Big 12: Yoshi Hardrick

Mailbag: All-Name team and top freshmen

August, 20, 2010
Have a good weekend, everybody. There's a decent chance Texas Tech names its starting QB over the weekend, and if that happens, we'll have it here, so keep checking back.

Michael in Raytown, Mo., writes: How long does MU give Pinkel if he continues to get beat down by OU and UT? I mean going to a bowl game every year is great and all, but I'm sick of us having good /very good years then getting slapped down by OU and UT. I know MU will probably never have the same level of talent overall as OU/UT but other inferior talent teams find a way to beat them--what gives?

David Ubben: Gary Pinkel's struggles against Texas and Oklahoma aren't a deal breaker. His job security is as good as it's ever been, and nothing Texas or Oklahoma do is going to change that. Missouri fans sometimes forget where the program was before he came. The Tigers had two winning seasons from 1984 to 2000, when Pinkel arrived. He's guided them to five consecutive bowls and won an impressive 30 games in three seasons. Finally getting over the hump and beating Texas or Oklahoma would be a big step for the program, but it's foolish to suggest Pinkel's job depends on it.

Wes in Hampton, Va., writes: There are plenty major games lined up for the Big XII this year. Do you see any teams with any major "snake in the grass" games? i.e. Nebraska @ Washington?

DU: There are definitely quite a few. I'll define them as games that fans are counting as sure wins that they might warrant a second look.

1) Nebraska at Iowa State -- For all the talk about turnovers, Iowa State still beat Nebraska in Lincoln without Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson, among others. It's foolish to think the Huskers over the Cyclones in Ames is a gimme.

2) Oklahoma at Cincinnati -- Probably not viewed as a gimme, but Oklahoma fans see a team that lost its coach, Brian Kelly, and its two best offensive players, quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard. I see a team that went 2-5 away from Owen Field last year and still has to prove it can perform on the road, especially Landry Jones.

3) Texas A&M at Baylor -- Baylor might be playing to end its bowl drought, and it'll be ready to go in Waco. The Aggies' defense can't play like it did most of last year against Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright this year. If it does, it'll leave with a frustrating loss.

Jess in Oklahoma asks: What odds do you give Kenny Stills on being offensive newcomer of the year in the Big XII

DU: As a true freshman, he'd be a "Freshman of the Year," rather than newcomer, which are two separate awards, but he's got a pretty good shot to win it. The opportunity in Oklahoma's receiving corps is there, and he's already impressed coaches in practice and fans in the spring game.

Roderick in Denver writes: David, we've seen enough Top XX lists to make our eyes bleed this summer, but how about one more? What are your Top 10 Names in the Big 12? Could be cool, weird, just sounds like a football player, or a personal favorite. Here's a starter kit.

PK Zach Grossnickle of Colorado, DT Stephen Ruempolhamer of ISU, LB Blake Slaughter of KSU, CB Dijon Washington of Nebraska, DT Chris Littlehead of OSU, RB Foswhitt Whittaker of Texas, WR Uzoma Nwachukwu of A&M, RB's Christine Michael and Mister Jones of A&M.

DU: That's a great list. I should mention, Baylor having two Robert Griffins might be my favorite name-related story in the Big 12 right now.

But here are a few additions, my favorite names across the conference:

Trevor Marrongelli, OL, Kansas: As I mentioned in a video earlier this week, he's nothing to spread on toast. He's Kansas' starting right guard.

Oladipo Fajimolu, DL, Kansas State: A native of Nigeria, Fajimolu did a lot in high school: Football, basketball, shot put, javelin, discus, soccer, badminton and table tennis.

Gahn McGaffie, WR, Missouri: It's pronounced "John." As someone with an oft-butchered name, I can relate, and I imagine it's been pronounced correctly on the first attempt about 6 percent of the time. Him scoring a game-winning touchdown is screaming for a "He's Gahn" headline.

Forrest Shock, WR, Missouri: Needed nickname: "Agent Orange" or "The Lumberjack."

Currenski Gilleylen, WR, Nebraska: They say to never trust a man with two first names. I trust any man with two last names.

Yoshi Hardrick, LT, Nebraska: Legitimately nicknamed after the dinosaur, and you won't find a better one in the Big 12.

Hubert Anyiam, WR, Oklahoma State: Find me another player with three words in seven letters in one last name. In order. Fantastic. For reference, it's pronounced "ANNIE-ehm."

Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Alliteration is always good, and for more on why he's on the list, see Nebraska's first entry.

Tony Jerod-Eddie, DL, Texas A&M: Does anyone know what you're supposed to do about guys with three first names?

Beau Blankenship, RB, Iowa State: Boom. Sounds tough.

Bront Bird, LB, Texas Tech: Anybody want to mess with him? I don't.

LeQuince McCall, LB, Baylor: Four capital letters, one goal: cracking the Bears' depth chart.

Who'd I miss?

Brett in Kansas City asks: Hey David, do you see K-State getting into a bowl this season and if so what bowl do you think it will be?

DU: I like their chances a lot. You should look into the Pinstripe Bowl. Could be a nice trip.

Injury bug biting Big 12 North

August, 12, 2010
The top two teams in the Big 12 North have both suffered concerning injuries early in camp that have changed each's plans for their season openers on Sept. 4.

Nebraska's Mike Smith suffered the worst injury, a broken leg, in Tuesday's workout, Huskers coach Bo Pelini confirmed on Wednesday.

Smith had moved between center, left guard and left tackle throughout camp, but Pelini was confident in his unit despite being forced to play without Smith for 2010.

“We still have great competition,” Pelini told reporters after Wednesday's practice. “Really, not much has changed. Mike was kind of a swing guy. We were moving him to a number of different positions. So really, not a lot has changed.”

Smith's injury came a day after left tackle Yoshi Hardrick had to be taken to the hospital via ambulance after practice, presumably due to issues relating to the triple-digit heat in Lincoln. Hardrick attended but sat out Tuesday's and Wednesday's practices, and is expected to return Thursday.

Also, I have no plans to ever use his given name, "Jermarcus," in the forseeable future. The origin of the nickname? Yoshi's older brother (and I stress I am not making this up) is named Mario, and the two were extremely close growing up in Batesville, Miss. I'm not sure I've ever loved a nickname -- or it's roots -- more than that.

Missouri's Jerrell Jackson suffered a less-serious but more impactful injury in Tuesday's practice. The Tigers' leading returning receiver, Jackson broke a scaphoid bone in his left wrist on the end of a long catch-and-run and will miss an estimated four weeks. Three weeks from Saturday, Missouri opens its season in St. Louis against Illinois.

Though Jackson holds the distinction of the team's leading receiver, it's hardly a major blow for the Tigers. Junior Wes Kemp is just as experienced and had nice numbers (23 rec, 418 yards, 3 TDs vs. Jackson's 37 rec, 458 yards and 2 TDs). Additionally, Jackson's absence only provides more opportunity for T.J. Moe, who, by all accounts, has been one of the team's most consistent receivers after catching just two balls in 2009.

In the spring game, he caught 12 balls for 85 yards and the Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter predicted in his blog earlier this week that Moe would lead the team in receptions this season. Consider the odds helped a bit with the injury.

Most importantly, even if Jackson's recovery is slowed, opening 4-0 shouldn't be difficult for Missouri. They open with Illinois, who colleague Adam Rittenberg placed 11th in his preseason Big Ten power rankings. The Tigers' next three games are snoozers against McNeese State, San Diego State and Miami (Ohio). So, the situation could be worse for Missouri, who is also missing linebackers Luke Lambert (knee) and Will Ebner (hamstring) with minor injuries. Both should return soon.

Of more concern is safety Jarrell Harrison's torn meniscus, which abbreviated one of the featured position battles in Missouri's camp.

Lunch links: Underwater practice field

August, 10, 2010
Anybody have directions to Janet Reno's dance party tonight?



Saturday, 10/25