Big 12: Montell Cozart

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
1:27
AM ET
Here’s what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 5:

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley
David Purdy/Getty ImagesAntwan Goodley made a triumphant return for Baylor after missing the previous two games due to injury.
1. Petty's toys are back in business: No video-game-crazy numbers for Baylor's offense in a 49-28 victory at Iowa State, just the usual display that makes it tough for Big 12 defensive coordinators to sleep at night. Bryce Petty sure had some catching up to do with his favorite injured wideouts, and Corey Coleman (12 catches, 154 yards, 1 TD) and Antwan Goodley (6 catches, 114 yards) both made it count. The Bears weren't up to their optimal speed -- there were five three-and-outs, a Petty interception and a failed fourth-down conversion -- but Shock Linwood (three TDs) makes them so difficult to stop when they hit the red zone, and the starters got to sit out the final quarter. Business as usual for Baylor.

2. Pokes can beat you deep: Oklahoma State won the Big 12's first primetime fight because it wasn't afraid to take big shots. Daxx Garman connected on eight passes of 20-plus yards, and even better, they were hauled in by six different receivers over the course of the 45-35 victory on Thursday. It's time to stop underestimating Marcell Ateman and James Washington after the underclassmen combined for 217 yards and two TDs, and OSU put something plenty scary on tape when Tyreek Hill beat his defender by a good 7 yards for a 50-yard scoring bomb. It wasn't easy, and it sure wasn't pretty -- 287 combined penalty yards on 26 flags -- but OSU found out Garman can handle the bright lights just fine.

3. K-State defense rallies in big way: Kansas State was missing two starters on defense but had no trouble taking out its Auburn-inspired anger on UTEP, a team that proved against Texas Tech it's no pushover. In the 58-28 win, KSU held the nation's No. 2 rusher, Aaron Jones, to nine yards in the first half and 47 on the day. The Miners couldn't get anything going for the three quarters KSU's starters played -- it was 52-7 when Bill Snyder sent in the backups -- and UTEP ended the first half down 31 points with just 23 total yards and one first down. KSU got right back on track and still looks like a legit contender for the Big 12 crown.

4. TCU's Air Raid keeps making it look ... too easy? The Horned Frogs are 3-0 with wins over Samford, Minnesota and now SMU, a team that’s been outscored 202-12 through four games. If there's an FBS team playing worse football than the Mustangs, I would not like to see it. So it’s tough to confidently make conclusions about TCU after this 56-0 victory. But Trevone Boykin (six total TDs) still looks incalculably more polished than a year ago. He has a diverse array of receivers and backs at his disposal, and the Frogs' 614 total yards were their most since 2011. To TCU's credit, Minnesota was solid in a 30-14 win against the dumpster fire in Ann Arbor. The Horned Frogs' offense couldn't have asked for a better start to 2014. It's time to find out what they're made of against the Sooners.

5. Texas still has issues: If Texas plays against Baylor next Saturday the way it did in Lawrence, Kansas, it probably doesn't stand much of a chance. Charlie Strong won't get too mad about a 23-0 victory that snaps a two-game slide, but he won't spend much time celebrating it, either. Texas never had to sweat too much, thanks to Montell Cozart's four interceptions, but its patchwork offensive line remains a work in progress (Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 73 rushing yards), and scoring points is still a struggle. Still, Texas did at least do what it needed to and gave Strong his first Big 12 win. KU showed some nice things in the run game and has a better defense than you think, but its offensive execution in many trips into Texas territory was fruitless.

Big 12 viewer’s guide: Week 4

September, 20, 2014
Sep 20
8:00
AM ET
In Week 4 of Big 12 action, most of the conference will have the day off to watch Oklahoma and West Virginia square off in a key early season clash; while Kansas will attempt to bounce back after getting steamrolled at Duke last week.

Those, among others, will be the storylines to follow today in the Big 12:

Central Michigan at Kansas, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Regional): The pressure is already on Kansas coach Charlie Weis, whose Jayhawks were overwhelmed in a 41-3 loss to Duke last week. Kansas desperately needs a better performance from sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart, who against the Blue Devils struggled mightily, completing just 41 percent of his passes while throwing a pair of interceptions. A bounce-back performance won’t come easy. Central Michigan returns 19 starters, and hammered Purdue by three touchdowns on the road two weeks ago. The Jayhawks, though, will catch a break, with Chippewas star running back Thomas Rawls, who rushed for 155 yards against the Boilermakers, still facing suspension after being accused of stealing a woman’s purse.

No. 4 Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7:30 p.m. ET (Fox): The last time these two teams met in Morgantown, they staged a classic -- and this showdown has the makings of the same. The key matchup figures to be West Virginia’s big-play wide receivers against Oklahoma’s big-play defensive backs. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Mountaineers are averaging 247 yards after the catch a game, which is third most of any Power 5 conference offense. The Sooners, however, are giving up just 4.4 yards after the catch per reception, which is tops among Big 12 defenses. The Oklahoma secondary also forced three turnovers last weekend against Tennessee, including Julian Wilson's 100-yard touchdown interception return. Both teams will be missing key players. Oklahoma running Keith Ford is out with a leg injury, while West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley has been suspended indefinitely after being accused of assaulting a female last weekend. The Sooners still have Samaje Perine (177 yards) and Alex Ross (132 yards) to shoulder the rushing load, while the Mountaineers will get back 2013 starting cornerback Ishmael Banks from an academic suspension, which should help ease the loss of Worley.

Big 12 players in the Week 4 spotlight

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
4:30
PM ET
Our weekly effort to identify one player poised for a breakout on each Big 12 team got a few right last week -- Cory Morrissey was huge for Iowa State, Brandon Sheperd scored again -- but we can do better, even on a bye-heavy week. Here are five players worth keeping an eye on in Week 4.

[+] EnlargeTyler Lockett
Reese Strickland/USA TODAY SportsA big night could be in store for Tyler Lockett against an Auburn secondary that's down a starter.
Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: If some people still don't know, they're about to find out. Lockett was better than ever in big ballgames last season against Oklahoma, Texas and Michigan. He's going to show up tonight against Auburn, line up all over and attack an Auburn secondary that's missing a starting safety. Lockett has All-America talent and this is another big chance to prove that.

Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: Now is the freshman's time to shine. Perine, a freakish 243-pound power back, will share the load with Alex Ross now that Keith Ford is sidelined and could have a big night in Morgantown. He's a hard dude to bring down and his speed is probably underrated. He should find the end zone a few times against West Virginia.

West Virginia CB Ishmael Banks: After missing West Virginia's first three games due to an academic suspension, "Icky" will be back on the field at a critical time, right as Daryl Worley is suspended indefinitely. A senior who started every game last season, Banks will have to be one of the DBs responsible for stopping Sterling Shepard and trying to make this explosive Oklahoma offense more one-dimensional.

Kansas QB Montell Cozart: It's a gut-check week for Cozart, who completed just 11 of 27 passes against Duke, couldn't get the ball to Nick Harwell and looked far too nervous under pressure. Charlie Weis' staff is committed to making this work with Cozart, but you can't get the yips in a big game like that. He needs this Central Michigan game to be his bounce-back performance.

Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller: Not just because Mueller is one of K-State's best, but because of this particular matchup. Playing against a team that has mastered the zone read, the pop pass and all sorts of option wrinkles creates a real challenge for any defensive end. K-State's front seven must maintain gap integrity, and Mueller in particular has to make responsible decisions and get tackles for losses at the mesh point when he's in position to make a play.

Big 12 morning links

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
8:00
AM ET
No matter how many times I watch this, it's still funny. Why? What did it accomplish?
  • The quarterback curse is alive and well at Kansas, writes Tom Keegan of KUsports.com. Six different quarterbacks have started KU's last six season openers and Keegan believes that number could rise to seven next fall. I disagree. True enough, Montell Cozart was bad in KU's 41-3 loss to Duke with a 14.7 Adjusted QBR that is the worst single game QBR from a starting quarterback in the Big 12 this season. But I'm not ready to say Cozart is not the man to lead the Jayhawk offense in the future. He's still young and talented so I'd like to see him respond like he was disgusted with his performance by having a superb game against Central Michigan, then take that momentum into KU's Big 12 opener against Texas. If he can excel against the Longhorns, he can take a giant step toward shrinking his list of doubters. But if he continues this downward trend, then Keegan will be right.
  • It's no surprise but Kansas State is trying to downplay the "big game" mentality surrounding Thursday's clash with Auburn, reports Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle. Bill Snyder preaches focus and emphasizes the importance of each day, but it will be interesting to see if KSU can ignore the distractions of hosting the BCS runner-up on national television. I wouldn't be surprised to see some nervy moments but I don't expect nervous miscues to decide the game one way or the other.
  • Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman has his list of Oklahoma's 10 best players. Kersey ranks linebacker Eric Striker atop the list, which includes eight defensive players and does not include quarterback Trevor Knight. It's a surprise to see the sophomore on the honorable mention list but I can't disagree. I thought OU's defense would be good but its even better than I expected and every guy on the list is deserving. Quite frankly, the list could easily include 10 defenders, although receiver Sterling Shepard and tackle Daryl Williams, the lone offensive players on the list, are legit All-Big 12 candidates.
  • Texas Tech is taking a different approach to special teams this season, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Several Red Raiders starters have found themselves on special teams with new special teams coach Darrin Chiaverini looking to find his best 11 for every unit. Some might question this approach but I think it's a good one. Special teams tend to get overlooked but games can turn in an instant on one special teams play. With its defense struggling, strong and consistent special teams units could be just what Tech needs.
  • Baylor freshman receiver KD Cannon was added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list on Tuesday. It's no surprise and well-deserved for Cannon, who has been an explosive playmaker during his first three college games. He has 14 receptions for 471 yards and five touchdowns with an average of 33.6 yards per reception. Many people point to the Bears' lackluster nonconference schedule for Cannon's great numbers but it's pretty simple: If it was that easy everyone would be doing it. I don't expect Cannon to continue to be this dominant. There's no doubt he will continue to make plays when the competitive level increases in Big 12 play.

Big 12 stat check: Week 2

September, 3, 2014
Sep 3
3:30
PM ET
A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 2:

Baylor: Bryce Petty's combined completion percentage in his last six regular-season games is 54.7 percent. He's finished with sub-60 percent passing in all six of those games, including 56.5 percent against SMU. In fairness, he did leave that game early with a back injury. But this is a curious trend, and one that Petty will probably end this week against Northwestern State.

Iowa State: The Cyclones must find a way to replace the explosive production of Quenton Bundrage. Last season, he produced a team-high 16 receptions of 15-plus yards and scored touchdowns on eight of them. Though E.J. Bibbs did have 12 catches of 15-plus in 2013, no current Iowa State wide receiver had more than four.

Kansas: Montell Cozart did not exceed 12 pass attempts in any of his three starts last season, which was probably a safe move. He was a true freshman, and trying to force throws and do too much might've been harmful for his development. What will new OC John Reagan ask of Cozart for his sophomore debut? Keep an eye on how he fares now that, presumably, he'll have more freedom to operate in the passing game.

Kansas State: The 55 points Kansas State put up against Stephen F. Austin was the Wildcats' most in a season opener since 2001. While 478 total yards might not sound like much, that output actually cracks the top 10 for KSU single-game total offense since Bill Snyder returned in 2009. And they did that despite getting just one reception from Tyler Lockett. This offense is poised to do some big things in 2014.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma's young stable of backs combined for 5 rushing touchdowns against Louisiana Tech. For the Sooners, that number has been exceeded only three times in the past decade by a group of OU running backs, most recently against Florida A&M in 2012 (8 TDs). Bob Stoops was understandably pleased by what his inexperienced backs contributed, and it's important they be trusted to take some of the burden off Trevor Knight.

Oklahoma State: This defense aced its first test against the run game vs. Florida State. Running back Karlos Williams was hit behind the line of scrimmage on 52 percent of his carries and the Seminoles finished the night with just 106 rushing yards on 3.4 yards per carry. That's as good as you can ask if you're this OSU staff against the No. 1 team in the country, and the Pokes defense will only get better as its players gain experience.

TCU: In the debut of their new offense, the Horned Frogs ran 96 plays against Samford. They'd never surpassed 90 in a game since joining the Big 12, not even in a triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech in 2012. The 96-play output is TCU's most since 2007, a 45-33 win over San Diego State in which the team ran 111 plays. Getting in that many snaps tells you what this Air Raid-inspired offense hopes to achieve from a tempo standpoint. They'll work this week and next to get faster before taking on Minnesota.

Texas: Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes enters his first career start as a Longhorn with only 55 career snaps under his belt. Most of those reps came in mop-up duty, with his most significant time coming with Texas already down big in its Alamo Bowl loss to Oregon. Expect BYU to give him a variety of defensive looks in an effort to trick the sophomore into making bad reads and mistakes.

Texas Tech: Central Arkansas went 6-for-6 on fourth downs against Texas Tech's defense and cranked out 28 first downs on the night. That's got to be concerning for a Tech defense that has a lot of work to do and must find ways to get off the field in Big 12 play. The 15 penalties for 113 yards Tech accounted for against UCA definitely contributes to that problem, too.

West Virginia: The 365 passing yards Clint Trickett put up against the Crimson Tide were the second-most Alabama has given up since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007. Only Johnny Manziel (464 yards, 2013) has surpassed that total. Trickett was not afraid to attack that Bama defense with tempo and precision, and that has to be encouraging for this West Virginia offense going forward.
While some college coaches are playing possum about their starting quarterbacks with the season just around the corner, Kansas coach Charlie Weis took a different approach.

Weis named sophomore Montell Cozart the Jayhawks' starting quarterback in mid-April, leaving opponents no doubt who would be the man under center this fall. But Weis’ early choice also left no doubt in the minds of Cozart’s teammates.

The result of the pre-summer decision has paid off.

[+] EnlargeMontell Cozart
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerKansas QB Montell Cozart is reaching for more success as a sophomore.
When the Jayhawks announced their captains and leadership committee last week, linebacker Ben Heeney, safety Cassius Sendish and receiver Nick Harwell were named captains after garnering the majority of the votes, while Cozart, offensive lineman Pat Lewandowski and defensive lineman Keon Stowers earned enough votes to separate themselves from the rest of the squad and join the captains on the leadership committee. Cozart is the only non-senior on the six-player committee which was voted on by the players.

“That’s what you’re hoping for,” Weis said. “By putting him in that position in May you’re hoping by the time you’re ready to play the players are looking at him as a guy they can rally around.”

For Weis it was more important to put Cozart in a position to emerge as a leader and difference-maker on KU’s offense before the summer so everyone knew who would be the triggerman in John Reagan's new offense.

“He’s more mature than a lot of sophomores I’ve seen,” Harwell said. “He’s soft-spoken but he’s a leader.”

Cozart earned the starting role during the spring after an roller-coaster freshman season. He appeared poised for a redshirt year, watching the first five games from the sidelines, until his redshirt was removed before the Jayhawks’ home game with Oklahoma. He played in KU’s final seven games (three starts), finishing 23 of 63 passing for 227 yards and two interceptions. He added 66 carries for 214 yards and one touchdown.

Yet his emergence as a leader didn’t begin until after his first season in the program.

“He’s done his part as a quarterback and leader to push us,” tight end Jimmay Mundine said of Cozart’s impact on the Jayhawks’ summer workouts.

His leadership traits were largely unseen during his true freshman campaign, but they were among the traits that intrigued Weis when he visited Cozart at Kansas City (Missouri) Bishop Miege High School during the recruiting process.

“I went to his high school and he couldn’t go anywhere without everyone following behind him,” Weis said. “They all gravitated to him. He was obviously, not just the quarterback, but the leader. I knew we would eventually see that from him. I’m happy it’s happening sooner rather than later.”

Now, as a sophomore, the future—and present— of the Jayhawks' offense is in the hands of Cozart. When the Jayhawks become the last Big 12 team to open its season when Southwest Missouri State visits Memorial Stadium on Sept. 6, it will be a different Cozart taking the snaps for KU.

“He’s a young guy who has grown a lot since last season,” Harwell said. “I feel like he’s ready for the big stage.”

It’s a stage he didn’t shy away from when thrown into the fire against Oklahoma in his first collegiate game. And the players’ vote completely validated Weis’ decision to name Cozart the starter before the summer and revealed Cozart’s emerging leadership skills.

“The statement was made by [the players], not by me, by their votes, they can see that [rallying around Cozart] happening,” Weis said. “They’ve set it up for him to be the leader of the team as you move forward into the future.”

Big 12 morning links

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
8:00
AM ET
This week we're rolling out a new version of your beloved lunchtime links, now served up in a healthy breakfast portion with a little extra meat on the bone. Or something like that. Here's what's cooking in the Big 12 this morning:
  • There are several good reads out today on Kansas starting quarterback Montell Cozart. Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star had a sweet anecdote about Cozart, Nick Harwell and Tony Pierson teaming up to beat a squad of KU basketball players (including Joel Embiid) in pickup basketball. The kid sounds more confident in his second year, and after striking out on free-agent pickups Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps, Charlie Weis is putting his trust in the dual-threat to lead. Cozart was shaky after his redshirt was pulled in 2013, and didn't surpass 70 passing yards in any game. KU going all-in on him this spring is encouraging for his development. Hard to peg what Cozart's ceiling is, but expect to start seeing flashes of his potential in nonconference play.
  • DeAndre Washington has to be the man at running back for Texas Tech, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. The 450-yard rusher last year got a big vote of confidence when Kenny Williams moved to linebacker, and his backups are young and unproven. Washington averaged nine carries a game last year, so I'm intrigued to see how he can handle a heavier workload. If Washington isn't the solution, you're asking a back with 13 career carries (Quinton White) and two true freshmen to revive a run game that ranked No. 111 nationally last year.
  • Guess who ranked No. 110? That would be TCU, who lost an intriguing piece to their rushing puzzle Monday when freshman Shaun Nixon suffered a season-ending knee injury. It's a rough break for Nixon, on a freak non-contact accident, but Gary Patterson is optimistic he'll be back for spring ball. Nixon was an ESPN 300 recruit that TCU deftly swiped from Texas A&M, but he likely would've backed up B.J. Catalon, Aaron Green and maybe Kyle Hicks and Trevorris Johnson. Patterson is serious about his new Air Raid offense running the ball the way TCU used to in its mid-major heyday, and Nixon could've helped.
  • Dana Holgorsen drew some heat on Monday for saying lying is a part of recruiting. If you missed that, well, it shouldn't be too hard to find a recap. (And if you want the actual context, and you should, here's the much-less-scandalous transcript of his comments.) Holgorsen isn't wrong at all to acknowledge recruiters across the country stretch the truth when talking up their school and program. What he's actually getting at here, and it's true everywhere, is how valuable it is to get a recruit to Morgantown and show them what his program really has to offer. Nothing controversial about that.
  • Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both received critical offensive line pledges Monday. The Sooners flipped Louisiana three-star guard Cody Ford from his six-month commitment to TCU, which is much-needed good news after missing on ESPN 300 tackle Madison Akamnonu. OSU beat out TCU and Tech for Joshua Jones, a three-star tackle who hails from the same Houston high school that produced Russell Okung. Mike Gundy's staff is quietly doing a great job in Texas this year.
» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Kansas Jayhawks:

Key returners: LB Ben Heeney, RB/WR Tony Pierson, QB Montell Cozart, S Isaiah Johnson

Key losses: HB James Sims

Most important 2014 games: Sept. 13 at Duke, Sept. 27 vs. Texas, Nov. 29 at Kansas State

[+] EnlargeBen Heeney
John Albright/Icon SMILinebacker Ben Heeney is one of the top returning players for a Kansas team looking to improve on last season's 1-8 Big 12 record.
Projected win percentage: 27.1 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: Three wins

Instant-impact newcomer: WR Nick Harwell. The Miami (Ohio) transfer is explosive and proven as a playmaker. Cozart's development should be helped by Harwell, who has the ability to take short passes and turn them into big gains. In addition, Harwell should open up opportunities for Pierson, tight end Jimmay Mundine and KU's other skill players.

Instant-impact newcomer, coaches' version: Charlie Weis essentially fired himself as offensive coordinator and brought in former Rice OC John Reagan to run the Jayhawks' attack. Weis will step back from the offense and take more of a "sounding board" role for KU while Reagan brings a higher-tempo style that will look to take advantage of Cozart's run-pass ability.

High point from 2013: The postgame reaction told the story for Weis’ Jayhawks after a 31-19 win over West Virginia, which snapped KU’s 27-game Big 12 losing streak. It was party time in Lawrence, Kansas, as the Jayhawks finally got to celebrate after years of disappointing conference defeats at home.

Low point from 2013: One week later, KU lost all the momentum it gained from the win over WVU thanks to a 34-0 loss to Iowa State on a frozen field at Jack Trice Stadium. It was a disappointing response to the excitement and momentum created by the win over the Mountaineers.

Biggest question mark: Even though KU is counting on Cozart, a sophomore, to take his game to another level, the Jayhawks' destiny will be decided in the trenches. The offensive and defensive lines must improve if KU hopes to surprise this fall. The Jayhawks' recruiting class featured several big bodies, including ESPN 300 center Jacob Bragg, but it remains to be seen if KU has made significant strides in that area.

Upset special: Several Big 12 teams have learned to be on their toes when visiting Lawrence, but Texas could be the latest team to learn that lesson. The Longhorns' Sept. 27 visit to Kansas is sandwiched between games with UCLA and Baylor, although UT does have a bye before playing KU. The Jayhawks, who suffered a close four-point loss during UT’s last trip in 2012, will see this as a chance to make an early statement.

They said it: “In this offense that we're running, I think athleticism at the quarterback position is a critical factor, and he definitely has athleticism. So besides being able to stand in the pocket and deliver, I think that that added element to either on called runs by quarterback or just scramble ability to bail you out of some trouble situations gives us a better chance to score more points.” -- Weis on naming Cozart KU’s starting quarterback
We are a month away from the beginning of fall camps, and two months from the start of the season. With the 2014 season arriving in the not-too-distant future, it’s time for us to break down every Big 12 team’s complete schedule.

Starting in reverse alphabetical order, we continue this series off with the Kansas Jayhawks:

Nonconference opponents (with 2013 record)

Sept. 6: Southeast Missouri State (3-9 in FCS)
Sept. 13: Duke (10-4)
Sept. 20: Central Michigan (6-6)

Big 12 home games

Sept. 27: Texas
Oct. 11: Oklahoma State
Nov. 8: Iowa State
Nov. 15: TCU

Big 12 road games

Oct. 4: at West Virginia
Oct. 18: at Texas Tech
Nov. 1: at Baylor
Nov. 22: at Oklahoma
Nov. 29: at Kansas State

Gut-check time: It’s important for the Jayhawks to get off to a good start. An upset win at Duke in their second game of the season would exceed all expectations. It’s an early season road test against a bowl opponent who won 10 games in 2013, so even a strong showing could create enough momentum to get KU heading in the right direction before conference play begins.

Trap game: Central Michigan comes to Lawrence, Kansas, in the week following KU’s trip to Duke and right before Texas visits KU to open Big 12 play. If Charlie Weis' team has any hope to exceed last year’s win total (3-9) or even battle for a bowl appearance, the Jayhawks will need to win this game.

Snoozer: People may not even notice the Jayhawks' season opener. The Sept. 6 game against SE Missouri St. comes one week after most teams kick off their season on Aug. 30 and features two teams that combined to win six games a year ago. It is Montell Cozart’s first opportunity to show Weis he made the right decision by naming Cozart the starter. The decision to go with Cozart gives the game some intrigue. But it’s safe to say few people will have this game on their priority list on Sept. 6.

Telltale stretch: It’s likely we will know everything we need to know about Kansas after its three-game stretch against Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. KU hosts UT and OSU and lost by a combined 10 points to the Longhorns and Cowboys the last time those two schools visited Lawrence in 2012. With unknowns at UT and OSU heading into the season, it’s not impossible for the Jayhawks to win at least one of those games, and the journey to West Virginia will begin with the confidence that KU beat WVU in 2013. If the Jayhawks win two of these three games, Weis’ squad could be in line for its best season under the veteran coach.

Final analysis: While KU faces a challenging schedule, it's a schedule full of opportunity as well. The road slate is extremely difficult with visits to Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas Tech and West Virginia, but the home schedule doesn’t feature any games that aren’t winnable, particularly with significant questions about Texas, OSU and TCU heading into the season. A six-win season is attainable if the Jayhawks' offense takes a major step forward and the defense approaches or exceeds its 2013 performance.
There can be various signs of success in the Big 12.

This fall there will be Big 12 players whose individual success could be a sign of greater things for their teams. Baylor needs someone to fill the void left by Tevin Reese, a healthy David Ash could transform Texas' season and consistent production from several players would boost their teams' chances to excel.

With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, here's a look at one stat from a player on each Big 12 team that could be a sign of success for their teams.

[+] EnlargeCorey Coleman
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsCan Baylor wideout Corey Coleman breakout in 2014?
Baylor receiver Corey Coleman's reception per game average: The Bears’ fourth leading receiver averaged 2.7 receptions and 40.5 yards per game as a redshirt freshman. With Reese moving on to the NFL, Coleman has the chance to drastically increase his per-game averages. The Bears hope his Fiesta Bowl performance -- seven receptions for 88 yards -- are a sign of things to come. If Coleman can double his average to 5 or 6 receptions and 80-plus yards per game, it could mean the Bears offense is humming yet again.

Iowa State receiver Quenton Bundrage's reception percentage: The Cyclones’ top target caught 52.7 percent of the passes thrown his way. For comparison’s sake, Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett caught 71 percent of his passes. Iowa State has been preaching consistency since the end of the season and Bundrage has said catching more consistently and limiting his drops is his primary goal. If Bundrage can up that percentage to 70 or better, it would open up the offense and open up space for the Cyclones' other receivers and running backs.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart's completion percentage: Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis wouldn’t have named Cozart his starter if he wasn’t confident the sophomore could be much improved as a passer. Cozart completed just 36.5 percent of his passes during his seven games played as a freshman. If KU’s offense is going to improve under new coordinator John Reagan, Cozart needs to aim to get his completion percentage to at least 58 percent.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters' sack percentage: Waters was sacked 23 times in 13 games a season ago and was sacked on 8.1 percent of his pass attempts. Only Iowa State's Sam B. Richardson had a higher sack percentage in the conference. Waters needs to do a better job of getting rid of the football and limiting negative plays this fall, particularly with the Wildcats searching for a consistent running threat early in the season with John Hubert no longer in the backfield. The senior signal-caller should be aiming to cut his sack percentage to five percent or less. While that number doesn't fall solely on his shoulders, Waters can play a key role in lowering the overall number of sacks and sack percentage.

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight's yards per attempt: Knight struggled to be a consistent passing threat as a redshirt freshman, averaging 6.1 yards per attempt. Only Texas’ Case McCoy and KU’s Jake Heaps and Cozart finished with lower yards per attempt averages among Big 12 quarterbacks who started a game last fall. The league average was 7.2. Opposing defenses will likely try to force Knight to beat them with his arm this fall, so his accuracy and decision-making will rise to the forefront as he tries to lead OU to a College Football Playoff berth. If Knight’s 2014 season average is closer to the 7.9 yards per attempt he recorded in the Sugar Bowl, it will be a great sign for the Sooners.

Oklahoma State receiver Jhajuan Seales' touchdowns: The Cowboys need a breakout season from Seales, who could be the Pokes’ next star at the position. He had just three touchdown receptions as a redshirt freshman, but if he can triple that output in 2014 that would mean the Cowboys' quarterback questions have likely been answered and Seales has taken the next step toward stardom.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
AP Photo/Tim SharpCan Texas signal-caller David Ash remain healthy in 2014?
Texas quarterback David Ash's pass attempts: Considering the state of the quarterback position in Austin, Texas, it would be great for Charlie Strong if Ash’s pass attempts surpass 200 for the second time in his career. It would mean Ash remained healthy and would give Strong an experienced signal-caller who has won 15 games as a starter. Injuries resulted in Ash attempting just 87 passes in 2013 so surpassing 200 pass attempts could help Strong have a successful first season.

TCU quarterback/receiver Trevone Boykin's total receptions: Boykin finished the 2013 season with 26 receptions for 204 yards despite starting six games at quarterback. He has been running the Horned Frogs' offense from behind center during the offseason, but if he finishes with more than 26 receptions in 2014, that’s a terrific sign for TCU. First, it means a solid option has emerged at quarterback allowing Boykin to slide to receiver. Second, it shows Boykin’s late season excellence as a pass catcher in 2013 was not a fluke, potentially making the Horned Frogs’ attack more explosive than it has been during the past two seasons.

Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant's yards per play: The junior wideout averaged 11.3 yards per play from scrimmage in 2013. The Red Raiders scored at least 30 points in every game in which Grant averaged at least 11 yards per play. Grant is a dynamic playmaker whom coach Kliff Kingsbury will try to get the ball as much as possible to help lessen the impact of losing Jace Amaro and Eric Ward. If Texas Tech increases Grant's touches and he rewards the coaching staff by averaging 12 yards per play in 2014, he has the potential to change games and help the offense continue to rank among the Big 12's best.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood's percentage of the Mountaineer’s total yardage: Smallwood accounted for 7.2 percent of WVU’s total yards from scrimmage as a freshman. Look for him to increase that percentage as a sophomore after a stellar spring. He could slide right into the versatile role manned by third-round pick Charles Sims. If the sophomore can match Sims’ 30.3 percent of WVU’s total yardage in 2013, it could be a great sign for the Mountaineers.

Best case, worst case: Kansas

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
3:00
PM ET
On Monday, we started our series on the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big 12 team.

The premise of these fun posts is to examine what the season may look like if everything fell into place for each school -- the best-case scenario for 2014. Conversely, we’ll also show what might happen if everything goes wrong -- the worst-case scenario. The truth, as usual, should fall somewhere in the middle.

We continue the series today with Kansas.

BEST CASE

Seven wins. Kansas' first winning season since the Mark Mangino era. Let's see how we can make this work.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsAn 8-5 season would result in a lot of celebratory Gatorade baths for Kansas coach Charlie Weis.
Kansas whoops FCS Southeast Missouri State in the opener. That's easy enough. But it will have to be a real butt-whooping, a glorious display of the Jayhawks' potential, because they need a confidence booster before they go on the road to play reigning ACC Coastal Division champion Duke.

In this game, KU gets lucky. Montell Cozart runs around in the pocket enough to trigger some form of potent post-Manziel stress disorder in the Blue Devils that causes receivers to get bafflingly wide open. Cozart takes advantage, Kansas receivers actually catch touchdowns, and it's all so amazing.

The Jayhawks go to 3-0 after taking care of business against Central Michigan. They give Texas a scare akin to 2012 in their Big 12 opener, but come up just short. Good thing there's an easy rebound game the next week against West Virginia. But the game that puts Kansas on the national radar is a startling easy win over Oklahoma State, one that sends the Pokes to 3-3. Kansas, at 5-1, is the talk of the country.

And just as Charlie Weis is being hyped up for doing one of the nation's best coaching jobs, his annual check for $2,054,744 from Notre Dame -- the check he gets to not coach the Fighting Irish -- arrives in the mail. Life is so sweet.

Even road losses at Texas Tech and Baylor can't kill Weis' vibe. KU gets to six wins and bowl eligibility by knocking off Iowa State at home. Weis carries the goal posts out of the stadium himself and throws them into Potter Lake. He begins contract extension negotiations the following Monday.

Fans fear their beloved, revived Jayhawks have run out of magic when they lose to TCU and Oklahoma the next two weeks, but this ain't over. Kansas goes into Manhattan and hands Kansas State a 21-point beatdown as revenge for five straight losses in the rivalry.

The Jayhawks go to the Liberty Bowl and make a rebuilding SEC team (how about Missouri?) look like a "pile of crap" (Weis' words, not mine) to finish the year 8-5. Yes, that's right, 8-5. Weis gets a pay bump to $5 million a year, and the Jayhawks are well on their way to a new dynasty.

WORST CASE

Kansas exits nonconference play with an encouraging 2-1 record after squeaking out wins against Southeast Missouri State and CMU. The Duke game got ugly; let's just not talk about it.

But the offensive transition under new OC John Reagan is a rocky one, and Cozart can't keep up. He gets benched after four straight Big 12 losses in favor of Michael Cummings, who runs a little more but doesn't make much a difference. KU gets back in its rut of changing the game plan every week in a futile attempt to expose opponents' specific weaknesses.

Ben Heeney finishes with an admirable 146 tackles and earns second-team all-conference honors, but the rest of the defense is a work in progress that makes little progress. KU notches one Big 12 win, in overtime at home against Iowa State, but loses the rest to finish 3-9.

Charlie Weis resigns following another rough loss to Kansas State. The search committee moves quickly to replace him, overlooking the next Gus Malzahn and instead hiring former Colorado coach Gary Barnett, who desperately wanted the KU job in 2011.

Oh, and one more thing: The day after Barnett is introduced at Kansas, Miami quarterback Jake Heaps is runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Life is so cruel.

Previous posts

June 16: Baylor
June 17: Iowa State

Big 12's lunch links

May, 22, 2014
May 22
12:00
PM ET
Hugh Jackman as a clown? That would have been a sight to see.
Two weeks ago, we ranked every team in the Big 12 position-by-position coming out of the spring. Putting that together, we’ve ranked the overall league position-by-position. In other words, what is the league’s strongest position? What is its weakest?

[+] EnlargeCedric Reed
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesCedric Reed will anchor Texas' defensive line.
In 2013, there’s no doubt the strength of the league was in the defensive backfield. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and TCU cornerback Jason Verrett were the league’s two first-round picks. Safety Ahmad Dixon earned All-American honors and Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom, West Virginia safety Darwin Cook, Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman and Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin were longtime stalwarts in their defensive backfields.

Here’s how the positions of the league rank going into 2014:

1. Defensive line: This was easily the most difficult position to rank by team, as line figures to be the defensive strength of TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs had the league’s best run defense last season, and on top of returning basically the entire unit, will be adding back 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields. The Sooners are also loaded, led by All-Big 12-caliber ends Geneo Grissom and Charles Tapper and tackle Jordan Phillips, and the could also go three-deep across the board next year. The Longhorns have two potential first-round picks up front in tackle Malcom Brown and end Cedric Reed. And Baylor coach Art Briles is already on record stating his D-line could go toe-to-toe with any in the country. Collectively, this should be the best the conference has been at the position since Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh roamed the middle five years ago.

2. Wide receiver: The league has two superstars at receiver in Baylor’s Antwan Goodley and Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett, who have the résumés to garner preseason All-American consideration. But they aren’t the only prolific playmakers here. Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant, Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard, Iowa State’s Quenton Bundrage, Oklahoma State’s Jhajuan Seales and Texas’ Jaxon Shipley are all capable of 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Baylor might feature the best receiving corps in the country, Oklahoma State is a solid nine deep and West Virginia returns its entire starting lineup from last season. Even Kansas has the nation’s second-leading receiver from 2011 in Miami (Ohio) transfer Nick Harwell. Assuming the league’s quarterbacks can get them the ball, this could be another banner year for the Big 12’s pass-catchers.

3. Linebacker: Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas and TCU return virtually their entire linebacker units from last year. And from Texas Tech’s Pete Robertson and Kansas State’s Jonathan Truman to Baylor’s Bryce Hager and Oklahoma State’s Ryan Simmons, the rest of the league basically has at least one proven linebacker coming back, too.

4. Offensive line: The strength of the Big 12's offensive lines resides in experienced centers and talented tackles. Kansas State’s BJ Finney, Texas’ Dominic Espinosa and Iowa State’s Tom Farniok are all four-year starters with a combined 113 career starts. At tackle, Baylor’s Spencer Drango, Texas Tech’s Le’Raven Clark and Oklahoma’s Daryl Williams have NFL futures. The league also boasts three other very stout and versatile players up front in Kansas State’s Cody Whitehair, West Virginia’s Quinton Spain and Oklahoma State’s Daniel Koenig, all three of which can man either guard or tackle.

[+] EnlargeDavis Webb
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesDavis Webb seems like one of the few sure things at QB in the Big 12.
5. Quarterback: The Big 12 has one Heisman candidate in Baylor’s Bryce Petty, a proven performer in Kansas State’s Jake Waters and two budding stars in Texas Tech’s Davis Webb and Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight. The rest of the league is a big fat unknown at the game’s most-critical position. But if Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh and Texas’ David Ash regain their forms from two seasons ago, Iowa State’s Grant Rohach builds off his strong 2013 finish, Clint Trickett can stay upright at West Virginia, and transfer Matt Joeckel and sophomore Montell Cozart prove to be the answers at TCU and Kansas, the Big 12 could be on the way back to becoming the preeminent conference for quarterbacking once again.

6. Running back: Half the teams lost their leading rushers from last season, and that doesn’t include Texas Tech’s Kenny Williams switching positions to linebacker. The Longhorns pose a potentially devastating one-two punch in Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, and the Mountaineers could go five-deep with Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood, Rushel Shell, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie. But the rest of the league will be leaning on potential more than past performance. That said, there is a lot to like in Baylor’s Shock Linwood, Iowa State’s Aaron Wimberly, TCU’s B.J. Catalon, Oklahoma State’s Tyreek Hill and Oklahoma’s Keith Ford.

7. Defensive back: With Gilbert, Verrett, Dixon, Colvin, Zimmerman, Cook and Byndom all gone, this position took a major attrition hit. Thanks to Sam Carter, Chris Hackett and Kevin White, TCU remains well stocked in its secondary. Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have veterans back, too. Everywhere else, there is rebuilding to be done. But the next wave of secondary stars appears to be on its way. Cornerbacks Nigel Tribune (Iowa State), Justis Nelson (Texas Tech) and Daryl Worley (West Virginia) all started as true freshmen. So did Oklahoma State corner Kevin Peterson and West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, who are now both juniors. It might not be long before defensive back is a strength of the league again like it was last season.
Days after last season ended, we released a Way-Too-Early 2014 Big 12 power poll. Following the many developments of signing day and spring practice, we’ve updated the poll:

1. Oklahoma Sooners (previous rank – 1): With the bulk of its defense coming back and the league’s most experienced offensive line, Oklahoma gets the top spot. Yet despite the preseason hype coming off the trouncing of Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, this is not a team without questions. No returning running back had more than 23 carries last year. No returning receiver (outside Sterling Shepard) had more than 13 catches. And though he torched the Crimson Tide, quarterback Trevor Knight has only five career starts and has been prone to getting nicked. That said, there’s plenty of young talent at the skill positions. If a few of those players emerge, and Knight builds off his Sugar Bowl performance, this could be a team that contends for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

2. Baylor Bears (2): Baylor won the 2013 Big 12 title without a player selected in the first four rounds of the NFL draft over the weekend. That speaks to the talent the Bears have back in quarterback Bryce Petty, wideout Antwan Goodley and left tackle Spencer Drango. It’s also not unthinkable that Baylor could lead the nation in scoring again. Petty should be even sharper in his second season as the starter. And running back Johnny Jefferson and receiver Corey Coleman seem primed to make an impact as the next wave of prolific Baylor playmakers. The defense will ultimately determine whether the Bears can defend their crown. The back seven is a work in progress. But Art Briles believes he will have a dominating defensive line. If so, Baylor could become the league’s first repeat champ since 2008.

3. Kansas State Wildcats (3): After rebounding to win six of its final seven games to end last season -- including destroying Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, K-State carried plenty of momentum into the offseason. With only 10 returning starters, there are some holes that need to be filled. But the Wildcats feature some of the best returning standouts in the league in quarterback Jake Waters, wideout Tyler Lockett and defensive end Ryan Mueller. If highly touted juco transfers Terrell Clinkscales, D'Vonta Derricott and Danzel McDaniel successfully step into some of those voids defensively, and an adequate successor to outgoing running back John Hubert surfaces, the Wildcats will have a say in the conference race.

4. Texas Longhorns (4): Discerning what team to rank fourth was the most difficult part of putting this list together. A case could be made here for Texas Tech, Oklahoma State or even TCU with its returning defense. But I couldn’t shake the memory of Texas obliterating both the Red Raiders and Horned Frogs last year while starting Case McCoy at quarterback. Given all the turnover Oklahoma State has, the Longhorns ultimately got the slight nod at fourth. With veterans littering the roster, Texas is solid pretty much everywhere -- well, everywhere except quarterback. But if the Longhorns can get anything out of the position -- David Ash? Max Wittek? Jerrod Heard? -- they could be a load in Charlie Strong’s debut season.

5. Texas Tech Red Raiders (6): The Red Raiders climbed a spot thanks to the rapid development of sophomore quarterback Davis Webb. Including the National University Holiday Bowl and Tech’s three open spring scrimmages, Webb tossed 17 touchdowns with no interceptions. With added weight and swelling confidence, Webb has been performing like an all-conference-caliber quarterback since the bowl game. Webb will have plenty of big-play weapons to operate with and his protection should be better, as well, with 75 career starts returning along the offensive line. Whether Tech truly emerges as a dark-horse contender, though, hinges on whether its four juco defensive linemen can remedy an ailing run defense that ranked ninth in the league last year.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5): After getting picked in 2010 by some to finish last in the Big 12 South, Oklahoma State reeled off 11 wins. Two years ago, the Cowboys got no love in the preseason again, and won eight games with three different quarterbacks. The recent track record in Stillwater suggests this is not a team to overlook in 2014. But if the Cowboys are going to surprise again, they’ll have to do so with a host of new faces. One reason for optimism is junior quarterback J.W. Walsh, who this spring rekindled his freshman form, when he led the entire Big 12 in Adjusted QBR. The Cowboys love Walsh’s toughness and leadership. If he can recapture the throwing accuracy that escaped him last season, Oklahoma State could be a factor.

7. TCU Horned Frogs (7): The biggest development for the Horned Frogs this offseason occurred after the spring when they added Matt Joeckel. The Texas A&M quarterback transfer, who will be eligible this season, is familiar with the offense new coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie installed this spring, and could give TCU just the jolt it needs at quarterback. The other big development this spring was the reemergence of 2012 AP Big 12 Defensive Player of Year Devonte Fields, who had a nightmare 2013 season. If Fields returns to wreaking havoc off the edge defensively, and Joeckel gives the offense above average quarterback play, TCU could finally be a force in its third year in the Big 12.

8. West Virginia Mountaineers (9): Dana Holgorsen is not lacking offensive firepower, with the league’s deepest running back stable and the entire receiving corps returning. With seven starters back on the other side, the defense has a chance to be much improved in the new Tony Gibson/Tom Bradley regime, too. West Virginia, however, gained little clarity about the quarterback position this spring, with Clint Trickett recovering from shoulder surgery and the other contenders failing to make a move up the depth chart. To challenge to finish in the top half of the Big 12, the Mountaineers will have to get more out of their quarterback than they did last year -- regardless of the other pieces.

9. Iowa State Cyclones (8): Buoyed by a new play-caller and 10 returning starters, Iowa State could boast its best offense since Seneca Wallace was behind center over a decade ago. Mark Mangino has a proven track record as a coordinator, and plenty of weapons to utilize in running back Aaron Wimberly, wideout Quenton Bundrage and tight end E.J. Bibbs. The offensive line is seasoned, and sophomore Grant Rohach might finally be Iowa State’s long-term answer at quarterback following a strong spring. The defense, however, is an even bigger question mark coming out of the spring. Projected starting linemen Rodney Coe and David Irving were dismissed and safety Devron Moore left after getting homesick. The Cyclones had been stout defensively under Paul Rhoads and coordinator Wally Burnham up until last season, when they ranked last in the league.

10. Kansas Jayhawks (10): Coming out of the spring, the Jayhawks have some definite strengths they can point to, notably linebacker Ben Heeney and cornerback Dexter McDonald. Elsewhere, Kansas still has catching up to do before breaking out of the cellar. At least now the Jayhawks have a long-term quarterback to build around in sophomore Montell Cozart, who was named the starter after shining in the spring game.
Since last week, we've been analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring. We conclude the series with Kansas' projected post-spring depth chart.

OFFENSE

QB: Montell Cozart (So.), Jake Heaps (Sr.), Michael Cummings (So.), T.J. Millweard (So.)

[+] EnlargeMontell Cozart
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerMontell Cozart was the clear choice at quarterback for the Jayhawks this spring.
Cozart was clearly the Jayhawks’ best quarterback during the spring game, so it made perfect sense when Kansas coach Charlie Weis named him the starter shortly after spring practice. If the sophomore continues to develop as a passer, he could help KU’s offense take a clear step forward. Heaps' status is unclear but, with Weis making it clear Cozart is the man, there’s no reason for him to stick around. Millweard and Cummings should be solid behind Cozart. It’s not the best group of quarterbacks in the league, but it’s not the worst, either.

RB: Brandon Bourbon (Sr.), Darrian Miller (Jr.), Taylor Cox (Sr.)

Bourbon had a solid spring and Miller returns after finishing second on the squad with 322 rushing yards in 2013. Yet it won’t be easy to replace James Sims, who was a mainstay in KU’s backfield for four seasons. Freshmen Corey Avery and Traevohn Wrench join De'Andre Mann as newcomers in the summer. KU should be able to replace Sims with a combination of these six running backs and its running game should be solid, particularly with Cozart providing a running threat at quarterback as well.

WR: Nick Harwell (Sr.), Tony Pierson (Sr.), Rodriguez Coleman (Jr.), Justin McCay (Sr.), Andrew Turzilli (Sr.)
TE: Jimmay Mundine (Sr.), Ben Johnson (RFr.)

With Harwell and Pierson, the Jayhawks could have two of the Big 12’s top big-play creators this fall. Both guys can be a handful in the open field and can turn a short gain into a long touchdown. Coleman came on in the spring and could provide another target for Cozart. The Jayhawks receivers looked solid in the spring. Now they just need to carry that momentum into actual production in the fall or end up being considered one of the conference’s worst groups of receivers again.

C: Keyon Haughton (Jr.), Joe Gibson (RFr.)
G: Ngalu Fusimalohi (Sr.), Joey Bloomfield (RFr.)
G: Mike Smithburg (Sr.), Bryan Peters (Jr.)
T: Damon Martin (So.), Zach Fondal (Sr.)
T: Pat Lewandowski (Sr.) Brian Beckmann (So.)

The Jayhawks' offensive line situation seems fairly fluid, so expect KU to continue to search for its five best offensive linemen during preseason camp. Fusimalohi is the best of the bunch and anchors the offensive front. This group had its moments last season, but needs to play better for KU’s offense to really take off.

DEFENSE

DL: Ben Goodman (So.), Tyler Holmes (So.)
DL: Andrew Bolton (Jr.), T.J. Semke (Jr.)
DL: Keon Stowers (Sr.), Tedarian Johnson (Sr.)

Goodman and Stowers are returning starters for the Jayhawks defense. Stowers is solid in the middle and Goodman has the talent to break out in 2014. The unit has a solid group of starters, but needs additional depth.

BUCK: Michael Reynolds (Sr.), Marcus Jenkins-Moore (Jr.) Victor Simmons (Sr.)
LB: Ben Heeney (Sr.), Courtney Arnick (So.)
LB: Jake Love (Jr.), Schyler Miles (Jr.)

This is a solid and deep group of linebackers, with several players competing for a job. Outside of Heeney and Love, nobody’s job could be safe, with players such as Miles and Arnick looking like contributors.

CB: Dexter McDonald (Sr.), Ronnie Davis (Jr.)
CB: JaCorey Shepherd (Sr.), Michael Mesh (Jr.)
NB: Kevin Short (Jr.), Greg Allen (So.)
S: Cassius Sendish (Sr.), Tevin Shaw (So.)
S: Isaiah Johnson (Jr.), Anthony Smithson (So.)

The Jayhawks have a solid secondary full of playmakers. McDonald and Shepherd can hold their own at cornerback, and Sendish and Johnson are a pair of active safeties. Short was one of the stars of KU’s spring practice. This starting unit could rank among the Big 12’s best if it continues to improve heading into the fall.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

BIG 12 SCOREBOARD