Big 12: Marquise Goodwin

Looking ahead to Big 12 pro day schedule

February, 28, 2013
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The NFL scouting combine has come and gone, but there are still plenty of workouts left on the table and guys who can make a name for themselves in the next month and end up getting drafted.

Campus pro days will kick off in March, and here's when the Big 12's teams will be holding theirs, according to NFL.com.

Baylor - March 20

Iowa State - March 26
  • You'll be able to get a look at A.J. Klein and Jake Knott here for sure. Klein missed a few workouts this week after suffering a knee injury, and Knott is still waiting for his shoulder to heal up from surgery. Both should be on display at this workout.
Kansas - March 15

Kansas State - March 12
  • An injury kept Arthur Brown from recording a 40 time and doing a handful of other workouts, so expect a whole lot of NFL teams to show up in Manhattan for this one. We'll see if Collin Klein sticks with his plan to stay at quarterback or does some other position work at pro day, too. I'm betting on the former, but you never know. This is probably the most interesting pro day of any in the Big 12.
Oklahoma - March 13
  • Kenny Stills was blazing and did a nice job on the bench press at the combine, so expect him to take a seat for much of Oklahoma's pro day, but we'll see what Landry Jones has to offer, too.
Oklahoma State - March 12
  • Not a ton of intrigue in Stillwater, but I'm interested in seeing if Joseph Randle can improve on a poor 40 time at the combine. He tallied a 4.63 40 time in Indianapolis. He doesn't have breakneck speed, but that seems about a tenth of a second slow for him. Something in the 4.55 range would help him out. He can get there. Randle should also do some position work and the bench press after sitting out following thumb surgery at the end of the season.
Texas - March 26
  • Marquise Goodwin did some major damage at the combine with the fastest 40 time of anyone in attendance, but his position-specific work could talk more scouts into him and improve his stock. He's got to show a better ability to track the ball and haul it in.
TCU - March 8

Texas Tech - March 6

West Virginia - March 14
  • Not a ton to see here. Geno Smith sounds like he was the best of the QBs at the combine, but USC's pro day when Matt Barkley throws may have more impact on Smith's stock. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are who we thought they were after a strong combine.

Catching up on Big 12 and NFL combine

February, 25, 2013
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Two Big 12 receivers were the biggest head-turners on Sunday as the skill position players went through their workouts in Indianapolis at the NFL scouting combine.

Texas' Marquise Goodwin is hoping his 4.27 40 time -- the fastest of any player at the combine -- is enough to outweigh his lack of production throughout his career and convince an NFL team to see his potential. He was well ahead of a trio tied for second at 4.34, a group that included West Virginia's Tavon Austin. The two earned a whole lot of buzz early in the morning when they tied for 4.25 unofficial 40 times, just one-hundredth of a second slower than Chris Johnson's 4.24 time in 2008, the fastest of any player in combine history.

Goodwin caught just 26 passes for 340 yards and three scores last year, which certainly makes one wonder about how well he was used in Texas' offense. The Olympic long jumper was way out in front of the pack in the 40, though, and his time is the second fastest in combine history.

TCU receiver Josh Boyce and Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills tied with the sixth-fastest time at 4.38. Those are two really strong times, and Stills definitely turned heads.

Baylor's Lanear Sampson was 13th overall with a 40 time of 4.46. Here are some other top performers at the combine from the Big 12, according to NFL.com. You can see the full results here on the NFL's very cool searchable database.

40-yard dash
  • West Virginia QB Geno Smith: 4.59 seconds, fastest among quarterbacks.
  • Kansas State QB Collin Klein: 4.78 seconds, fifth among quarterbacks
  • Oklahoma QB Landry Jones: 5.11 seconds, 13th among quarterbacks
Broad jump
  • Texas WR Marquise Goodwin: 11 feet, second overall
  • TCU WR Josh Boyce: 10 feet, 11 inches, fourth overall
  • Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills: 10 feet, four inches, 13th overall
  • West Virginia QB Geno Smith: 10 feet, four inches, 13th overall
Three-cone drill
  • Boyce: 6.68 seconds, third-fastest
  • West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey: 6.81 seconds, 12th fastest
20-yard shuttle
  • Austin: 4.01 seconds, third overall
  • Bailey: 4.09 seconds, 10th overall
  • Boyce: 4.1 seconds, 12th overall
60-yard shuttle
  • Boyce: 11.26 seconds, third overall
  • Baylor WR Terrance Williams, 11.5 seconds, 12th overall

You can see top performers in every event by position at that database, too, so check it out.

Big 12 combine storylines to watch

February, 22, 2013
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The NFL scouting combine is underway, with the first set of physical workouts to begin today. You can see the full schedule here.

A few things you can watch for from the Big 12's talents this week:

Who's the No. 1 quarterback? USC's Matt Barkley isn't throwing at the combine workouts, but West Virginia's Geno Smith surprised some by announcing that he planned to give it a try. If he performs well, he could definitely ascend to the No. 1 spot. He's already close behind Barkley, but his combine performance will have an impact. But in the new NFL where mobile quarterbacks are en vogue, Smith's versatility that WVU didn't use could come into play. He'll put up some very interesting measurables, and his accuracy will show up if he calms his nerves. If not, NC State's Mike Glennon or Arkansas' Tyler Wilson could jump over him in the pecking order.

What about the No. 1 receiver? Baylor's Terrance Williams will be in the house and so will West Virginia's Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson is widely accepted as the top prospect, but could any of the Big 12's heavyweights make some noise with solid workouts and fight their way into first-round status?

Fixed up, but not quite ready to go. Jake Knott is still healing from his shoulder surgery this fall, but TCU's Stansly Maponga and Matthew Tucker should be all healed up from nagging ankle injuries. Knott won't be able to fully work out, but he'll do well in the interview process and was one of the most respected players in the league. It'll be interesting to see what NFL folk have to say about him after this week, despite not being able to see him work out.

Klein catching anyone's eyes (or their passes)? Collin Klein's Senior Bowl snub had fans around the Big 12 fired up and wondering how the Heisman third-place finisher could be left out of the premier postseason exhibition for scouts, but he doesn't quite fit the NFL mold. He's been working with former Denver Bronco Jake Plummer over the past few weeks, though he struggled in his one postseason all-star game experience. Could he build some buzz this week, either at quarterback or another position (receiver, tight end?) and convince an NFL team to fall for him? He'll knock his interviews out of the park.

Fastest man in the building. Could Austin take home the title? What about Marquise Goodwin? We may finally get some answers about who truly is the fastest man in the Big 12, and perhaps all of college football. The combine tells all, and the 40 times are always reliable. Seeing what those two put on the board will be interesting. How close to 4.3 could we see?

Time is money. Tony Jefferson has big-time instincts and plays physically, but he could help himself out in a big way by posting a great 40 time. His straight-line speed is his biggest knock, but he's spent the last month or so working out, and we'll see how much his work has paid off. Some of that speed work is so specifically tailored to 40 times that sometimes it doesn't show up on the field, but silliness aside, Jefferson has a ton to gain in that workout.

Big moving day? Every year somebody wows at the combine and ascends from out of nowhere to becoming a consensus first-round pick. Call it silly if you'd like, but that's the truth. Could any Big 12 talents be that guy this year? Keep an eye out. The Big 12 is likely to be shut out of the top 10 and may only have two to four first-round picks. That could change this week. Here's a few guys who might make that happen.

Four Big 12ers to watch at the combine

February, 21, 2013
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The NFL scouting combine is about to heat up after officially beginning on Wednesday, but once the workouts are underway, here are a few players across the Big 12 who could turn heads and help themselves in the next few days. You can see the full list of Big 12 players in Indianapolis this week here.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas: You don't need to look much further than Goodwin's 64-yard touchdown sprint in the Longhorns' Alamo Bowl win to know he was underutilized in Texas' offense throughout his career. You've got to get speedsters the ball in this league, and the Big 12's resident Olympian got it far too infrequently. Still, when you talk raw measurables and speed, not many guys are going to be able to match what Goodwin can do. The 5-foot-9, 177-pounder isn't exactly the prototype for size, but a creative coach or GM might find himself imagining all of the ways he could use Goodwin's skill set after seeing him up close at the combine. That's only going to help his stock.

Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma: Johnson is already turning heads with his physical skills, and that's what the combine is all about. Some mock drafts have him ascending into the first round, and by the end of the combine, it might be all of them. He had a solid career at Oklahoma, but when your road to the combine is as unorthodox as Johnson's, your skill set is likely to reflect that. When he's standing there, he just looks like a solid NFL tackle. Once he starts moving, it becomes easy to see and believe that he was a quarterback in junior college. He's very athletic for his position, and that's reason to believe he can grow into a special player at the next level.

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: It's one thing to see Austin's quickness and straight-line speed on tape. It's another to do so live. He can change direction and shift speeds unlike any player I've ever seen at the collegiate level, and there's a line of Big 12 defenders a mile long who I'm betting would agree. He doesn't sound like a first-round selection just yet, but don't be surprised if he sells a whole lot of people on his skills when he posts great numbers in quickness measures like the cone drill or hangs a sub-4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.

Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown is undersized and that's why you don't see his name showing up near the first round despite crazy production the last two seasons in Manhattan. It's going to be tough for the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder's fantastic instincts, sure tackling and constant effort to show up in combine measurements, but when scouts see his speed and smoothness when changing direction, visions of that translating to great ball carrier pursuits won't be much of a leap. He has to post a great number in the 40, and if he does, he could get folks talking.

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.
The NFL scouting combine is the biggest annual showcase of future football stars before the NFL draft, where players who have entered the draft get measured, run through drills and show scouts and coaches what they can do without any pads on.

This year, a record 333 players have been invited, and the Big 12 landed 30 invitations.

Draft stock can swing wildly during the week, with the main event -- the 40 time -- often serving as the catalyst for that stock. Call it silly, and in some ways it is, but it's the reality of the process. Here's who's headed to Indianapolis from the Big 12:
Pretty good set of players there. You can see them when the combine kicks off Feb. 20.
Here's a bit of what you missed over the weekend:

If you thought this was the year the Big 12's 10 athletic directors could meet and not discuss expansion, you were dead wrong.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has made it clear that the Big 12 isn't necessarily looking to expand, but could other conferences force the Big 12's hand? The league's athletic directors will discuss expansion at this week in a tone that I'd expect to simply be one of exploration. Bowlsby confirmed to multiple media sources last week that the discussion would take place this week. I wouldn't expect much to come of these talks, but a more pressing matter is a scheduling alliance and/or television partnerships with three different leagues, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

"It's purely exploratory," Bowlsby told the paper. He also added that he'd had conversations with three leagues, including the ACC, about a partnership. Nothing was imminent, he said.

I would be surprised if the Big 12 didn't have a clear direction in that regard after this week, but it may still have to wait for the fog over the college football landscape to clear a bit (playoff anyone? ACC buyouts on the way to the Big Ten?) to know what the future holds for the Big 12 in regards to expansion.

Big 12 players in the Senior Bowl

The main event at the Senior Bowl is the week of practice. Most often, scouts skip town before the game itself. Still, Saturday was a fun exhibition and the last time a lot of players across the Big 12 will wear their alma mater's helmet. How did they do?

Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp was the only Big 12 player to score, hitting a 42-yard field goal and an extra point in the South's 21-16 win over the North.

Oklahoma's Landry Jones struggled mightily, completing just 3 of 9 passes for 16 yards and was sacked twice for losses of 22 yards. Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin caught five passes for 44 yards, second-most among all players on Saturday. He also returned a pair of punts for 30 yards. Kansas State's Chris Harper caught a 12-yard pass.

Not much action defensively for the Big 12 players in attendance. Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson and the Cowboys' Sharp were the only Big 12 players to record tackles.

Like we said before, this game is an exhibition, and scouts got their most meaningful notes during the earlier week of practice. The game is not completely irrelevant, but a rough outing isn't enough to make a huge dent in any player's stock, and a huge game (which no Big 12 player had anyway), isn't going to be enough to move a player up too far.
Our team of scouts is in Mobile, Ala., all week long, and will have updates on ESPN Insider throughout the practices leading up to Saturday's game.

Earlier this week, Landry Jones has already stood out among the quarterbacks Insider, looking the "most natural" of all the South signal-callers. The scouting report on Jones this week? It'll sound absolutely familiar to anyone who watched Jones throughout his four years at Oklahoma.

He's deadly accurate when he has time, the scouts wrote, but his elongated release can cause some problems, especially if he is short on time. He has outshone South teammates Tyler Wilson from Arkansas and EJ Manuel from Florida State.

A strong early start for Baylor receiver Terrance Williams gave way to a step back in Tuesday's practice.

Texas defensive end Alex Okafor stood out at the North practices Insider, and he's dominated average opposition. When he's faced the top tackles in Mobile, though, he's been stifled. That's not a good sign.

Fellow Longhorn Marquise Goodwin turned heads with his speed and ability to free himself underneath this week, too. Our scouts said the receiver needed to work on his hands and route-running, however.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more.
The Big 12 bowl season is over, but just as we did for the weekend rewind all season long, it's time to look back on the best and worst of the bowl season.

Best offensive performance: Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia. West Virginia got stuck in a snowstorm in New York City, and producing offense in that wasn't easy. Still, Bailey put together the best performance, grabbing seven passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' loss to Syracuse.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDefensive end Alex Okafor set the Alamo Bowl record with 4.5 sacks against Oregon State.
Best defensive performance: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas. This was the best performance of any player in the Big 12 the whole bowl season. Okafor was unblockable in the second half, racking up 4.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in the Longhorns' comeback win against Oregon State. He made eight tackles and forced a fumble.

Best play: David Ash, QB, Texas. Ash was nearly dragged down in the backfield, but somehow slipped out of a sack and rolled to his left to extend the play. Running back Johnathan Gray leaked out of the backfield, and Ash threw a perfect strike across his body and hit Gray in the hands for a 15-yard touchdown pass to get the Longhorns to within three points midway through the fourth quarter. Honorable mention: Ash's 36-yard bomb to Marquise Goodwin to take the lead with 36 seconds to play.

Biggest impact play: D.J. Johnson, S, Texas Tech. The Red Raiders hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson intercepted a pass in the final minute, returning it 39 yards to set up a game-winning field goal. Minnesota was driving in a tie game, but the Red Raiders' late flurry produced an unlikely comeback win.

Best catch: Isaiah Anderson, WR, Oklahoma State. Anderson caught five balls for 78 yards, but his crazy, spinning, aerial catch in the back of the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown put OSU up 45-0 and provided the best highlight of the Big 12 bowl season.

Worst play: Cornelius Lucas, OL, Kansas State. Kansas State faced a fourth-and-1 at Oregon's 18, but tried to draw Oregon offside and probably planned to go for it anyway after taking a timeout. The Wildcats trailed 15-10, but Lucas inexplicably moved early on a play that probably never would have happened. It backed up Kansas State five yards, and the powerful short-yardage offense couldn't go for it. Anthony Cantele missed the 40-yard kick that ensued, and Oregon answered with a quick touchdown before half to go up 12.

Most boneheaded play: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Amaro, who might be Tech's most talented player, missed half the season with a rib injury. He finally got to return, but he didn't seem to take that privilege very seriously. Right in front of an official, he pinned a Minnesota defender and threw a punch. He drew a flag and was ejected, but that flag backed up Texas Tech from the Golden Gophers' 1-yard line to the 16. The ensuing field goal was blocked, and Tech needed a late-game rally to win.

Craziest reaction to a boneheaded play: Texas Tech. According to a report from Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech officials had to relay a message to Amaro telling him not to tweet about his ejection. Hours later, he tweeted a weak apology: "I want to apologize for being ejected. As bad as it seems, which it does, I had no intention of a punch. But the idea to get off of him," he wrote.

Best moment: Ash gets the win. It was an emotional bowl week full of distractions for Texas' team as two players were sent home after a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Texas' offense struggled for much of the first half, but Ash got hot late and capped the game with a 36-yard touchdown pass over the top to the speedy Goodwin. It gave Texas a huge win, the Big 12's best win of the entire season.

Worst moment: Michigan State takes the game back. TCU inexplicably blew a 13-0 lead when Michigan State's offense came alive, but Jaden Oberkrom gave the Frogs hope with a 53-yard kick to get the lead back, 16-14. It didn't last long. Michigan State strung together a drive and with 61 seconds to play, Dan Conroy boomed a 47-yard kick to take the wind out of TCU's sails after a difficult, emotional season.

The All-Big 12 Bowl Team

January, 10, 2013
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The Big 12 had nine teams in bowl games this season, and here is the best of the best in the Big 12's postseason. Let's get to it.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsDavid Ash's big plays fueled Texas' comeback against Oregon State.
QB: David Ash, Texas: He edges out Clint Chelf because of his game-changing plays in the Longhorns' win against Oregon State. Ash had the best play of the entire bowl season with a crazy escape and acrobatic touchdown pass to Johnathan Gray, and he hit Marquise Goodwin on a 36-yard bomb to put the Longhorns ahead in the final minutes. He finished 21-of-33 with 241 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 22 yards and a score.

RB: Lache Seastrunk, Baylor: Seastrunk helped Baylor rout UCLA with 138 yards and a score on 16 carries in the Bears' Holiday Bowl win.

RB: Glasco Martin IV, Baylor: How many rushers did the Big 12 have this bowl season who had at least 95 yards? Two, and both played for Baylor. Martin scored three touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl and carried the ball 21 times for 98 yards. Heck of a night for the Bears backs.

WR: Darrin Moore, Texas Tech: Moore was the most consistent receiver in the bowl season with 11 catches for 84 yards, keeping the chains moving for the Red Raiders in their Meineke Car Care Bowl win against Minnesota.

WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia: Despite playing in a snowstorm, Bailey had the best performance of any Big 12 receiver. He caught eight balls for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It wasn't enough to get the Pinstripe Bowl win, but no other Mountaineer scored a touchdown.

WR: Marquise Goodwin, Texas: The track star's touches were limited, but he had a huge impact. His 36-yard grab with 2:24 to play proved to be the game winner, and he finished with four catches for 68 yards. He also had one carry -- which he turned into a 64-yard touchdown, looking as fast as any player in college football while streaking to the end zone.

TE: Ernst Brun Jr., Iowa State: Brun caught four passes for 102 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown, to get the first-quarter party started for the Cyclones, which scored 17 points in the quarter. The rest of the game was forgettable, but Brun had one of the longest plays of Iowa State's season.

OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor: The Bears' left guard was a big reason why Baylor had so much success running the ball. Baylor racked up 306 yards on the ground against UCLA.

OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State: Purdue's Kawann Short is a stud and arguably the team's best player, but Taylor helped Oklahoma State rack up 58 points and helped hold the Boilermakers defensive tackle to just one tackle and one sack. Short had minimal impact throughout the game.

OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech: The Red Raiders ran the ball well -- on the few occasions they did -- and Seth Doege had plenty of time. Waddle was a big reason why for both.

OL: Lane Johnson, Oklahoma: Texas A&M wrecking ball Damontre Moore declared for the NFL draft before the Cotton Bowl, but credit Johnson at tackle, who helped hold him to five tackles, one tackle for loss and zero sacks, despite Landry Jones throwing 48 passes.

OL: Ivory Wade, Baylor: Those 306 yards rushing for the Bears didn't come easy. Most of them came on the interior, and Wade was a solid presence in the middle of the line.

DEFENSE

DL: Chris McAllister, Baylor: He was one of a handful of guys to hold UCLA's Johnathan Franklin to 34 yards on 14 carries, had five tackles, including two sacks, and batted down a pass to help keep UCLA's passing game grounded.

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas: Okafor is my defensive MVP of the Big 12 bowl season. He gave Oregon State's offensive line nightmares and helped the Longhorns stage a late comeback with 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and eight stops. He also forced a fumble.

DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State: The Wildcats had a rough night against Oregon, but Williams played pretty well with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

DL: Terrance Lloyd, Baylor: Lloyd was part of the Baylor gang who helped UCLA have its worst running game of the season. He had four tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. No zone read for you.

LB: Terence Garvin, West Virginia: Garvin was everywhere for the West Virginia defense, which largely struggled in a blowout loss to Syracuse. He forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, had two sacks, made three tackles for loss and had 15 tackles.

LB: Tyler Johnson, Oklahoma State: Johnson blew up what Purdue likes to refer to as its "passing game." He made six tackles, had two sacks and forced two fumbles, including a huge hit on Purdue quarterback Robert Marve.

LB: Eddie Lackey, Baylor: Lackey was another part of Baylor's defense that put together one of its best games of the season. He made 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and five tackles.

DB: Jason Verrett, TCU: Most of Michigan State's night was frustrating in the passing game before some late success, and Verrett was a big reason for those struggles. He broke up two passes, made a tackle for loss and had 12 tackles.

DB: D.J. Johnson, Texas Tech: Johnson made 14 tackles and is on this team for one of the biggest plays of Texas Tech's season. The defense hadn't forced a turnover since Oct. 20, but Johnson picked off a Gophers pass in the final minute with Minnesota driving and the game tied. He returned it 39 yards, helping to set up the winning field goal as time expired.

DB: Jeremy Reeves, Iowa State: Reeves returned a Cody Green interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of the Liberty Bowl loss. He had six tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

DB: Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State: No second-half comebacks for Purdue. Lowe opened the half with a 37-yard fumble return for a score and made seven tackles with half a tackle for loss.

SPECIALISTS

KR: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech: This one is pretty simple. Grant returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score, giving Texas Tech a 7-3 lead early in the first quarter of its Meineke Car Care Bowl win.

PR: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State: Purdue faked a punt to keep its opening drive alive but punted on its next set of downs. The always-shifty Stewart delivered a 64-yard punt return, giving Oklahoma State the ball on the Purdue 19-yard line. The Cowboys scored for a 7-0 lead to kick off the Heart of Dallas Bowl rout.

K: Jaden Oberkrom, TCU: He edges out Texas Tech's Ryan Bustin, who kicked a 28-yard winner, for making all three of his attempts, including a crazy 53-yarder for a 16-14 lead with 2:42 to play. He also made kicks of 47 and 31 yards.

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State: He narrowly edges out Oklahoma's Tress Way (five punts, three inside 20, long of 58 yards, average 49.4 yards) for this award after pinning Purdue inside its 20-yard line on two of his three punts. He boomed a 65-yarder and averaged nearly 53 yards on his three punts. He was more valuable for Oklahoma State because field position mattered to Purdue. It didn't to Texas A&M.

What we learned in the Big 12 bowls

January, 9, 2013
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The Big 12 bowls are over, and here's what we learned over the past couple of weeks.

The top of the Big 12 is weak. Oregon and Texas A&M are bona fide top 5 teams in my book this year, and Oklahoma and Kansas State showed quite obviously that neither was in the same league. The Sooners and Wildcats suffered lopsided losses and didn't even look like top 10 teams, which the final polls confirmed. K-State was in position to play for the national title, but how many believe it would have done all that much better vs. Alabama last night? I buy Oklahoma State last year, but for the second time in three years, the Big 12 didn't have a team that belonged in the national title picture at the end of the season.

[+] EnlargeLache Seastrunk
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/USA TODAY SportsLache Seastrunk and Baylor arguably played better than any other Big 12 team late in the season.
The middle of the Big 12 is anything but weak. You saw it on display big time. Oklahoma State flexed, and so did Baylor, though the Bears were probably the most impressive of the bunch. Baylor was the Big 12's hottest team to close the season, but Oklahoma State was probably better than its record and lost a couple of heartbreakers to close the year. Both were solid teams that probably deserved nods in the top 25 to close the season. Texas has its issues, but the Longhorns successfully grabbed the Big 12's best nonconference win of the entire season, coming back to knock off then-No. 13 Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.

The Big 12 can stop the run, sort of. You have to be amazed at what TCU and Baylor did to two really good backs in Le'Veon Bell at Michigan State and Johnathan Franklin at UCLA. Kenjon Barner of Oregon got the best of K-State in the second half and Oregon State's Storm Woods gave Texas trouble, but Franklin managed just 34 yards on 14 carries. Bell managed 145 yards on 32 carries, but it was below his season average for the season. Point is, this wasn't the running game nightmare from a few years ago, when the Big 12 racked up losses because of its inability to slow down average backs.

The league has a flare for the dramatic. We saw some great games down the stretch this season like Texas Tech and Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia/Oklahoma State/TCU and more. That didn't stop in the bowl season. The Red Raiders rallied in the final two minutes to beat Minnesota on a last-second field goal and Texas knocked off Oregon State with a late bomb from David Ash to Marquise Goodwin to erase a double-digit deficit in the game's last nine minutes. TCU also lost on a late field goal, just a minute after going ahead with a crazy 53-yard field goal from Jaden Oberkrom.

The bottom of the Big 12? Questionable at best. West Virginia's got all the flash with quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, and Iowa State stays in games (and eventually wins them) with its defense. Both units had disastrous bowl games against average teams in Syracuse and Tulsa. The snow is a legit excuse for West Virginia's high-flying passing game, but Tulsa completely dominated the line of scrimmage against Iowa State's defense and brought the league's bottom two bowl teams down a peg. Even Texas Tech struggled with a mediocre Minnesota team, though to its credit, rallied for an emotional win.

SAN ANTONIO -- Texas has been a team searching for any sort of tangible evidence that the program was at least starting to turn around after two-plus seasons that were subpar by the program's standards. Saturday night's 31-27 win against Oregon State might have done just that. While the Beavers are not exactly a juggernaut in college football, any win against a BCS-ranked team for Texas is valued and pouted at as proof that better things are on the horizon.

It was over when: Texas quarterback David Ash went up top to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the fourth. The touchdown gave Texas its first lead of the game at 31-27.

Game ball goes to: Texas was down to just one viable option at quarterback with Ash following the suspension of backup Case McCoy. The sophomore started slowly but came through in the end. Ash finished 21-of-33 for 241 yards with two passing touchdowns against one interception. He also rushed for another touchdown on an 11-yard run.

Stat of the game: Texas' defense posted an Alamo Bowl-record 10 sacks for minus-81 yards. Alex Okafor led the charge with a bowl-record 4.5 sacks. While Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz spent much of the game on his back, Ash was his team's second-leading rusher with 22 yards and a touchdown.

Stat of the game, part 2: Texas had 23 yards in the first quarter and failed to get a first down. In the fourth quarter, the Longhorns (9-4) had 165 yards and scored 14 points.

What it means for Texas: The Longhorns will be spared months of questions about the direction of the program and who the quarterback of the future might be. Ash was able to take control of the game when it mattered and should be the clear favorite as Texas heads into spring practice.

What it means for Oregon State: The Beavers (9-4) still had one of the top turnarounds in college football, going from a three-win season to a nine-win season, but they lacked a signature win in 2012. No doubt the solid showing against the Longhorns in Texas will help coach Mike Riley pull more players out of the state.

Pregame: Valero Alamo Bowl

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
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Oregon State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) versus Texas (8-4, 5-4 Big 12):

Who to watch: It took weeks for both teams to name their respective starting quarterbacks. Now that they have -- David Ash for Texas and Cody Vaz for Oregon State -- all eyes will be on the two to see whether they can live up to the expectations. Ash was benched for the final game of the regular season after committing three turnovers against TCU. In the past three weeks, he has had to not only climb back into the starter role but also get accustomed to a new quarterbacks coach in Major Applewhite. Applewhite took over the role following the departure of Bryan Harsin to Arkansas State.

As for Vaz, he has been stellar in four games as a starter and only lost that role after suffering an ankle injury in the Stanford game. Vaz has 11 touchdowns to one interception. But if he struggles at all, Oregon State has a very capable backup in Sean Mannion.

What to watch: The running game production for both teams should be crucial. While Oregon State prefers to throw the ball, it cannot drop back 40 or 50 times because of the potential pressure of the Texas defensive line. So the Beavers' best move could be to attack up the middle, where Texas is at its weakest. The Longhorns have allowed 199 rush yards per game, and at one point during the season, in five consecutive weeks, Texas allowed five different rushers season highs. Oregon State running back Storm Woods is from just outside Austin -- Pflugerville -- and undoubtedly will have a chip on his shoulder, as he was not recruited by the Longhorns.

Why watch: Explosive plays and players. Texas, with a new playcaller in Applewhite, should be more committed to getting the ball to three of the fastest players in college football -- Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe. Any time any of the three touches the ball, it could result in a touchdown. Oregon State has one of the top receivers in the country in Markus Wheaton. The Beavers' all-time leading receiver could give the Texas secondary fits.

Prediction: Oregon State’s pass defense might be too much for Texas and Ash to overcome. The sophomore quarterback has struggled against strong pass defenses, and the Beavers are No. 16 in pass efficiency defense. Of the teams Texas has played, only Oklahoma is better, and the Sooners beat Texas by 42. Oregon State 33, Texas 28.

Video: McShay on Texas' NFL prospects

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
1:45
PM ET

ESPN college football and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay says Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor and Marquise Goodwin will all be evaluated.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas defense, which has suffered many blows in the past few weeks, just took another to the gut.

Jackson Jeffcoat is out. Gone for the season. He tore his pectoral muscle. This time it was the right one. Last year it was the left one. So much for Texas having the top two defensive ends in the Big 12. Instead Texas is just left with big questions at a time when it is searching for answers.

The foremost is: Can Cedric Reed or Reggie Wilson even come close to producing at Jeffcoat’s level? The answer is no. If they could, they would have had the starting spot.

[+] EnlargeJackson Jeffcoat
John Albright/Icon SMITexas will have to replace DE Jackson Jeffcoat, arguably its top defender, with inexperienced players.
Wilson showed a flash against Ole Miss when he jumped a diving blocker and sacked Bo Wallace.

Jeffcoat does stuff like that every game. The junior had four sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown already this season. Reed and Wilson have a combined five tackles for loss and one sack.

But Jeffcoat’s game went beyond stats. He, along with bookend Alex Okafor, was able to pin in quarterbacks and shrink their options. The reason Geno Smith was unable to roll the pocket and therefore roll Texas was because he had Jeffcoat to his left and Okafor to his right every time he dropped back. It was the combined pressure of the two that forced Smith to take four sacks and be stripped of the ball twice.

Without that type of pressure the Texas secondary, which already has issues in coverage, is susceptible to being picked apart by a quarterback like Baylor’s Nick Florence. Florence, the FBS leader in total offense, just so happens to be the next QB Texas faces.

The Longhorns might consider pulling the redshirt off someone like Shiro Davis in order to get more speed on the edge. But, as Texas has proven in the past two losses, it is very tough to play fast as a defensive player when you do not know where you are going.

Without Jeffcoat, Texas, a team that has allowed 111 points and more than 1,100 yards in the past two games, might be wondering where it is going.

Ash not ruled out
Texas has prepared itself since the spring to use two quarterbacks. Now the Longhorns might have to do just that.

While quarterback David Ash has not been ruled out with a bruise to his non-throwing wrist, he has not been cleared to play, either. That means Texas might once again be turning to backup Case McCoy.

The junior, who was 3-2 as a starter in 2011, lost out on the starting job after what was an eight-month competition. But the Texas coaches qualified their selection of Ash by stating, repeatedly, that they felt McCoy was more than an adequate backup and that they would not hesitate to play him.

Well, now the time might have come and it might be against Baylor, which happens to be the last team McCoy started against. In that game, McCoy was responsible for five turnovers. That, as much as anything, is what led to his demotion.

The coaching staff could not abide a quarterback who played fast and loose with the ball. They wanted a game manager. Ash better fit that role. McCoy, on the other hand, is much more of a draw-it-up-in-the-dirt player.

But McCoy has matured. He has added 15-20 pounds and put more zip on his intermediate throws as well as length on deep throws.

If he is the quarterback, it is almost a certainty that co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin will play it close to the vest and try to get McCoy to distribute the ball to playmakers such as Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and Johnathan Gray. That has been when Texas is at its best. And to beat Baylor, a team that is No. 2 in total offense and No. 4 in scoring offense, Texas’ offense will have to be at its best.

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