Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Big 12 media days preview: Day 2
By Jake Trotter
DALLAS -- The first day of Big 12 media days delivered several compelling storylines. Here's what to expect from Day 2 in Dallas:
Iowa State Cyclones
Attending: Coach Paul Rhoads, tight end E.J. Bibbs, center Tom Farniok, defensive end Cory Morrissey, linebacker Jevohn Miller.
Storyline: The Cyclones missed out on a bowl game last season after back-to-back appearances. But Rhoads appears to have the offensive pieces to get back to bowl eligibility. Bibbs was a preseason All-Big 12 selection, and Farniok leads an offensive line that trails only Oklahoma in the league in career starts. Rhoads appears to have the offensive coordinator, too. Mark Mangino has returned to the Big 12 after four years away from coaching in the FBS. Mangino's résumé includes a national championship as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, and an Orange Bowl victory as the head coach at Kansas.
Kansas State Wildcats
Attending: Coach Bill Snyder, quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, center BJ Finney, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman.
Storyline: From start to end, the Wildcats were the most improved team in the Big 12 last season. The biggest reason was the emergence of Waters at quarterback during the second half of the year. Waters actually outperformed Baylor quarterback and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Petty during the final seven games in QBR. Waters has one of college football's top playmakers to throw to again in Lockett, and the team is solid again on both sides of the trenches. Snyder's squads usually improve over the course of a season. But if K-State starts out this season the way it finished the previous, look out.
Attending: Coach Bob Stoops, quarterback Trevor Knight, offensive tackle Daryl Williams, defensive end Geneo Grissom, safety Julian Wilson.
Storyline: After a brief malaise, the bloom is back on Oklahoma. That's what a 45-31 bowl win over the preeminent program in college football will do. But can the Sooners carry over the momentum generated from the Alabama win into this season? The answer to that question will depend largely on Knight, the sophomore quarterback. In the Sugar Bowl, Knight was sensational, throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns. But he has started and finished only three games in his young career. If he can rekindle the Sugar Bowl magic, the Sooners will push for inclusion in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Attending: Coach Charlie Strong, running back Malcolm Brown, center Dominic Espinosa, defensive end Cedric Reed, cornerback Quandre Diggs.
Storyline: The Strong era is afoot in Austin.
Regardless of what he has or hasn't said this offseason to boosters or high school coaches, Strong ultimately will be measured by how many games he wins on the field. At almost every position, the Longhorns are equipped for success. But that won't amount to much if they don't get better quarterbacking than they have the previous four seasons. That makes David Ash the most important player on the roster. He missed almost all of last season with concussion issues and then the spring with a fractured foot. If Ash can stay healthy, the Longhorns can make a serious run in the Big 12. If he can't, the Strong era could be off to a tumultuous start.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Attending: Coach Dana Holgorsen, receiver Kevin White, cornerback Daryl Worley, punter Nick O'Toole.
Storyline: It's make-or-break time for Holgorsen, who has produced a pair of mediocre seasons in West Virginia's first two years in the Big 12. The schedule is brutal, but that won't discharge Holgorsen from showing improvement from last year's 4-8 season. The Mountaineers have good running backs and receivers. But do they have the answer at quarterback? Holgorsen unexpectedly gave the early nod this summer to Clint Trickett, even though he missed all of spring ball recovering from shoulder surgery. Holgorsen's fate figures to be intertwined with that of his senior quarterback.