Dallas Colleges: Jamell Fleming

Big 12 media days live: Day 2

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
9:40
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The Big 12 media days continue on Tuesday in Dallas, as Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and new Texas coach Charlie Strong each take the stage. Keep this page open throughout the day's proceedings as we bring you the latest from our reporters, who will cover all 10 teams at the event.

Former Berkner, SMU lineman drafted 71st

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
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Former Richardson Berkner and SMU offensive guard Josh LeRibeus was the first Metroplex-native player picked in the 2012 NFL draft, selected by the Washington Redskins as the eighth pick of the third round (71st overall).

Berkner coach Jim Ledford said he was very pleased with his former player’s new team, especially after the Redskins selected 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

“What a great opportunity with RGIII,” Ledford said. “What [LeRibeus] does best is pull and they’ll run a lot of boots and things like that with [Mike] Shanahan stuff and that’s what Josh is really good at.”

Ledford watched LeRibeus’ selection with the player and his family Friday night and said he believed the lineman would go 74th overall to Kansas City. However, Ledford said he had no doubt Washington selected LeRibeus for his ability to pull and protect a mobile quarterback.

LeRibeus was key in Berkner’s 12-0 season in 2006 after moving from guard to tackle to tight end throughout the season.

“Josh was a dominating player from his junior high years all the way through all his high school years,” Ledford said.

LeRibeus spent five years at SMU after graduating from Berkner in 2007, where he averaged six pancake blocks per game in his senior season.

After a redshirt season for the Mustangs in 2007, LeRibeus saw action in his freshman year and took over a starting position in 2009, where he was named honorable mention All-C-USA as a sophomore.

SMU has not seen a player drafted as high as LeRibeus since the death penalty, when Ron Morris (54th overall) and Jerry Ball were selected in the second and third rounds of the draft.

LeRibeus became the second-highest drafted player in Berkner history, behind defensive back Aqib Talib who was picked 20th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2008 draft.

Former Arlington Seguin/Oklahoma DB goes to Cardinals

Also getting the call in the third round was cornerback Jamell Fleming as the 80th pick overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

Fleming took to twitter after the announcement of his selection on the handle @JamellFleming, tweeting a picture of himself in a Cardinal red shirt.

“I got my team color on! Let’s go Cardinals!” Fleming said via twitter.

Fleming started in all of OU’s games his junior and senior seasons, racking up 60 total tackles his senior season with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

He was selected as a first team All-Big 12 player in 2011, with a highlight 56-yard scoop-and-score against Texas for his second career touchdown.

2011 Big 12 position rankings: Cornerbacks

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
2:00
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We're moving on with our 2011 postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for cornerbacks. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

Here are the other position rankings we've done so far:
Depth is somewhat of a factor here, but I weighted it heavily toward the top two starters at the position.

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMICarrington Byndom went up against some of the Big 12's top receivers and held his own.
1. Texas — The Longhorns duo of Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs were by far the league's best at limiting the big play. Both are physical. Both return. Beware, Big 12 offenses. In just their first year as starters, they helped the Longhorns lead the league in pass defense. Diggs, a true freshman, led the team with four interceptions. Until the regular-season finale against Baylor, Texas and Alabama were the only teams that hadn't given up a touchdown pass longer than 20 yards. Obviously, that's way, way more impressive in the Big 12.

2. Kansas State — K-State overachieved in a lot of ways this year, and perhaps nowhere more than at cornerback. Juco transfer Nigel Malone led the league with seven interceptions. Known entity David Garrett was even more solid, making 88 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. I ranked this unit 10th in the Big 12 before the season. They finished second. I was wrong.

3. Oklahoma — The Sooners' corners were good, but not great, and underachieved slightly. Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst are supremely talented, but were susceptible to big plays this year. Granted, everybody in the Big 12 was, but the Sooners ranked fourth in pass defense. Fleming broke up 10 passes and intercepted two more. Hurst broke up 11 and had an interception.

4. Oklahoma State — At times, Oklahoma State's Brodrick Brown was a legitimate shutdown corner. Justin Gilbert turned in a solid effort in his first year as a starter, which was much more important after a season-ending injury to Devin Hedgepeth in September. Gilbert picked off five passes, second-most in the Big 12.

5. Iowa StateLeonard Johnson was quietly an NFL prospect that put together a huge year. He was a big reason for ISU's upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State, and helped shut down Justin Blackmon. He finished with 71 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick. Jeremy Reeves added two picks and seven pass breakups.

6. MissouriE.J. Gaines led the Big 12 with 16 pass breakups, and the Tigers ranked fifth in the Big 12 in pass defense. Fellow first-year starter Kip Edwards added a pick and three pass breakups.

7. Texas A&M — The team's top corner, Coryell Judie, was hampered by a hamstring injury all season, but production is production. It wasn't there for Judie, one of the league's top corners in 2010. Terrence Frederick had a good year with 13 pass breakups and a pick, but the Aggies were susceptible through the air all year. Lionel Smith and Dustin Harris filled in well in Judie's absence, but not well enough. A&M finished eighth in pass defense and helped five QBs set career highs for passing yardage in 2011.

8. BaylorK.J. Morton played well down the stretch for Baylor, but the Bears defense left a lot to be desired almost everywhere. They finished last in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up over 290 yards a game. Morton picked off four passes and broke up six more. All four of his picks came in the final three games of 2011. Chance Casey broke up six passes and made 48 stops.

9. Texas Tech — How's this for irony? The Red Raiders actually finished second in the Big 12 in pass defense. It doesn't matter much. Tre' Porter had the only interception for a cornerback all season, and broke up two passes. Injuries were a problem all season. Cornelius Douglas, Derrick Mays, Jarvis Phillips and Sawyer Vest filled the unit, but Tech faced 61 fewer pass attempts than Kansas and 111 fewer than the next team in the Big 12. That's what happens when you can't stop the run. Doesn't mean the corners played well.

10. KansasGreg Brown picked off two passes and broke up three more. Isiah Barfield made 35 tackles and broke up five passes. The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the Big 12 in pass defense. They didn't get much of a pass rush to help the corners, but the corners were very poor in 2011.

Offseason to-do list: Oklahoma

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
2:00
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We're taking a look at what each program in the Big 12 needs to deal with during the offseason, whether it be in the spring, summer or fall preseason camp. Maybe all three! Who knows?

Next up: The Oklahoma Sooners.

1. Fix the secondary. Losses to Texas Tech and especially Baylor and Oklahoma State exposed a weakness in the secondary: giving up big plays. The man who'll be charged with fixing that problem is new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who led some of the best defenses in Oklahoma history, including one that gave the Sooners their last national title in 2000. Cornerback Jamell Fleming is gone, but the rest of the secondary returns, and Oklahoma has the talent to fill Fleming's absence. Keep an eye on what happens to Tony Jefferson, too. He's a big weapon at nickelback, but played some traditional safety after Javon Harris struggled against Baylor. Where will Jefferson play?

2. Mature the receiving corps. The struggles after Ryan Broyles' injury were clear, but Landry Jones was only part of it. Oklahoma was deceptively shallow beyond Broyles, and Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills just weren't good enough late in the season. They'll have to figure out how to consistently produce without Broyles on the field, and this offseason is the time to do it. Blue-chip recruits Trey Metoyer, Durron Neal and Sterling Shepard should join them next year, and Kameel Jackson showed some decent potential.

3. Sort out the running backs. Dominique Whaley will be healthy next year, and a slew of transfers has thinned the corps, but Brennan Clay and Roy Finch are more than serviceable. Finch emerged as the team's top back late when Whaley was sidelined with a fractured ankle, but Alex Ross should join the team, too. Will Trey Millard get a few carries, too? This situation's pretty unpredictable for now. You'd figure Whaley grabs the starting job back when he gets healthy, but there's no guarantee there. Hence, on the to-do list it lands.

Season report card: Oklahoma Sooners

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
2:45
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We're offering up grades for each team in the Big 12 after their seasons conclude, so here's a look at how the 10-3 Oklahoma Sooners graded out in 2011.

More report cards:
OFFENSE: Oklahoma had as many weapons as anyone to begin the season, complete with a Heisman contender (frontrunner?) in Landry Jones and the man who would eventually hold the FBS record for career receptions, Ryan Broyles, as the team's top receiver. The Sooners were loaded at running back, though Dominique Whaley surprised everyone by leapfrogging top-flight recruits Brennan Clay and Roy Finch to steal the starting job. The offensive line was better this year, and the coaching staff showcased some great creativity with the near-unstoppable Belldozer formation that helped backup QB Blake Bell score 13 touchdowns over the second half of the season, after Whaley went down with a season-ending ankle injury. Ultimately, though, Jones wasn't quite as sharp without Broyles and the receiving corps had some big drops late in the season, and the Sooners were embarrassed in the season finale vs. Oklahoma State with the Big 12 title hanging in the balance. Jones' performance, too, has to be better in 2012. His 15 interceptions are far too many, and it was even more than he threw as a freshman in 2009, when he had the most in the Big 12. Once Broyles went down, receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds simply weren't good enough.

GRADE: B+

DEFENSE: Baylor debacle aside, the Sooners defense wasn't as bad as it looked late in the season. Oklahoma State and the Bears made the Sooners' issues in the secondary look really, really serious, but it's easy to forget the Cowboys and Bears are also the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 passing offenses. Oklahoma gave up over 40 points in each of its three losses, though it was dealing with some injuries defensively in the first loss to Texas Tech, namely the loss of top corner Jamell Fleming. Looking big picture, Oklahoma played its best football early in the season, and ranked second in the Big 12 in total defense, behind only Texas. Additionally, DE Frank Alexander won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and teammate Ronnell Lewis might have been right behind him in the voting if not for a late-season knee injury and academic suspension.

GRADE: B+

OVERALL: It's easy to feel like 2011 was a complete failure, considering the national title hype in the preseason and the year's finish in the Insight Bowl. You can't classify it as a success, and we'll get to the final grade in a bit. But 10 wins is 10 wins, especially in a very, very deep league this year. The Texas Tech loss got more inexplicable as the season dragged on, but Baylor and Oklahoma State were good teams. Better than Oklahoma? Talent-wise, no. But both knocked off the Sooners, who are back to the drawing board in 2012, chasing another national title from the role of dark horse, rather than favorite.

GRADE: B-

Brent Venables leaves lasting legacy at OU

January, 19, 2012
1/19/12
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NORMAN, Okla. – When Bob Stoops brought his brother back to Norman, he envisioned recapturing the magic that generated some of the best defenses in Oklahoma history.

Instead, Stoops will now have to hire a linebacker coach.

Wednesday night, co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables announced that he has left Oklahoma to become the defensive coordinator at Clemson, leaving the Sooners with another coaching vacancy.

In hiring Mike Stoops last week, Bob Stoops believed he was getting the band back together.

With Mike Stoops calling the defense and Venables co-coordinating, the Sooners ranked third nationally in fewest yards allowed in 2003. In 2001, Oklahoma ranked fourth.

[+] EnlargeBrent Venables, Bob Stoops
Brett Davis/US PresswireBrent Venables has been on the Oklahoma staff since Bob Stoops took the job in 1999.
And in the 2000 national championship game, the Stoops brothers and Venables devised a defensive game plan for the ages as the Sooners kept Florida State’s high-powered offense from scoring.

Too much time, however, had passed. And Bob Stoops’ hopes proved to be short-lived. After Venables and Mike Stoops took a recruiting trip together to Florida, Venables and his wife flew to Clemson. And the allure of a new challenge, a massive pay raise and the chance to call his own defense again won out.

Because of the success the Sooners endured while Mike Stoops was the senior partner in the relationship, Venables was never fully appreciated by the Oklahoma fan base. Moreover, the explosion of Big 12 offenses after Mike Stoops left made it virtually impossible to produce top five defenses.

But Venables still coordinated some gems that helped catapult the Sooners to Big 12 championships in ’06, ’08 and ’10.

In 2008, the Sooners wiped out second-ranked Texas Tech by holding one of the nation’s top offenses to a single touchdown in the first half. OU went on to play for a national championship that season.

But perhaps his most memorable coaching job came in the final game of the ’10 regular season against Oklahoma State. Faced with the task of slowing down the high-powered Cowboys, Bob Stoops and Venables elected to revamp the entire defense, going to a 3-4 scheme. The shift stunned the Cowboys, and Oklahoma State managed only three offensive touchdowns as Oklahoma prevailed.

But as much as the Sooners will miss Venables as a coordinator and linebackers coach, they will miss him just as much as an ace recruiter.

Ronnell Lewis, Demontre Hurst, Tom Wort, Corey Nelson, Austin Box, Jamell Fleming and DeMarco Murray are just a few of the standouts Venables had a hand in recruiting to Norman in recent years.

He also was the assistant who secured two of OU’s top verbal commitments in this recruiting class: safety Eric Striker and running back Daniel Brooks. Venables also was the primary assistant recruiting California cornerback Brandon Beaver, who is scheduled to visit OU this weekend.

Bob Stoops tried to get the band back together. With his brother and Venables blazing the recruiting trail as a tandem, then forging those ferocious defenses again on the field.

Instead, the Stoopses will be on their own. Turned out, the band didn’t get back together.
The bowl season is over, and it's time to pass out a few awards.

Best offensive player: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. Blackmon went nuts against Stanford after the Cowboys were shut out in the first quarter against Stanford. His first two catches went for touchdowns, and he finished with 186 yards on eight grabs and his third three-touchdown game of his career. That was the first time he'd done that since the Tulsa game in 2010, the third game of the season.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesThree of Justin Blackmon's eight catches against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl were for touchdowns.
Second-best offensive player: Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor. Ganaway ended his career in style, taking plenty of heat off his Heisman-winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III. He scored five touchdowns and ran for 200 yards, leading the way for three Bears 100-yard rushers in the 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

Best defensive player: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma. Passing? I think not, Iowa. Matched up with NFL-bound, Skycam-attacked Marvin McNutt, Fleming made seven tackles, returned an interception 21 yards and broke up three passes. Well done.

Best team performance: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys got the Big 12's best win of the entire season, knocking off a solid Stanford team and handing Andrew Luck a loss in his final game as a Cardinal. Maybe they got lucky with a missed 35-yard field goal attempt to force overtime, but the Cowboys played well after a shaky first quarter and beat the nation's No. 4 team on a neutral field. Well done.

Best play: Robert Griffin III's post-Heisman "Heisman moment." He somehow backpedalled out of a handful of Washington tacklers, escaped outside and galloped to the pylon, diving into the end zone as he took a big hit before scoring. A big-time play from the Heisman winner for a 24-yard score.

Craziest play: North Carolina's Bryn Renner whipped a strike to Dwight Jones, but a hit jarred it loose. Somehow, it ended up on Jones' shoulder and rolled across his back, staying there long enough for Missouri LB Zaviar Gooden to sprint over and slide in to intercept the pass before it hit the ground.

Scariest play: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa. McNutt was minding his own business in the Iowa huddle. Then the Skycam at Sun Devil Stadium came crashing down and sent McNutt into a panic. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but it was memorable incident. The camera was grounded for the Fiesta Bowl later in the week.

Best out-of-nowhere performance: Colton Chelf, WR, Oklahoma State. Starter Tracy Moore was reportedly suspended, and Chelf filled the void well. He caught just 16 balls in 12 games, but hauled in five for 97 yards in the win over Stanford, including a 24-yarder in overtime that was ruled a touchdown before being reversed and giving way to a game-winning field goal.

Worst performance: Kansas State. It was shocking to see. The Wildcats made too many early mistakes that they hadn't made all year. There was a fumble to give Arkansas an easy three points, a handful of dropped passes, a wave of penalties and an ill-advised punt to Joe Adams that swung the game in favor of the Hogs. Not good, and K-State didn't give itself a chance in the 29-16 loss.

Best handling of distractions: Texas A&M had to deal with the loss of senior offensive lineman Joey Villavisencio, who died in a car crash on his way home for Christmas. It fired coach Mike Sherman earlier. Interim coach Tim DeRuyter left for Fresno State, but stayed to coach the bowl game. The team was prepping for a move to the SEC and playing its bowl game in the home of its new coach, Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies, though, played pretty well against Northwestern and controlled most of the game in the 33-22 win.

Best atmosphere: Cotton Bowl. For a second consecutive year, this bowl takes the cake. K-State and Arkansas fans absolutely packed Cowboys Stadium and cheered loudly from an hour before the game through the entire matchup. A big-time atmosphere for what should be a big-time game.

Instant analysis: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14

December, 31, 2011
12/31/11
1:05
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Oklahoma ended a disappointing year on a high note, winning its third consecutive bowl game to record back-to-back seasons of 10 or more victories. Iowa's bowl magic vanished despite a plucky effort as the mistake-prone Hawkeyes lost in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Let's take a closer look at the Insight Bowl:

How the game was won: Oklahoma's pressuring defense flustered Iowa and forced enough mistakes to buy time for Landry Jones and the offense to get going. The Sooners led 14-0 at halftime despite mounting only one productive drive, but their defense never backed down or broke down. OU made Iowa work for everything, and the Hawkeyes repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with penalties, dropped passes, poor throws, questionable play calls and other mistakes. Junior quarterback James Vandenberg and the Iowa offense established a rhythm midway through the third quarter and closed to within 21-14 with 6:56 left, but Oklahoma's power game, led by quarterback Blake Bell, responded to seal the victory.

Player of the game: Sooners cornerback Jamell Fleming. The senior set the tone early with an interception return to the Iowa 10-yard line, setting up the first of three Bell-dozer touchdown runs. Fleming also contained Iowa's All-Big Ten wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who had just four catches for 46 yards and appeared frustrated for much of the game.

Stat of the game: Oklahoma ran eight offensive plays in the first quarter, and had 12 yards and no first downs. But the Sooners led Iowa 7-0.

Candid camera: There was a scary moment late as ESPN's Skycam fell onto the field and nearly struck McNutt on a bounce. It delayed the game several minutes with 2:22 left to clear the wiring.

Second guessing: It's seems odd to question a Kirk Ferentz decision to go for a fourth-and-short situation, but Iowa really could have benefited from points following a 13-play, 68-yard drive midway through the first quarter. Down 7-0, the Hawkeyes marched to the Oklahoma 6-yard line before failing on third-and-4. Rather than kick the short field goal, Ferentz went for the touchdown and Iowa lost 3 yards on fourth down. Iowa didn't score until early in the fourth quarter.

What it means for Oklahoma: The Sooners ended on a positive note and showed they could be motivated to win a bowl despite a disappointing regular season. After being shredded by rival Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma defense responded very well against Iowa, controlling play for the first two and a half quarters. For a unit that endured inconsistent play in October and November, this was a good ending. The victory sends the Sooners into a crucial offseason, which begins with Jones' decision on whether to stay for his senior season or enter the NFL draft. Oklahoma loses some key seniors but still should enter the 2012 season as one of the top contenders for the Big 12 title.

What it means for Iowa: Hawkeyes fans can't be disappointed with the effort, but a team that repeatedly made mistakes away from its home field couldn't survive them again Friday night in Tempe, Ariz. The defense played very hard for retiring coordinator Norm Parker, but Iowa needed a cleaner performance to upset Oklahoma. Iowa sees its wins total drop for the second consecutive season, and the team now enters a critical offseason. Ferentz soon will name a new defensive coordinator, and he needs to put a stop to the revolving door at running back. Iowa loses key parts but should be more experienced at several spots. However, Hawkeyes fans expect more from their program and its well-paid coach, and they should. The Big Ten is only getting harder, and Iowa should be mirroring what Wisconsin and Michigan State have done rather than falling back into the pack. Not much has gone right for this program since the 2010 Orange Bowl victory.

Oklahoma's biggest problems surface again

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
12:58
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The Sooners have struggled in the red zone all season, and have shuffled kickers in and out of the lineup for three seasons.

Both came into play and cost Oklahoma in a shocking 41-38 loss to Texas Tech, 28-point underdogs.

Michael Hunnicut clanged a 28-yard field goal off the upright late in the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma scored just one of its three second-half touchdowns from the red zone. It settled for one field goal, and also missed a 39-yard kick earlier in the game.

With that, Oklahoma's home-game winning streak and it's national championship hopes are over.

The warning signs were there in lackluster wins over Kansas and Missouri this year. The offense sputtered for most of the game against the worst defense in the nation last week at Kansas, and the defense gave up more than 500 yards to Missouri.

Saturday night, Texas Tech did what it wanted offensively for almost the entire 60 minutes and put up 600 yards and 41 points, all season highs, against the Sooners.

Just like Texas Tech did against Texas in 2008, the Sooners' national title hopes are dashed. Seth Doege to Alex Torres may not have the same ring to it as Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree, but the duo was almost as potent Saturday against Oklahoma's defense, which was missing top cornerback Jamell Fleming.

Torres caught four passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns, tormenting Oklahoma's secondary with big plays.

Doege threw for 441 yards and four touchdowns on 33-of-52 passing.

Oklahoma didn't play well, but Texas Tech walked in and won this game, fully intending to do so all night. Tommy Tuberville faked a punt and went for it on fourth down twice inside the 5-yard line.

Only one of those attempts worked, but it said a lot about Texas Tech's intentions and mindset. Both paid off, and Tuberville has the biggest win of his two seasons in Lubbock.

Next week's showdown with Kansas State has lost a bit of its luster, but Oklahoma State and Kansas State are the last two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12.

Who saw that one coming?

Does defense lead the Sooners?

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
2:57
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Oklahoma boasts a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback in Landry Jones. Last weekend, its top receiver, Ryan Broyles, became the NCAA career leader in receptions.

PODCAST
Landry Locker of ESPN Dallas is joined by SoonerNation's Jake Trotter to discuss Oklahoma's win over Kansas, Ryan Broyles record-breaking career in Norman, the upcoming game against Texas Tech and more.

Listen Listen
Running back Dominique Whaley has been one of the best stories in college football, but while others focused on his status as a former walk-on, he quietly racked up more rushing yards than all but one player in the Big 12, despite playing in a platoon backfield.

The Sooners rank fourth nationally in total offense, and its biggest names live on the offensive side of the ball, but is it possible the Sooners' best side of the ball is defense?

"Our expectation is to play hard-nosed football and be the defense that we know we can be," safety Tony Jefferson said. "We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball."

The Sooners have stymed offenses in all six games this season. Tulsa was held 15 points under its scoring average. For Florida State, 22 points below its 35-point average. Even Missouri -- Oklahoma's worst defensive performance -- scored five points fewer than its average.

The Sooners held Texas and Kansas both to 17 points, nearly two touchdowns below their average.

"There’s always some spots here or there through six games you’d like to have done better, but I feel we’re playing pretty well," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

The Sooners gave up a whopping 6 yards in the second half against Kansas last week, keeping the Jayhawks' much-improved offense from recording a first down until the game's final minutes.

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in total defense and ranks 22nd nationally with just over 317 yards given up each game. It ranks 11th by allowing fewer than 16 points a game.

That's even more impressive considering the Sooners have already faced offensive juggernauts. Ball State and Texas are the Sooners' only opponents this year outside the top 45 in total offense. The Cardinals scored six points.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma's Frank Alexander
AP Photo/Steve CannonFrank Alexander has emerged as a top contender for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
If numbers don't do it for you, consider talent.

Frank Alexander has emerged as one of the Big 12's best defensive players, wrecking offenses up front while the Big 12's reigning freshman of the year, Tony Jefferson, states his case in the secondary.

He's flanked by arguably the two best corners in the Big 12 this season, Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming.

Oh yeah, and Oklahoma has done it all with its leader and the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Travis Lewis, on the mend from a broken bone in his foot.

Like the Sooners' multi-faceted offense, the defense can do it all.

"We’re not the kind of defense that runs one particular style. We have different types of defenses," Jefferson said. "If you’re an offensive team, you don’t know what we’re going to run or what we’re going to be in."

Jefferson, with the ability to play a traditional safety spot, nickel back or outside linebacker, might be the most versatile Sooner defender. The Sooners' base 4-3 defense can randomly become a three-man front. Defensive end Ronnell Lewis projects as an NFL outside linebacker, and can rush off the end or drop into coverage.

The Sooners can put four defensive ends on the field and use their speed and athleticism to further enhance a pass rush that's already managed 24 sacks this season, third-most nationally.

Oklahoma's 15 forced turnovers are more than anyone in the Big 12, save Oklahoma State.

"We’ve created a lot of pressure on quarterbacks and a lot of turnovers and gotten a lot of lost yardage plays," Stoops said of his defense, which leads the Big 12 with 48 tackles for loss, too. "That’s some of the things we’ve done the best."

Don't lose sight of the impact going up against one of the nation's best offenses every day has had. But maybe it works the other way, too?

Either way, put the two together (and Oklahoma does every Saturday), and the Sooners look like an ever-improving national title contender.

"I feel like we’ve done well, but I feel like we have a lot more to prove," Jefferson said. "We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re reaching the point in the season where there’s no more slacking off. Teams will take advantage of that. We know what we’ve got to do."

Thoughts on the media's All-Big 12 team

July, 19, 2011
7/19/11
3:56
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The Big 12 has released its All-Big 12 preseason team as voted on by the media, including yours truly.

Here's my ballot, for reference.

And here's the preseason team, in all its glory.

OFFENSE

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
RB: Bryce Brown, Kansas State
RB: Roy Finch, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL: Brad Madison, Missouri
DL: Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
DL: Kheeston Randall, Texas
DL: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Keenan Robinson, Texas
DB: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
DB: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
DB: Blake Gideon, Texas
DB: Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS

K: Grant Ressel, Missouri
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Year: Justin Blackmon, WR, OSU

Defensive Player of the Year: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

Newcomer of the Year: Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

Selections by team: Oklahoma (9), Oklahoma State (4), Texas A&M (4), Missouri (3), Texas (3), Iowa State (2), Kansas State (1)

And a few thoughts:
  • Generally, I agree with most of the selections. Nothing was really shocking. Brandon Weeden vs. Landry Jones is pretty close to a coin flip, and let's not act surprised that the quarterback from the bigger program got the nod. Perception is reality, even if the numbers are so, so close. Jones has the Heisman hype coming into the season, certainly more than Weeden, based on little more than the possibility his team runs the table.
  • Running back is going to get a lot of attention, but let's not get riled up. This is going to sound bad, but believe me when I say I don't mean it to: Bryce Brown's selection is more an indictment of the returning talent at running back in the Big 12 than an endorsement of the hype surrounding Brown, who isn't even the clear-cut starter at K-State just yet. Here's what I wrote when I posted my ballot earlier this month. "The second running back spot is near impossible. Just about anyone might get it on the official vote when its revealed by the Big 12. You could realistically make a convincing case for James Sims, Eric Stephens, Joe Randle, Roy Finch and even newcomers like Malcolm Brown, Bryce Brown or Oklahoma's Brandon Williams. And that's the first team!" Well, there you go. For the record, I voted for Christine Michael, and still feel good about it.
  • Finch and Brown tied for votes, giving the Big 12 three running backs. There weren't three spots on the ballot. And it also explains how Malcolm Brown got Newcomer of the Year and Bryce Brown got first-team All-Big 12 running back, despite both being newcomers. It's a little confusing, I suppose, and maybe not everyone did it, but my guess is a lot of ballots had Finch as the first-team running back and Malcolm Brown as the Newcomer of the Year. Not all that surprising.
  • I originally had Luke Joeckel on my ballot, but took him off for Missouri's Elvis Fisher. I think Joeckel will end up being better, and maybe even by the end of this year, but right now, Fisher is the better lineman, and that's how I define the ballot. Perhaps others see it differently. There's no concrete rubric for this.
  • I'm not very surprised to see Ronnell Lewis and Blake Gideon grab spots on the team, though I voted for Tony Jerod-Eddie and Trent Hunter in those spots on my ballot. Second safety and defensive line were pretty tough for me to fill out. Neither spot is very deep in this league, and both Lewis and Gideon have two of the biggest names, which matters in a media vote.
  • Quite a huge gap between Oklahoma and the rest of the league. The Sooners had a lot of guys on my ballot that were close, but five more selections than anyone else in the league? That's impressive, and if ballot deadlines had been after Jamell Fleming's reinstatement, Oklahoma might have had 10 guys on the team. My ballot had Oklahoma State leading the way with seven selections, followed by Texas A&M with six and Oklahoma with five. My ballot also only had six teams represented. The media's Bryce Brown vote put Kansas State on the board, making it seven teams represented on the official team.

The Big 12's One Shining Moment

April, 5, 2011
4/05/11
4:02
PM CT

The ball is kicked...

That's how it goes, right?

College basketball is over, but brackets live on forever. Or something. Anyway, inspired by our friends over at the SEC blog, we'll try our hand at a little bracketology on the football field.

What if the Big 12 played a single-elimination tournament?

Ten-team brackets are a little unusual and more complex than the NCAA Tournament bracket, so if you're unfamiliar, we'll be working off this bracket.

I seeded the tournament based on my pre-spring power rankings (which, admittedly, have fluctuated already since January) and in true NCAA Tournament fashion, all the games will be played on neutral sites. Additionally, these games will be played riiiiight ... now!

That means no incoming freshmen unless they enrolled early, and no time to settle position battles, get players healthy or improve.

Wrenches being thrown everywhere! The humanity!

So ... here we go.

Play-in games:

No. 7 Texas Tech vs. No. 10 Kansas: Texas Tech may be breaking in a new quarterback, trying to work with new receivers and giving the ball to inexperienced running backs (albeit backs loaded with potential) but the Red Raiders should win this one easily. Kansas doesn't have the skill position talent to exploit the Red Raiders' defensive weaknesses and won't be able to stop them. Seth Doege has shown signs of being far better than competent, but the same can't be said for Kansas' quarterbacks. The Red Raiders should be pretty good up front and slow the Jayhawks' running backs. Texas Tech 34, Kansas 13

No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Iowa State: Last year's Farmageddon was an underrated game in terms of entertainment, but both teams lost their workhorses. Alexander Robinson and Daniel Thomas won't face off in this one, but Kansas State is the only team in the Big 12 who hasn't started spring practice yet. Undone by unforeseen scheduling! The Wildcats' revolving door of quarterbacks can't find a rhythm against the Cyclones, who use Jerome Tiller like Nebraska used Taylor Martinez last year and zone read the Wildcats with Tiller and Shontrelle Johnson for the upset win. Iowa State 21, Kansas State 17

First round:

No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 9 Iowa State: Last year, Oklahoma beat these guys 52-0 in Norman. It won't be that bad this time, but the Sooners return just about everybody (save the secondary) and Iowa State lost its two best players, Austen Arnaud and Robinson. Sometimes, it's just that simple. Oklahoma 48, Iowa State 13

No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 7 Texas Tech: Texas A&M's deep receiving corps has worked together for awhile and can definitely take advantage of Texas Tech's youth in the secondary. The Red Raiders' safeties had a nice spring and did a nice job grasping new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow's system from TCU, but the Aggies just have too many offensive weapons. Another big day for Tannehill, who won't touch his school-record 449 yards like he did last time against Tech in his first career start, but he clears 300 yards. Texas A&M 31, Texas Tech 21

No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Baylor: Baylor got steamrolled in their first big test once they climbed atop the Big 12 South standings, falling behind 34-0 in Stillwater. Both teams bring back loads of talent, and Baylor's defense should be slightly improved, but still learning. Baylor learns from the big-game failures from last year, but Oklahoma State is still the better, more balanced team. Oklahoma State 38, Baylor 35

No. 4: Missouri vs. No. 5 Texas: The one game this round that didn't happen last year, Texas will have a tough time capitalizing on Missouri's two big question marks: Quarterback and secondary. Missouri goes with Tyler Gabbert for most of the game and mixes in James Franklin for a few series with good results. Texas tests the Tigers' deep with a newly aggressive offense, but none of the quarterbacks even came close to completing a deep ball on Sunday. Kip Edwards grabs a couple picks on balls forced into Mike Davis and the Tigers get enough offense for the win. Missouri 27, Texas 14

Semifinals:

No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Missouri: Missouri won't have a raucous crowd or a locker room bent on beating OU for the first time under their current coach this time around. Missouri hangs around early, but the Tigers don't have enough offense. Although Oklahoma is playing without All-Big 12 corner Jamell Fleming, Missouri still doesn't have a deep threat or a quarterback quite comfortable with trying to find one. The Sooners zero in on T.J. Moe and the running game and knock off the Tigers. Oklahoma 31, Missouri 24

No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State: These two weren't separated by much last year, and I'd have loved to see them play one more time. Their 38-35 classic last year was one of the league's best games and both teams look loaded up for another big year. A&M still has defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, but Oklahoma State lost Dana Holgorsen. Bad news? Yes. But the good news for Oklahoma State is Texas A&M is missing three starters from the secondary this spring. Play this thing in July and we might have another classic. But now? Another heartbreak for the Aggies. Oklahoma State 34, Texas A&M 31

Finals:

No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State: Bedlam may very well decide the Big 12 title next November, and it decides our little bracket party here with a spring tournament. Both offenses are breaking in new offensive coordinators, but Oklahoma's Josh Heupel is much more ingrained in the system than Oklahoma State's Todd Monken, who was being taught the offense by the current Cowboys this spring. Both offenses lost big-name running backs, and both have solid replacements in line with depth. Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle at Oklahoma State match up well with Oklahoma's Roy Finch, Brandon Williams and Brennan Clay. Both have receiver depth and Oklahoma State should have an advantage against a young OU secondary. The league's co-Defensive Players of the Year, S Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma and LB Shaun Lewis of Oklahoma State, validate the award with big nights. But Oklahoma State has to convince me that it can win a big game with so much (humor me, here) on the line. It played well in last year's Bedlam but came up short. They're even closer this time, but Oklahoma takes home the title in another classic. Oklahoma 41, Oklahoma State 38 (OT)

Luther, take it away!

Oklahoma Sooners season recap

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
2:03
PM CT

Now, that's more like it.

Oklahoma is back in familiar territory: On top of the Big 12.

It's the Sooners seventh Big 12 title this decade, and it's not entirely unexpected. Along with Nebraska and Texas, Oklahoma was one of the favorites to win the league, and they knocked off the Huskers in the title game to do it.

After a 2009 filled with an unprecedented string of injuries that had fans groaning and coaches working overtime, Oklahoma's disappointing 8-5 season last year is officially in the rear-view mirror.

All those injuries helped the Sooners put together a solid 2010, and perhaps no one was helped more than Landry Jones. The sophomore amassed 10 starts last year, and came back this year looking like a brand-new player -- most of the time, anyway.

Oklahoma's defense proved its worth with solid performances against Oklahoma State and Nebraska, and its secondary, with a pair of first-year starters at cornerback, is extremely underrated. Ryan Broyles did what everyone expected him to do: be consistently productive and grab hold of eight of Oklahoma's nine major receiving records.

Add it all up, and the Sooners finish at 10-2 with a pair of road losses to good teams.

Offensive MVP: Landry Jones, QB. Broyles deserves a look here, but the pick is Jones. His 568 pass attempts were more than any quarterback in college football, and he turned them into 4,289 yards and 35 touchdowns, which both rank second nationally. He also cut down his interceptions. He threw 14 in 449 attempts last year. This year, he had just 11.

Defensive MVP: Jeremy Beal, DE. Beal won the media's Defensive Player of the Year award, and it was well-deserved. He finished with 8.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and 65 tackles. No pass rusher in the Big 12 this year was more disruptive more consistently over the course of the season.

Turning point: The first three quarters at Baylor. Oklahoma was a good team, but didn't look like a team that could even win the South with a trip to Oklahoma State looming. That was until it proved it could take its best game on the road, leading Baylor 53-10 after three quarters and producing two more great performances away from home in wins over Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win the Big 12.

What's next: Probably more of the same. Jones will be back. I'd expect Broyles to leave for the NFL and running back DeMarco Murray's eligibility runs out this year after roughly nine seasons in the Big 12. As great programs do, the Sooners have plenty of talent waiting for its chance. Running back Roy Finch looks like a future star, and receiver Kenny Stills broke Broyles freshman record for receiving yardage this year. Defensively, the Sooners will lose Beal and safeties Quinton Carter and Jonathan Nelson. Travis Lewis might leave for the NFL Draft. But get ready for another generation of Oklahoma defensive stars to make names for themselves next year. Tony Jefferson, Ronnell Lewis, Tom Wort, Jamell Fleming and Corey Nelson could all be household names this time next year.

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