Dallas Colleges: Elliott Coffey

Season recap: Baylor

December, 7, 2011


Record: 9-3 (6-3)

Baylor made history in 2010, qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Quarterback Robert Griffin III said the Bears were coming back for dessert in 2011, and Baylor's pretty clearly dug into some delicious sweets all season. Instead of a four-game losing streak to end the season, Baylor strung together five games. A dramatic, fourth-quarter comeback against Kansas led to a double-overtime win to get the Bears bowl eligible and got them feeling like a team of destiny. A week later, Griffin ushered in the third field-storming of the past two seasons with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams to beat Oklahoma for the first time in school history. The first field storming came in an upset of TCU on a nationally-broadcast game on the Friday night of the season's first weekend.

Nine wins was unheard of for the Bears, whose six-win performance in Big 12 play was the highest total in school history, and chock full of memorable moments capped by a win over Texas on a rainy season finale. The result? A good shot at landing the school's first Heisman winner.

Offensive MVP: Griffin III, quarterback. This one's pretty simple. Griffin has been the best player in the country this season, though he throws to one of the nation's best receivers, Kendall Wright. Griffin set an NCAA record for passing efficiency at 192.31 and threw for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also ran for 644 yards and nine touchdowns. No player has transformed a program like Griffin has over his career, and he'll have a decision to make after the season about trying to do it again in 2012.

Defensive MVP: Elliott Coffey, linebacker. The defense struggled all season for Baylor; it's never a good sign when your top two tacklers are safeties. Coffey, though, was pretty solid up front, making 99 tackles, five tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles.

Turning point: The dramatic win over Oklahoma. Baylor was a good team, but sort of slumming through a ho-hum season with lopsided losses to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. The win over Kansas was nice, but everyone else had been blowing out the Jayhawks. But the win over Oklahoma made everybody sit up and notice the Bears over the pressure-packed final few games and thrust RG3 back into the Heisman picture.

What’s next: It all depends on what RG3 decides after the season. Losing Wright, who caught 101 balls for 1,572 yards and 13 touchdowns this year, is huge. Baylor accomplished all it did this year despite losing its No. 2 receiver, Josh Gordon, just before the season. Nick Florence showed flashes during a win over Texas Tech after Griffin took a shot to the head and sat the rest of the game. He's clearly developed a lot since a rough 2009 season without Griffin. It's likely Florence's team next year, and former blue-chip recruit and Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk would be the likely starter at running back next year after Terrance Ganaway graduates.

Weekend rewind: Big 12

November, 14, 2011

Time for our weekly look back at the weekend that was in the Big 12.

Best offensive player: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State. This was a close one, but Klein made a ton of plays late in a tight game and again erased a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead. He finished with 384 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in a 53-50, four-overtime victory over Texas A&M. A&M forced him into pressure throws late; Klein made them. Honorable mention: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State; Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Best defensive player: Elliot Coffey, LB, Baylor. Coffey picked off two passes, made a tackle for loss and had 10 tackles. Honorable mention: Damontre Moore, LB, Texas A&M

Best game: Kansas State 53, Texas A&M 50 (4OT). This was the best game of the year and one of the best in Big 12 history. K-State erased deficits of 14 and 10 points and both teams made a handful of huge plays in overtime, including an unbelievable, game-extending touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Uzoma Nwachukwu. It wasn't enough, though, and Klein beat the Aggies in 4OT with a predictable, yet unstoppable QB sneak.

[+] EnlargeBradley McDougald
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerBradley McDougald and Kansas saw their first Big 12 victory in more than a year slip away against Baylor.
Best team performance: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys eviscerated Texas Tech on the road, handing the Red Raiders the worst loss in school history, a 66-6 laugher that could have been even worse. Texas Tech's only points came on a fumble return. Good grief, OSU. Don't hurt 'em!

Best guest: Sal Giunta. As part of the Wounded Warrior Project, Giunta was an honorary captain for the Red Raiders. Very cool scene before the game, too, when Tech and the Lubbock Homes for Heroes charity presented a mortgage-free home to soldier Louis Flores. Giunta was the first living veteran since Vietname to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in the armed forces. He rescued several of his squad members in Afghanistan.

Worst quarter: Kansas' fourth quarter. KU looked on the verge of its first conference win ... until it wasn't. RG3 evaporated a 24-3 fourth-quarter deficit with three long touchdowns and forced overtime, where the Bears won it after a missed 2-point conversion to win it for Kansas.

Worst guest: The injury bug. Seriously, this is getting out of hand. Big 12 talents are having big issues staying healthy. Saturday, it was Missouri running back Henry Josey and Texas back Fozzy Whittaker with awful-looking knee injuries. Terrible.

Worst half: Texas Tech. Even Kansas did better against Oklahoma State. In Stillwater, the Jayhawks trailed, 56-7 and took a 7-0 lead to start the game. Tech? It started with a three-and-out and trailed 49-0 at halftime. Ugly.

Worst self-parody: Texas A&M. I mean, at this point, the jokes are beyond old. Four times this year, Texas A&M has lost double digit leads in the second half, and long after the jokes have gone stale, the Aggies are still losing games late. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. If anyone really knew, it'd be fixed by now. This team just hasn't been able to make plays late.

Worst-sounding injury: Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Kansas State. Lockett, one of the league's most dangerous return men, is out for the season with a lacerated kidney. Good grief, how does that happen playing football? Don't think I've ever heard of that. Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel suffered a "lacerated groin" last week, but that's maybe the only injury I've ever heard of that sounds worse. Here's hoping Lockett's OK long-term.

Worst trip home: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had plane troubles, and got stuck on a plane and in the Lubbock airport for several hours before making it home to Stillwater. Despite leaving the stadium sometime around 3:30, the C0wboys didn't make it back home until 10:30 and had a pretty boring rough afternoon. That's about all that went wrong for them on Saturday, though.

Worst play: Texas Tech's kick return team. Two return men failed to retain possession, and four seconds after going down 28-0, Josh Stewart recovered the loose ball in the end zone to put OSU up 35-0. Not good, Red Raiders.

Biggest guts: Turner Gill, Kansas. Gill's guts didn't pay off, but it was the right call to try and beat Baylor with one play in overtime. Calling timeout before the two-point conversaion probably wasn't the best move, but KU was so, so close to the win. Gotta go get it when you can. Kansas almost did.

Ranking the Big 12's top 10 linebackers

August, 9, 2011

Moving on in our rankings of the top 10 at each position in the Big 12 entering 2011.

[+] EnlargeTravis Lewis
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireOklahoma's Travis Lewis is among the Big 12's top linebackers entering the season.
Here are the top 10s you've missed so far:
The Big 12 is really, really strong at linebacker, just as it is at receiver. Running back and defensive line are two of the Big 12's weakest positions, but linebacker might prove to be a true strength by season's end.

If you're curious, here's how I ranked the units by team.

We might even see big, young talents like Corey Nelson, Tom Wort, Arthur Brown, Jordan Hicks and Huldon Tharp fight for spots on this list by season's end, but overall inexperience keeps them off for now.

Here are the top 10.

1. Travis Lewis, Oklahoma: Lewis took home the Big 12's preseason Defensive Player of the Year Award (as much as someone can take home an award with no actual hardware, anyway), but he'll be the easy favorite for the award entering the season. Of my postseason top 25 Big 12 players, Lewis is the only returning defensive player. He's made 100 tackles in each of his first three seasons at Oklahoma, and eschewed the NFL draft to try and win a title at Oklahoma.

2. Jake Knott, Iowa State: Knott doesn't get the national pub of some other guys on this list, but he should. In just his first year as a starter, Knott made 130 tackles, the most of any returning Big 12 starter. Just a junior, Knott should make even more improvement in 2011.

3. Keenan Robinson, Texas: Robinson has all the physical tools, and should be set loose in new coordinator Manny Diaz's aggressive scheme. Robinson made 106 tackles in 2010, but look for his sack totals (two in 2010) to get a big boost from spending more time in offensive backfields.

4. Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State: Lewis exploded into the Big 12 fan's consciousness as a true freshman in 2010, sharing Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors with Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson after making 58 tackles with eight tackles for loss, despite not officially being a starter until the second half of the season. He's a bit faster than you might expect him to be at 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds, but he should be due for a big encore.

5. Emmanuel Acho, Texas: Acho joins Robinson in one of the best linebacker groups in the league, and will likely be a team captain alongside his fellow linebacker. Acho made 81 tackles to rank second on the team, and added 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for an underrated Texas defense in 2010.

6. Zaviar Gooden, Missouri: Gooden is easily the fastest guy out of this group, and should be due for a breakout year on the national stage if Missouri gets the ball rolling with James Franklin at quarterback and becomes a top 25 mainstay. He tied for the team lead in tackles last season (84, 49 solo) during his first year as a starter, and could see that number jump as a junior in 2011.

7. A.J. Klein, Iowa State: As little respect nationally as Klein's teammate, Knott, gets, Klein gets even less. Which is a shame. Klein, like Knott, was a first-year starter but became one of just 11 players in the Big 12 with more than 100 tackles. Was that number (111, 49 solo) aided by a weak defensive line? Sure, but somebody made those stops. And it was Klein. He'll get plenty more chances to further prove himself.

8. Garrick Williams, Texas A&M: Williams returns as one of the leaders of the Wrecking Crew after making 112 tackles in 2011, including five tackles for loss and a forced fumble. The Aggies need him to play well at inside linebacker in Tim DeRuyter's 3-4 scheme, if for no other reason than because of the uncertainty and likely inexperience at the inside linebacker spot.

9. Elliot Coffey, Baylor: Coffey should be one of the lynchpins of a maturing Baylor defense with lots of work to do under new coordinator Phil Bennett. Though there's no formal depth chart just yet, Art Briles admitted that if anyone has solidified a starting spot, it's Coffey. The 6-foot, 230-pounder made 61 tackles (34 solo) and 4.5 tackles for loss as a junior in 2010.

10. Steven Johnson, Kansas: Johnson emerged out of a good group of linebackers last season to lead the team in tackles, with 95 stops (62 solo). He loses fellow linebackers Justin Springer and Drew Dudley, but will get help with the return of Huldon Tharp. Johnson was a former walk-on, but in his first year as a starter in 2010, rewarded the Jayhawks' decision to put him on scholarship.

Just missed: Will Ebner, Missouri; Sean Porter, Texas A&M

Your players guide to Big 12 media days

July, 18, 2011
A week from today, college football will feel oh-so-close. The Big 12 will kick off its media days, slimmed down to two days with its new 10-team configuration, instead of 12 teams over three days like it's been in the past.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireBaylor's Robert Griffin III will be attending Big 12 media days after missing last year's event.
I'll be there for every second of the action, with plenty of stories and videos, just like last year. Here's a look at what we had for you every day at media days last year.

You can expect more of that, and here's who we'll be dealing with here in Dallas.

Monday, July 25

Oklahoma State
  • Jacquies Smith, DE
  • Kenji Jackson, S
  • Elvis Fisher, OL
  • T.J. Moe, WR
  • Emmanuel Acho, LB
  • Keenan Robinson, LB
  • Blake Gideon, S
  • Fozzy Whittaker, RB
Texas A&M
Tuesday, July 26

  • Steven Johnson, LB
  • Tim Biere, TE
  • Jeremiah Hatch, OL
Iowa State
Kansas State
Texas Tech

I've got a lot of thoughts about this lineup:
  • Texas' quarterbacks haven't spoken to the media since the Thanksgiving Day loss to Texas A&M, and that streak won't end next week. Not that it necessarily should, at least not at this event. For better or worse, bringing a quarterback to media days implies a certain amount of confidence in said player, and every indication we got during the spring is that this race is wide open. Last year, Texas Tech brought both Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts, and Mack Brown raised eyebrows when he brought his first-year starter, Garrett Gilbert, to media days before fall camp and before his first-ever start. He won't be making a return trip in 2011.
  • Kansas State's contingent is rather telling. If Bill Snyder was trying to temper the hype surrounding Arthur Brown, he wouldn't bring the transfer who has never played a game for Kansas State to Dallas. But Brown is coming, and his brother, running back Bryce Brown, isn't. That's plenty telling. As is Collin Klein's presence. It's not like Kansas State is starved for marketable talents. Cornerback David Garrett would fit in nicely, but he won't be coming. It's not explicit, but Klein will enter fall camp with the lead in the quarterback race, but Snyder has to feel good about him at this point. Bryce Brown's role on this team is still a bit unclear with Robert Rose and John Hubert still competing with him for carries, but I'm still feeling very good about making Arthur Brown my pick for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Except for Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, he's the only player in the entire league to come to Big 12 Media Days without at least a season of starting experience, and Doege at least has one start on his resume.
  • Serious, serious star power in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's crews. Some of the biggest names in college football will be heading down to Dallas from just up north across the state line. Landry Jones will be making his first trip this year, as will Justin Blackmon. Weeden, Lewis and Broyles all attended in 2010. Another good bunch from A&M this year, too.
  • Glad to see Iowa State bring Kelechi Osemele to Dallas. He's a quiet star in this league who's been one of its best linemen for a couple seasons now. He'll finally get a bit more exposure in his first trip to media days. I'm a little surprised to see ISU bring Darius Darks, though, instead of Darius Reynolds, who Paul Rhoads went out of his way to praise this spring. That said, Darks is a solid choice as a co-captain and a contributor for three seasons heading into 2011, vs. Reynolds, a high-profile juco transfer who only emerged as a major contributor in 2010 after a quiet 2009.
  • Baylor's Robert Griffin III is back on Baylor's wagon after sitting out last year's media days to give the cameras and notepads a chance to get to know his teammates (and avoid about 4,000 questions about his knee, which was clearly fine last season).