Big 12: Keenan Taylor

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 11

November, 11, 2013
11/11/13
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Taking stock of Week 11 in the Big 12:

Teams of the week: For the first time this season, we're recognizing two teams here, as both Baylor and Kansas State snagged the biggest wins of their seasons in impressive fashion.

The Wildcats jumped to a 35-10 lead at then-No. 25 Texas Tech, then coasted to a 49-26 rout. QBs Daniel Sams and Jake Waters produced the two-highest Big 12 Adjusted QBRs of the week (98.4 and 94.9), while John Hubert, who had a 63-yard touchdown run on the opening drive, finished with a season-high 157 rushing yards.

Baylor was equally dominant in a 41-12 win Thursday night over Oklahoma. QB Bryce Petty kept his Heisman campaign alive with three touchdowns passes and two touchdown runs. Baylor's defense put the clamps on the Sooners, holding them to just 237 yards, the lowest output from an OU offense since 2007.

Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma traveled to Waco with a chance to gain an upper hand over the Big 12's favorite. Instead, the Sooners were exposed as a second-tier team in the conference. OU was especially dreadful offensively. Blake Bell completed just 15 of 35 passes with two interceptions for a raw QBR score of 5.9 (scale 0-to-100). The Sooners averaged only 2.6 yards per carry on the ground, as well, with just one run going for more than 10 yards. With games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State still looming, the Sooners could be on the verge of their worst season since 2009.

[+] EnlargeShock Linwood
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezThird-team running back Shock Linwood had his third 100-yard game for Baylor on Thursday.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Baylor running back Shock Linwood, TCU receiver/quarterback Trevone Boykin and the Kansas State offensive line.

With Lache Seastrunk banged up and Glasco Martin injured, Linwood kept the Baylor ground game rolling without a hitch, piling up 182 yards while averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Despite being Baylor's third-team tailback, Linwood astonishingly is second in the Big 12 with an average of 89.3 rushing yards per game.

Back in the role he was always meant for, Boykin was excellent at Iowa State as a receiver and change-of-pace quarterback. He scored three touchdowns on five carries, including a one-yard keeper in the final minute to lift TCU to a 21-17 win. Boykin also had four receptions.

Finally, K-State's offensive line obliterated Texas Tech up front, setting the tone for the Wildcats in Lubbock. Behind Cornelius Lucas, Cody Whitehair, BJ Finney, Keenan Taylor and Tavon Rooks, the Wildcats rolled up 291 yards on the ground with an average of almost seven yards per carry.

Big (defensive) men on campus: Texas defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed, Oklahoma State defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon and Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman.

The Longhorns gave up 40 points in Morgantown, but Jeffcoat and Reed were swarming West Virginia's backfield all night. The two combined for three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, as the defense gave the Texas offense excellent field position for most of the game.

Barnett spearheaded another strong defensive effort from the Cowboys in a 42-6 win over Kansas. Barnett had five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Dixon led Baylor's shutdown effort of the Sooners. He had a team-high 8 tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup, as Oklahoma failed to score a touchdown until late in the third quarter.

Zimmerman gutted out a shoulder injury to lead the Wildcats defensively. He had a couple of big hits, and a 43-yard interception return to provide the exclamation point in Lubbock.

Special-teams players of the week: Oklahoma State returner Justin Gilbert, Iowa State returner DeVondrick Nealy and Texas kicker Anthony Fera.

With former Oklahoma State great Barry Sanders in attendance, Gilbert pulled off his best Sanders impression, taking the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

Nealy opened the third quarter against TCU with a 98-yard TD return that tied the game.

As he has been all year, Fera was clutch in Texas' overtime win at West Virginia. He converted all five of his extra points and all four of his field goals, including the 24-yarder in the final seconds to send the game to overtime. Fera has missed only one field goal attempt all season, and the four makes at West Virginia were a career-best.

Play of the week: With 59 seconds to play, Texas faced fourth-and-7 trailing West Virginia 40-37. Out of a timeout, QB Case McCoy stepped into the blitz and delivered a first-down strike to Jaxon Shipley a yard ahead of the marker. Fera ended the drive with a game-tying field goal, then the Longhorns prevailed in overtime to win their sixth straight game.

Stat of the week: After surrendering an average of 7.0 yards per carry in losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the Texas defense has held its past six opponents to a combined average of 3.2, with nobody topping more than 4.0 in a game.

Quote of the week: "We're not a tradition. But we're going to be here awhile, the way this thing is going." -- Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, after the Bears' 41-12 win over Oklahoma
Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll continue our look at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.

Next up: Kansas State.

Strongest position: Offensive line.

K-State already had one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12 last season, posting 42 rushing touchdowns, the most in the Big 12. It also had the fourth-most rushing yards in the league and the fourth highest yards per carry average while giving up just 14 sacks, second-fewest in the Big 12.

I've got bad news for the rest of the Big 12: Just one player from K-State's two-deep on the 2012 offensive line will be gone. Starters B.J. Finney and Cornelius Lucas return to headline the unit, flanked by Cody Whitehair, Keenan Taylor and Tavon Rooks. Boston Stiverson provided additional depth, but only reserve left guard Nick Puetz won't return from the 2012 Big 12 title team.

K-State loses quarterback Collin Klein, but the strong play up front should make life easier for running back John Hubert, who topped 900 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons, helping K-State win 22 games over that span. New quarterback Daniel Sams or Jake Waters will certainly look a little better behind these big guys up front with a lot of experience and even more talent.

Weakest position: Linebacker

On the flip side, no position has been hit harder by the losses from last year's team than linebacker. K-State returns just two starters on defense and no position was hit harder than linebacker. Tre Walker will return from a knee injury and should be a leader for the unit, but only one player on the season-ending two deep at all three linebacker positions returns: Junior Jonathan Truman, who was 10th on the team with 25 tackles. Walker's a solid player and was playing well before going down in the middle of the season, but you never really know how guys will look when they come back from knee injuries, especially a position like linebacker that depends so heavily on explosion and change of direction.

K-State will have to fill a whole lot of spots this spring once practice opens next month, and it's clear the task ahead won't be easy for defensive coordinator Tom Hayes and linebackers coach Mike Cox. Guys like Arthur Brown don't come around very often, and even replacing solid talents like Justin Tuggle and Jarell Childs is tougher than you'd think. We'll see how K-State matches up this fall. It's all about finding guys ready to step up and assume a much bigger role on the defense.

More Weak and Strong.

Breaking down spring camp: Kansas State

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
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Kansas State is the last Big 12 team to take the field this spring. Let's take a closer look:

Schedule: Kansas State holds the first of 15 practices today, capped by the Purple/White game on April 28. Practices are closed to fans and media.

What's new: The expectations. Kansas State returns 18 starters from last season's team; only seven teams in college football return more. Last season's team was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12, but won 10 games and earned a second-place finish. Bring back a team like that, and the spring's going to sound very, very different. Kansas State will likely tote a top-15 ranking into the season, and there's a lot more attention being paid to Manhattan this spring after Bill Snyder proved returning to the sidelines was a worthy cause.

New faces: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh left for South Florida, but new defensive coordinator Tom Hayes inherits a great defense with plenty of talent and experience. Kansas State also welcomes several early enrollees: quarterback Tavarius Bender, fullback Glenn Gronkowski, and defensive lineman Wesley Hollingshed from the juco ranks. Hollingshed, a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder from Texas, could help fill the void left by defensive tackle Ray Kibble, who made 38 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2011.

Breaking out: Arthur Brown earned plenty of attention last season, but fellow linebacker Tre Walker could be poised for a big junior season. Walker made 52 stops last season, and broke up three passes.

Big shoes to fill: The offensive line. Kansas State's rushing attack carried it to the Cotton Bowl last season, but the biggest losses were on the front line. Tackles Clyde Aufner and Zach Hanson, and guard Colton Freeze are gone, so finding replacements this spring will be important. Center B.J. Finney might emerge as one of the team's leaders, but look for guys like Cornelius Lucas, Jordan Allred and Ethan Douglas to get the first shot at filling those holes. Keenan Taylor should be a factor at guard, too. Kansas State also brought in juco transfers Tavon Rooks and Ellwood Clement on the line. Last season's starting left tackle, Manese Foketi, suffered a season-ending injury early, but could be granted a medical redshirt and return for 2012.

All eyes on: Collin Klein. How much better of a passer will he become this offseason? We saw a lot of progression from September to December. Will that continue into the offseason, or has Klein hit his ceiling as a passer? He has an underwhelming receiving corps to throw to, but if Kansas State develops a better passing game, the offense is going to be the nation's most frustrating to stop. If Klein shows up with much more accuracy in the fall, he's going to have legitimate Heisman aspirations, too.

Question marks: Kansas State can't prove it until the fall, but was last season a fluke, or the start of something special? There's no ignoring the Wildcats' 8-1 mark in games decided by a touchdown or less. In every game except a road loss against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats found ways to make plays and come back from fourth-quarter deficits. Can they improve and avoid some of those situations, but still perform in tight spots late in games? No question is bigger for the Wildcats in 2012. They won 10 games last season, but could have easily been closer to 7-5.

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