|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few tidbits from around the league as teams prepare for games on Saturday:
1. Imitation is apparently the sincerest form of flattery. Or at least from Nebraska it is. The Cornhuskers picked up the idea of throwing to massive 300-pound defensive tackle/blocking back Ndamukong Suh in a short-yardage situation from watching how Texas had used Roy Miller in a similar role against Oklahoma earlier this season. "We stole it from them," Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz said. The result was a pivotal 2-yard TD pass that help spark the Cornhuskers' fourth-quarter offensive eruption against Kansas last week.
2. With an extra week to prepare for their huge game against Texas Tech next week, Oklahoma is desperately trying to improve its kickoff coverage. The Sooners were blistered for a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week by Cyrus Gray of Texas A&M -- an NCAA-worst third touchdown on a kickoff return allowed by the Sooners this season. Texas Tech's return game is one of the least potent parts of the Red Raiders' surging attack, but Bob Stoops and other Sooner coaches will be up late this week scheming to improve that part of their special teams.
3. Even with Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins' big second-half comeback against Iowa State last week, look for freshman quarterback Tyler Hansen to still get playing time this week against Oklahoma State. As strong as Hawkins looked in directing Colorado's passing game, Hansen's running skills are still considered a plus that gives the Buffaloes a change of pace. And that balance will be huge as the Buffaloes try to become bowl eligible by winning one of their final two games of the season.
4. Kansas coach Mark Mangino isn't concerned about whether new defensive coordinator Clint Bowen's scheme is working. The Jayhawks' recent defensive problems are more basic than that. Mangino has been harping on the team's basic tackling skills -- both in the box and in the open field. And that's a bad problem against the athletes that Jayhawks will be facing from Texas and Missouri in their final two games of the season.
5. So much for sportsmanship. Consider this exchange at the end of the Missouri-Kansas State game between Gary Pinkel and Kansas State coach Ron Prince. After Missouri went for it with a safe run on a fourth-and-12 from the KSU 13 with a 41-10 lead rather than kick an easy field goal, the Wildcats quickly scored against Missouri's backups and then tried an onside kick to regain possession on the next play.
Pinkel said on his radio show this week that he would have kicked the field goal if he had known that Prince would later try the onside kick. "I was trying to be a nice guy, but I guess I learned it doesn't pay to be nice," Pinkel said in comments reported in the Columbia Tribune. "I'm done being nice."
Pinkel proved that on the next play after regaining possession. He reinserted backup quarterback Chase Patton, who tried to throw a deep pass on the first play from scrimmage that went incomplete. But it was his answer to Prince's onside kick.