Dallas Colleges: taylor martinez
Here are the rest of the position rankings.
Now that we've finished ranking the complete units, we'll start ranking the top 10 at each position very soon leading into the 2011 season.
This is a decent position for the Big 12 this season, and the top half of the league should feel pretty good about their group. There aren't many studs in this group, but there are a whole lot of solid players.
2. Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's defensive tackles are somewhat suspect, but the defensive end combo of Ronnell Lewis (provided he is eligible come fall camp) and Frank Alexander is on par with the best in the Big 12. Both were preseason All-Big 12 selections, but Jamarkus McFarland needs to make good on his potential. Stacy McGee and Casey Walker should both get time at the other tackle spot.
3. Texas -- Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is loaded with potential as the nation's former No. 1 recruit. He had a big impact early last season before being slowed by an ankle injury. Alex Okafor moved outside from defensive tackle just before spring and had five sacks in the spring game. Inside, Kheeston Randall is an All-Big 12 favorite, but Ashton Dorsey had a strong spring and could help out with Reggie Wilson opposite Randall.
4. Texas A&M -- The Aggies have one of the best linemen in the league in Tony Jerod-Eddie, but Jonathan Mathis, Eddie Brown Jr. and Ben Bass have a lot to prove around him after the loss of Lucas Patterson, who was outstanding in 2010.
5. Texas Tech -- Sam Fehoko has moved to defensive end from middle linebacker, and should provide some good speed to the front line. Scott Smith looked on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last season, but was suspended for the remainder of the season by coach Tommy Tuberville and has yet to be officially reinstated. For now, Dartwan Bush and Aundrey Barr will help out at defensive end, outside of Donald Langley, Kerry Hyder and Pearlie Graves. The Red Raiders did snatch a big pickup from departed UNC signee Delvon Simmons, a defensive tackle that could have an impact immediately.
6. Oklahoma State -- Defensive line is the biggest weak spot for the Cowboys, who have a decent set of ends in Jamie Blatnick and former heralded recruit Richetti Jones, but an even bigger question mark at defensive tackle where Christian Littlehead and Nigel Nicholas enter fall camp as starters.
7. Kansas -- Top rusher turned defensive end Toben Opurum came on strong late last season and should be one of the most exciting Jayhawks to watch in 2011, but the rest of the line leaves a bit to be desired. Keba Agostino has the other starting spot at defensive end ahead of Pat Lewandowski, who had a great spring. Patrick Dorsey and John Williams enter fall camp as starters at defensive tackles.
8. Kansas State -- K-State recruited this position hard in its 2011 class. For now, defensive end Brandon Harold will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2010 after a promising 2009. Lance Dunbar and Taylor Martinez think this group is ranked too high, but Meshak Williams could start opposite Harold, while Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry should be the tackles inside.
9. Baylor -- Tevin Elliott was limited this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, and Terrance Lloyd exited spring practice as the starter, but I'd expect Elliott to regain the spot by the time the season arrives. Phil Taylor, a first-round pick, is a big loss, but Gary Mason Jr. will try to fill his spot next to Nicolas Jean-Baptiste.
10. Iowa State -- Having a pair of linebackers combine for 241 tackles is a good and bad thing. They've got outstanding linebackers, but the defensive line was the Big 12's worst last season for a unit that ranked 10th in rush defense and had just 11 sacks. That was the fewest sacks in the Big 12 and more than just three teams in all of college football. The good news is all four starters return, but for now, this is where the Cyclones start. Stephen Ruempolhamer has some promise, but Cleyon Laing, Jake McDonough and ends Patrick Neal and Roosevelt Maggitt have a lot to prove. Jacob Lattimer ran into offseason trouble, but re-appeared atop the depth chart released by the Cyclones on Wednesday.
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.
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
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
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
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!
1. A&M makes the switch. College football can be a cruel game. Texas A&M entered the season with the Big 12's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Jerrod Johnson, hoping to lead the Aggies to their first Big 12 title since 1998. But offseason surgery sapped the zip from his throwing shoulder and produced an ugly start to his season, leading the Aggies to switch to Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill set the school record for passing yards in his first start, a win over Texas Tech, and helped the Aggies finish the regular season with six consecutive wins and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
2. Texas' loss to UCLA. The red flags were there. Texas looked uninspired in wins over Wyoming and Rice, but looked dominant on defense in a road win over Texas Tech. Then the cellar-dwelling Bruins and their Pistol offense came to town. The Longhorns got rolled 34-12 in their own stadium. The loss shocked just about everyone, but it was a sign of what was to come: a 5-7 season the Texas faithful would rather forget.
3. Don't call it a comeback. Actually, you could probably call it a comeback. It was no Cam Newton in the Iron Bowl, but Landry Jones helped rally Oklahoma from a 17-0 deficit to Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship to knock off the Huskers, 23-20. The win gave Oklahoma its seventh Big 12 title of the decade.
5. We got a tip drill. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones thought he'd thrown it away cleanly. Not so, said Brodrick Brown. The Oklahoma State corner skied for Jones' pass headed for the sideline, tipped it back inbounds to his teammate, linebacker Shaun Lewis, who caught it as one of Jones' three interceptions in the first half of the Big 12 South's deciding game.
6. Taylor Martinez's injury. Nebraska already had a loss on its record, but one harmless-looking hit late in the first half of a big win changed Nebraska's season. Martinez was running laterally looking for a crease in the defense when Missouri safety Kenji Jackson flew in from the secondary and laid a hit on his lower body. Martinez sat the entire second half, and later revealed he had a sprained ankle. The freshman quarterback was never the same, and aggravated the injury again in a loss to Texas A&M.
7. Saluting your fans is bad, mmmmk. Adrian Hilburn made one of the biggest plays of Kansas State's season, catching a short pass and taking it 30 yards for a possible game-tying score with his team down eight. But after scoring, he saluted a group of Kansas State fans in the stands, and the official tossed a flag for excessive celebration after telling Hilburn he'd made the "wrong choice, buddy." The 15-yard penalty moved the Wildcats back, and Carson Coffman's pass on the conversion fell incomplete. Kansas State lost by two.
8. Moe's miracle. Missouri's season already looked off the rails. Blaine Gabbert threw a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions. The Tigers trailed San Diego State 24-20 with a minute to play and 68 yards between them and the end zone. Don't worry about it, said T.J. Moe. The sophomore receiver caught a short pass, made two defenders slam into each other and sprinted for the game-winning score that helped Missouri jump out to a 7-0 start to its season. Teammate Carl Gettis told Moe in the end zone, "Thank you for saving our season."
9. Last five minutes of Bedlam. Bedlam lived up to its moniker with a crazy finish that ended with the Sooners on top. Four touchdowns were scored within 92 seconds in the game's final five minutes. Oklahoma State scored to get within two points with just over four minutes to play, but on 3rd-and-long, Landry Jones found Cameron Kenney over the middle for an 86-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing kickoff? Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert took it 89 yards to get back within two. But 17 seconds later, Jones found tight end James Hanna down the left sideline for a 76-yard touchdown that all but sealed the Sooners' win.
10. The Jayhawks win one for the ages. Kansas and Colorado were the Big 12's only teams still without a win in conference play. Something had to give. Few figured the Buffaloes 28-point lead would be what buckled. Colorado led 45-17 with just over 11 minutes to play, but the Jayhawks scored a frenzied 35 points to finish with a 52-45 win, their only conference win of the season. Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins never got to coach another game for Colorado after being fired following the loss.
1. Sept. 30: Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 35. This Thursday nighter was the Big 12's only game-winning field goal of the year in conference play, and had a much bigger impact on the Big 12 South race than perhaps anyone thought when it was over. Both teams ended up tying for the Big 12 South title alongside Oklahoma, but the Aggies could have won it outright if they'd pulled the upset in Stillwater. The Aggies dominated the first half, leading 21-7, but the Cowboys' offense rallied behind Kendall Hunter in the second half for the comeback win. Jerrod Johnson filled up the stat sheet with 409 yards on 40-of-62 passing. He had five touchdowns passes and four memorable interceptions. The final one sailed over his target into Shaun Lewis' hands to set up Dan Bailey's game-winner.
2. Nov. 20: Texas A&M 9, Nebraska 6. An awful roughing the passer penalty on a Courtney Osborne hit on Ryan Tannehill that extended the eventual game-winning drive left a bad taste in Huskers fans' mouths, but A&M fans will likely choose to remember it for a dominant defensive performance and a workhorse night for Cyrus Gray to give the Aggies a second signature win of the season after beating Oklahoma two weeks earlier. Taylor Martinez left early with an injury, returning a call to his concerned father from the locker room, and Bo Pelini's accosting of his freshman quarterback when he returned was one of the lasting images from a game that didn't feature a touchdown. The penalty discrepancy (16-2 in favor of Texas A&M) got plenty of attention, but that doesn't tell the whole story.
3. Nov. 27: Oklahoma 47, Oklahoma State 41. No. 2 on the list didn't have a touchdown? This one had four in a 92-second span in the game's final five minutes. No other fourth quarter could compete with this game, which decided the Big 12 South. It also featured my pick for the play of the year, which, shockingly for this track meet, was a defensive play. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones threw three first-half interceptions, including one returned for a score, but bounced back for a career-high 468 yards that helped the Sooners win their eighth South title since 2000.
4. Nov. 6: Nebraska 31, Iowa State 30 (OT). Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads tried his hand at the call of the year, but his fake extra point in overtime failed when punter Daniel Kuehl's pass floated in the wind and was intercepted by Nebraska's Eric Hagg. The win kept Nebraska on track for a Big 12 North title, and it did it without Martinez, who missed the game with an ankle injury. Iowa State rallied from a 24-10 deficit entering the fourth quarter, but the gutsy call in overtime didn't pay off for the Cyclones, who would have gone bowling if they'd won the game.
5. Dec. 4: Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 20. The nostalgia faded early. Nebraska was the early aggressor and looked ready to bury Oklahoma. The Huskers sprinted to a 17-0 lead and the task of climbing out of that hole away from home against the best secondary in college football was a gigantic one. Jones and the Sooners answered the call. The sophomore quarterback racked up an astonishing 342 passing yards and helped Oklahoma win its seventh Big 12 title in the last decade.
Honorable mention: Kansas 52, Colorado 45; Colorado 44, Kansas State 36; Oklahoma 28, Texas 20; Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38.
How it happened: Well, for starters, Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley took their talents to Ohio and the NFL. No receiver ever emerged to fill Shipley's void, and all other problems aside, first-year starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Good luck finding those kind of numbers on a winning team. No other Big 12 quarterback threw more than 13 interceptions, and only three had double-digits. Additionally, Texas' commitment to a power running game throughout the spring and fall was a certified flop. The Longhorns never found a consistent back, and the team's leading rusher, Cody Johnson, finished with just 592 yards. No one else had more than 400.
The defense had a good season on the stat sheet, but a first-quarter lapse against Oklahoma and a poor second half against UCLA resulted in a pair of early-season losses that derailed the season. The Longhorns still managed to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, vaulting them back into the top 25. But the win was a result of the Huskers getting caught off guard by Gilbert using his legs to jump out to an early lead, while the defense corraled Taylor Martinez. Texas' only win the rest of the season came over Florida Atlantic.
What needs to change: Texas has to find offense from somewhere. Freshman receiver Mike Davis offers hope, but of the Longhorns touted freshman receivers from the 2010 class, he was the only one to make a real contribution. Darius White didn't play much, and finished with just one catch. Gilbert must improve, and look for the Longhorns to ride tailback Malcolm Brown, a much-hyped 2011 commitment, in next year's offense.
Will they go bowling in 2011: Uh, we'll wait and see when they fill the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp bolted for Florida, offensive coordinator Greg Davis was forced to resign and two other assistant coaches had to retire. What the Longhorns look like next year is anyone's guess. You'd like to think boatloads of top-tier recruits will get you to a bowl game regardless, but we saw this year that's not necessarily the case.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Both defenses are playing well for Oklahoma and Nebraska, but they've both given up a long touchdown. The offenses have turned it over, which has given us a little more scoring than I expected tonight. We'll see if either offense can exploit the defenses in the second half, too. I doubt it, but those types of breakdowns are impossible to predict.
The big story has been Oklahoma capturing the momentum after falling behind 17-0 and looking flat early on.
Turning point: There were plenty of plays that could be in contention for this one, but Oklahoma's 49-yard deep ball down the middle to Kenny Stills injected some life into the Sooners, and keyed a run of 17 consecutive points to tie the game. Taylor Martinez's inexcusable interception in the back of the end zone, and Roy Helu Jr.'s fumble in Nebraska territory that set up Oklahoma's game-tying touchdown are in the running as well.
Stat of the half: Oklahoma penalties: Three for 30 yards. Nebraska's: Two for 10. Hopefully this is the last time we have to talk about this.
Best player in the half: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma. His two catches were two of Oklahoma's biggest plays of the half. The first was his 49-yard score, and the second was a nifty double move on one of the conference's best corners, Alfonzo Dennard, for a 30-yard gain down to the goal line.
Best player in the half II: Alex Henery, Nebraska. He's proving just how valuable special teams are in close games. His 54-yard field goal in the first quarter put the Huskers up 10-0 and would have been good from well beyond 60 yards. His 42-yarder helped the Huskers take back some momentum heading into halftime.
Best call: Nebraska called for a play-action pass on fourth-and-1, and Martinez hit Mike McNeill for a 36-yard gain down to the 9-yard line. Unfortunately for the Huskers, Martinez threw a preventable interception in the back of the end zone three plays later.
Best call II: Oklahoma must have been paying attention. The Sooners went with a naked bootleg on a 4th-and-1 of their own, and Landry Jones was all by himself down the left sideline for a 15-yard gain into the red zone. The Sooners finished that drive with a field goal.
What Oklahoma needs to do: Keep the pace up. Nebraska did well early, but the Sooners' no-huddle got to them late. Oklahoma has outgained Nebraska 280-209, but it was even more lopsided before Nebraska went 56 yards on its last drive of the half to set up the go-ahead field goal.
What Nebraska needs to do: Seems pretty simple. Quit turning it over. Nebraska cost itself points with Martinez's interception, and Helu's fumble set up the Sooners game-tying touchdown. Both the defense and offense are playing well enough to win the game.
Osborne hauled in an easy interception and returned it to the 11-yard line, but Broyles stripped it and recovered possession as both players went to the ground. Officials ruled he had possession, but the call was reversed after a review.
That gave way to Rex Burkhead, who threw his third touchdown pass in two weeks -- this one to Kyler Reed -- that had the Huskers on top big early in the second quarter.
Oklahoma answered with a touchdown on its next drive, though, and trails 17-7.
The pass from Burkhead was much-needed for Nebraska, whose quarterback, Taylor Martinez, had yet to complete a pass in four tries through the first quarter.
The Huskers' early lead should shift the entire game. Oklahoma won't abandon its run game, but it will look to pass a bit more than it did in the first quarter. Against the best secondary in the Big 12 -- and possibly the country -- that could be a dangerous proposition.
Not so much for the Sooners, who answered with a 49-yard bomb down the middle of the field to Kenny Stills. That's definitely a good sign for the Sooners, but a rare big play given up by the Blackshirts.
I'd be surprised if the Sooners hit another big play like that without breaking a tackle or benefiting from a miscommunication from the Huskers' secondary.
Mecham was sacked six times in Kansas' 20-3 loss to the Huskers, completing just 3 of 13 passes for a hearty 15 yards and an interception. The entire Jayhawks offense was held to just 87 yards of offense in the loss.
Two weeks ago, with the Big 12 North hanging in the balance, the Blackshirts held Gabbert to 18-of-42 passing for just 199 yards in a convincing 31-17 win.
"We're playing very, very well," said Eric Hagg, the lynchpin of the Huskers quarterback-perplexing Peso scheme. "But we can't get overconfident because we know we have to keep playing well."
They'll try to add Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill to their list of victims on Saturday, but the No. 19 Aggies are playing some of the best football on both sides of the ball of any team in the league since naming Tannehill the starter.
"The last couple weeks we haven’t had as many mental mistakes," Hagg said. "We’ve had some, but that and we haven’t had many missed tackles either. We’ve been swarming to the ball and that’s helping us out."
Texas A&M's downhill running game, with only one featured back in Cyrus Gray after leading rusher Christine Michael was lost for the season with a broken leg, is more effective than the one that helped hand Nebraska its only loss of the season, at home against Texas.
"You’ve got to have balance. You’ve got to be able to defend everything that they do," coach Bo Pelini said. "They’ve shown good balance, they’ve shown that they can hurt you in a number of different ways, so you’ve got to be able to prepare for everything that they can do."
Said Hagg: "They seem like they come out in one formation and then another one. They don’t line up in the same formations every time. They switch it around a lot."
Nebraska's offense has slowed as conference play has continued, in part because of a gimpy Taylor Martinez trying to regain his early-season form from an ankle injury suffered in the win against Oklahoma. Martinez didn't play in the overtime win over Iowa State, and didn't look like his usual self in the win over Kansas.
If that continues against an offense like Texas A&M's, it might take another virtuoso performance from Pelini's defense to come home from College Station with a win.
"We need to take the game plan that we put out there and play the way we’re coached to play," Pelini said. "If we do that, we’ll be in good shape. If we don’t we’re going to be in for a dog fight."
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