Dallas Colleges: TCU Horned Frgos
As expected, this was one of the busiest weeks in the Big 12 from a recruiting standpoint. Teams were looking to fill in last-minute vacancies, and players were looking to finalize their college plans. TCU proved to be the big winner in the conference, landing six 2014 commits and two more commits from the 2015 class. Kansas wasn’t far behind, as the Jayhawks got verbal commitments from five three-star players for the 2014 class.
Here are some of this past week’s highlights:
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- Baylor guard Cyril Richardson is among several offensive linemen who could interest the St. Louis Rams, writes Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- More facility upgrades are on the way at Kansas State, including an upgrade on the north end zone of Snyder Family Stadium, reports Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star.
- The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to add a safety, which means Baylor's Ahmad Dixon could spark their interest at the Senior Bowl, writes Jeff McLane of Philly.com.
- The countdown of Oklahoma State's top 13 moments of 2013 continues, courtesy of The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell.
- Kendal Thompson's transfer changed the quarterback landscape at Oklahoma, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.
- What does Charlie Strong to Texas mean for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State? Mizell takes a deeper look.
- A Q&A with Texas linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary, who seems thrilled to be joining Strong in Austin.
- TCU landed a safety commitment.
Here is one stat from each Big 12 team that helped define the season:
Iowa State’s sacks allowed: The Cyclones allowed 37 sacks in 12 games, an average of 3.08 per game. ISU finished last in the nation and tied for No. 113 among FBS teams in the category. The trouble protecting the passer speaks volumes about the injury struggles Paul Rhoads’ team had along the offensive line. Ten different ISU offensive linemen started games this season, with nine different starting lineups starting the first 11 games. All of ISU’s offensive problems began up front.
Kansas’ yards per play: It’s amazing to think how bad Charlie Weis’ offense was this season. The Jayhawks ranked among the worst in the nation in several categories, but their 4.28 yards per play was No. 120 among FBS teams. KU entered the season with much higher expectations for this offensive unit, particularly with BYU transfer Jake Heaps as the triggerman. Yet the Jayhawks never really found any consistency, as Weis and company tried several different things to jump start the unit. KU scored more than 20 points twice this season, letting down a defense that was much improved over last year’s group.
Kansas State’s yards per play: When you think of the top offenses in the Big 12, it takes a while to get to Kansas State. Yet the Wildcats featured a surprisingly explosive offense despite losing uber-productive quarterback Collin Klein off last year’s squad. This year’s K-State offense averaged 6.3 yards per play, second to only Baylor in the Big 12 and No. 28 among FBS teams. Bill Snyder’s ability to find harmony while using Jake Waters and Daniel Sams in a two-quarterback system led to 33.4 points per game by an offense that didn’t enter the season expected to be among the Big 12’s best.
Oklahoma’s yards allowed per game: The Sooners allowed just 336.3 yards per game to lead the Big 12 and finish No. 13 in the FBS. OU entered the season with a lot of questions and concerns about a defense that was embarrassed by Johnny Manziel in last year's Cotton Bowl and was losing a bunch of starters, yet the Sooners defense improved thanks to several young players, including defensive end Charles Tapper and Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year Dominique Alexander. OU's defense was the foundation of the Sooners' 10-2 season and Sugar Bowl berth.
Oklahoma State’s opponent third down conversion rate: The Cowboys defense was among the Big 12’s best in its first season under Glenn Spencer. Their third down production was superb, allowing opponents to convert just 31.3 percent of their third down attempts to lead the Big 12 and finish seventh among FBS teams. OSU’s veteran defense and willingness to be more aggressive on third downs under Spencer played a key role in its success in those situations and eventual 10-2 finish.
Texas sack percentage: The Longhorns' ability to get after the quarterback played a key role in their success. UT featured two of the Big 12’s top pass rushing threats in Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed. That duo helped UT sack opposing quarterbacks on 8.6 percent of passing plays, ranking No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 9 among FBS teams while finishing with 37 total sacks, including 35 during Big 12 play, helping UT to a 7-2 conference record.
TCU third down conversion rate: The Horned Frogs converted just 32 percent of their third down attempts this season, ranking eighth in the Big 12 and No. 113 among FBS teams. It’s easy to see why the Horned Frogs have brought in former Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham to take over their offense. TCU’s defense was good enough to be in the Big 12 title race, its offense was not.
Texas Tech passing yards per game: It was a terrific debut season for head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense despite some musical chairs at the quarterback position. The Red Raiders averaged 392 passing yards per game to lead the Big 12 and rank second among FBS teams despite having true freshmen Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb running the offense. Without one of the nation’s elite passing offenses, it’s unlikely the Red Raiders earn a bowl bid with a 7-5 record.
West Virginia’s opponent third down conversion rate: The Mountaineers allowed opponents to convert 42.7 percent of their third down attempts, ranking last in the Big 12 and No. 91 among FBS teams. WVU’s inability to get off the field in those important moments was one reason the Mountaineers’ defense allowed 455 yards per game, leading to the team's 4-8 finish.
Monday, Texas Tech assistant Sonny Cumbie confirmed on Double T 104.3 radio in Lubbock that he is leaving to become TCU’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“It was just a really good opportunity within the profession for me to make a move,” said Cumbie, who was the receivers coach at Tech. “It just so happened to be to a conference opponent.”
Cumbie said he consulted Kingsbury on the decision.
“Throughout my coaching and playing career I’ve always relied on him for advice,” Cumbie said. “If fortunate enough to be in his shoes, I’d be doing it the same way, as far as calling the offense and coaching the quarterbacks. We’re going to continue to be really good friends. Just one day a year we’ll be competing on the field.”
Cumbie is TCU’s second offensive hire since the end of the season. Patterson also tapped Doug Meachem to be the Horned Frogs’ primary play-caller after one season calling plays at the University of Houston.
TCU struggled offensively this past season, and as a result, failed to make a bowl. But Cumbie will have some young quarterback talent to work with next season. The Horned Frogs have commitments from two of the top QB recruits in the country in Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur, Texas/Decatur High).
Safety Orion Stewart, Baylor: As the injury bug hit the Bears defense, Stewart has stepped up during his redshirt freshman season. He quietly led Baylor with eight tackles and added an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown in his team’s 41-38 win over TCU. He’s an example of the improved depth and playmaking ability the Bears have recruited to the program. His 12-tackle outing against Oklahoma State gives him 20 total tackles in Baylor’s last two games.
Linebacker Michael Reynolds, Kansas: The Jayhawks junior linebacker was very solid in KU’s 31-10 loss to Kansas State. Reynolds finished with six tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. It was the third time in the last six games he has recorded at least five tackles.
Safety Jacques Washington, Iowa State: The senior was outstanding in his final game as a Cyclone. He led the squad with eight tackles, including six solo stops, along with two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Washington’s fourth quarter interception helped ISU tie the game at 38 and send it into overtime in the Cyclones’ 52-44 win.
Cornerback Duke Thomas, Texas: Overlooked as Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed combined to record six sacks, Thomas finished with six tackles including two tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. The sophomore was constantly around the ball in the Longhorns’ 41-16 win over Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night. His speed and athleticism should be an asset on UT’s defense for the next two seasons.
Running back B.J. Catalon, TCU: The sophomore was one of the Horned Frogs' most explosive playmakers this season and ended the year with 163 all-purpose yards in his team’s 41-38 loss to Baylor. Catalon had 11 carries for 93 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry, but he did have a fumble. Nonetheless, he’s a solid piece for TCU’s offense to build upon in 2014.
Quarterback Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Brewer saw limited action in mop-up duty during the Red Raiders’ 41-16 loss to Texas. Yet he provided some hope for the future by completing 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to be TTU’s starter before a back injury derailed his season, but his performance in the fourth quarter showed the Red Raiders could have three quality options at the quarterback position heading into their bowl game and the 2014 season, raising the overall competition at the position, which is never a bad thing.
Safety Jeremy Tyler, West Virginia: The performance of the true freshman should be a bright spot for Mountaineers fans after watching their squad squander a 38-21 fourth-quarter lead against Iowa State. Tyler had 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, along with 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in WVU’s 52-44 overtime loss. He entered the game with seven tackles in the first 11 games.
Here are a few storylines in the Big 12 for Week 14.
Kansas State at Kansas 11 a.m. CT (FS1): The Wildcats saw their four-game winning streak snapped by Oklahoma last weekend as the Sooners took the Wildcats' running game out of the mix. Expect the Jayhawks defense to take a similar approach, although receiver Tyler Lockett has the skills to single-handedly win the game for KSU with his playmaking ability and KU's offense might not be able to keep up. The Jayhawks played one of their worst games of the season last week, skating around the frozen turf at Jack Trice Stadium in a 34-0 loss to Iowa State. How KU responds in a rivalry game it is expected to lose could say a lot about the progress of Charlie Weis’ program.
No. 9 Baylor at TCU, 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2): The Bears can make their game with Texas a battle for a share of the Big 12 title with a win over the Horned Frogs. The injury bug has hit Baylor hard and could combine with the TCU defense slow BU’s explosive offense for the second straight week. The Horned Frogs have the talent and depth in the secondary to mimic the aggressive, one-on-one defensive game plans used by Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to challenge the Bears' passing game. But Baylor knows a loss gives critics the ammunition to question everything the Bears accomplished before the Cowboys destroyed them last week and will be looking to prove the blowout loss was a one-game aberration. And Bryce Petty could start fighting his way back into the Heisman conversation if he has an exceptional rebound game against a quality TCU secondary.
Iowa State at West Virginia, 3 p.m. CT, (FS1): The Mountaineers thought they were bowl-bound before Kansas, that’s right, Kansas ended their bowl hopes in WVU’s last outing on Nov. 16. Then Iowa State hammered the Jayhawks last weekend. So, the Cyclones cruise right? Tread carefully ISU, Milan Pusker Stadium isn’t an easy place to win. The top reason to watch this one is the potential matchup between two of the Big 12’s most overlooked stars in ISU linebacker Jeremiah George and WVU running back Charles Sims. Both seniors will be looking to finish their careers with a impressive final game.
Baylor running back Devin Chafin: Where do the Bears keep finding these running backs? Chafin finished with 11 carries for 100 yards, 9.1 yards per carry, and two touchdowns, all career-highs. He allowed the Bears to sub out Shock Linwood without a drop-off in production in BU’s 63-34 win over Texas Tech.
Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters: He didn’t finish with great numbers but led the Wildcats on a game-winning drive in the final two minutes, finding Curry Sexton and Tyler Lockett on key connections to set up Jack Cantele’s game-winning 41-yard field goal. Waters finished 10 of 24 for 234 yards, two touchdowns and one interception but stepped up to make key plays in key moments.
Iowa State defensive end Cory Morrissey: Defensive teammates Jacques Washington and Jeremiah George sat atop the tackles list in the Cyclones’ 48-10 loss to Oklahoma, but Morrissey was solid with five tackles and one tackle for loss. It was his fifth time recording at least five tackles this season.
Oklahoma receiver Jalen Saunders: The Sooners' running game was the star, but Saunders sparked OU’s 48-10 win with a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown right before halftime. The slippery senior didn’t have a major impact in the passing game (three receptions for 15 yards), but his actual impact on the outcome was as big as quarterback Trevor Knight and running back Damien Williams, who each rushed for more than 100 yards in the win.
Oklahoma State receiver Charlie Moore: The senior was very productive in the Cowboys’ 38-13 win over Texas. He caught six of seven targets for 83 yards and one touchdown. With OSU’s top receiver, Josh Stewart, out due to injury, Moore provided a quality receiving option for Clint Chelf in the victory with his season high in receptions and receiving yards.
Texas safety Mykkele Thompson: The junior led UT with six solo tackles (seven total) and one interception in the Longhorns’ 38-10 loss to OSU. His effort was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing home loss to the Cowboys as Thompson recorded a season-high in solo tackles.
TCU safety Derrick Kindred: The sophomore continues to play at a high level while emerging as another option in the Horned Frogs' secondary. He led the squad with eight solo tackles in TCU’s 33-31 loss to Kansas State. He has 17 tackles in the past two games.
Texas Tech cornerback Justis Nelson: Talk about thrown into the fire. Nelson earned his first collegiate start against the explosive Baylor offense and held up well despite his team’s 63-34 loss. The true freshman showed signs he might emerge as an critical part of the Red Raiders' defense of the future with five solo tackles and three pass breakups.
West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski: The Mountaineers linebacker contributed to a turnover for the third straight game. After grabbing interceptions in his squad’s previous two outings, Kwiatkoski had eight tackles, including six solo stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery in the 31-19 loss to KU.
Here are our Week 10 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Baylor vs. BCS at-large
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Oklahoma vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Oklahoma State vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Texas vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday (Dec. 30): Texas Tech vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): Kansas State vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): West Virginia vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
- Kansas all-purpose threat Tony Pierson might not play against Texas, reports Ben Ward of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- TCU coach Gary Patterson wants him team to "find ways to get it done" writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters is adapting to the Wildcats' two-quarterback system writes Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle.
- Lack of stops on third down hurt West Virginia's defense against Kansas State and injuries played a major role in the struggles, writes Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette.
- Oklahoma State coaches its players to maximize returns after turnovers and it paid off against Iowa State, writes Gina Mizell of The Oklahoman.
- Iowa State ranks last in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed and missed tackles have played a major role, writes Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune.
- Texas Tech is looking to get back to the basics after surrendering 277 rushing yards to Oklahoma last Saturday, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalnche-Journal.
- The Big 12 title will be decided in November, writes Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World.
- Jackson Jeffcoat thinks Texas' defensive line is full of NFL-caliber talent.
- Baylor is looking to become bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season for the first time in school history.
- Baylor is looking to start 6-0 for the first time since 1980 and the sixth time in school history.
- Baylor is the highest ranked Big 12 team in both the AP and Coaches Poll for the first time ever.
- Baylor joins Florida State as the only two teams in the nation that are top 5 in total offense and top 25 in total defense.
- The Bears starting offense has scored touchdowns on 35 of 48 drives (72.9 percent) this season.
- Baylor’s defense has forced two or more turnovers in nine of its last 12 games.
- Baylor leads the nation in total offense (715.4 yards per game) and scoring offense (63.4 points per game).
- Baylor’s Bryce Petty leads the nation in Raw QBR at 94.5, yards per attempt (14.87) and yards per completion (21.27).
- Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk leads the nation in yards per carry at 9.97. He leads the Big 12 with 648 rushing yards despite ranking seventh in total carries (65).
- Baylor’s Antwan Goodley leads the nation with 26.76 yards per reception. His 669 receiving yards lead the Big 12.
- Baylor’s 9.38 yards per play is a full yard better than anyone else in the nation. Florida State’s 8.27 yards per play is second nationally.
- Baylor averages 17 yards per pass attempt on third down and 9.91 yards per third down play. Both marks lead the nation.
- Iowa State has yet to lose by double digits, averaging 5.5 points per game margin of defeat in its four losses.
- ISU ranks second in the Big 12 and 13th nationally in turnover margin at 1.2.
- The Cyclones have seen 20 different players earn their first career start this season.
- ISU gave up more than 40 points for the first time in 24 games during its 42-35 loss to Texas Tech last week.
- Sam Richardson has a touchdown pass in eight straight games, tying him for the third longest streak in school history.
- Richardson’s 10 touchdown passes puts him second in the Big 12 behind Petty.
- Oklahoma defensive end Geneo Grissom and Kansas linebacker Ben Heeney won two Kansas state championships together at Hutchinson (Kan.) High School.
- Kansas has stopped every opponent from scoring on its opening drive this season, limiting those teams to three first downs through five games.
- Jayhawks tight end Jimmay Mundine has a touchdown reception in three straight games, the longest streak since Dezmon Briscoe’s three-game streak in 2009 for the Jayhawks.
- The Jayhawks’ pass defense has been overlooked by KU’s offensive troubles. KU allowed 5.91 yards per pass attempt, ranking third in the Big 12 this season and 15th nationally.
- Kansas State quarterback Daniel Sams leads Big 12 quarterbacks in rushes (86), rushing yards (522) and rushing touchdowns (7).
- Sams ranks No. 7 nationally in adjusted QBR (which takes into account level of competition) at 86.8. He’s second in the Big 12 in the category behind Petty.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has never lost in a game immediately after the Red River Rivalry. He’s looking to improve to 15-0 in that scenario against KU.
- The Sooners have won 20 straight games after a regular season loss since 2004.
- OU has won 29 straight games when allowing 21 points or fewer.
- OU has held KU to 17 points or less in eight of its nine victories over the Jayhawks under Stoops.
- The Sooners lead the Big 12 in points allowed per game (16.8), yards allowed per game (308.8), passing yards allowed per game (172), yards allowed per pass attempt (5.55) and first downs allowed per game (15.5).
- Beginning in 2011, Oklahoma State is 14-1 in its last 15 home games.
- The Cowboys have won 20 straight home games against unranked opponents.
- OSU has a touchdown drive of two minutes or less in 27 straight games.
- OSU will host TCU for the second straight season because the Horned Frogs inherited Texas A&M’s conference schedule after joining the league and the Aggies were scheduled to face the Cowboys in Stillwater in 2012 and 2013 after OSU agreed to move the 2011 game from Stillwater to College Station.
- OSU has 71 players from Texas, more than any other program outside of the state of Texas.
- OSU ranks second nationally in turnovers forced since 2009 (142). Only Oregon has forced more turnovers during that span (147).
- OSU has ranked no lower than 19th nationally in fewest sacks allowed each season since 2006.
- OSU quarterback J.W. Walsh ranks third in adjusted QBR at 74.4 behind Petty and Texas’ David Ash.
- The Cowboys defense leads the conference in opponent adjusted QBR at 19.0.
- OSU ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed at 115.8 and yards per carry allowed at 3.16.
- Longhorns running back Johnathan Gray leads the conference in total carries with 111 and ranks second in rushing yards (562) behind Seastrunk.
- OSU is the fourth ranked opponent TCU will face in its first seven games.
- Saturday marks the fourth time TCU will kickoff at 11 a.m. this season. The Horned Frogs are 5-1 in early starts in the past two seasons.
- Over 40 percent of the players who have seen action for the Horned Frogs this season are sophomores.
- TCU has scored more points in the third quarter (58) and fourth quarter (65) than in the first half combined (44) this season.
- Wyoming transfer Josh Doctson is the only active player in the nation who has scored a touchdown against his current team. Doctson had a touchdown catch for the Cowboys against TCU in 2011.
- TCU’s 100 receptions have been divided among 15 different receivers.
- Texas Tech will play in the eastern time zone for the first time since 2008 when they face West Virginia in Morgantown, W. Va., on Saturday. The Red Raiders defeated Virginia 31-28 in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day in 2008.
- The Red Raiders have never played at Milan Puskar Stadium and this is just the third meeting between the two schools, first in Morgantown.
- For the first time in school history, the Red Raiders ran at least 100 plays for two straight games. Tech had 100 offensive plays against Kansas and 101 against Iowa State.
- Texas Tech leads the Big 12 in third down conversion defense, allowing just 28.2 percent of third down conversion attempts. The Red Raiders also led in rush defense, allowing 113.2 rushing yards per game.
- TTU is bowl eligible for the 20th time in 21 seasons. The Red Raiders are one of 11 teams nationally that have already secured bowl eligibility.
- TTU forced 11 Iowa State punts, the most by an opponent against the Red Raiders in Big 12 play.
- Davis Webb is the sixth Red Raider quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards in his first career start. He passed for 415 yards in TTU’s 42-35 win over ISU last weekend.
- West Virginia is 7-3 under Dana Holgorsen when the Mountaineers have more than seven days to prepare. WVU had a bye last weekend.
- TTU leads the Big 12 in yards per play allowed on third down at 3.66 and points allowed per drive at 0.99.
Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big 12 conference, check out our conference rankings:
1. Texas, 24 commits: The Longhorns check in at No. 7 in the RecruitingNation class rankings with the headliners being No. 79 overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/Williams J. Brennan High), No. 119 Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City High) and No. 138 Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer High). Texas, which currently has seven ESPN300 commits, has its sights set on No. 31 overall Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell High), No. 13 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High) and No. 25 Jamal Adams (Lewiville, Texas/Hebron High).
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- Last season's upset win over Kansas State was a turning point for Baylor, which has won eight straight games since that night, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune.
- Texas receiver Mike Davis talked about and apologized for his attempt to block Iowa State defensive back Deon Broomfield, a play many people considered a cheap shot. Broomfield responds saying "I don't know how you loaf after a play." Bobby La Gesse has the story for the Ames Tribune.
- Kansas' Tony Pierson is "day-to-day" after suffering a head injury, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World.
- Expect changes in the Jayhawks' depth chart, writes Rustin Dodd of the Wichita Eagle.
- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was in a light-hearted mood despite the prospect of facing Baylor, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson has turned into a mentor after his season-ending injury, writes John Shinn of the Norman Transcript.
- Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis had a big day against Kansas State, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley.
- Case McCoy can leave a legacy as Texas' starting quarterback in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday, writes Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- TCU's third-down struggles against Oklahoma were directly related to first-down setbacks, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- No structural damage in the knee of Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Red Raiders' quarterback situation remains unclear, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- Is West Virginia that bad or Baylor that good? Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman tackles that question.
- Baylor will have the chance to quiet doubters during Big 12 play, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune.
- "We can't let it linger," Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George told Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register. The Cyclones travel to Texas Tech this weekend after feeling robbed in their loss to Texas last Thursday.
- Consistency has been one of the main problems for Kansas, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World.
- An uncharacteristic, mistake-filled performance led to Kansas State's last-minute loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, writes Kellis Robinett of the Wichita Eagle.
- Oklahoma's defense suffered a major blow with linebacker Corey Nelson likely out for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle. A true freshman appears poised to step in for the senior, writes The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is tired of answering questions about the Cowboys' offensive struggles, writes Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World. The Cowboys coach makes some valid points about the reasons for offensive struggles at OSU and around the Big 12.
- Quarterback David Ash has been ruled out against Oklahoma, just one of several injuries starting to pile up at Texas, writes ESPN.com's Max Olson.
- Head coach Gary Patterson doesn't think making a coaching change will spark TCU's offense, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Texas Tech has leaned on solid defense and offensive playmakers with the quarterback spot unclear, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- Well, at least one person is convinced. "I think Baylor is going to win the Big 12," West Virginia's Shaq Rowell said after the Mountaineers' 73-42 loss to the Bears. It all started up front, writes Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette.
Here’s what to watch in the Big 12 for Week 3:
1. Can Texas rebound? Texas has brought in Greg Robinson to turn things around for the Longhorns’ defense. The veteran coach has experience but he’s been thrown into the fire and asked to make a miracle happen against Ole Miss in less than a week. The odds aren’t on his side, but if Robinson completely turns around the UT defense, the entire Big 12 landscape will have changed in a matter of days.
3. Character test for the Cyclones. Iowa State can redeem itself with a win over Iowa on Saturday. The Cyclones’ disappointing 28-20 loss to Northern Iowa was one of the most surprising results of the season’s first weekend, particularly since their defense couldn’t stop UNI on the ground or through the air. Nothing can get things back on track like a rivalry game and ISU is looking to make sure its horrible Week 1 performance doesn’t snowball into a horrible multi-game stretch to start the season.
4. Blake Bell’s opportunity. The Sooners quarterback gets the chance to prove he should have been OU’s starter when his squad hosts Tulsa on Saturday. Bell, the preseason favorite to replace Landry Jones, lost the quarterback battle to Trevor Knight. But Knight’s knee injury has opened the door; will Bell walk through it?
5. How will Oklahoma State handle a week of distractions? The Cowboys have been in the news throughout the week due to allegations of misconduct throughout the program in a series of stories by Sports Illustrated. OSU’s home opener against Lamar will be the first time to see the football program in action since the series was published and Boone Pickens Stadium promises to be a lively atmosphere. Nonetheless, it should be pretty easy to tell if the Cowboys are distracted. And if they are, it might be a sign that the distractions could affect them for the remainder of the season as the ripple effect continues.
6. Will West Virginia’s quarterback situation ever become clear? Dana Holgorsen plans to continue his search for a solid No. 1 quarterback until Paul Millard, Clint Trickett or Ford Childress separates himself from the pack. Holgorsen is extremely disappointed in the play of his offense and has shouldered the blame, saying, “It’s embarrassing, we have to put our guys in better position to make plays.” But one of those guys needs to seize the opportunity to trigger Holgorsen’s offense starting against Georgia State on Saturday.
7. Can Trevone Boykin take TCU’s offense to a different level? Boykin will be asked to shoulder the load for the Horned Frogs with Casey Pachall out. He’s much better prepared to be the main man in the offensive backfield this season and his dynamic running will test any defense. Much like Bell, Boykin has the chance to prove he should have been the guy in the first place.
8. Kansas looks to keep momentum. The Jayhawks opened the season with a win over South Dakota and will get the chance to start off 2-0 when they visit Rice. KU coach Charlie Weis is trying to build a quality program and a win over the Owls would be step in the right direction after several close calls in 2012.
9. Will Kansas State’s defense return to its 2012 form? The Wildcats replaced several starters, including linebacker Arthur Brown, but the cupboard is not bare. Yet the Wildcats have allowed 24 points to North Dakota State and 27 points to Louisiana-Lafayette in back-to-back weeks. Last year’s defense allowed 19.5 points per game in nonconference play. KSU needs a strong defensive performance against Massachusetts on Saturday to get its confidence going on that side of the ball with a road trip to Texas looming next weekend.
10. Are any Big 12 teams ripe for an upset? OSU has had a week full of distractions, Kansas State is still a work in progress, WVU’s offense has been substandard and OU can’t seem to create any offensive balance. All four teams host opponents they should beat with relative ease but it wouldn’t be a shock to see any of those squads struggle because, quite simply, no Big 12 team has looked like dominant squad during the first two weeks of the season.
Baylor: The Bears scored on 71.4 percent of their drives against Wofford. That means BU was operating its offense with ridiculous efficiency in quarterback Bryce Petty’s first game as a starter. The Bears averaged 4.4 points per drive against the FCS foe.
What it means for the future: It means good things for the Bears’ program because they took a business-like approach against Wofford and the offense performed at a extremely high level in their first game. It’s also a sign the overall depth within the program is increasing. BU led 38-0 at halftime, yet its second half scoring percentage was 71.4 percent as well with backup quarterback Seth Russell accounting for two touchdowns.
Iowa State: The Cyclones’ offensive line struggled against Northern Iowa. ISU quarterback Sam Richardson was sacked 13.5 percent of the time on attempted passing plays. The Big 12 average was 5.3 percent. And things have gotten worse for the Cyclones offensive front, which will have to play without injured center Tom Farniok against Iowa on Sept. 14.
What it means for the future: It will be a long season if the Cyclones don’t correct their pass protection struggles. More and more, Big 12 defenses are designed to attack the quarterback so Richardson, who is a quality signal-caller, won’t be able to display his talents if he’s on his back or running for his life all season.
Kansas State: Curious why the Wildcats got upset by North Dakota State? It’s simple -- 36.5 percent of their offensive plays went for zero or negative yards. That’s an eye-popping lack of success against an FCS opponent.
What it means for the future: K-State has to go back to the drawing board and figure out ways to move the ball on the ground. Running back John Hubert struggled mightily in his first game as the main man in the backfield without Collin Klein. The Wildcats might want to consider using Daniel Sams more alongside Hubert to spark their running game.
Oklahoma: Louisiana-Monroe averaged just four plays per drive against the Sooners. OU did a terrific job of getting off the field against ULM, which contributed to its first defensive shutout since 2010. Only four of ULM’s 15 drives included five or more plays.
What it means for the future: It could be a huge development for the Sooners as they strive to develop depth along their defensive line. If they continue to keep opponents from making lengthy drives, they won’t have to turn to their second team defensive linemen unless they want to get them added experience and they won’t be forced to substitute because their starters are wearing down during a drive.
Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy wanted the Cowboys' defense to be more aggressive. Early indications point to OSU fulfilling that wish as 42.9 percent of Mississippi State’s offensive plays ended in zero or negative yards. The Cowboys were able to play the majority of the game in the Bulldogs’ backfield and held their SEC opponent to just three points.
What it means for the future: If the Cowboys' defense is more aggressive and opportunistic, they could win their second Big 12 title in three seasons. New defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has OSU attacking and the overall speed and athleticism of the unit is better than it was during the Pokes’ BCS run in 2011.
Texas: The Longhorns did a great job of finishing drives against New Mexico State. UT scored touchdowns on 80 percent of its drives inside the Aggies' 40-yard line. The Longhorns scored touchdowns on four of those five drives.
What it means for the future: Life will be much easier for the Longhorns defense if the offense is scoring touchdowns and finishing drives instead of settling for field goals or turning the ball over. It also a sign that David Ash’s experience could be paying off and he understands the critical nature of each play as his team approaches the goal line.
TCU: Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin each finished with subpar Total QBR ratings against LSU. Pachall’s 45.2 and Boykin’s 20.4 were lower than the Big 12 average of 65.1. Granted there’s a very good chance the Tigers defense is among the best, if not the best, TCU will face all season but the Horned Frogs need better and more efficient play from both signal-callers.
What it means for the future: It means TCU’s two-quarterback system should remain intact. If either of Pachall or Boykin had been extremely efficient and effective against the Tigers, it would have been hard to justify taking the hot hand off the field. Now, TCU’s quarterback situation remains in flux, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since both guys do bring different qualities that could be valuable this season.
Texas Tech: Quarterback Baker Mayfield was simply outstanding on third down. He played with a maturity and awareness uncommon from a true freshman with 61.5 percent of his third-down passes resulting in first downs. His ability to keep the chains moving was a big reason why Mayfield earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
What it means for the future: It means it will be hard to unseat Mayfield from his starting spot when Michael Brewer returns to full health. Additionally, if Mayfield remains consistently superb on third down, the Red Raiders could insert themselves into the Big 12 title race.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers threw the ball 31.4 percent of the time on first down. That is not Dana Holgorsen’s reputation. The WVU coach does run the ball more than some of his “Air Raid” colleagues but it’s clear his offense left some tricks in its bag during Week 1. Last season, the Mountaineers threw 53 percent of the time on first down.
What it means for the future: Oklahoma beware. The WVU offense we saw against William and Mary was a scaled-back version of Holgorsen’s attack. When the Mountaineers travel to Norman this weekend we’ll get a much better feel for how explosive their offense could become.
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