Big 12: Rashawn Parker

Lunch links: Mojo or no mojo?

November, 8, 2010
Today's links topper comes courtesy of Joe in Brooklyn, NY: Dearest Ubben, Please remove Nebraska from the number 1 position in your latest power ranking. I've noticed a terrifying trend, the number 1 team loses. It's happened every week since week six. Nebraska, Missouri, and Oklahoma (twice) have all fallen victim to your "well-intentioned" rankings. I suggest that you move Nebraska to number 2 and have a seven way tie for first in the Big 12 between Oregon, Auburn, TCU, BSU, LSU, Stanford, and Wisconsin.

Mailbag: Iowa State edition

August, 18, 2010
More team-themed Mailbags: Chad in Des Moines, Iowa asks: ISU had some surprising success last year making and winning a bowl game. With such a difficult schedule in year two of Coach Paul Rhoads, will early defeats, even though they might be against top 25 teams, rattle the team and shake any confidence that carried over from last year?

DU: Well, as much as coaches and fans like to talk about "resiliency," I wouldn't worry about any losses shaking a team. This isn't peewee football. Anyone who made it to the Division I level isn't going to curl up into the fetal position because they lost a few games. Teams keep fighting week to week and the times when players fold are grossly outweighed by the times they keep fighting.

Iowa State had a couple bad defeats last year and bounced back just fine. Iowa dominated them at home and the Cyclones lost on a missed extra point to Kansas State, among other losses, but still had a great finish to the season. Even if a winning season is out of reach with a couple games left to play, the Cyclones aren't going to just pack it up and prepare for 2011.

Mark in Dallas, Texas asks: So Iowa State has a daunting schedule ahead of them (at Iowa, Utah, Nebraska, at Texas, at Oklahoma)...What do you think the odds are that the Cyclones pull off another stunner this year like they did at Nebraska last year? Which Big 12 teams are already counting their game against the Clones as a sure win?

DU: They've probably got a decent chance to knock off Utah, but really every team in the North should be on alert. Iowa State has a strong case as the third-best team in the North, but obviously, the schedule is going to make it tough for them to beat out a team like Kansas State to finish there at the end of the season. The biggest thing for Iowa State is it has to win the games it should win, like Kansas and Colorado.

But teams like Texas Tech, Missouri and Nebraska better be careful. If they go up to Ames and don't play well, they might go home losers.

cyclonefan1 in Ames, Iowa asks: Why is it that Alexander Robinson is being completely overlooked by ESPN? He was barely off from being the number 1 back in the big 12 last season and thats even with missing a lot of time due to injury! If he has a healthy season he should be the number 1 back in the big 12 this season.

DU: I don't know that he's been completely overlooked. Maybe a touch underrated, but I had him reasonably high in my preseason top 25 player rankings. Also, in our "20 for '10" preseason section, Robinson made our list of the nation's best undersized running backs.

Paul in Austin, Texas asks: Hey David,Yes, I know, very strange to see an ISU fan in Austin, but life can lead to strange places. Chris Low recently did a piece for the SEC blog looking at 5 quarterbacks from the PAC-10 and 1 from the SEC. Other than pure yardage, their stats are remarkably similar to Austen Arnauds, and none of them have the rushing yards or rushing TD's that he does. Is Arnaud really a substandard quarterback, and if so what does he need to do this year to get us through a tough schedule?

DU: For quarterbacks, it's not as much about numbers as it is for running backs or receivers. Quarterbacks have to be efficient to move offenses, and that's where he has to get better, not total production. He only completed 58.9 percent of his passes last year, tied for seventh in the Big 12 and threw 13 interceptions, tied for second-most. That's especially troubling considering he only threw 304 passes. The two guys in the league, Taylor Potts and Landry Jones, who threw an equal or greater number of picks threw 470 and 449 passes, respectively. He's got to take care of the ball this year.

As for his running, there's not another quarterback in the league who runs as hard as he does. And at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he's an absolute load to bring down when he runs, and he obviously runs a lot.

Nick in Ankeny, Iowa asks: Hi David,With Iowa State having a majority of their defense young and inexperienced. What do you expect from Wally Burnham's 2nd year defensive unit? Also: With Iowa State having experience at their offensive skill positions. Do you expect a turnaround from last years last in the Big 12's scoring offense?

DU: I don't expect a lot, but they should have a decent secondary. Paul Rhoads is pretty excited about that unit with Leonard Johnson and Ter'ran Benton at safety, and of course David Sims at safety, who won the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year honors in 2009. But they may get gashed pretty badly in Big 12 play up front. The defensive line is definitely in the Big 12's bottom third even though Rashawn Parker is a nice talent, and while the outside linebackers, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, have big-time potential, they're still first-year starters and sophomores with a lot to learn. By the time they're both seniors, though, they could be among the Big 12's best.

Lunch links: No fight over Huskers' fees

July, 27, 2010
To be clear, I'm a towering 5-foot-8. In the Big 12 that translates to a slightly undersized cornerback. That's not a quote from anything, just a fact.

Welcome to Big 12 media days...kind of

July, 26, 2010
Today begins the Big 12's three days in the spotlight, but the first team to take the stage, Nebraska, won't do so until 2 p.m. ET, so I won't be making the short trek to Irving, Texas until a little later.

One quick note, defensive tackle Jared Crick has replaced Prince Amukamara as the Huskers representative. Amukamara stayed in Lincoln so he could take an exam, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Here's your full guide to media days.

And here's who'll be up first on Day 1. (all times ET)

2:00 Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini, WR Niles Paul, DE Pierre Allen, DT Jared Crick

2:45 Baylor: Coach Art Briles, LB Antonio Johnson, OT Danny Watkins, DT Phil Taylor

3:30 Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads, QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, DE Rashawn Parker

4:15 Texas A&M: Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, LB Von Miller, DT Lucas Patterson

Remember, you can watch each team's time on the podium live at

What should you expect?
  • Nebraska will obviously be asked plenty about the coaches and players' perspective on leaving the Big 12, along with the intensified rivalry with Texas. On the field, the situation at quarterback is the obvious conversation piece, but expect coach Bo Pelini to elaborate on why this year's defense could be better than the Huskers' top-ranked unit last season, as well as sophomore Rex Burkhead's role in the offense.
  • Baylor QB Robert Griffin III won't be making the trip, but that won't stop the room full of reporters from asking coach Art Briles about Griffin's progress, both physically and mentally from last season's knee injury. Also, expect the words "bowl drought" to surface early.
  • For Iowa State, it's continuing to progress from last year's success in the face of one of the toughest schedules in the Big 12. The Cyclones return just four starters on defense, so the new guys should be discussed at length. Parker should be one of that defense's stars. Good money says some reporter will try to bait coach Paul Rhoads into making some quotable comment about being picked last in the North, but I wouldn't expect any Sabanesque one-liners. Iowa State's been the subject of one of the biggest news stories in the Big 12 in the past week, the investigation surrounding an incident involving the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, defensive back David Sims. Depending on how much Rhoads knows -- or can disclose -- about the case, expect an update there. At the very least, he should be able to update those in attendance on Sims' status with the team.
  • Lofty expectations, thy name is Aggie. This should be an entertaining session. Both Jerrod Johnson and Von Miller can be funny and insightful, and at the end of the day, the room will thank them if the bright lights don't change that. Texas A&M wasn't shying away from the league's expectations of them this spring, and there's no reason to think that'll change.
  • Barring breaking news between now and this afternoon, agents won't be making headlines like they did at SEC Media Days last week, considering no Big 12 schools are currently being investigated for sketchy contact (that's a technical term) with agents by the NCAA. But the issue will surely come up several times during the week.
  • Don't expect fireworks. The coaches and players didn't have a ton of pull in the decisions that were made this summer, and I'd be surprised if anyone spoke candidly on the record about their thoughts surrounding this summer's realignment, especially after Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville's public reprimand and possible fines looming for future violators. Like I said then, there's little for coaches to gain from brutal honesty on the issue. I expect everyone to play nice.

Big 12 Media Days schedule

July, 14, 2010
Big 12 Media Days in Irving, Texas are only a couple weeks away, and the schedule for the three-day gabfest has been released.

First thing I noticed: Nebraska (first) and Texas (last) are as far away as possible. Though I don't think the week is going to be as conducive to fireworks as some believe, it should still be plenty entertaining.

Media Days run July 26-28, and here's when to look for who on your team. (all times ET)

Monday, July 26

2:00 Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini, WR Niles Paul, DE Pierre Allen, CB Prince Amukamara

2:45 Baylor: Coach Art Briles, LB Antonio Johnson, OT Danny Watkins

3:30 Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads, QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, DE Rashawn Parker

4:15 Texas A&M: Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, LB Von Miller, DT Lucas Patterson

Tuesday, July 27

10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland

10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick

11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall

12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock

Wednesday, July 28

10:00 Kansas: Coach Turner Gill, DE Jake Laptad, CB Chris Harris, OL Brad Thorson

10:45 Oklahoma: Coach Bob Stoops, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Travis Lewis, WR Ryan Broyles

11:30 Colorado: Coach Dan Hawkins, CB Jalil Brown, WR Scotty McKnight, OL Nate Solder

12:15 Texas: Coach Mack Brown, QB Garrett Gilbert, OT Kyle Hix, DE Sam Acho, DT Kheeston Randall

A few quick thoughts:
  • Definitely surprised that Texas' Garrett Gilbert will be making the trip. I saw firsthand how well-spoken he was this spring on my visit to Austin, but I'm still surprised Brown would trot out his first-year starting quarterback for the media horde outside Dallas. Although his presence guarantees there should be plenty to talk about with the Longhorns.
  • Tommy Tuberville probably had to bring two or none of his quarterbacks, lest he tip his undecided hand at his starter and get people talking about a nonexistent decision. He chose the former. Interesting to note that Colorado's Dan Hawkins went with the latter.
  • Not sure why DE Jamie Blatnick will be one of Oklahoma's State's representatives instead of DE Ugo Chinasa or S Markelle Martin. Chinasa is a senior two-year starter heading into his third, while Blatnick is a junior who started only part-time last season. Martin is one of the conference's rising stars.
  • Baylor is the only team in the league bringing just a three-man contingent, and in Waco, they're the closest team to Media Days. A little surprised that Robert Griffin III won't be making the short drive, but at least that forces everyone to ask questions not about Griffin's knee. For that, I thank you, Art. But throwing WR Kendall Wright in the car at the last minute wouldn't be a terrible idea.
  • Meanwhile, Texas is the only team with a five-man crew. Everything's bigger.
  • Pretty good representation elsewhere, no real complaints. What do you think?

McKnight gives a glimpse of Cyclones weight room

June, 30, 2010
You heard a little bit about Iowa State's strength coach, Yancy McKnight, last week, but he's allowed fans and whoever else a look inside his weight room, including his philosophies and prize students.

Defensive end Rashawn Parker, returning from a knee injury this season, and safety David Sims are McKnight's top performers in the weight room.
"I like to make it even competition for our bigs and our skill guys, so I do it pound-for-pound. We want everyone to know who the strongest guy in the program is. Last year it was David Sims. Last year, who was our strongest vertical jumper by body weight? Rashawn Parker. He was also No. 1 in our power factor," McKnight said in a Q&A on the team's website. "You look at that stuff and a big guy is going to have more poundage total, than say maybe a skill guy, but in body weight to total poundage, who is strongest pound-for-pound? This way, I think it’s fair and it is equal. That allows our skill guys to have goals to be the strongest guy in the program and David Sims is a perfect example of that."

The same goes for McKnight's linemen, who might not have the movement and athleticism of the skill players. Their explosive power numbers are relative. And on the walls of the hallway into the locker room are photos of player groups who have reached certain milestones, like a 300-pound power clean or a 400-pound bench press.
"The top five guys in our power factor were Rashawn Parker, Chris Lyle, some big guys in there as far as their vertical jumps to their body weights go, were outstanding. Guys that are 250-plus pounds, but yet they have 36-inch verticals, that’s pretty impressive. We want to be able to show to our kids that progress, hard work and dedication can be rewarded and being on that wall for a full calendar year is a big deal," he said.

Unlike most locker rooms, McKnight doesn't post all-time records.
"That’s not what we’re about. For our guys, it’s year to year. What matters now is 2010, not 2009. That’s kind of the way I look at viewing records. We don’t really get too bent out of shape about numbers. Testing numbers, you can twist them and contort them anyway you want to. That wall out there is reward," he said. "We’re not going to have a lifting hall of fame, or something like that. Those guys walk down that hallway every day before they enter that weight room. Our recruits walk down that hallway on their visits. Alumni do as well. I think it’s important that they see that wall as they walk by."

Lunch links: Iowa talks big

June, 30, 2010
Tommy Tuberville's newest controversial comments: "America's national debt is over 10 trillion dollars, and that is a mistake."..."World Cup officials have missed a few goals this tournament, and they should have gotten them right."..."I just think dumping oil into the ocean is something nobody should be doing."

Big 12 internal affairs: Buffs changing to more athletic secondary

September, 30, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Here's a look at some of the under-the-radar topics that people are talking about across the Big 12:
  • Colorado coaches are hopeful the insertion of cornerback Ben Burney into the lineup at strong safety with cornerbacks Cha'pelle Brown and Jimmy Smith will provide the Buffaloes with a more athletic secondary that will be more productive as it prepares for the Big 12’s high-powered passing attacks. The retooled group will get its first big test Thursday night when it challenges West Virginia’s talented pitch-and-catch tandem of quarterback Jarrett Brown and receiver Jock Sanders.
  • The versatility of Texas’ offense was shown against UTEP when the Longhorns produced 300 rushing and passing yards for only the second time in school history. The only other time came against Houston in 1990. It showed the versatility and depth of Texas’ running and passing offense. The Longhorns’ ability to effectively do both was what UTEP coach Mike Price was raving about after the game -- shortly after he called Texas the best team in the country.
  • It might be time for Harris Interactive Poll voters to take a sobriety test after their first poll results were released this week. Is it my imagination, or could you think of a less-likely team to receive votes in a national poll than Kansas State, which is tied for 42nd in the most recent Harris poll with two points? Yes, that would be the same Kansas State that has yet to beat an FBS opponent this season with its only victories over FCS teams Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech.
  • Concern for Kansas’ offensive line remains the Jayhawks’ most worrisome problem during their week off. The Jayhawks allowed five sacks of Todd Reesing against Southern Mississippi. Considering Reesing’s slight size, his health could be in risk unless the Jayhawks improve their pass-blocking tendencies pronto. But the return of Jake Sharp to the starting lineup could improve some of the blitz pickups by Kansas’ running backs.
  • Nebraska’s pass-rushing packages are rounding into shape after they notched two sacks against Louisiana-Lafayette -- the first sacks against quarterback Chris Masson this season. After being shut out in the season opener, the Cornhuskers have rebounded to notch 10 sacks over the last three weeks. Most impressively, nine different players have shared in that largesse of sacks.
  • The loss of top Iowa State pass rusher Rashawn Parker with a season-ending knee injury could have some serious consequences for the Cyclones. Parker had provided the most consistent pass-rushing threat and will be missed during the rest of the season. His replacement will be sophomore Patrick Neal, a converted tight end who snagged a touchdown grab last season against Missouri.
  • Oklahoma State’s offensive line showed some continuity against Grambling, playing with the same group as it had last week. It marked the first time this season that the Cowboys have started the same five players along the offensive front in back-to-back weeks.
  • One underrated impressive trend for Texas A&M in their blowout victory over UAB was that the Aggies were penalized only three times. That effort came after the Aggies came into the game leading the nation with 30 penalties in their first two games. A&M coaches made a special efforts in game preparations last week to limit mental mistakes. The results were seen in the Aggies’ clean performance over the Blazers.

Big 12 lunch links: Colorado facing pressure-packed game tonight

September, 11, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Getaway day to Oklahoma. I'm still looking for that elusive best onion-fried burger in the state.

Until then, here are some lunchtime links to feed your Big 12 appetite.

ISU defense determined to rebound

March, 31, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Iowa State defensive players know they didn't play well last season.

  Charles LeClaire/Getty Images
  Paul Rhoads hopes to turn things around at Iowa State.

That realization, along with the arrival of defensive-minded head coach Paul Rhoads, has ratcheted up competition for the Cyclones' beleaguered unit in hopes of improving this spring.

"Speaking personally, I have a huge chip on my shoulder after last year," senior nose guard Nate Frere said. "I think we have a lot to prove. We didn't play well. We didn't tackle well. And that's the bottom line."

The Cyclones finished the season with a 10-game losing streak that dropped them to 2-10, including eight straight losses in Big 12 play. The Cyclones allowed at least 28 points in every Big 12 game, including at least 35 points in all but one conference game.

The ISU defense ranked among the bottom 10 units nationally in scoring defense (tied for 110th), total defense (112th), pass defense (116th) and pass efficiency defense (117th). That gives Iowa State a lot of room for improvement this spring.

It's led Rhoads, who arrived at ISU after serving as the defensive coordinator at Auburn, to take a back-to-the-basics approach as he attempts to rejuvenate the defense as his first task in his transformation of the program.

That's why the Cyclones have been involved in simple tackling drills from the first day of spring practice. They are working on their balance and technique as well as the proper way to deliver forearm shivers and ankle stops.

Some teams might have been embarrassed with such a simplistic approach. But it's what Rhoads believes his defense needs to improve its fundamentals and tackling.

"Defensively, we lag behind where we are offensively," Rhoads said. "They know they gave up a lot of points, they know they gave up a lot of yards and they know they didn't tackle well. And that's where you have to start."

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