Dallas Colleges: Andrew Buie
Can freshman impact OSU's QB race?
Junior quarterback J.W. Walsh has made eight starts for the Cowboys over the last two seasons. But even with Clint Chelf now gone, Walsh still will have to fight for a job with freshman Mason Rudolph already on campus. Rudolph, who enrolled early to participate in spring ball, threw for more than 4,300 yards and 64 touchdowns his final year of high school and is one of the most highly-touted quarterback recruits ever to sign with the Cowboys. In high school, Rudolph played in an offensive scheme similar to Oklahoma State’s, which is what first interested him in the Cowboys. That should ease his transition to the college level. Of course for now, the job is Walsh’s to lose. But Rudolph has the talent and the skill set to begin applying pressure on Walsh as soon as this spring.
How will TCU adapt to the offensive overhaul?
TCU conducted its first spring practice over the weekend, and the exit polls suggested the Horned Frogs went through offensive drills fast. Like really fast. Tired of ranking near the bottom of the Big 12 in offense, Gary Patterson shook up his coaching staff and brought in Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham to install an up-tempo offensive system that resembled those of Texas Tech (Cumbie) and Oklahoma State (Meacham). As Patterson admitted after the first practice, there will be a learning curve for his players to picking up this new offensive style. But the quicker quarterback Trevone Boykin can adapt, the better off TCU will be going into 2014.
How will Texas look different under Strong?
The last time Texas had a coach other than Mack Brown running a spring practice, Bill Clinton was still president. The Charlie Strong era will begin in earnest with the start of spring practice in Austin. How will the players adjust to the new schemes of assistants Shawn Watson, Joe Wickline and Vance Bedford? How will the veterans react to their new position coaches? Who will thrive with the new staff? Who will falter? Those pivotal questions will begin to be answered this spring.
Can Texas Tech get by with only one scholarship QB?
With starting right tackle Rashad Fortenberry getting an extra year of eligibility over the weekend, the Red Raiders seem to be in good shape across the board offensively. Of course, that could change real quick should QB Davis Webb incur any kind of injury this spring. With Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma and Michael Brewer headed to Virginia Tech, the Red Raiders will be down to just one scholarship quarterback until Patrick Mahomes arrives in the summer. Though coach Kliff Kingsbury has said that Tech has a couple of capable walk-ons, an injury to Webb would hamper the spring development of an offense that will have big goals in the fall. Coming off a breakout performance in the bowl game, Webb also needs to continue developing this spring. But he also needs to remain healthy for the betterment of himself and the team.
Who will get carries for West Virginia?
Even with Charles Sims gone, the Mountaineers still enjoy a stable of capable of running backs. But where will Sims’ carries go? After rushing for 494 yards last season, Dreamius Smith is starting out the spring atop the depth chart. But he’ll have to fend off several comers to remain there. Wendell Smallwood came on strong late during his freshman season and finished the year averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Rushel Shell also joins the fray this spring after transferring over from Pittsburgh. Shell, who set a Pennsylvania high school rushing record, was formerly the No. 26 overall recruit in the 2012 recruiting class. There are still others. Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie are still around after leading the Mountaineers’ in rushing in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Oh yeah, West Virginia will also add four-star signee Donte Thomas-Williams in the summer. Good luck to the running back who dares to take a play off in this crammed competition.
1. Texas: The three-headed monster of Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron gives Texas the best 1-2-3 punch in the league. Whether this group goes from good to great hinges on a healthy return for Gray, who is coming back from an Achilles injury and will sit out spring drills. Either way, this will be the backbone of Charlie Strong’s first offense.
3. Oklahoma: The potential of this running back crop has no bounds. But it will be young and inexperienced after seniors Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams (until he was kicked off the team) hoarded the carries last season. Keith Ford, who was the nation’s No. 3 running back recruit in the 2013 class, will take over the starting role. Joe Mixon, this year’s No. 6 RB recruit, won’t get to Norman until the summer, but he should supply the lightning to Ford’s thunder. Alex Ross, who was the nation’s No. 7 RB recruit in the 2012 class, rounds out a fearsome threesome with tremendous pedigree.
4. West Virginia: The Mountaineers lose All-Big 12 performer Charles Sims, but still claim a glut of capable rushers. Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood thrived playing behind Sims last year. West Virginia also has Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie, its leading rushers from 2011 and 2012, respectively. (Buie is back after leaving school for a semester.) On top of all that, Pittsburgh transfer Rushel Shell figures to be in the mix. Shell was the No. 26 overall recruit in the country coming out of high school after becoming the all-time leading rusher in Pennsylvania high school history. If that weren’t enough, the gem of the incoming recruiting class, Donte Thomas-Williams, is also a running back. Suffice to say, the competition for carries will be fierce in the league’s deepest backfield.
5. Oklahoma State: Desmond Roland helped fuel Oklahoma State’s midseason turnaround after seizing a starting role. Roland was great in short yardage and led the Big 12 with 13 touchdowns, but he wasn’t a big-play runner, with an average of only 4.6 yards per carry (14th in the league). The Cowboys are banking that Rennie Childs can complement Roland as the breakaway back. Childs showed flashes as a true freshman. Roland and Childs can form a solid combo, but four-star freshman Devon Thomas, who is enrolled for the spring, should not be discounted, nor should Sione Palelei, who has the good hands that past Oklahoma State running backs also possessed.
6. Texas Tech: The returning trio of Kenny Williams, DeAndre Washington and Sadale Foster won’t do much damage between the tackles. All three, however, are excellent pass-catchers, making them supreme fits for Kliff Kingsbury’s spread attack. Together they combined for 82 receptions, and that number should go up in 2014 as quarterback Davis Webb settles in as a sophomore.
7. TCU: The Horned Frogs were a disaster offensively last year, but the potential at running back is a reason why TCU could be equipped for a bounce-back season. Aaron Green, Kyle Hicks and incoming freshman Shaun Nixon were all ESPN 300 recruits. That doesn’t include B.J. Catalon, either, who led the Frogs with 569 yards and six touchdowns last season. With a new regime making the play calls, there’s reason to believe this could become one of the better units in the league.
9. Kansas: The Jayhawks gradated their heart and soul in James Sims, who was an all-conference selection even though Kansas won only one Big 12 game. Tony Pierson returns as an electric playmaker, but he has never been a full-time running back, often flexing out as a receiver. It will be interesting to see who emerges in Sims’ shoes. Brandon Bourbon (191 yards) will have the first crack in the spring, but newcomers De'Andre Mann and Traevohn Wrench could vie for time once they arrive in the summer.
10. Kansas State: It’s difficult to believe K-State will be at the bottom here once the season starts, but running back is a major hole for the Wildcats going into the spring. That’s because longtime starter John Hubert is gone. Hubert, senior backup Robert Rose and QBs Jake Waters and Daniel Sams combined for 492 carries last season. Nobody else had more than five. Rising senior DeMarcus Robinson, who has only 11 career carries, will probably be atop the depth chart going into the spring. It’s also possible that Sams will get a look at running back with Waters having nailed down the full-time QB job. But the player to watch here is freshman Dalvin Warmack, who rushed for more than 4,500 yards and 70 touchdowns his final two seasons in Blue Springs, Mo. Warmack isn’t big at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. But his size fits the mold of past K-State running backs Hubert and Darren Sproles.
This list is based only on what players did in the 2012 season, and you had to be a full-time running back to make the list. (That means no Tavon Austin, 'Eers. Sorry.)
1. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State: Randle carried the torch as the Big 12's biggest standout all season long at running back. He was mostly consistent and led the Big 12 in rushing by more than 300 yards, racking up 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns on 274 carries. Strong season from an experienced player who's leaving early for the NFL.
3. James Sims, Kansas: Sims made a case for himself midseason as the Big 12's best back, racking up six consecutive 100-yard games and looking unstoppable, despite KU's passing game providing no balance for opposing defenses to respect. He's a physical runner who ascended near the top of this list despite missing the first three games of the season. He carried 218 times for 1,013 yards and led the Big 12 in rushing yards per game.
4. John Hubert, Kansas State: Hubert is criminally underrated because his partner in crime in the backfield, Collin Klein, attracts so much attention. He's got a low center of gravity at 5-foot-7 and 191 pounds, and is deceptively hard to bring down, despite his small stature. He's had nearly identical seasons the past two years, coming up just short of 1,000 yards in both seasons.
5. Damien Williams, Oklahoma: Williams broke out in a big way with a 65-yard touchdown run in the opener, and busted a 95-yard run against rival Texas. The juco transfer has a great balance of power and speed and provided a home-run threat that Oklahoma lacked after DeMarco Murray left. He finished with 946 yards and 11 scores on just 176 carries.
6. Tony Pierson, Kansas: Pierson proved himself early in the year when Sims sat, racking up a pair of 120-yard games. He's perhaps most valuable for KU in the passing game, though. His 760 yards came on just 116 carries, an average of 6.5 yards a touch. Only Seastrunk was higher among running backs with 75 carries. Pierson also caught 21 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns, which is no small number in KU's offense. KU's leading receiver, Kale Pick, had zero touchdown catches and just five more receptions and 99 more yards than Pierson.
7. Glasco Martin, Baylor: Martin is the thunder to Seastrunk's lightning in the Bears' backfield. He's fantastic at getting tough yards when they're needed and provides a lot of power to Baylor's offense. His 15 touchdowns were tied for third in the Big 12, and he added 889 rushing yards on 179 carries.
8. Johnathan Gray, Texas: Gray's got as much potential as anyone on this list, and looked good when injuries forced him into full-time duty. The true freshman didn't quite look like a gamebreaker, but there's lots of time left in his career to prove himself. He became the second true freshman to lead Texas in rushing in two seasons, with 701 yards on 149 carries.
9. Kenny Williams, Texas Tech: Williams emerged as the best back in a crowded Red Raiders backfield. He runs against a lot of soft fronts because of Tech's wide-open offense, but Williams is tough to bring down and rumbled for 824 yards on 143 carries, scoring five times.
10. Andrew Buie, West Virginia: Buie will be remembered a long time for his legendary 207-yard performance in a win over Texas. He had just one other 100-yard game that season, but there's no denying his overall production. His 850 yards on 181 carries were eighth in the Big 12.
Honorable mention: Joe Bergeron, Texas; Brennan Clay, Oklahoma
1. Remember all the little people. K-State has dealt with the distraction and hype really well this season. The Wildcats have been consistent and solid every week. This week, though, the pressure is at a whole new level. They're the nation's No. 1 team. Collin Klein's presence will test the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Oklahoma State lost in its 11th game last season. K-State should roll Baylor on paper, but can it keep its focus in uncharted territory?
2. To care or not to care, that is the question. West Virginia was hyped all offseason for this game. Carrying a four-game losing streak into the Oklahoma game was not part of the plan, though. It's asking a lot for fans to come in droves and provide a big-time atmosphere. Will the Mountaineers fans do it and try to help their team reach bowl eligibility? Tough test for a fan base that has had a pretty terrible month or so and hasn't seen a win since Oct. 6 or a win in its home stadium since Sept. 29.
4. Just do it. If Kansas is going to beat Iowa State, it will do so on the backs of its, uh, backs. Tony Pierson and James Sims are fantastic. Charlie Weis talked about needing to do creative things to run the ball when everybody knows the Jayhawks are going to run the ball. Well, everybody knows KU is going to run the ball. What does Weis have prepared this week for KU's best chance to crack its 19-game Big 12 losing streak?
5. Get a medical team on it, stat. Klein's injury saga is over, but K-State has more injury issues this week to keep an eye on. Starting safety Ty Zimmerman left the stadium in a boot last week, and Tyler Lockett suffered an ankle injury late against TCU. Both are key pieces to the nation's No. 1 team. Will they play, and will they do so effectively? All bets are off in this one.
6. At what point does someone start swiping chairs? Oklahoma State has played musical chairs at quarterback, and it shocked a lot of folks when Mike Gundy confirmed J.W. Walsh was available last week but didn't play. He is not on the depth chart this week, instead with an "or" between Clint Chelf and Wes Lunt. The good news: All three can play, and OSU can win with all of them. The bad news: This is turning into a bit of a circus. At least it's unpredictable for opponents, so that plays to OSU's advantage while the competition has to prepare for all three.
7. If you're so inKleined. A.J. Klein has had a quiet couple of games since Jake Knott's injury, making just 11 tackles total in the past two games after tallying at least 11 in three of the past five before Klein left the field. Klein has moved to weakside linebacker and wants more production out of the position. Iowa State needs that while Jeremiah George replaces Knott and the duo teams up to slow KU's running game.
8. Gotta fix the leaks. Oklahoma dominated Baylor's passing game, but the defense was hot after the game after giving up a season-high 252 yards on the ground to the Bears. Can WVU's Shawne Alston and Andrew Buie have a little success? Dana Holgorsen wasn't happy with the Mountaineers' run game, but this matchup will have an influence on the winner in Morgantown.
9. Time for the hook ... again? Steele Jantz has gone back to struggling after tearing up Baylor. He completed just more than 50 percent of his passes in consecutive weeks -- both losses -- and hasn't topped 200 yards through the air with one touchdown to three picks. If he struggles again, does Jared Barnett get a shot against KU? I seem to remember another Big 12 team switching QBs late and having it pay off.
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Did you know ...
- Last week against Texas was the first game all season West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith didn't complete at least 60 percent of his passes longer than 15 yards downfield.
- Facing at least five blitzing rushers, Smith is completing 78 percent of his passes, 16 percent higher than last season.
- In those situations, Smith has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions, with at least one touchdown in those scenarios in each game this season.
- Texas Tech QB Seth Doege has completed just 62.5 percent of his passes in those situations, with one touchdown and one interception.
- Landry Jones completed 9 of 12 passes for 120 yards, a touchdown and no sacks when Texas Tech blitzed last week.
- When opponents send three or fewer rushers, Smith has completed 51 of 59 (86.4 percent) of his passes.
- In those situations, he hasn't been sacked once in 61 dropbacks and has completed 13 of 17 passes at least 15 yards downfield with five touchdowns.
- Tavon Austin (8) and Stedman Bailey (13, most in the FBS) have combined for 21 touchdown catches. No other team in college football has more than 19 touchdown catches.
- Oklahoma threw for 259 passing yards last week, but 174 came after the catch vs. Texas Tech.
- Austin has 424 yards after the catch, the most in the Big 12 and second-most among players at AQ-conference schools.
- West Virginia ran on 54.5 percent of its plays last week, the second-highest percentage of any game since Dana Holgorsen took over as head coach.
- Of Andrew Buie's 207 yards last week, 74 came after contact.
- Texas Tech has given up just six plays longer than 20 yards all season, the fewest in FBS. Alabama is second, with eight.
- Texas Tech gave up 66 of those plays last year, which ranked 100th in FBS.
- Jones completed 44.8 percent of his throws longer than 20 yards last year. This year, he's completing just 26.1.
- On those throws, Jones is averaging just 9.1 yards per attempt, compared to 17.3 last year.
- When targeting Kenny Stills on those throws, Jones is just 3-of-10.
- David Ash is completing 60 percent of his throws 20 yards or longer, compared to just 30 percent last season.
- On those throws, Ash is averaging 21.9 yards per play.
- Ash has four touchdowns to no interceptions on those throws, compared to one touchdown and one interception for Jones.
- Texas' defense gave up 11 completions longer than 30 yards last year. This year, it has given up eight through just five games.
- On throws longer than 20 yards, Jones is just 3-of-14 all-time vs. Texas, with no touchdowns.
- Texas running back Joe Bergeron averages 2.9 yards per carry in the first half this season, compared to 6.1 in the second half.
- Six of his seven carries longer than 20 yards have come in the second half, and he's averaging 3.8 yards after contact per carry in the second half, compared to 1.7 in the first half.
- Facing a blitz this year, Ash hasn't been sacked in 32 dropbacks, is completing 75 percent of his passes and hasn't turned the ball over.
- Last year, he had zero touchdowns and three picks in those same situations, compared to three touchdowns and no interceptions so far this year.
- Collin Klein averages 6.2 yards per carry on designed runs this year.
- Last year, Klein averaged just 4.3 yards per carry in those same situations.
- Iowa State gives up 115.8 yards a game, 30th in the FBS.
- Last year against Iowa State, Klein had four runs of at least 10 yards.
- On designed runs on first down, Klein is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this year.
- When targeting Tramaine Thompson at least 10 yards downfield, Klein is 8-of-12 with three touchdowns.
- When targeting the rest of the team at least 10 yards downfield, Klein is 12-of-26 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
- Oklahoma State has beaten Kansas in seven of their last eight meetings.
- Oklahoma State's 13 road wins since 2009 are tied for fifth-most in FBS.
- As a player and a coach, Mike Gundy is 4-0 all-time in Lawrence and 7-1 vs. Kansas.
- Oklahoma State has won the past two games in this series by a combined score of 118-42.
- In last year's game, Kansas turned the ball over four times in the first half. All resulted in Oklahoma State touchdowns.
- TCU's campus was located in Waco from 1895-1910.
- TCU is 21-6 all-time following a loss under Gary Patterson.
- TCU is 22-12 against former Southwest Conference foes.
- TCU has played Baylor 107 times, more than any other opponent in college football.
- Skye Dawson is the only player in the country to rank in the top nine in punt returns and top 11 in kick returns.
- Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager ranks second nationally in tackles per game.
- Baylor punter Spencer Roth leads the Big 12 at 46.8 yards per punt.
- Baylor has a nine-game home winning streak, the seventh-longest active streak in college football.
Here's what I'm keeping an eye on this week across the Big 12.
1. Frogs stick together. It's been a trying couple of weeks for the Horned Frogs, but can this team rally without its best player, quarterback Casey Pachall? It didn't get the job done at home last week against Iowa State. Baylor is a better team, and TCU is going on the road. What do these guys have in their tank?
2. Tackling ain't for dummies. Texas' tackling issues have been obvious and continued last week against West Virginia. Longhorns coach Mack Brown admits it's an issue but says plenty of other people will be missing tackles against the Cowboys and Mountaineers. Probably, but there are plenty of good offenses across the Big 12. Oklahoma is one of them. Can the Longhorns get back to looking like what most people thought this defense would look like?
3. Keep the bad man at bay. We've seen Good Landry in this game -- he was on full display last year in the Sooners' blowout rivalry win. Texas is putting big-time pressure on quarterbacks this year, even if its linebackers and defensive backs are having tackling issues. That means plenty of opportunities for Bad Landry to make an appearance. Can Landry Jones be all good, fight off the pressure and avoid mistakes?
5. Time to bounce back. The last we saw Baylor's defense, it was having fun giving up 70 points on the road to West Virginia. TCU will be a much different task, with a much less capable arm at quarterback. The Bears will be without one of their best defenders, cornerback Demetri Goodson, who's out for the year with a broken arm. How does BU's defense look, and can it force TCU into some mistakes?
6. Get your binoculars out; we're QB-watching. Once again, Oklahoma State faces the question: Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh? Lunt is back practicing after injuring his knee, and coach Mike Gundy says he's "day to day." Does OSU try to get him on the field now and ease him in against an opponent it should beat easily? Or does it stick with Walsh and give Lunt more time to heal?
7. Keep on running it up. West Virginia looked good running the ball against Texas, but that hasn't been the case as much since Shawne Alston went down. Alston's status is in doubt, but can Andrew Buie keep it going against Texas Tech and keep relieving that pressure on Geno Smith? Texas Tech's defensive line is underrated and can get a push up front.
8. They're not perfect, but they're pretty dang close. Kansas State's game against Iowa State might be the most physical game it's played all season, including against Oklahoma. So far, the Wildcats have just nine penalties, four fewer than any other team in the nation and 11 fewer than any other team in the Big 12. The Wildcats also have just three turnovers this season. If they keep doing that, Iowa State doesn't have much of a chance to win. Will K-State keep it up?
9. Total carnage, or improvement? Kansas looked decent against TCU, but Oklahoma State will be the first bona-fide, powerful Big 12 spread offense the Jayhawks have seen this season. If you want to win in the Big 12, these are the offenses you have to figure out how to slow down. KU's defense has looked improved, but this is the best offense the unit has seen. If OSU scores 50 points without much resistance like last year, KU is going to feel a lot like not much progress is being made.
10. Learning how to Doege. Texas Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege had one of his worst outings ever and just his second three-interception game last week in a loss to Oklahoma. If he doesn't play well, Texas Tech has absolutely zero shot to win this game. Will he bounce back and silence the ridiculous calls for him to be benched in favor of Michael Brewer?
Best offensive performance: Andrew Buie, RB, West Virginia. Geno Smith said it best about Buie's performance on Saturday: "He carried us." Buie logged 31 carries and turned them into 207 yards and two touchdowns in the Mountaineers' 48-45 win at Texas. On West Virginia's final drive, he carried the ball on seven of eight plays for 63 yards and a touchdown. That won the game for the Eers, and the sophomore showed up big with Shawne Alston sidelined by a thigh bruise. Buie also caught three passes for 66 yards and would have scored, but the Turf Monster reached up and tripped him on the way into the end zone. Here's what I wrote about Buie's day.
Best team performance: Oklahoma. Yes, West Virginia had the best win, but I knew the Mountaineers could do it. I picked 'em to do it, in fact. I was surprised to find myself in such a small minority of folks picking WVU to take care of business on the road. The Sooners, though? Did anybody think they could waltz into Lubbock and paste Tech by four touchdowns? I certainly didn't. They scored 41 points in three quarters and held Texas Tech to just 28 yards on its first six drives of the second half. That's crazy.
Best quote: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia, on Texas fans' chants of "Geno sucks!" "Where does that come from? Obviously, I don't suck."
Second-best quote: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia. "For the fourth game in a row, we didn't turn it over." Holgorsen paused. "... We probably did turn it over, now that I think about it," he said. "There's a lot of stuff going through my head. Boy, we did turn it over two times, didn't we?" Hey, people ask quarterbacks to have short memories. The same must go for coaches, I suppose.
Best game: West Virginia 48, Texas 45. Five total lead changes, including three in the second half? A whole bunch of big plays on both offense and defense? West Virginia goes 5-5 on fourth down? That's a heck of a ballgame on its own.
Worst quarter: Kansas' third quarter. The Jayhawks turned the ball over three times in the period, but did manage a safety after one of the turnovers. The problem? The safety came on the second of two Dayne Crist interceptions on consecutive throws, and the Jayhawks fumbled the kickoff on the safety. Kansas State broke a 32-yard touchdown run on the next play, and the Jayhawks were outscored 28-2 in the period.
Best quarter: Oklahoma's third quarter. The Sooners outscored Texas Tech 17-0 and turned a 24-13 lead into a 41-13 lead. Oklahoma scored on both of its offensive possessions and returned a Seth Doege interception 46 yards for a touchdown. Not bad, boys.
Worst play: Mack Brown, Texas. Facing a fourth-and-4 late in the first quarter, Texas' defensive line crashed the backfield and sacked Smith to get a huge defensive stop and ignite the crowd. The only problem? Texas had called a timeout before the ball was snapped. A harbinger of things to come ...
Best play: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia. On WVU's second chance, Austin caught a short pass over the middle to convert the fourth down (West Virginia would finish 5-of-5), and looked faster than anybody else in the Big 12, turning the corner on the Texas defense and racing for a 40-yard touchdown that put WVU up 14-7. Absolutely the sickest thing I saw all weekend.
Oklahoma is back in business. The Sooners were sort of left for dead after getting dropped by Kansas State at home two weeks ago and having only a modest road win over UTEP as the brightest spot on their résumé. Nobody made a stronger statement than the Sooners on Saturday. Oklahoma was a single-digit favorite, but dominated the second half against a pretty good Texas Tech team that was knocking on the door of the Top 25. With the depth of the Big 12, plenty of folks wondered if the Sooners were destined for a seven- or eight-win disappointment. After Saturday, Oklahoma clearly looks the part of a double-digit game winner and once again a Big 12 title contender. We'll know for sure next week. Oklahoma and Texas already have home losses to Big 12 title contenders in Kansas State and West Virginia. Next week's Red River loser may leave Dallas all but eliminated from the Big 12 title race.
TCU is in deep, deep trouble without Casey Pachall. Trevone Boykin put in a good effort, and Iowa State's defense is solid, but he simply can't do what Pachall can do, and TCU's offense has to be completely different with him in the game. He's not ready, and how could you expect him to be? Pachall's decision-making and accuracy had him as efficient as just about any quarterback in the league. Boykin completed just 53 percent of his passes, threw three interceptions and most importantly, TCU lost by 14 at home to what's likely the ninth-best team in the Big 12. Or eighth, perhaps, after handing a hefty beating to the Frogs. Without Pachall, the Frogs are very, very average. The losses are piling up for TCU, a team that has lost 20-plus players for reasons unrelated to graduation since the end of last season. None were more impactful than Pachall, whose indefinite suspension is unlikely to be brief.
Bill Snyder still owns the state of Kansas. New KU coach Charlie Weis wanted to know why K-State and Missouri had success in the area and Kansas hadn't lately. It'll be interesting to see what he gleaned from another Sunflower Showdown beating for the Jayhawks. KU is the only team Snyder seems to be lacking in mercy for, and for the third consecutive season, K-State beat its in-state rival by at least 38 points.
Texas Tech's defense has come back to Earth. Texas Tech's defense is good, and much better than last year. Against Oklahoma's offensive line, though, the D-line got no push and rarely pressured Landry Jones, who wasn't sacked all day. The yardage (380) wasn't too bad, but Oklahoma racked up 41 points in just three quarters and made Texas Tech look pretty average. A good defense? Yes. No. 1 in the nation? Absolutely not. Best in the Big 12? Not likely.
Josh Lenz, WR, Iowa State: Lenz made Jared Barnett's first start of the season a memorable one, torching TCU's defense for touchdown catches of 51 and 74 yards during the 37-23 win. He wasn't done. He caught another TD for 1 yard and threw a 15-yard touchdown on a trick play.
John Hubert, RB, Kansas State: Hubert touched the ball only 10 times, but he turned those touches into 101 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' Sunflower Showdown 56-16 romp over Kansas. Well done by the Big 12's most underrated back.
Andrew Buie, RB, West Virginia: Buie was a workhorse for the Mountaineers, logging 207 yards on 31 carries, both career highs, in WVU's 48-45 win at Texas. On West Virginia's final offensive drive, Buie carried the ball seven times on the eight-play scoring drive, amassing 63 yards and icing the game with a 5-yard touchdown run. West Virginia wouldn't have won that game without him, and Geno Smith would have taken even more hits than he already took. Without the running game, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen suggested Texas' defense might have had 12 or 20 sacks instead of four.
Oklahoma's defense: Landry Jones played outstanding, but nobody could be all that surprised at Oklahoma hanging 41 on Texas Tech. The defense, though? A late garbage-time touchdown aside, Mike Stoops' unit was outstanding and turned Saturday's game into a laugher for the Sooners in a 41-20 rout. Seth Doege didn't throw a TD pass, and Texas Tech gained a whopping 28 yards on its first six drives of the second half. Yikes. Amazing stuff from the Sooners. Over that span, the Sooners' lead ballooned from a pedestrian 24-13 to an impressive 41-13.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein put in another very Collin Klein-like day in the Wildcats' 56-16 win over in-state rival Kansas. He accounted for four touchdowns -- two rushing, two passing -- and led K-State with 116 yards rushing on just 10 carries. He also completed 7 of 14 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns to lead K-State to a fourth consecutive win in the Sunflower Showdown, and the third consecutive by at least 38 points.
Smith's offensive line had a simple message for their Heisman candidate: "We got this. It's over. We're going to win this game," they said.
"Andrew Buie said, 'Put it on my back,' Smith said. "He put it on his back and led us to a victory."
Not just any victory. He led them to a 48-45 victory in West Virginia's first road trip in the Big 12, where they found a record crowd of 101,851 waiting at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium -- a crowd Texas coach Mack Brown called the loudest in 15 years.
Said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who was an assistant in the Big 12 for nine years: "I've never seen this place like that."
It even got after Smith at one point, serenading him with a "Geno Sucks" chant as he gestured to the crowd, egging them on.
"Where does that come from?" Smith said. "Obviously, I don't suck. I'll let them believe that."
The Big 12 title runs through Morgantown, with Kansas State and Oklahoma waiting later in the season.
Saturday in Austin, though, it was Buie's time.
"He carried us," said Smith, the man used to carrying the Mountaineers. "We knew we were going to need to run the ball, because those guys like to get after the quarterback."
Texas did exactly that, sacking Smith four times and twice forcing fumbles inside the West Virginia 20-yard line. Before tonight, Smith had been sacked three times in four games.
Buie's 207 yards? Holgorsen said he wasn't surprised by those. But the 31 carries? That was a head-turner.
"We did commit to the run," he said. "That was something we talked about early in the week, and there weren't any tricks, either. We lined up and we just ran it right at 'em. We felt like that was gonna be the difference. If we could do that, it was going to alleviate some of the pressure on Geno."
On West Virginia's final drive, needing points to ice the game, the Mountaineers handed the ball to Buie on seven of eight plays. He turned them into 63 yards, capping his big night with a five-yard touchdown run, his second score of the night. While his teammates ran wild and kicked off the party on the West Virginia sideline, he trotted back through a parade of backslaps before being bearhugged by his position coach, Robert Gillespie.
"If we would have just drop back pass after drop back pass, they would have had 12 sacks. Maybe 20," Holgorsen said. "We just felt like it would be in the best interest of our football team to commit to the run."
Texas stuck in its nickel package for most of the night with just two linebackers on the field, even when West Virginia used its jumbo packages with bigger bodies. Buie saw it as a sign of "disrespect," and proved he'd make the most of his opportunities.
"With coach Holgorsen, you never know what the game plan is going to be fully," Buie said. "You just always want to be prepared to run from whatever he's put inside the menu for that week. When he calls your number, obviously he has confidence in you to make plays."
Holgorsen (and Smith, who often checked to various running plays at the line of scrimmage) had confidence in Buie 31 times on Saturday night. Buie was likely West Virginia's No. 3 back entering the season behind Shawne Alston and a recuperating Dustin Garrison. He looked like a man well deserving of the No. 1 spot against one of the Big 12's top defense. Before last week's 25 carries, Buie had never had more 15 carries in a game, and hadn't topped even 100 yards in a game. He had 52 carries in his entire freshman season in 2011.
Since 2009, Texas was 18-0 when winning the turnover battle. The Horns won it 2-1 on Saturday, but Buie's effort helped the Mountaineers overcome both of Smith's fumbles and move into the driver's seat for the Big 12 title.
"We're not going to force the ball. We're not going to force the issue. We'll take what you give us. I'm a smart quarterback, I understand defenses. I understand how to exploit them." Smith said. "The offensive line did a great job of getting all those guys, finishing blocks, getting to the second level. Buie was reading it and cutting back. Yards after contact was big. He ran hard tonight."
Think West Virginia's offense is just Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey? West Virginia proved otherwise.
AUSTIN, Texas – If there was any doubt as to whether West Virginia is the best team in the Big 12, the Mountaineers gave their answer on Saturday night.
In front of a Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium-record crowd of 101,851, West Virginia didn’t flinch even despite two Geno Smith turnovers. Its much-maligned defense made stops on two crucial fourth-quarter Texas drives, and its offense -- thanks to a remarkably potent rushing attack - was as good as advertised in the 48-45 victory.
Here’s how it all played out:
It was over when: Anthony Fera missed a 41-yard field goal with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter. A Smith fumble put Texas at WVU’s 12-yard line, but the Longhorns took a 16-yard loss on a bad snap on third down. Fera, a Penn State transfer making his Texas debut after a groin injury had sidelined him all season, pulled the kick wide right.
Game ball: Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. Their Heisman-favorite quarterback gets most of the press, but Bailey and Austin were what broke this Texas defense. Bailey caught three touchdown passes, and Austin added another score, 102 receiving yards and 111 yards on kick returns.
Game ball, part II: Andrew Buie. The West Virginia running back burned Texas time and time again on Saturday night, hitting the soft middle spot of the Longhorns defense for a season-high 207 yards and two scores on 31 carries. He entered the night averaging 56 rushing yards per game.
Stat of the game: 5-for-5. West Virginia was perfect on the night on fourth-down conversions despite going 3-for-12 on third downs. The biggest pickup came in the first quarter, when Smith hit Austin on fourth-and-4 and he broke upfield for a 40-yard touchdown.
What it means: West Virginia is firmly in the driver’s seat for the Big 12. Its much-hyped Air Raid attack had no problem scoring on an athletic Texas defense that was supposed to be among the conference’s best. Texas, meanwhile, must go back to the drawing board and figure out how to fix its still-porous D. The loser of Texas-Oklahoma next Saturday may need lots of help to get back into the conference title discussion.
1. Get 'em down and keep 'em down. Texas' tackling issues were on display in a big way in a narrow victory over Oklahoma State. The Longhorns got away with it in Stillwater. I don't think that'll be the case against West Virginia, even at home. Texas has emphasized the issue this week. How will it work?
|Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talks about the new, nonprofit sponsor of the Cotton Bowl and denies reports that the Big 12 issued an apology to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
3. Take care of opportunities. TCU has reached the red zone 20 times this season, but has come away with a touchdown on just nine occasions. The Horned Frogs have scored just 12 times. The touchdown percentage (45 percent) ranks 106th nationally. The Frogs are good enough to get away with it against Kansas or SMU or Virginia. Iowa State? The Cyclones will take advantage if the Frogs leave the doors open.
4. A big piece is missing. West Virginia's running game has taken a big hit with Shawne Alston on the sidelines. Coach Dana Holgorsen was tight-lipped this week in regards to Alston's status, but he's going to be needed this week against Texas. He's a better pass-blocker than Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison, too. Will big back Ryan Clarke make a return, too?
5. It's real. We know that. But is it spectacular? Texas Tech took a step toward validating its defense, holding Iowa State to fewer than 200 yards of total offense, forcing four turnovers and maintaining its spot as the nation's No. 1 defense. How good is this unit, though? Oklahoma will be the toughest test yet, and its offense will be more like what Tech will see the rest of the season. Teams like OSU, Baylor and West Virginia have more high-powered offenses, but the Sooners will offer a huge checkpoint for Tech on its defensive road to redemption after an awful 2011.
7. Getting competitive yet? I stick to my belief that Kansas is better than it was last year, despite its frustrating losses and worse record than in 2011. Nothing would signify progress more than hanging with in-state rival Kansas State. When Charlie Weis got the job, he looked at K-State and Missouri to see what they had and what KU didn't have, and how the Jayhawks could start closing the gap. Here's his first chance to measure up on the field.
8. Call it a Heisman special. Geno Smith's not throwing for 656 yards against Texas. Let's just get that out of the way. The Longhorns have defensive personnel and depth unlike anything Baylor's got. It's one of a few major hurdles for Smith to go from Heisman front-runner, as he is now, to Heisman winner in December. Can he maintain his crazy numbers that are better than RG3's from a year ago?
9. Where is the elder statesman? The young'un Devonte Fields, a true freshman, has grabbed all the headlines so far this year at TCU, leading the Big 12 with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Meanwhile, preseason All-Big 12 representative Stansly Maponga has been really, really quiet thus far. He's got just 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Can he have a coming-out party against the Cyclones?
10. A lesson in thievery is needed. Oklahoma's got just one turnover through three games this year. Buffalo is the only other team in the country who has forced just one turnover. Texas Tech has lost six turnovers this year (32nd nationally), but if Oklahoma doesn't force a turnover against the Red Raiders, the Sooners could very well be looking at an upset and a drop out of the top 25.
Are you like me? Do you like points? I hope you watched what I just watched. West Virginia and Baylor cleared the game's over/under of 84 midway through the third quarter of this one and nearly hit triple digits by the end of the third quarter.
West Virginia emerged as a 70-63 winner, coming just three points short of the NCAA record for combined points in a non-overtime game in FBS history.
You won't see this many points very often, but let's take a closer look at the Mountaineers' first Big 12 game as a league member:
It was over when: West Virginia converted a pair of third downs with a one-handed J.D. Woods catch and an Andrew Buie run to ice the game.
Game ball goes to: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. If Geno had any Heisman doubters before today, he shouldn't anymore. Sure, he'll face tougher defenses, but not many quarterbacks could do against air what Geno did today against Baylor. He finished with 656 yards on 45-of-51 passing with eight touchdowns, and didn't have a turnover. That's not a typo. This thing got silly.
Stat of the game: The teams combined for 1,511 yards of offense and two (!) players topped 300 yards receiving. Six players had at least 100 yards receiving.
Unsung hero of the game: Baylor WR Terrance Williams. Yes, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin were outstanding, but even in a losing effort, Williams might have been better than both of them. He broke the school record with 17 catches for 314 yards, and caught a pair of touchdowns for the Bears. Both were game highs. West Virginia will get all the headlines for this one, but Williams helped the Bears keep a dizzying pace. The future NFL first-round pick lived up to his billing today.
Second guessing: Baylor seemed all too content in rushing just three or four men and daring Geno Smith to find receivers. For one, it wasn't covering guys over the top, and Smith made the Bears pay. Second, Baylor's defnsive backs and linebackers couldn't cover West Virginia's speed underneath, either. Baylor had to change it up and make a clearer effort to get some pressure on Smith. So what if you get burned? The Bears were getting burned for quick touchdowns anyway. If you get pressure, you might force a turnover and turn the game around. Instead, Baylor continued to give up score after score, and if Geno can sit back there and watch plays develop, he's going to make good decisions and deliver accurate balls very, very often. Maryland didn't exactly "rattle" Geno Smith, but it forced his worst statistical game of the season because it pressured him often.
Third guessing: Down 70-63 with three minutes to play, Baylor kicked the ball off instead of trying to go for the onside and get possession. It didn't work. The Bears never got a chance to tie the game. Does anyone really think Baylor had a higher probability of stopping WVU's offense vs. recovering an onside kick? Why would you kick it back to the WVU offense, which had been a buzzsaw the entire game? A baffling decision by the Bears, no doubt.
What West Virginia learned: Its defense needs plenty of work, too, but Geno Smith is a bona fide Heisman contender who's ready to make a big impact in the Big 12. His stat line's absurdity says plenty, but too many people who just see that stat line won't see some of the throws he made against Baylor's defense. Yes, the Bears left holes in a lot of places, but Smith was stretching the field all day and making picturesque throws on drive after drive, even on the occasions in which his receivers were covered.
What Baylor learned: Its defense has major, major problems. Yes, West Virginia probably has the best offense in the Big 12. Yes, Baylor's isn't far behind and gives the defense a big margin for error. Still, some of those errors we saw today were inexcusable. Bailey and Austin are as good as any receivers in the country, and on several occasions, at least one of them was running free, completely uncovered in Baylor's secondary. The worst was Baylor, fresh off a TD that cut the deficit to 56-49, leaving Bailey wide open downfield for an 87-yard TD pass. This kind of stuff can't happen if Baylor expects to keep winning at an acceptable level in the Big 12. At some point, you can't just keep depending on your offense to go out and win every game for you.
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