Big 12 mailbag: West Virginia's defense, TCU's true freshman LB


In today's mailbag, we chat Texas Tech, TCU's standout true freshman and Texas' social media silliness. As always, thanks for your questions.

Brandon Chatmon: I love what I've seen from Montrel Wilson. He's a playmaker. The true freshman linebacker leads TCU with 37 tackles and was all over the field in the Horned Frogs' 50-7 win against Texas. Wilson has been arguably the best true freshman in the conference. He's been outstanding and I expect him to get even better as he gains more experience.

Chatmon: I think it needs to be addressed. Charlie Strong should probably take a stance similar to Bob Stoops' stance, which Stoops reiterated on Monday. Stoops said he tells Oklahoma players if they want to tweet about trivial things like food preferences or movie critiques, that's fine. But as soon as they start sharing anything relating to the program on social media, that's a problem. I don't think it's a major issue though, if I was a Texas fan I'd be much more worried about the fact the Longhorns don't appear to have any players, upperclassmen or underclassmen, policing the locker room on a daily basis.

Chatmon: That's a difficult one. I'd probably still give West Virginia the nod right now despite Saturday's loss to Oklahoma. The Mountaineers lead the Big 12 in points per drive allowed (1.07), turnover percentage (23.2) and third down conversion rate (25.9). West Virginia didn't lose to Oklahoma because the defense wasn't up to the challenge, it lost because of five turnovers from Skyler Howard.

Chatmon: I think a return to a bowl game is a given with Patrick Mahomes under center. The sophomore quarterback has energized the Red Raiders this season and I expect that to continue. In fact, I don't see a game remaining on the schedule that Tech can't win. I expect about 6-7 wins or even higher if the defense improves in the second half of the season under David Gibbs.

Chatmon: He does if he takes care of the ball. Remember Dana Holgorsen isn't putting the whole burden of the offense on Howard, asking him to win games. Holgorsen says the Mountaineers are "a running team" so if Howard doesn't repeat the costly turnovers he made against Oklahoma, West Virginia can beat anyone.

Chatmon: Considering the Mountaineers just gave up seven sacks to Oklahoma, I'm going over. Emmanuel Ogbah hasn't rested on his laurels after his Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year award last season, taking it to another level with 6.5 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and 10 tackles for loss this season. Combine those numbers with Jimmy Bean, and the Cowboys' defensive end duo has 10.5 sacks. West Virginia's offensive line will need to be much improved to keep the Cowboys pass-rushers at bay.

Chatmon: I think torched is a bit strong. After all, three Big 12 teams gave up more passing yards last week alone. And only TCU and Oklahoma had a lower defensive QBR than West Virginia's 27.8. So, to answer your question, no, it hasn't changed anything.

Chatmon: This is where Iowa State's improved defensive line could come into play. Dale Pierson has quietly been one of the nation's best pass-rushers, averaging 1.5 sacks per game, and Demond Tucker has been a presence in the middle. Slowing down Texas Tech won't be easy, but if Pierson, Tucker or someone else on the Cyclones' defense can force a turnover or two they could upset Tech. Iowa State also needs a productive, and efficient, game from quarterback Sam B. Richardson, because no matter how well the defensive line plays, Tech is going to put up some points.