Big 12: Texas Longhrons
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits from across the conference heading into this week's games.
1. A transformed Kansas secondary has been readied for the Jayhawks' late push for the North Division title. Kansas coach Mark Mangino has gradually broken in new cornerbacks Daymond Patterson and Justin Thornton and moved up former backup Darrell Stuckey to the starting job at free safety. Those moves have left early-season starting cornerbacks Kendrick Harper and Chris Harris buried in Mangino's playing rotation. The change is being made to boost Kansas' athleticism before huge tests against the horde of playmaking wide receivers the Jayhawks will be facing against Texas and Missouri in upcoming weeks.
2. Oft-injured playmaking Oklahoma defensive end Auston English will be missed during the rest of the regular season, although Sooner coaches privately aren't disappointed that redshirt freshman Frank Alexander will be the player replacing him. Alexander's comeback from an early-season stabbing injury has been strong and he's shown some noticeable instinctive defensive moves. There will be a drop-off from English to Alexander, but not as much as might be expected.
3. One of the major reasons for Texas Tech's recent defensive success has been the simplification of schemes since Ruffin McNeill took over as defensive coordinator midway through last season. Two players who have particularly thrived up front have been defensive ends Brandon Williams and McKinner Dixon, who have combined for 17 sacks this season. And Tech's starting safeties, Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet, merely are playing like the best pair at their position in the conference since the change.
4. Kansas State coach Ron Prince took over the play-calling responsibilities in the second half of the Wildcats' 52-21 loss last week at Kansas, helping spark a late offensive charge after the Wildcats had fallen into an early 31-0 hole at the half. While Prince was careful to say he hasn't lost confidence in offensive coordinator Dave Brock's calls from the press box, he wanted to provide his team immediate feedback from the sideline by taking a more active play-calling role.
5. Missouri tight end Chase Coffman has been listed as questionable for Saturday's game against Kansas State because of a sprained toe. But Coffman has a little extra inspiration to return to the lineup quicker. It's not only his final home game at Missouri, but he'll be playing against the old college team of his father, former NFL tight end Paul Coffman. And his little brother, Carson, is a backup quarterback for the Wildcats. If Chase Coffman can't go, freshman Andrew Jones would get the start, but expect him to at least to try to play early in the game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas made the largest jump to No. 1 in more than 20 years when the Longhorns soared from No. 5 to the top spot in both the Associated Press media poll and USA Today coaches' poll.
The Longhorns jumped after toppling previous No. 1 Oklahoma, 45-35, in Dallas on Saturday.
"Being ranked No. 1 shows respect for what we've accomplished through the early part of the season but nobody really knows who is No. 1 at this point," Texas coach Mack Brown said after learning of his ranking.
Oklahoma dropped to fourth in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches' poll.
Oklahoma State made another significant jump after a stunning 28-23 upset at Missouri, pushing the Cowboys to eighth in the AP poll and 10th in the coaches' poll. It represented the first time the Cowboys cracked the AP top 10 since 1988, when current coach Mike Gundy was the Cowboys' quarterback. And it was their highest ranking in the AP poll since they were seventh late in the 1985 season.
Gundy said he got no additional satisfaction, despite the national attention brought by the ranking.
"I don't think it's any different than what it was before," Gundy said. "I'm excited for the players. They worked hard. They had to earn everything they've gotten. There's excitement I have for the Oklahoma State people and the commitment they've made in the program. We'll continue to take steps, but we still have a lot of work in front of us."