Dallas Colleges: Michael Brewer

Big 12 lunch links

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
11:00
AM CT
This dunk is NICE.

Big 12 QB carousel continues with transfers

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
4:30
PM CT
Now that most FBS schools have wrapped up spring ball, here comes a necessary next step: Transfer season. The dominoes started falling for several Big 12 quarterbacks situations on Wednesday morning.

First came the news that Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel is leaving the Aggies and is eligible to play immediately. The Arlington, Texas, native will have one season left after finishing his undergraduate degree in December. He played in four games last season and threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns.

Might TCU be his most logical destination? The Horned Frogs had been considering transfer options this offseason, including former Texas Tech QB Michael Brewer -- who chose Virginia Tech after the option to transfer inside the Big 12 was blocked -- and Joeckel has two years of experience playing in the kind of high-speed spread offense the Horned Frogs are installing.

Then came another move, perhaps clearing the way for Joeckel: TCU backup quarterback Tyler Matthews is also transferring.

A TCU spokesperson confirmed Matthews' decision, which he also announced on his Twitter account.



As a redshirt freshman, Matthews appeared in four games last season while backing up Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin. So the Horned Frogs' decision, with Pachall now graduated, comes down to Boykin and incoming freshmen Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer. And maybe Joeckel, or another transfer.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, is dealing with its own departures at quarterback. Walk-on backups Tanner Tausch and Mike Richardson are both leaving the program, a spokesperson confirmed.

Tausch is going to focus on academics after one semester with the team. He is a junior-college transfer who threw for 255 yards in Tech’s spring game last Saturday as the No. 2 QB. Richardson is planning to transfer after one semester, leaving Davis Webb as the only quarterback on the roster.

That will change this summer, when touted signee Patrick Mahomes joins the program along with walk-ons Payne Sullins, Hunter Rittimann and Vincent Testaverde, the son of former NFL QB Vinny Testaverde. There's no doubt Mahomes, a two-sport star who also plays baseball at Whitehouse (Texas) High School, will have to assume the backup job this fall.

Of course, Joeckel isn't the only option if these Big 12 coaches go looking for free-agent QBs. Jalen Whitlow is leaving Kentucky, Chad Kelly was dismissed at Clemson, and several more could enter the market in the next month. That's just how it goes now. Quarterbacks don't want to sit on the bench, especially if they aren't in their coach's immediate plans.

Webb's will is critical for Texas Tech

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
1:00
PM CT
Life has changed tremendously for Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb.

Last spring, he was a bright-eyed true freshman experiencing spring football for the first time. This spring, the Red Raiders’ offensive future rests upon his shoulders.

[+] EnlargeDavis Webb
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesDavis Webb set a standard in the Holiday Bowl that he hopes to repeat.
The lone scholarship quarterback on campus, Texas Tech’s future could rest on Webb’s approach to the spring. For the first time in his Red Raiders’ career, the sophomore will have nobody competing with him for playing time, so his will to be great could determine his overall development as a quarterback. The Red Raiders began spring drills last week with Webb, alongside walk-on quarterbacks Tanner Tausch and Mike Richardson after Baker Mayfield's transfer to Oklahoma and Michael Brewer's decision to transfer to Virginia Tech.

“I might not have guys breathing down my neck competing for a job, but I’m treating it like that,” Webb told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The Red Raiders better hope so.

Webb is coming off a stellar first season in which he ranked among the Big 12’s best in Adjusted QBR (82.6, third in Big 12), passing yards (2,718, second in Big 12) and completion percentage (62.6, second in Big 12). He started six games, including his Holiday Bowl MVP performance in Tech’s 37-23 win over Arizona State so he has plenty of game experience and should handle everything as a veteran.

Even though Webb appears to have the starting spot in hand, he still needs to continue to develop if TTU hopes to make a Big 12 title run in 2014. His strong individual performance as a true freshman resulted in only a .500 record as a starter, with wins over ASU, Iowa State, West Virginia and losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

Webb’s development this spring is critical to the Red Raiders’ future success, and it won’t happen unless the sophomore pushes himself to excellence. Davis’ 403 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Sun Devils was a glimpse of his potential, and his goal is to consistently mimic that performance in the future.

“I don’t want that to be the highlight of my Texas Tech career,” Webb told the LAJ. “The Holiday Bowl championship is awesome, but I want more than that.”

Those words should be music to the Red Raiders' ears.

Michael Brewer transferring to Hokies

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2
4:30
PM CT

Former Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer announced Sunday that he's transferring to play for Virginia Tech. Because he'll graduate this spring, Brewer will be eligible immediately with two seasons left to play.

Brewer was projected to start for the Red Raiders last season, but a summer back injury kept him from the playing the first month of the season. When he finally returned from the injury, freshmen Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield had solidified their places on the depth chart ahead of him.

Brewer originally had sought a transfer to TCU or Texas, but Texas Tech denied him a release to transfer within the Big 12.

He will join a wide-open competition at Virginia Tech to replace Logan Thomas. The Hokies have several quarterbacks on scholarship, including fifth-year senior Mark Leal, though none with much experience.

As for the Red Raiders, they will go into the spring with just one scholarship quarterback in Webb. Incoming freshman Patrick Mahomes will immediately become the backup when he arrives on campus in the summer.

Q&A: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
9:00
AM CT
Kliff Kingsbury’s first season as head coach at Texas Tech featured plenty of superlatives. The Red Raiders got off to a torrid start to jump into the top 10 of the polls. Then, after opening 7-0, Texas Tech nosedived with five straight losses to close out the regular season.

Nobody is focusing on the losing streak anymore, though. Not after the Red Raiders hammered Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl in one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season.

As he prepares for the opening of spring practice, Kingsbury took time to speak with ESPN.com about his recruiting class, the impact of the bowl win and the unexpected departure of quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer:

What was the biggest need you wanted to fill in this class?

[+] EnlargeKliff Kingsbury
Brad Davis/Icon SMIKliff Kingsbury brought a youthful excitement to Texas Tech in his first season as head coach.
Kingsbury: We felt like with the starters we were losing on defense, we needed immediate help on that side of the ball. This was a defensively heavy class. We have several jucos who make an impact right away. That was the biggest deal, finding instant impact defensive players, especially defensive linemen to shore up our run defense, which really cost during that five-game (losing) stretch. I felt like we did that.

How did you get Nigel Bethel II (ESPN 300 cornerback) all the way from Miami?

Kingsbury: It was huge. That was a relationship (cornerbacks coach) Kevin Curtis had worked on. He stayed with it even after Nigel committed to Miami. He was a Miami kid, but when he came out to a game, he loved the atmosphere and enjoyed the visit. We played up the fact that we play in a conference that throws more than anyone in the Big 12. We play a lot of man coverage, where you can do your thing. He was excited about getting to do it in the Big 12.

What drew you to your quarterback in this class, Patrick Mahomes?

Kingsbury: He has that playmaking ability. He’s a winner. When you watch his games, he refuses to lose. If it’s fourth-and-8, he’ll run for a first down. He’s still raw at the position, having played three sports his whole life. He hasn’t just focused on football. But we feel like in our system, his mechanics will improve. He’s just scratching the surface of the quarterback he can be. You can’t teach his playmaking ability and ability to extend the play. He’s a fun player to watch.

Mahomes is also a pretty big baseball prospect. What is the plan if he gets drafted high?

Kingsbury: If he’s that type of prospect, and the money is such, we want him to do what’s best for his family and his career. But I know he wants to play college quarterback, and that’s his intention right now. We’ve brought in some walk-on kids, and we’ve had success with that in the past. I feel like even if we don’t have a bunch of scholarship guys, we have depth at the position.

How was pursuing this recruiting class different from your first one at Tech?

Kingsbury: When we came in late last year, everything was more on blind faith. We had to tell kids what we were going to be, what was coming. At least we had a product this year they could see. They could watch our games, see our coaches, see our stands, see our uniforms. We actually had a product to sell. The reception has been good. They see we’re here with a purpose, that this university is something special to us.

How critical was the bowl win to changing the tenor of the offseason?

Kingsbury: It was huge. We knew during that stretch we didn’t play good football. We had minuses in turnover margin and all the penalties. We didn’t play our game. But for an entire month, we focused on what got us to 7-0. Really got back to the basics. We didn’t let (the players) go home. And they bought into it and worked hard and wanted to win the bowl game. And they did. There’s a different vibe around this facility, and everyone is excited about starting spring ball.

What did you think of Davis Webb's bowl-game performance?

[+] EnlargeDavis Webb
Donald Miralle/Getty ImagesKliff Kingsbury expects quarterback Davis Webb to make a leap as a sophomore.
Kingsbury: The success he had in that bowl game against one of the top defenses showed what he can be. He endured not being named the starter, battled, and worked to be the starter. When his opportunity came, when his name was called, he made the most of it. He has a tremendous skill set, and without having any competition this spring to push him, it’s on him to see how good he can be.

Where can he improve the most?

Kingsbury: The biggest thing with Davis was just the big mistake throughout the game. The three-four plays he made that you just can’t make. You can throw for a bunch of yards, but it’s those three-four catastrophic plays you’ve got to avoid. But he’ll get there. That comes with growing up and being a true freshman.

You’ve had two quarterbacks (Mayfield and Brewer) leave since the end of the regular season. Is there anything you would have done differently with them?

Kingsbury: No, I wouldn’t. I feel like I’ve always had great relationships with all the quarterbacks I’ve coached. Unfortunately those situations didn’t work out. I had great relationships with them. I think if you asked them, they’d say they enjoyed playing for me. For some reason, it didn’t work out. I’ll be pulling for them the rest of their careers. But as far as doing something different -- the season was what it was.

It seemed to me like both times you were surprised by their decisions. Is that accurate?

Kingsbury: In both cases, I didn’t see it coming. It was news to me when it did come. In talking to them both wanted a fresh start. I’m not going to hold it against them if they want to go somewhere else to play. We want kids that want to be here and want to be at Texas Tech.

It seems like Texas Tech fans want to know how you’re going to replace Jace Amaro. Obviously you can’t replace a player like that. But how do you plan to replace his production?

Kingsbury: We’ll just have a different look on offense. He was such a big target, a tough matchup on defense. If you got the ball close to his frame, he’d pull it in. He was great in run-game blocking. You just don’t replace a first-team All-American tight end who broke the (FBS tight end) receiving record. So we’ll be a little smaller, but with more speed. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back who have made a lot of catches here.

Even though he hasn't played much, do you think Reginald Davis be a difference maker for you next season?

Kingsbury: I do. He’s a kid that came from a smaller class in high school. He played quarterback there, so he’s still learning the nuances of playing wide receiver. But his skill set is tremendous. He’s a great athlete; has great football knowledge. He showed flashes all last year. We’re going to find ways to get him the ball. He’s had a great offseason so far, and we’re expecting big things from him next year.

I know you guys have applied for a medical redshirt to get one last season for (starting right tackle) Rashad Fortenberry (who only played in three games in 2012 when he had back issues). Have you heard anything yet?

Kingsbury: Think the date is the beginning of March. That’s when we’ll know.

What about your other tackle, Le'Raven Clark (All-Big 12 as a sophomore) -- can he be an NFL starter down the line?

Kingsbury: He definitely has the potential. He’s a guy that continues to get better. He’s beginning to understand how good he can be. We’re excited about the offensive line we have coming back. We’ve got guys that have played in big games. We’re bringing in some junior college tackles that can play right away. I think we’ll see a big improvement up front. We didn’t run the ball as much as we should have. We didn’t protect the quarterbacks very well, either.

What were your thoughts on the proposed rule changes to slow down the game?

Kingsbury: I hated it, obviously. I’ve been confused why it was even brought up. To throw it on players’ safety is ridiculous. There’s no data that says anything about high-tempo offenses causing more injuries. I’m baffled by it a bit, but I don’t think it’s going to pass.

Why didn’t you participate in the slam-dunk contest with some of your players last week?

Kingsbury: I didn’t want to end up on SportsCenter’s Not Top Ten.

TTU, former QB dispute handling of injury

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
2:45
PM CT
Former Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer is unhappy with how his sophomore season turned out. Brewer, who decided to transfer in January, told Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal he believes the Red Raiders misdiagnosed his back injury, which forced him to miss the first four games of the season, and were unclear about his potential playing time. Brewer’s comments came after Texas Tech denied his appeal to transfer to Texas or TCU without restriction.
“I was diagnosed in June -- misdiagnosed, actually -- which set me back even further. They let me start to practice the beginning of two-a-days when I wasn’t supposed to, which set me back again. It was just small things like that which continually set me back.” Brewer told the LAJ.

Texas Tech disputed Brewer’s statements.
“The well-being of our student-athletes is something we take very seriously, and we would never jeopardize the health of any student-athlete. Within a month of Michael’s injury, Texas Tech sent him to a specialist, and he was under the care of that specialist from that point forward until his release,” Texas Tech spokesperson Blaine Beal told the LAJ.

Regardless, Brewer joins Baker Mayfield as departed Tech quarterbacks who were unhappy with how the quarterback competition was handled and leaves the Red Raiders quarterback position in flux. Recent signee Patrick Mahomes will have to be ready to play immediately with Davis Webb as the lone scholarship quarterback on the roster.

“We told him to get ready to come in,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “It's a unique situation. We only have one scholarship quarterback on the roster, get ready to come in and compete and play right away.”

And the worst-case scenario could emerge and leave the quarterback position in shambles this summer. Mahomes, the son of former major league baseball player Pat Mahomes, could have his name called early enough in the 2014 MLB Draft to make him consider signing to play professional baseball instead of playing football in Lubbock.

“He wants to come to college, but you never know how the money is going to be,” Kingsbury said.

Midway through the 2013 season, it seemed like quarterback concerns would be the last thing at the forefront of Kingsbury’s mind with two quality true freshmen in Webb and Mayfield alongside Brewer in the quarterback competition. Now, with spring football on the horizon, the Red Raiders are one Webb injury and one Mahomes decision away from complete disaster.

Brewer's transfer means Webb stands alone

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
2:28
PM CT
Welcome to the Davis Webb show, Texas Tech.

Quarterback Michael Brewer announced his plans to transfer from Texas Tech on Wednesday, leaving Davis Webb as the lone Red Raiders signal-caller with any game experience to return for the 2014 season.

Webb seemingly cemented his hold on the starting quarterback job during TTU’s 37-23 win over Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl. He was 28-of-41 for 403 yards and four touchdowns, tying a Holiday Bowl record in the Red Raiders’ upset of the Sun Devils. The true freshman looked confident and efficient in the bowl game, showing he had continued to grow and develop during his first season in Lubbock. Webb finished the season 226-of-361 for 2,718 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions and his 82.6 adjusted QBR was third in the Big 12 behind Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf.

While it’s good news for Webb, Brewer’s decision is not ideal for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders opened fall camp with a three-headed quarterback competition last August. Now Brewer joins Baker Mayfield as TTU quarterbacks who chose to transfer after the season despite taking snaps for Kliff Kingsbury’s squad in 2013. Thus, Webb will have minimal competition in the spring with walk-on quarterback Collin Bowen as the only other quarterback on the roster.

And lack of competition is never a good thing, particularly for young players. Webb, with Kingsbury’s help, will have to push himself to continue to develop, but part of the reason TTU was able to finish second nationally in passing yards was the competition in 2013. Those three pushed each other to greater heights than they likely would have reached on their own and the Red Raiders posted a surprising 8-5 record in the process.

Moving forward, Whitehouse (Texas) quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the Red Raiders’ lone quarterback commitment and is set to join Webb and Bowen on the roster in 2014. Even if they think the three-star prospect will adapt quickly to the level of play required in the Big 12, Kingsbury and Co. undoubtedly will try to sign another quarterback in this recruiting class with their quarterback numbers again taking a hit.

Brewer, Webb could separate themselves

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
3:00
PM CT
It’s audition time.

The quarterback position at Texas Tech is in flux. Big 12 offensive freshman of the year Baker Mayfield elected to transfer after the regular season, a back injury sidelined Michael Brewer for the majority of the year and Davis Webb has had an up and down freshman campaign.

[+] EnlargeWebb
John Weast/Getty ImagesTexas Tech quarterback Davis Webb threw for 2,315 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a true freshman this season.
When the Red Raiders kick off in Monday night’s National University Holiday Bowl against Arizona State (10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), Webb and Brewer are both likely to play. TTU coach Kliff Kingsbury declined to name a starter during bowl preparations but said he expects to see both quarterbacks against the Sun Devils.

“We'll let them trot out there and y'all will see when everybody else sees,” Kingsbury said. “We jumped back to the basics and did a re-install after the bowl announcement and they have looked good. I'm excited to see 'em both play on Monday.”

Many look at bowl games like this and think they are meaningless.

For Webb and Brewer, it’s far from meaningless. It’s a big opportunity. Their futures and college careers could be changed with a dynamic performance.

Brewer could be the most intriguing of the two. He was the favorite to start after last spring before a preseason back injury handcuffed his 2013 season. The sophomore returned late in the season and had a solid showing in mop-up duty during the season finale against Texas. The offseason favorite to start could re-establish himself as the favorite to start for the Red Raiders next fall with a big game against ASU.

Although Brewer has been in the program for three seasons, Webb holds the clear game experience advantage. He played in nine games, starting five, during his first collegiate season. Webb was 198 of 320 for 2,315 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His 77.6 adjusted QBR was third in the Big 12, behind Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf. The true freshman has impressed Kingsbury with the development of his leadership skills.

“It's been night and day, I think, just his leadership role,” Kingsbury said. “It’s hard coming in there at 18 years old and trying to take over that huddle with a bunch of 22-, 23-year-old seniors, but as he's played and shown what he's about. I think the team has bought in that he will do whatever it takes to try and help us win. That's been a great asset of his.”

It would seem that Webb is the easy choice as the quarterback of the future. He’s younger and has more game experience. But Brewer was the Red Raiders’ best quarterback last spring and will have two years of eligibility left heading into the 2014 season.

Even with the Red Raiders’ quarterback position manned by two true freshmen in Mayfield and Webb this season, TTU led the Big 12 and was second among FBS teams with 392 passing yards per game.

“It's been a unique year throughout with what happened with Brewer, who had a great spring and a lot of people expected him to be the starter, and you're playing two freshmen,” Kingsbury said. “It's been mentally tough on the quarterbacks, and I can understand that.”

Kingsbury just hopes Webb and Brewer take the learning lessons from this season, particularly during TTU’s five-game losing streak to end the year, and carry that knowledge into the Holiday Bowl. A big performance from either quarterback could give that signal-caller a leg up in the battle to lead the Red Raiders offense into 2014.

“I think they have both grown a lot and they will be better for it,” Kingsbury said. “I don't think it unsettled any of them, and I think they saw it as a challenge and continued to compete this past month.”

And the competition continues Monday night.

National University Holiday Bowl preview

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
12:00
PM CT
Arizona State (10-3) and Texas Tech (7-5) square off Monday night in San Diego in the National University Holiday Bowl at 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Here’s a quick preview:

What to watch: There is a good chance, a very good chance actually, that this game could turn into a track meet. The Sun Devils average 41 points per game -- 10th in the country -- and Texas Tech isn’t too shabby offensively either, averaging almost 36 points per game. Which defense is going to step up and make a play? Arizona State seems the more likely option of the two. Texas Tech gives up 31.2 points per game while the Sun Devils only give up 25.8. The Sun Devils also have a plus-14 turnover margin with 21 interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 54.7 percent of their passes against ASU.

Who to watch: The big question is who will start at quarterback for Texas Tech -- Davis Webb or Michael Brewer. This all came about after Baker Mayfield, in a strange turn of events, announced after the season that he was transferring. There's also a chance we could see both QBs. For the Sun Devils, it looks doubtful that Marion Grice will play, meaning the bulk of the running work falls on D.J. Foster. Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton is an All-American and the Pac-12’s two-time defensive player of the year. Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is also an All-American with more than 1,200 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Why to watch: The Holiday Bowl is traditionally one of the more exciting games of the postseason. Since its inception in 1978, 17 of the 35 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and 20 of the games were decided in the final four minutes. This is also the last year that it will keep ties with the Big 12. Next year one of the top tier teams from the Big Ten will be paired against the Pac-12.

Prediction: Arizona State 42, Texas Tech 24.

Chat wrap: TCU, BCS, Tech's chances

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
2:00
PM CT
Below is sampling of today's Big 12 football chat (the full transcript is here):

Jacob Major (Yukon, Oklahoma): With everybody against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, does that put more pressure on Alabama to come out and preform? And if so, does Oklahoma come to play with a bad attitude and leave everything on the field to make it closer than people think or win the game?

Jake Trotter: The pressure only swings to Alabama if the game is close in the second half. I said the same thing before Bedlam, that if the game was tight in the fourth quarter, the pressure would be on OSU. That's what happened, and OU, the looser team, prevailed.

@raiderrantings (TX): Jake, how will the Big 12 finish the bowl season? Does Tech have a chance against the Sun Devils? Thanks!

Jake Trotter: It's not looking great for the Big 12. Three double digit underdogs. I think 4-2 would be an excellent bowl season. 5-1 might require a minor miracle. Tech has a chance. But the Red Raiders have got to protect the QB (Michael Brewer?) and they can't turn in over in droves like they have all season.

Chris (Lafayette, LA): I wanna hear some REAL options for Texas to replace Mack Brown...none of this pie-in-the-sky nonsense about Jimbo Fisher, Les Miles, etc...

Jake Trotter: Are we sure Jimbo Fisher is pie in the sky? I don't know. Here's one very realistic name: James Franklin.

RJ (OK): When did Oklahoma DE Geno "Juh-Nay-Oh" Grissom's name become "Gino"? Drives me nuts when the TV commentators call him that (unless somehow he corrected it at some point, used to be "juh-nay-oh").

Jake Trotter: Here's a funny story... Lee Roy Selmon -- the greatest player in OU football history -- had his name spelled LeRoy in the newspapers, programs, everything, all through college. Selmon was too nice to correct them. To this day, if you read anything archived about Selmon at OU, his first name is always spelled wrong.

Chris Fiegler (Latham, NY): Merry Christmas!! What bowl game will you be attending?

Jake Trotter: My bowl assignment is a good one -- the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Heading down to the Big Easy this weekend.

The Tarp (Wacko): What does it say about Baylor that they could not sell their allotment of tickets to the Fiesta Bowl? Will I get to make an appearance?

Jake Trotter: This is not all that uncommon. It's hard for most programs to sell 17,000 tickets to an offsite game. Ohio State is having a hard a time selling its allotment to the Orange Bowl. And for teams like Central Florida? Going to a BCS game actually results in a financial hit because of ticket sales. That's what happened to UConn in 2010. One of the many reasons why the BCS is/was a flawed system.

Mitch Connors (FW): Actually, TCU did have the No. 1 D in conference, even though you said they didn't in the mailbag the other day. It's called doing your due diligence as a journalist. Something I guess y'all don't know how to do.

Jake Trotter: It's called having an opinion, Mitch. In MY opinion, TCU did not have the best defense this year. Oklahoma State did. The Cowboys led the league in points per drive, yards per play, red zone defense, turnovers forced... I could go on. The only reason TCU ranked ahead of them in TOTAL defense is because the OSU D had to defend more possessions, because of Mike Gundy's offensive style. In OSU's two losses, the Cowboys gave up three offensive touchdowns combined. You can have your opinion, but no need to get insulting.

Howard (Houston): With TCU falling so far and their recruiting not keeping up to the rest of the Big 12, what's the answer to getting back to respectability? Bad move to this conference?

Jake Trotter: Is TCU's recruiting that bad? I know they don't have a lot of guys committed, but they do have some good ones. QB Foster Sawyer, for example, who had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma State. TCU also just hired one of the best recruiters in the Big 12 in Sonny Cumbie. They'll be fine.

Ed (Queens Village): What is best non-BCS game involving Big 12?

Jake Trotter: Oklahoma State-Missouri is a pretty good one.

Howard (Houston): FYI Jake, on the Fiesta, the allotment tickets to Baylor were terrible. I got really great tix from secondary market for half the price. That affects the allotment numbers significantly. Just shows Baylor alum (much smaller than most Big 12 schools) used their degree.

Jake Trotter: Fair enough. Although, several Baylor fans tweeted/emailed me the same thing after it was reported the school returned all but 700 of their tickets for the Oklahoma State game. I was in Stillwater for that game. And it didn't look like there were many more than 700 wearing gold and green in the stands.

Mitch Connors (FW): My apologies on the insult earlier. I was under the impression that you weren't stating an opinion and saying the stats showed OSU No. 1. Trying to find moral victories for the season, but it's getting better watching Baylor fail at attending a BCS bowl.

Jake Trotter: No worries. TCU actually could be in for a bounce-back season in 2014, if they can find the answer at QB. I like those 2 freshmen they have coming in, though.

Big 12 bowl players to watch

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
9:00
AM CT
Here are five key players to watch from the Big 12 this bowl season:

Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert

AT&T Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri

[+] EnlargeSaunders
Richard Rowe/USA TODAY SportsJalen Saunders' big-play ability will be much needed against Alabama.
The Jim Thorpe Award finalist and consensus All-American will be matched up against one of the rising pass-catching stars in college football in Dorial Green-Beckham. "DGB" finished just ninth in the SEC in receiving but exploded in the SEC championship game with 144 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He also had four touchdown catches in one game earlier in the season. If Gilbert can take away Missouri’s top downfield threat, the rest of the Oklahoma State defense can zero in on stopping running back Henry Josey and pressuring quarterback James Franklin.

Gilbert has made himself quite a bit of future money by coming back to school for what has been a banner senior season. He could make even more blanketing the physical, 6-foot-6 Green-Beckham.

Oklahoma receiver/returner Jalen Saunders

Allstate Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama

In many ways, the Sooners don’t match up well with Alabama, which was on track to advance to a fourth national championship game in five seasons before a dramatic loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

But Oklahoma does have an X factor in Saunders, whose versatile playmaking could keep the two-touchdown underdog Sooners in the game.

In the upset victory over Oklahoma State that pushed Oklahoma into the Sugar, Saunders had a 61-yard punt return touchdown, a 37-yard reverse rush that set up another score and a game-winning, 7-yard touchdown grab in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds remaining.

If Saunders can also pull off big plays on special teams and reel in clutch receptions, Oklahoma just might be able to hang around with the Crimson Tide.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. Central Florida

In the summer, Seastrunk declared he was "going to win the Heisman" this season. While Seastrunk rushed for more than 1,000 yards and Baylor led the nation in offense, Seastrunk didn’t have the kind of individual season he had gunned for, due in part to a midseason groin strain.

Will that prompt Seastrunk to come back for his senior season, or will the Fiesta be his final college game? According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Seastrunk grades out somewhere around a third-round pick. The Fiesta could be a chance for Seastrunk to improve his stock.

Or it could be a chance for him to build toward a more serious Heisman campaign in 2014.

Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer

National University Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona State

The ongoing Texas Tech quarterback competition was reduced by one last week, when freshman Baker Mayfield elected to transfer. That could open the door for Brewer to finally regain a stranglehold on the position.

Brewer was the offseason favorite to win the job. Then, he suffered a summer back injury and, after returning to practice in October, was never able to shake off enough rust to catch up with Mayfield and Davis Webb.

These bowl practices, however, should give Brewer plenty of snaps to return to form, and if he gets the starting nod over Webb, he could take the job for good with a solid showing against Arizona State.

Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Michigan

The junior college transfer was one of the most improved players in the Big 12 from beginning to end. After struggling during the nonconference and early portion of the league schedule, Waters helped fuel K-State’s surge the second half of the season. In fact, in the Wildcats’ only loss (Oklahoma) after Oct. 12, Waters still passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns.

The Wildcats will need another big game out of Waters against Michigan. They’ll also need him to take care of the ball, too. The Wolverines have been up and down defensively, but with 17 interceptions, they feature one of the better ball-hawking defensive backfields in the country.

Big 12 unsung heroes: Week 14

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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Here are the Big 12's unsung heroes in Week 14:

Safety Orion Stewart, Baylor: As the injury bug hit the Bears defense, Stewart has stepped up during his redshirt freshman season. He quietly led Baylor with eight tackles and added an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown in his team’s 41-38 win over TCU. He’s an example of the improved depth and playmaking ability the Bears have recruited to the program. His 12-tackle outing against Oklahoma State gives him 20 total tackles in Baylor’s last two games.

Linebacker Michael Reynolds, Kansas: The Jayhawks junior linebacker was very solid in KU’s 31-10 loss to Kansas State. Reynolds finished with six tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. It was the third time in the last six games he has recorded at least five tackles.

[+] EnlargeDylan Schellenberg
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsKansas State DB Dylan Schellenberg had a pair of takeaways in the Sunflower Showdown.
Safety Dylan Schellenberg, Kansas State: Replacing Ty Zimmerman isn’t easy. Yet Schellenberg was outstanding in Zimmerman’s spot during KSU’s 31-10 win over Kansas. He finished with nine tackles including five solo stops, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery and one interception. He was a constant thorn in the Jayhawks’ side during the Sunflower Showdown.

Safety Jacques Washington, Iowa State: The senior was outstanding in his final game as a Cyclone. He led the squad with eight tackles, including six solo stops, along with two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Washington’s fourth quarter interception helped ISU tie the game at 38 and send it into overtime in the Cyclones’ 52-44 win.

Cornerback Duke Thomas, Texas: Overlooked as Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed combined to record six sacks, Thomas finished with six tackles including two tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. The sophomore was constantly around the ball in the Longhorns’ 41-16 win over Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night. His speed and athleticism should be an asset on UT’s defense for the next two seasons.

Running back B.J. Catalon, TCU: The sophomore was one of the Horned Frogs' most explosive playmakers this season and ended the year with 163 all-purpose yards in his team’s 41-38 loss to Baylor. Catalon had 11 carries for 93 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry, but he did have a fumble. Nonetheless, he’s a solid piece for TCU’s offense to build upon in 2014.

Quarterback Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Brewer saw limited action in mop-up duty during the Red Raiders’ 41-16 loss to Texas. Yet he provided some hope for the future by completing 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to be TTU’s starter before a back injury derailed his season, but his performance in the fourth quarter showed the Red Raiders could have three quality options at the quarterback position heading into their bowl game and the 2014 season, raising the overall competition at the position, which is never a bad thing.

Safety Jeremy Tyler, West Virginia: The performance of the true freshman should be a bright spot for Mountaineers fans after watching their squad squander a 38-21 fourth-quarter lead against Iowa State. Tyler had 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, along with 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in WVU’s 52-44 overtime loss. He entered the game with seven tackles in the first 11 games.

Ranking the Big 12's top 25 quarterbacks

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
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Naming the best quarterback in the Big 12 is easy. Deciding who's second-best right now is near-impossible. So we went a step further: Why not rank them all?

This continues to be been a strange, unpredictable year for Big 12 quarterbacks. We’ve already seen 18 start at least two games. Only three schools -- Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State -- have started the same guy for every game, and even they've used multiple quarterbacks.

The following rankings judged how these QBs are playing right now as well as their full 2013 resumes. Deciding where to slot injured passers was tricky. You might not agree with all or any of these rankings, but this is how we'd size up the competition after nine weeks:

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesConsidering how well he's run Baylor's high-scoring offense and the fact he leads the Big 12 in nearly every passing statistic, there is no debate that Bryce Petty is the Big 12's top QB.
1. Bryce Petty, Baylor: Best passer in the Big 12 by nearly every statistical measure, first in FBS in yards per attempt, TD-INT ratio of 18-1 and it's only his first season of starting. The gap between No. 1 and everyone else on this list right now is tremendous. -- Max Olson

2. Case McCoy, Texas: The career backup has been a huge part of Texas' resurgence. In wins over Oklahoma and TCU, McCoy has Adjusted QBRs of 83.9 and 95.4. -- Jake Trotter

3. Davis Webb, Texas Tech: Webb hasn’t been perfect but he’s averaging 420.67 passing yards and 5.67 completions of 20 yards or more in TTU’s past three games. He’s been very solid for a true freshman. -- Brandon Chatmon

4. Daniel Sams, Kansas State: He might be too high at No. 4, but Sams is the best athlete of the bunch and already has 538 rushing yards on just 100 carries. Still has plenty to prove as a passer. -- MO

5. Blake Bell, Oklahoma: Great against Texas Tech and Notre Dame, bad against Texas. Has promising moments as a passer, firm grasp on the job and a chance to prove he's league's second-best QB. -- MO

6. Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech: The walk-on made waves while leading the Red Raiders to a 5-0 start before a knee injury sidelined him, but he threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his final three starts before the injury. -- BC

7. Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf finally has the job again, but he'll have to complete more passes to keep it. His completion percentage this year is less than 50 percent. -- JT

8. David Ash, Texas: Ash is throwing again, and could be cleared to return soon. But will he resume his starting role? The way McCoy is performing, probably not. -- JT

9. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State: His combination of moxie and leadership is hard to deny but his struggles connecting on deep passes led to Chelf replacing him in the starting lineup. He remains a valuable piece as the disposal of Mike Gundy’s squad, however. -- BC

10. Jake Waters, Kansas State: Juco transfer is starting to get the hang of Big 12 ball and his own offense, and coming off an impressive showing against West Virginia. -- MO

11. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall has only played in seven games over the last two seasons. It would be difficult for anyone to overcome that level of rust. -- JT

12. Clint Trickett, West Virginia: Trickett’s season has mimicked the roller coaster nature of WVU’s offense, but he did lead the Mountaineers to a win over Oklahoma State, the highlight of their season. -- BC

13. Seth Russell, Baylor: Getting mop-up time and experience in every game this season and has 427 yards on 60 percent passing. Would he start for a couple Big 12 teams? -- MO

14. Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State: Richardson has been banged up all year, and it's shown. At some point, the Cyclones may be forced to go with the healthier option in Grant Rohach. -- JT

15. Jake Heaps, Kansas: The BYU transfer just can’t seem to find any confidence or rhythm for the Jayhawks passing attack, forcing Charlie Weis to start drastically experimenting with KU’s offense. -- BC

16. Trevone Boykin, TCU: Dual-threat sophomore has his moments, but five touchdowns and nine turnovers in 2013. Back to backing up Pachall and could play some receiver. -- MO

17. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: Knight won the job out of camp, but lost it to Bell two games in after moving the chains ineffectively. Bell's performance against Texas Tech means Knight will remain on the sidelines. -- JT

18. Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Generally expected to be the Red Raiders starter heading into fall camp, Brewer has been surpassed by the true freshman quarterbacks. -- BC

19. Paul Millard, West Virginia: Started first two games for the Mountaineers before losing his job, got another chance late against K-State. -- MO

20. Ford Childress, West Virginia: The freshman quarterbacked West Virginia's worst performance of the year, a 37-0 loss to Maryland, before suffering a pectoral injury that could keep him out the rest of the year. -- JT

21. Grant Rohach, Iowa State: He’s come off the bench to replace Sam Richardson in ISU’s last two games but has yet to surpass 100 passing yards in the game. -- BC

22. Montell Cozart, Kansas: True freshman is now splitting snaps with Heaps and got half the reps against Baylor. Can make plays in the run game and be a spark. -- MO

23. Michael Cummings, Kansas: Cummings started five games in 2012 but has lost the No. 2 spot to Cozart, and is unlikely to play much going forward with Heaps also part of the offense. -- JT

24. Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: The 6-foot-4, 245-pound true freshman made his debut on Saturday and is a talented rusher, but he didn't attempt a pass. If McCoy goes down, he'll have to take over. -- MO

25. Tyler Matthews, TCU: The Horned Frogs got so desperate for production they turned to the redshirt freshman on multiple occasions, yet he’s seen very limited game reps and hasn't completed a pass this season. -- BC

Big 12 Week 8 primer

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
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Texas Tech will attempt to avoid the same fate it handed West Virginia last season, TCU and Oklahoma State will look to jump back into the Big 12 race, Oklahoma will try to bounce back from last week’s disaster and Iowa State will hope to somehow slow Baylor:

Those, among others, will be the storylines to watch in Week 8 of the Big 12:

[+] EnlargeEric Ward
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsEric Ward is one of several Texas Tech wide receivers that are dangerous after the catch.
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 11 a.m. CT (FS1): Despite the juggling at quarterback, Texas Tech is the second-highest scoring offense in the Big 12. One major reason why is that the Tech pass catchers are averaging 214 yards after the reception per game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that’s second-best among teams from BCS conferences. As long as Davis Webb (or Baker Mayfield or Michael Brewer) continue spreading the ball around and avoid the big turnover, the Red Raiders stand a good chance of improving to 7-0.

TCU at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. CT (FOX): Two struggling offenses face off against one another in what essentially is a de facto Big 12 title elimination game. The Cowboys are coming off an open week in which they emphasized getting back on track offensively, but TCU features the best defense in the Big 12 led by the league’s best defensive player, cornerback Jason Verrett. The Horned Frogs will likely bring the heat on Oklahoma State QB J.W. Walsh, who is completing just 36 percent of his passes against the blitz. That’s 18 percentage points below the FBS average, according to ESPN Stats & Info. If the Frogs can get to Walsh, they’ll figure to have a shot in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma at Kansas, 2:30 p.m. CT (ESPN): This week, Charlie Weis relinquished some of his power in the offensive game-planning to his assistants. The Jayhawks are last in the league in scoring but have talent in QB Jake Heaps and running back James Sims. If Kansas can jump to the kind of first-quarter lead it held against Texas Tech two weeks ago, then it has a chance to make this a 60-minute game. The Oklahoma defense is adjusting to life without two of its best three players, linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who are both out for the season. The Oklahoma offense, meanwhile, has yet to score more than 20 points in a Big 12 game this season.

Iowa State at Baylor, 7 p.m. CT (ESPNU): The Cyclones have made opposing offenses earn their touchdowns this season. Iowa State is one of only 11 FBS teams that have not allowed a touchdown in three plays or less. That figures to change against Baylor, though. The Bears have already scored 12 touchdowns in three plays or less this season, which, according to ESPN Stats & Info, leads the nation. Even though Kansas State limited Baylor to half its scoring average last week, the Bears still scored a pair of touchdowns on two-play drives.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 8

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
10:15
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Baylor seeks to reach 6-0 while Oklahoma looks to bounce back big; TCU and Oklahoma State fight for their Big 12 title hopes, and we’ve got a battle of mentor versus apprentice in Morgantown. Add all that up and it could be a sneaky fun weekend in Big 12 country.

[+] EnlargeKliff Kingsbury
AP Photo/LM OteroKliff Kingsbury will bring his undefeated Texas Tech team against West Virginia and his mentor Dana Holgorsen.
Here’s what to watch in the Big 12 for Week 8:

1. Can TCU turn its season around this weekend? With games at No. 21 Oklahoma State and against Texas up next, the Horned Frogs are in serious danger of starting this season 3-5. Who would’ve expected that from the preseason No. 3 team in the Big 12? TCU has yet to win consecutive games in 2013 and is coming off a five-turnover performance in a close victory over Kansas. Play that sloppily in the next two weeks and a turnaround will definitely be hard to come by.

2. Oklahoma’s offensive plan following the Texas loss. Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has admitted he would’ve tweaked a few things about how the Sooners offense approached Texas last week, including in the quarterback run game. What changes does he have planned this week, and what will OU do to get Blake Bell back on track? Its talented receivers had a hard time making an impact against Texas, and none of the running backs was able to take over. Let’s see who emerges as a go-to guy against Kansas.

3. Will J.W. Walsh get the critics off his back? Oklahoma State fans, dissatisfied by some recent struggles by the Cowboys offense, are starting to turn on Walsh. Backup Clint Chelf essentially lost the starting job just six pass attempts into the season, and if the Pokes stumble again, a faction of their fan base will demand he get another chance. It’s time for Walsh to step up and prove he’s the right passer to lead OSU back into the Big 12 title discussion.

4. Can Iowa State slow down the Baylor tempo? One of the more impressive stats from last weekend was Kansas State holding Baylor’s offense to 58 plays, almost 23 fewer than the Bears’ season average and one week after BU ran 94 against West Virginia. Good luck scoring 70 points on 58 plays. Texas Tech kept the Cyclones defense on the field for 101 plays last Saturday. That’s a tough spot no matter who you play.

5. How good can Oklahoma State’s defense be? Coach Mike Gundy made a bold claim this week: This Cowboys defense is the best Oklahoma State has had during his nine-year tenure. Let’s see if this unit can back that up against TCU in what could end up being a low-scoring affair. OSU has a Big 12-best plus-7 turnover margin this season and should be able to contain Trevone Boykin.

[+] EnlargeJ.W. Walsh
AP Photo/Eric GayOklahoma State needs J.W. Walsh to step up this weekend to keep its Big 12 title hopes alive.
6. West Virginia’s defense tries to clean up the Baylor mess. Nearly two weeks have passed since West Virginia gave up 73 points and 872 total yards in getting utterly destroyed by the prolific Baylor attack. Will a bye week and extra prep time mean the Mountaineers stand a chance against another pass-happy offense in Texas Tech?

7. Does Michael Brewer make an impact this week? Brewer, the presumed starter for Texas Tech before getting injured this summer, is back and got his first game action late in Tech’s blowout win over Kansas. But he has yet to attempt a pass this season while backing up Davis Webb. Maybe he’ll finally get his chance in Morgantown.

8. Will Charlie Weis’ new coaching plan pay dividends? This week, Charlie Weis gave up some of his duties as offensive coordinator by putting Ron Powlus in charge of the passing game and Jeff Blasko in charge of the run game. It’s possible the results won’t emerge for another few weeks -- especially with OU on the schedule this weekend -- but Weis is hoping he can help KU’s skill players more now. We’ll see if that change makes an immediate difference.

9. Kingsbury versus Holgorsen: Who ya got? Dana Holgorsen was responsible for getting Kliff Kingsbury his first job at Houston in 2008. They even used to live together. Now they’re facing off for their first time in their careers. You can bet both are looking forward to finding out just what kind of tricks each coach will have up his sleeve on offense this week.

10. Seastrunk starts a new Sea-Streak. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk’s streak of eight straight games with 100-plus rushing yards came to an end against Kansas State. So did his run of six straight games with rushing scores. He had his quietest day since going for 30 yards on seven totes in Baylor’s last game against Iowa State. Might he be in for his first career 20-carry day this time around?

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