stopping or even slowing down the Johnny Football train went out the window. He had his way with the Sooner defense, which tackled poorly, too.

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