Dallas Colleges: Big 12 morning links
October, 23, 2014
In case you missed it, the Royals took Game 2.
- Oklahoma State has sued Texas co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline for breach of contract, alleging he misled his former employer about his new position at Texas, and the school is seeking more than $593,000 in damages. According to the suit filed in an Oklahoma district court on Oct. 17, Oklahoma State’s board of regents asserts that Wickline violated his contractual agreement to pay a buyout fee of $593,487 if he left OSU for an FBS offensive coordinator job that did not include play-calling duties. Wickline filed a countersuit this week and claims that he is indeed calling plays for Texas’ offense, according to an Austin American-Statesman report. This is a bizarre and unfortunate situation. Wickline was such a big part of the success Oklahoma State had in the Mike Gundy era. Now, the two sides are involved in litigation. Texas, by the way, travels to Stillwater on Nov. 15.
- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth and Texas running back Ricky Williams are just a few of the Big 12 names that were nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame. I don't know how anyone couldn't vote for those three, and anyone that leaves Snyder off his or her ballot should have it stripped away for life.
- West Virginia's revamped 3-3-5 scheme is earning praise, writes Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And deservedly so. The Mountaineers held Baylor’s offense, which was averaging 57.2 points and 623 total yards per game, to just 318 yards in West Virginia’s 41-27 upset victory. Much has rightfully been made of what TCU co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have done at TCU. But West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and assistant Tom Bradley have done a phenomenal job turning the Mountaineers into arguably the most improved defense in the Big 12. If West Virginia contends for the Big 12 title, it won't just be because of Clint Trickett and Kevin White. It will be because of that defensive unit, too.
- Speaking of TCU, the Dallas Morning News' Ryan Gerbosi wonders whether TCU QB Trevone Boykin is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy. It's a little strange that Boykin hasn't generated more Heisman buzz so far. He's been the pivotal piece in TCU going from having the nation's 106th best offense last year to the seventh-best one this season. With West Virginia and Kansas State coming up back-to-back to start the month of November, Boykin might begin to appear on Heisman straw polls if he can lead the Horned Frogs to a sweep of those two games.
- While TCU is flying high, Texas Tech is going the opposite way, writes Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Exactly one year ago, Tech was 7-0 and ranked No. 10 in the polls. That feels like a long time ago. The Red Raiders have exactly one Big 12 win since then -- over Kansas last weekend. It hasn't been a fluke, either. Of the 33 team categories tracked by Big 12 statisticians, Tech is last in the league in nine of them, according to Burch. That is a bad sign. Of course, the Red Raiders can always turn it around. Just look at what TCU has done.
October, 13, 2014
Should we go ahead and order the Dallas Cowboys their Super Bowl rings?
- Oklahoma State's struggling offensive line has allowed a Big 12-worst 16 sacks. Guess which defense leads the league in sacks? That's right, the Cowboys' next opponent, TCU. Quarterback Daxx Garman has already been sacked more times than Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh were all of last season. At 5-1, Oklahoma State has a chance to jump into the Big 12 title conversation with a win in Fort Worth. But the Cowboys have no shot if they don't quickly find a way to better protect Garman.
- Speaking of TCU's defense, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson writes that the Horned Frogs' unit needs tweaking after giving up 61 points in Waco. There is no doubt TCU can and needs to play better defensively. But coach Gary Patterson is finding out that running an up-tempo offense puts extra strain on the defense. The Horned Frogs had to defend 109 plays. As a result, they completely ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, which helped fuel Baylor's late rally. What TCU is doing is working. The Horned Frogs overall are vastly improved. And they won't face an offense like Baylor's the rest of the season. But maybe expanding the rotation will help TCU's defense stay fresh should the Horned Frogs find themselves engaged in another shootout.
- The Baylor offense rightly is getting accolades for the 61-58 win against TCU, but the Bears wouldn't have won without key late stops from their defense. The Baylor defense locked down the Horned Frogs on their last three drives, including a stop on fourth-and-3, which set up the game-winning field goal. "I really think we stepped up," Baylor defensive lineman Beau Blackshear said. Blackshear is right. Though it wasn't a performance for the ages, the Baylor defense made the plays it had to win the game. That should give the unit confidence for the rest of the season. Even after allowing 44 offensive points.
- At the halfway point of the season, Texas is flashing the defense that Charlie Strong was brought in to build, writes Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. No argument here. The Longhorns were incredibly impressive in the Cotton Bowl over the weekend, limiting Oklahoma to one first down and 29 yards in the first half. Tackle Malcom Brown is contending for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, and linebacker Jordan Hicks is finally living up to the five-star hype he arrived with. Texas must win four of its last six games to qualify for a bowl game. But the defense will give the Horns at least a shot.
- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel writes that style points can wait for the Sooners. The important part is that Oklahoma left Dallas with a win. Tramel makes a good point. The Red River Showdown has seen plenty of upsets over the years, including the 2013 game. Then again, Oklahoma has not been the same team the past two weeks. Trevor Knight isn't completing passes. The running game has been shut down. And the once vaunted defense has plenty of leaks. With one loss, the Sooners still have everything to play for. And there is time to improve. But not much time. Surging Kansas State will be arriving in Norman this week. And coach Bill Snyder is no joke with an extra week to prepare.
Few things are more important than college football. Just ask Condoleezza Rice.
- West Virginia suspended cornerback Daryl Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault stemming from his involvement in a nightclub altercation with a woman on Sept. 14, MetroNews' Allan Taylor reported. Worley’s attorney has maintained that Worley pushed the woman down in an effort to protect his girlfriend. Worley was given a suspended sentence, which prompted coach Dana Holgorsen to "fully reinstate" him back into the program. On the field, this is a huge boost for the West Virginia defense. Worley is one of the best corners in the Big 12, and the Mountaineers get him back just in time to face pass-happy Texas Tech.
- Gary Patterson said the new TCU offense has already been a boon in recruiting. "This offense is considered fun, throw-it-all over," Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Carlos Mendez. "Why would you leave the Metroplex to go to Baylor, A&M, Texas Tech ... when you can go 20 minutes away?" You just read TCU's new recruiting pitch to Metroplex-area offensive recruits. And it's a strong one, too.
- Texas is lacking "swag" heading into the Red River Showdown, in the opinion of the Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton . "I expect to go out and win, but I don't think we've got all the guys expecting to go out and win,” said veteran defensive back Quandre Diggs. I don't think that's what Texas fans want to read heading into the OU game. Then again, it's hard to argue the other side. Losing doesn't exactly breed a winning attitude. That said, the program could gain some of that confidence back with a second straight victory over the Sooners.
- We all knew about the Baylor offense. And the defense has been terrific this year. But Baylor's secret weapon has been its special teams, wrote the Waco Tribune-Herald's Brice Cherry . The Bears blocked a field goal and returned it for a TD against Texas. Bears punter Spencer Roth also converted a fake punt for a first down, which led to a TD drive. The Bears have had some trouble with place-kicking. But an effort like the one at Texas on special teams will go a long way in helping Baylor defend its Big 12 title.
- Iowa State announced that starting left tackle Brock Dagel is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. It's been a brutal season already in the injury department for the Cyclones. Others who have suffered season-ending injuries include receivers Quenton Bundrage, Brett Medders and P.J. Harris, offensive linemen Ben Loth and Jacob Dunning and special-teams standout Levi Peters.
Katy Perry, meet Tyler Knight.
- After his team beat Texas 28-7, Baylor coach Art Briles complained to reporters about the way the Big 12 configured the Bears' early conference schedule. "We open up Big 12 conference play as reigning champions," Briles said. "We didn’t finish eighth last year. How do we get rewarded? We go to Iowa State and go to Austin to open up conference play." I'm not sure I understand Briles' gripe. The 2014 conference schedule was constructed Nov. 5 of last year, weeks before the Bears actually won the Big 12 title. And by the way, Oklahoma, which has been the class of the league for more than decade, will actually play three games away from Norman -- at West Virginia, at TCU and Texas in Dallas -- to start the conference season.
- Speaking of Baylor, Bears starting defensive end Jamal Palmer will miss the remainder of the year after suffering a torn ACL against Texas, the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner reported. Palmer, who has been a key part of the Baylor's defense since 2012, was an honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick last year. The Bears still have enough talent and depth on the defensive line to overcome the Palmer injury. But for a team with big aspirations, it never helps to lose a veteran starter.
- TCU coach Gary Patterson accused Oklahoma transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield of stealing signs in TCU's 37-33 win. Mayfield played under first-year TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie at Texas Tech last year. "Old Baker Mayfield was on the sidelines and calling out every freaking signal we had," TCU QB Trevone Boykin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown after the game. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sort of denied that Mayfield was stealing signs, though it sure looked like he was on the sidelines. This is the second time this season a Big 12 coach has accused an opponent of stealing signs. Kansas State's Bill Snyder accused Auburn of the same last month. There's nothing illegal about it. It happens frequently in college football. And Cumbie should have been prepared that it might happen. But it's not exactly a good look for the Sooners, either.
- Former Texas coach Mack Brown has been contacted by representatives from SMU about the school's vacant coaching job, the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls reported. “He was approached, I was approached, but he’s not interested in coaching anywhere right now," Brown's attorney, Joe Jamail, told Bohls. "He misses it, frankly, but he loves being on ESPN." Brown would be a great fit for SMU, the same way Larry Brown has been for the SMU basketball team. Mack Brown has plenty left in the tank and the connections in the state to get players to Dallas. Brown has said he's going to wait until December before deciding whether he wants to coach again. I hope he does.
- Mike Gundy told The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson that Oklahoma State running back/receiver/returner Tyreek Hill has been better utilized as a decoy lately. Hill had only 11 offensive touches for 27 yards in the 37-20 win over Iowa State. "They're so zoned into to him," Gundy said. "When he's on the field, they're moving toward him, crowding him." The Cowboys are wise to take advantage of the mismatches that Hill's presence create elsewhere. But they also have to do better getting him touches in space. As his 97-yard kickoff return touchdown to open the second half underscored, Hill is way too electric to be used merely as a decoy.
All right, all right, all right...
- The confidence of Kansas QB Montell Cozart remains high, according to the Lawrence Journal-World Matt Tait, despite throwing four interceptions in a loss that proved to be the final straw in the firing of coach Charlie Weis. The reason for the confidence? A meeting with interim coach Clint Bowen. "He told me I was still the guy, they believe in me, everyone's still rallying around me,” Cozart said. “I've never heard anything like that from the head coach." That reflects well on Bowen, and not so well on Weis. We'll find out if that makes any difference in Cozart's performance on Saturday. In other news, Jayhawk officials are concerned about a drone that flew over Memorial Stadium before the Kansas-Texas game.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops called the Baker Mayfield situation unfair. Mayfield, who transferred in from Texas Tech during the offseason, had his NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility denied, even though he was a walk-on with the Red Raiders. "I understand when a guy's on scholarship, you've invested something in him and that changes your numbers and depth, so I get it," Stoops said. "But when a guy isn't, he oughta be able to do what he chooses to do." Hopefully the Mayfield saga prompts the NCAA to revise this misguided bylaw in its transfer rules.
- ESPN college football analyst Trevor Matich said TCU could be this year's Auburn. “TCU may well turn out to be the Auburn of this season,” Matich said. “Remember, Auburn came out of nowhere last year to go to the national championship game and TCU right now is a team with a defense that doesn't get enough credit nationally.” No doubt, the TCU defense appears to be formidable again. But is the offense good enough for the Horned Frogs to emerge into a conference title contender and beyond? We'll find out Saturday when TCU faces Oklahoma.
- Arguably the biggest question for Kansas State coming into the season was at running back, where the Wildcats were replacing three-year starter John Hubert. Well, the Topeka Capital-Journal's John Zetmeir writes that Charles Jones has answered the call. Jones leads the Big 12 with eight rushing touchdowns, and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. With Jones running with conviction, this K-State offense has no glaring weaknesses heading into the heart of Big 12 play.
- Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford joked to reporters that he plans to rush two and drop nine to try and stop Baylor QB Bryce Petty. Obviously, that won't be Texas' defensive game plan. And just as obvious, that wouldn't work against the Bears, whose ground game exploded with six rushing touchdowns last weekend at Iowa State. Baylor is now second in the country with 18 rushing touchdowns, second only to run-first Arkansas. The ability to run and throw is what makes the Baylor offense so difficult to stop.
September, 29, 2014
Jerry Jones apparently has plans of taking over the world.
- After winning just one Big 12 game as coach of the Jayhawks, Charlie Weis was fired over the weekend on the heels of a 23-0 loss to Texas. Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger told the Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait that the "program had lost support at all levels." Though it was a tad surprising that Zenger pulled the trigger after just one Big 12 game, you can hardly blame him. Kansas had showed no signs of improvement this season, scoring a combined three points in losses to Duke and Texas. Attendance was plummeting again this season, even after an 8 percent drop the year before. Under Weis, there was just no excitement surrounding Kansas football whatsoever.
- After two disastrous hires, the pressure is on Zenger and the Jayhawks to get this next hire right. Zenger, remember, fired Turner Gill after just two seasons; Weis, the man Zenger hired to clean up Gill's mess, lasted 33 months. CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodds throws out some possible candidates that Zenger might look at, including Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. The Jayhawks had success previously hiring an Oklahoma offensive coordinator, as Mark Mangino took Kansas to the 2007 Orange Bowl. The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan, meanwhile, writes that interim coach and Kansas alum Clint Bowen brings some much-needed passion to the program. The Jayhawks are in some definite need of that.
- Embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent interestingly met with Texas coach Charlie Strong on Sunday to discuss the coach’s five core values and his approach to building the Longhorns. Vincent was very complimentary of Strong's disciplinary stances following their meeting, telling Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson that "this is a model that should be emulated across the country in both amateur and professional football." Vincent gave Strong and his staff plenty of ammo to use when meeting with parents on the recruiting trail. If opposing coaches try to negatively recruit against Texas because of its suspensions and dismissals, the Longhorns will be able to counter with the ultimate trump card, as defensive coordinator Vance Bedford points out.
- There were some actual games over the weekend, too, and Baylor got a huge boost from the returns of wideouts Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman from injuries, as the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner details. Back from a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason camp, Coleman caught a career-high 12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the 49-28 win at Iowa State. Goodley returned from a quadriceps injury suffered in the early minutes of the season opener against SMU to catch six passes for 114 yards. Clay Fuller also came back from a preseason collarbone injury and made two fourth-quarter catches. Levi Norwood could be back as soon as this weekend from a fractured wrist. After an injury plagued non-conference, the Baylor offense is operating at full strength again. Just in time for Texas, too.
- The next two weeks will provide an opportunity for Oklahoma State to grow, writes The Oklahoman's John Helsley. The Cowboys get Iowa State at home this weekend, then travel to Kansas. In other words, Oklahoma State has a great chance to get off to a 5-1 start to the season after dispatching of Texas Tech last week. With so much inexperience coming into the season, coach Mike Gundy has to be pleased with the way the 2014 season has begun. At one point, Oklahoma State had five true freshmen on the field at once defensively in the Tech game. Those young players have a chance to develop even more over the next two weeks before the Cowboys hit the heart of their Big 12 schedule with an Oct. 18 road trip to TCU.
September, 23, 2014
I knew the Coke-for-tickets deal at Michigan was too good (or too bad?) to be true. Darn. On to the links...
- Oklahoma's battle to get Baker Mayfield eligible remains ongoing, reports Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. Bob Stoops alluded to having some new info, but OU is not ready to announce anything, and a TV report that Mayfield has been ruled immediately eligible appears to be premature or incorrect. You get the sense that, in this complicated appeals process, there's probably more that still needs to play out before Stoops can say anything definitive. If Mayfield is cleared -- and that's still a real if -- I'm curious if OU's perceived reluctance to let Trevor Knight run the ball (at least against West Virginia) will be impacted.
- The Iron Skillet game is going to have a different vibe this year. This time, TCU is facing a winless SMU team that recently changed coaches. Gary Patterson isn't too interested in talking about what's going on with his crosstown rival, writes Carlos Mendez of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, saying the Mustangs' shakeup is "no concern to TCU." He's just trying to get to win No. 3. TCU's less-than-stellar 2013 offense put up 48 on SMU. You'd think this year's group should have an even easier time.
- A Kansas team with a winning record is about to face a Texas team with a losing record for the first time in literally forever. Charlie Weis isn't taking the 1-2 Longhorns lightly, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World. The Jayhawks head coach makes what is probably an important observation for both teams: KU isn't going to win a shootout and has to adopt a mindset of surviving slugfests. The same is definitely true of Texas and its offense right now. Texas is a 14-point favorite right now, but could we be in for a game that plays out much closer than expected?
- Kliff Kingsbury discussed two QBs on Monday: one from his past, one from his future. Now that Jarrett Stidham has signed, Kingsbury can publicly laud the Stephenville (Texas) High senior. He and OC Eric Morris got a chance to watch the incoming Texas Tech early enrollee play this weekend and were wowed by his leadership and demeanor. Kingsbury also talked up OSU's Daxx Garman, whom he pursued while at Houston, and isn't surprised by his early success.
- Art Briles and Baylor's sports information staff have another ally in the push to get Bryce Petty in the Heisman race: Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. On Monday, Rhoads told reporters Petty is the Heisman frontrunner in his book, according to Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune. Rhoads and his players are rightfully in awe of what Petty and the Bears' offense appears capable of this season. I don't think the Cyclones' love is an act, either -- it's respect, especially after Baylor handed ISU a 71-7 loss in Waco last year.
September, 22, 2014
I was watching this game live. Unbelievable.
- West Virginia's players and coaches are thankful their open week has finally arrived, writes Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Mountaineers have definitely earned it. No one in the country has played a more brutal schedule so far than West Virginia, which has faced the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the ESPN power rankings; a team that retuned 17 starters; and a team that played in the FCS national championship last season. "It's been four tough weeks to start the season," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "Been some tight games, close games, and guys are starting to wear down." Still, by hanging tough with the Sooners and Crimson Tide, the Mountaineers have proven they have a tough team, too. After this well-deserved week of rest, they could be a team that does some major damage the rest of the season.
- Kansas State is picking up the pieces after its heartbreaking loss to Auburn, according to Joshua Kinder of the Manhattan Mercury. The Wildcats essentially left 16 points on the field in the 20-14 loss to the Tigers. It will be tempting to obsess about what could have been in that loss. But the Wildcats have to look forward. K-State will have another opportunity to deliver a landmark win before long. The Wildcats play host to UTEP and Texas Tech, then get an open week before traveling to Oklahoma. Coach Bill Snyder showed against Auburn what he can do with an extra week to prepare.
- Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is eager to get his full complement of wideouts back for the conference opener at Iowa State, he tells the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner. Even though the Bears have played one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country, they are leading the nation in almost every major statistical category despite missing several key offensive players because of injuries. Antwan Goodley (quad) and Corey Coleman (hamstring) are expected to be good to go this weekend. Levi Norwood (wrist) and Clay Fuller (collarbone) are on the verge of returning, too. The return of those four, coupled with the emergence of freshmen K.D. Cannon and Davion Hall, could make for a receiving corps as formidable as any in the country.
- The Tulsa World's Bill Haisten looks back at "the rant" seven years ago that has come to define in part Mike Gundy's tenure at Oklahoma State. Haisten points out that before the rant, Gundy’s record at Oklahoma State was three games below .500. Since the rant, Gundy is 43 games above .500. Personally, I think the rant has had very little to do with Gundy's success in Stillwater. Oklahoma State has won because it has recruited better, installed good schemes and constructed immaculate facilities. The Cowboys would be where they are now, with or without Gundy's rant.
- The child abuse charges levied against former Oklahoma All-American running back Adrian Peterson have left the Sooners in a quandary. Peterson gave $1 million to his alma mater two years ago, the biggest gift ever by a former player. In return, the school put Peterson’s name on the football team’s meeting room. The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson wonders if Oklahoma should remove Peterson's name from the room. It's an interesting thought. When I was at the Oklahoma-Tennessee game two weeks ago, I cringed when they kept announcing interviews were in the "Adrian Peterson" room. If the NFL elects to dissociate itself with Peterson, that will put Oklahoma in a tough spot.
September, 18, 2014
It's a big night in the "Little Apple."
- Texas quarterback David Ash elected to give up football after struggling with concussion-related symptoms for the past year. Given the seriousness of head injuries, this was not a surprising decision. Max will have more on this later in the morning, but the move makes you wonder what could have been with Ash. He had moments of brilliance, notably in the 2012 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State. That game seemed to be the turning point in Ash's career. As it turned out, Ash's career would basically be over not long into the following season.
- Ash's retirement wasn't the only major Big 12 story of the day. West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley turned himself into police after a warrant was issued for his arrest on a misdemeanor battery charge. Worley is accused of choking a woman and shoving her to the floor during a nightclub altercation hours after West Virginia's win over Maryland last weekend. This is a huge blow for the Mountaineers on and off the field. Worley was arguably West Virginia's best defensive player, and would have been matched up against Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard this weekend. But Worley, who was one of the three players coach Dana Holgorsen took to Big 12 media days, was also viewed as one of the leaders of the team. Whenever a player of that stature is suspended indefinitely, the ripple effect in the locker room can be significant.
- In case you forgot, there's also a pretty big game being played tonight. Auburn will be the highest-ranked nonconference team to visit Manhattan since second-ranked Penn State came to town 45 years ago. There are a bunch of good reads setting up this showdown. Coach Bill Snyder has a message for his fans, according to the Kansas City Star's Kellis Robinett. AL.com's Brandon Marcello has the scoop on Auburn QB Nick Marshall reuniting with Snyder. And the Chicago Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg has more on the intriguing coaching matchup between Gus Malzahn and Snyder. I arrived in Manhattan last night for this one, and can't wait for kickoff.
- Oklahoma will debut its alternate uniforms this weekend at West Virginia, Bob Stoops revealed. As I detailed in this Take Two over the summer, I wasn't a fan of the Sooners going in this direction. It was my opinion that Oklahoma's iconic brand was above the uniform craze. But I have to admit, I'm curious to see what they'll look like in an actual game.
- TCU coach Gary Patterson is doing everything he can to get his team's attention in an open week before the Horned Frogs play winless SMU next weekend. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Carlos Mendez, Patterson demoted both of his starting cornerbacks, senior Kevin White and redshirt freshman Ranthony Texada, for not playing up to Patterson's standard. It's understandable why Patterson is getting after his team. It's also understandable, with the open week and hapless SMU up next, why the Horned Frogs might be a bit sluggish in practice this week.
September, 11, 2014
Please take the time to remember what happened on this day 13 years ago.
- Two years ago, Tyrone Swoopes appeared to be the quarterback of the future for Texas, but now that he's the starter, writes the Associated Press' Jim Vertuno, Swoopes resembles more of a project while yet another hotshot freshman waits behind him. Though he is raw, I didn't think Swoopes played poorly in his debut start against BYU. Swoopes showed some poise and delivered the ball with authority on several occasions. But he got virtually no help from his offensive line or wide receivers. The coaching staff also appeared hesitant to open up the game plan with him behind center. For Texas to have any chance against UCLA, all of that will have to change.
- Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino's move from the press box to the sideline sparked the Cyclones offensively, in the opinion of the Des Moines Register's Tommy Birch. The Cyclones lost to Kansas State, but responded to Mangino's sideline presence with four unanswered touchdowns during a first-half scoring splurge. If Iowa State can execute offensively the way it did against K-State, it will have a chance to win some games this season, including Saturday at Iowa.
- Tennessee secondary coach Willie Martinez told The Oklahoman's Ryan Aber that he harbors no hard feelings about his time at Oklahoma. Martinez was essentially the very first assistant to be fired in some form during the Bob Stoops era. Stoops didn't exactly fire Martinez. But he hired his brother Mike Stoops to replace him before Martinez had gotten a job elsewhere. The move marked the start of the revival of Oklahoma's defense. It will be interesting to see Martinez back in Norman this weekend.
- After missing three field goals in two games, Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan told the Tulsa World's Mark Cooper that he has pinpointed the problem. Apparently, Grogan's mechanics with his plant foot have been off. Whatever the case, Grogan has to be sharper for the Cowboys to produce the kind of season they hope to have. Grogan had a shaky freshman season last year, missing seven field goals on 18 attempts. Oklahoma State has usually held a decisive special teams edge against its opponents during the Mike Gundy era. That wasn't the case last year, and the Cowboys paid for it.
- Baylor coach Art Briles said he prefers to avoid certain labels for players not necessarily considered first-teamers in his fast-paced, big-play offense. It's no wonder why. Many of his backups -- like freshman wide receivers K.D. Cannon and Davion Hall -- could start for several teams in the Big 12. Cannon leads the league in receiving despite technically starting out the season as a reserve. And Bryce Petty's backup, quarterback Seth Russell, leads the Big 12 in QBR. This is an offense that's going to be good for a very long time, thanks to the players who are not first-teamers at the moment.
Happy Tuesday and a belated congratulations to Kevin Durant for becoming one of the richest dudes in Big 12 history.
- This was a good weekend for the Big 12 if you ask its head coaches. Underdogs Oklahoma State and West Virginia both put up a valiant four-quarter fight against potential College Football Playoff teams Florida State and Alabama, respectively. Big 12 coaches polled Monday during the league's weekly teleconference sensed that sent a message about the depth of the conference. They weren't expecting blowouts in those high-profile showdowns. I don't think anybody is going to underestimate OSU or WVU going forward.
- Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman has a bold take following the news David Ash is out: Jerrod Heard should start. The true freshman didn't join the program until June, so he still has a lot to learn. But he came to Austin with one heck of a pedigree and he does bring a dual-threat ability to an offense that's going to neeed some new wrinkles. It doesn't seem like Charlie Strong strongly considered Heard to start vs. BYU, but he might need to in the next few weeks if Tyrone Swoopes struggles.
- Who's ready for the first Big 12 conference game of 2014? Kansas State and Iowa State meet on Saturday. Bill Snyder wishes his players had a little more experience going into their Big 12 opener. Paul Rhoads, on the other hand, sees this game as a great chance to motivate his players after their blowout loss to North Dakota State. Personally, I'm a fan of these anomaly games. Oklahoma-West Virginia was a weirdly close game a year ago when they met in Week 2. With so few good non-conference rivalry games early in the season, why not get Big 12 ball rolling early?
- Gary Patterson makes an interesting point, in light of the injuries at Texas and Baylor: Does having two quarterbacks help TCU's Big 12 title hopes? He settled on Trevone Boykin for the Horned Frogs' season opener but is reserving the right to also use Matt Joeckel next Saturday when TCU takes on Minnesota. He seems comfortable with that QB situation. He's less enthusiastic about how TCU's defense fared outside of its base package. But, hey, that's what bye weeks are for.
- Came across this over the weekend and it's a shame this has fallen under the radar: Kansas has created a comic book-themed website in devotion to linebacker Ben Heeney. Benton Smith of KUsports.com got players to chime in on "The Diabolical Defender" and what makes him so special. Kudos to the KU sports information staff for showing one of the Big 12's most underappreciated players the love he deserves.
September, 1, 2014
We will be a little lighter than usual today because of the holiday. Everyone have a happy Labor Day.
- A lot of great reads came out of Baylor's Sunday night christening of McLane Stadium. The Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington wrote that the Bears left their inhibitions -- and their tarp -- on other side of I-35. Baylor fans marveled at the new stadium, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald's Regina Davis. And the paper's John Werner added that it's time for Baylor to believe again. Brandon was in Waco and and has more on the unveiling on the blog this morning. But from the view of my TV set, the stadium looked awesome. It should be a game-changer for the Bears, especially in recruiting. Who wouldn't want to play in that venue? Underscoring that theme, Robert Griffin III, took this spectacular selfie in front of the Baylor student section. A great night all around for Baylor.
- Back to Saturday's games, Oklahoma State did not fear the spear, The Oklahoman's John Helsley wrote. And according to the paper's Berry Tramel, the Cowboys should be dejected about the night, and euphoric about the future. As I wrote last week, Oklahoma State's sustainability was going to be tested this season. And despite the loss, the Cowboys passed that test with flying colors against the top-ranked team in the country. Despite having to lean on several young players, the Pokes gave Florida State everything it wanted, and might have been a J.W. Walsh fumble away from flat pulling off the upset. Oklahoma State's 2014 outlook looks completely different now than I had it pegged in the preseason. This is a team to be reckoned with. And no matter the circumstance, a program to be reckoned with, too.
- Speaking of giving an opponent everything it wanted, West Virginia took second-ranked Alabama to the wire in an inspired performance from Dana Holgorsen's bunch. The game showed how far the Mountaineers have come, wrote the Charleston Daily Mail's Chuck McGill. The biggest difference for West Virginia was the play of quarterback Clint Trickett, who was terrific against the Crimson Tide. With Rushel Shell also pounding out yards between the tackles and Kevin White hauling in passes downfield, this could be a dynamite offense. If the Mountaineers play the entire season the way they did Saturday, there is no doubt they will get back to bowl eligibility. The schedule might still be brutal. But do you think Oklahoma and Baylor and Kansas State are looking forward to their trips to Morgantown now?
- We addressed the good. Now, to the ugly. The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson believes Iowa State's 34-14 defeat to North Dakota State was the worst loss of the Paul Rhoads era. I can't disagree. After jumping on the Bison 14-0, the Cyclones simply were dominated the rest of the way. Most disheartening was how Iowa State was obliterated in the trenches. If an FCS team can do that to the Cyclones this weekend, what are Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State going to do? Adding injury to insult, Iowa State suffered injuries to a pair of its key players in center Tom Farniok and wideout Quenton Bundrage. Farniok might be back this weekend, but it doesn't look promising for Bundrage, who was Iowa State's leading receiver last season. This now has the look of a very rough year for the Cyclones, whose next four opponents went a combined 37-14 last season.
- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was not happy with his team's performance over the weekend, either, as the Red Raiders narrowly escaped Central Arkansas 42-35. Kingsbury called the showing "embarrassing," according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams. The Red Raiders have high hopes for the season and for the future of the program, illustrated by the extension the school agreed to with Kingsbury the day before. But all hope is not lost. Plenty of teams have looked lackluster in their openers, then gone on to great seasons. But quarterback Davis Webb will have to be sharper, and the defense will have to be better for the Red Raiders to have the season they envision.
Congrats to "Breaking Bad" on all of its well-deserved Emmys. So happy to see Landry Clarke finally win the big one. On to the links:
- Kansas State won't release their depth chart until Tuesday, but Bill Snyder did address his intriguing running back situation Monday. Charles Jones will start, but you'll see DeMarcus Robinson, Jarvis Leverett and Judah Jones get in on the action, too. Touted freshman Dalvin Warmack seems to be behind that group at the moment. Even if Jones is listed No. 1 to start the season, you have to think the Wildcats' first two games will provide a true audition in which anyone can rise up and win the job.
- Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News got the tour of Charlie Strong's now-decorated office -- complete with photos of Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Buffett -- in this glimpse into how Strong has already changed Texas' program. Pay attention to the ending. Linebacker Jordan Hicks puts into words what everyone else has noticed: When the defense isn't thriving, that's a bad day in Strong's book. That's the mindset he brings to Texas as a defense-first guy, and a reminder why this Texas D's highs and lows should be compelling to watch in 2014.
- Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal offers a closer look at the critical role junior college transfers will have to play for Texas Tech this season. Rika Levi gets lots of hype, but there are a handful of fellow juco guys who will need to get the hang of big-time football quickly. Keep an eye on receiver Devin Lauderdale, a touted 2013 signee who needed one juco year to qualify. He cracked the two-deep and could play a bunch in the opener against Central Arkansas.
- Paul Rhoads addressed the 6-foot-5 young elephant in the room Monday: How much is freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard really going to play? He's listed as the backup at 'X' receiver behind Quenton Bundrage on Iowa State's initial depth chart, but Rhoads assured reporters Lazard will be on the field plenty. "I'm sure he'll get the ball tossed in his direction," Rhoads said. No doubt the four-star stud's targets are going to be a popular topic of discussion this season in Ames. Can expectations be any higher for him?
- Speaking of expectations, you won't find a more hyped-up guy in the Big 12 than Oklahoma State's Tyreek Hill. John Helsley of The Oklahoman wonders just how big of a game-changer the junior college transfer can be. Teammates such as David Glidden say his talent level is indescribable and that, "You’re just going to have to wait and see." He'll put stress on opposing defenses, and he isn't just track-speed fast -- it all translates on the field, per the folks who's seen Hill in action. Oklahoma State OC Mike Yurcich says he's constantly working up new ways to pencil him into a play. Florida State is absolutely going to account for him on every play. If he goes wild against the Seminoles, the legend of "Tyreek The Freek" will surely spread nationally.
August, 25, 2014
It's game week...
- David Ash is focused on quieting critics who thought he should quit. According to Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas' QB has used Eric Liddell, whose story is depicted in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, as inspiration. It's a good thing for the Longhorns that Ash never quit, despite suffering from concussion issues that sidelined him for most of the 2013 season. Texas has no real other options at the moment at quarterback, with Tyrone Swoopes too raw and Jerrod Heard too young. The Longhorns are in good shape at most other positions. But whether Ash can stay healthy and play consistent will go a long way in determining whether Texas will contend for the Big 12 title in Charlie Strong's first season.
- Both Texas Tech and TCU released their Week 1 depth charts over the weekend. The Horned Frogs' two-deep brought no clarity to the quarterback position, as Trevone Boykin and Matt Joeckel are listed as co-starters. Running backs B.J. Catalon, Kyle Hicks, Aaron Green and Trevorris Johnson are actually listed as co-starters as well. It will be interesting to see whether new coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie actually utilize four running backs in their system. The biggest surprise in TCU's depth chart , however, came at defensive end, where Mike Tuaua and Josh Carraway were listed as starters ahead of Terrell Lathan and James McFarland. Lathan was actually listed ahead of Devonte Fields in the spring. McFarland played in every game last season, while Carraway redshirted. With Fields gone, defensive end is probably the biggest question mark on the defense. But the Horned Frogs seem to have four players they think they can rely on.
- The most intriguing storyline with Tech's depth chart was at cornerback, where true freshman Tevin Madison won a starting job opposite sophomore Justis Nelson. Madison beat out fellow freshman Jah'Shawn Johnson. With three starting sophomores and Madison, the Red Raiders are going to be extremely young in the secondary this season. But there's talent there -- and more on the way once true freshman Nigel Bethel II serves out his three-game suspension.
- The Charleston Daily Mail's Mike Casazza wonders whether West Virginia can mimic the Oklahoma team that beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. The Mountaineers are the biggest underdog among Power Five conference teams this weekend. Alabama is almost a four-touchdown favorite. One point Casazza makes is that West Virginia is similar in scheme to the Sooners offensively, which in theory could place the same pressure on the Alabama defense. It wasn't scheme, however, that placed pressure on the Crimson Tide. It was QB Trevor Knight, who had a career night with 348 yards and four touchdowns. For West Virginia to hang with Alabama, QB Clint Trickett is going to have to deliver a career night himself. Sure, the Mountaineers will also have to force the Crimson Tide into mistakes with pressure. And West Virginia's experienced linebacking crew is going to have to hold up against Alabama's physical rushing attack. But the Mountaineers only stand a chance if Trickett takes care of the ball while producing explosive plays, just the way Knight did.
- Speaking of Oklahoma, the big news over the weekend was the NCAA shooting down the Sooners' request for a waiver that would have made wideout Dorial Green-Beckham eligible to play immediately. Oklahoma was considered to be the Big 12 favorite long before Green-Beckham transferred in from Missouri over the summer. And the primary reasons that made the Sooners a playoff contender previously are still in place. But DGB would have solidified the one question mark on this team: experienced playmaking at the wide receiver position. The Sooners still have three-year starter Sterling Shepard. But he is a slot receiver who operates underneath the coverage. DGB would have complemented Shepard perfectly and given Knight a lethal weapon downfield and in the red zone. Instead, Oklahoma will have to settle for relying on several unproven players at the skill positions.
August, 14, 2014
I had Peanut Butter Crunch while writing these morning links. What will you have while reading them?
- I've always felt that Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel would eventually emerge as the starter in TCU's quarterback competition. Maybe that assertion was wrong. Coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown that after TCU's second scrimmage Tuesday, Trevone Boykin holds a slight edge over Joeckel in the quarterback battle. I still contend it makes sense to start Joeckel at quarterback and Boykin at wide receiver. Joeckel has more experience in the offense TCU is attempting to install, and Boykin instantly would become one of TCU's best receivers. But if Boykin is clearly the better quarterback this preseason, Patterson will have to start him. By the way, kudos to TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte for adding California to the future schedule. The Horned Frogs now have home-and-homes coming up with Minnesota (2014-15), Arkansas (2016-17), Ohio State (2018-19) and Cal (2020-21). That's solid.
- Several times we've written about the talent and potential of the Big 12's true freshman skill class. But one player we've overlooked is Kansas running back Corey Avery, who has been turning heads in Lawrence this preseason, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal's Jesse Newell. Avery has been getting carries with the first-team offense, and could be the instant successor to James Sims in the Kansas backfield. Maybe this shouldn't be so surprising. Avery was one of the gems of Charlie Weis' signing class in February, choosing the Jayhawks over Baylor, LSU and Ohio State.
- Iowa State's already-thin defensive line has taken yet another hit. Junior college defensive end Gabe Luna might have to redshirt after injuring his back, the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse reports. The Cyclones have already lost incoming defensive tackle Terry Ayeni to a torn ACL, as well as tackles David Irving and Rodney Coe, who were booted from the team in the spring. The Cyclones still have good players up front. End Cory Morrissey was an honorable mention All-Big 12 pick last year. Noseguard Brandon Jensen has started to come on again after rejoining the team after spring ball. But Iowa State's depth up front has been decimated. That's a scary way to begin the season for a unit that finished last in the league in 2013 in sacks and rushing yards allowed.
- When it comes to his quarterbacks, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy likes to keep things mysterious. This year is no different, writes The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson. Gundy has yet to name veteran J.W. Walsh his starter. And he curiously said at a booster event last week that former walk-on Daxx Garman would get 10-15 snaps in the Florida State game. Who knows what will happen with Oklahoma State's QB situation, given the track record of the last two seasons. But it's worth keeping an eye on Garman. Because of his leadership and experience, Walsh remains the front-runner to start the opener. But Garman's superior arm strength could ultimately be a better fit for this Oklahoma State offense, which is loaded with wide receivers that can make plays in the passing game downfield.
- Kansas State's Tyler Lockett and Baylor's Antwan Goodley are the league's only returning 1,000-yard receivers. But don't sleep on West Virginia's Mario Alford being a contender to pass the 1,000-yard barrier in Dana Holgorsen's offense. As the Charleston Gazette's Dave Hickman points out, Alford really came on late last season with 450 receiving yards in the Mountaineers' final four games after being moved from the slot to the outside. With better quarterback continuity and a year of experience behind him, Alford could be in for a big season.