NCF Nation: Antonio Johnson
I'm headed to Columbia this weekend for Missouri and Oklahoma, and I'll be milling around "College GameDay" on Saturday. Last week was another good week of picks for the Big 12 blog, even if my margins of victory were maybe the most off of any week this season. Texas' win over Nebraska was my only whiff of the week.
Texas (UCLA, Nebraska) joined Kansas (North Dakota State, Georgia Tech) and Texas Tech (Baylor, Iowa State) as the only three teams whose games I've picked incorrectly more than once this season.
Last week: 5-1 (.833)
Overall: 51-8 (.864)
No. 19 Texas 31, Iowa State 7: Iowa State hasn't looked like the improved team I thought they'd be this year, and Texas' defense looks like its back to its old ways. As for Paul Rhoads' preseason comments, we're seeing the worse record. I'm not so sure about the better team.
No. 16 Nebraska 38, No. 14 Oklahoma State 27: This is my pick of the week. Come back later today for a video of me explaining my pick.
Baylor 34, No. 22 Kansas State 21: Kansas State's defense looked pretty slow against Nebraska. Get ready for more of that when Baylor has the ball with speedsters like Kendall Wright and Robert Griffin making plenty of plays. Up front, defensive tackle Phil Taylor wins the battle on the line of scrimmage and gives way to a big game from lineback Antonio Johnson, who limits Daniel Thomas' effectiveness. Throw the Oasis' "Wonderwall" single in the tape deck and whip out your VHS of "Forrest Gump," Baylor fans. We're back in 1994 again.
Texas Tech 34, Colorado 24: I almost picked an upset special in this one, but Colorado's offense won't be able to keep up with the Red Raiders.
Texas A&M 44, Kansas 7: I've picked Kansas to lose close the last two times they've played. Not this week. The Aggies take their anger out on the Jayhawks, who don't have the talent on defense to keep up with the Aggies' weapons in every facet of the game on offense.
No. 1 Oklahoma 31, No. 11 Missouri 27: The emotion of the team and atmosphere helps the Tigers jump out to an early lead, but Oklahoma's too strong. Missouri's corners have looked good so far, but they haven't covered a receiver this year as difficult to blanket as Ryan Broyles. Breaking up passes on jump balls to Jeff Fuller is a lot different than trying to keep the league leader in receptions from getting open.
The team marketed its 2009 campaign around the star, and brought him to media days as a sophomore in 2009.
"I talked to Robert about coming today," coach Art Briles said. "You know, there's a lot of really good football players at Baylor University. Everybody knows Robert Griffin. A lot of people don't know [linebacker] Antonio Johnson -- that his nickname's 'Cuddy.' They don't know Danny Watkins, that he was a firefighter and a hockey player before he ever played football. They may not know about Phil Taylor, that he's a transfer from Penn State and that he's transformed himself into what we think he needs to be as a football player to contribute to our football team."
Taylor was voted Big 12 preseason Newcomer of the Year in 2009, an honor given to Colorado receiver Toney Clemons before this season. Taylor proved inconsistent and overweight, but he's lost 25 pounds this offseason and Briles hopes his defensive tackle can plug the middle of the defense more efficiently.
"He really didn't do the things he needed to do," Briles said. "So I told him this year, we're going to pass judgment after six ballgames. After six games, we'll see where he's at. I think I know where he's at, but I thought I knew a year ago, too, and I found out I wasn't as smart as I thought I was."
Watkins, the Bears' starting left tackle, had to turn down an offer from the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions, who drafted the lineman in May.
"Quite honestly, I wasn't concerned about him going to the CFL, even though he is from Canada," Briles said. "He understands where his potential could lead him, and that's going to be in the NFL. But first of all, being a great player for Baylor this fall."
First thing I noticed: Nebraska (first) and Texas (last) are as far away as possible. Though I don't think the week is going to be as conducive to fireworks as some believe, it should still be plenty entertaining.
Media Days run July 26-28, and here's when to look for who on your team. (all times ET)
Monday, July 26
2:00 Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini, WR Niles Paul, DE Pierre Allen, CB Prince Amukamara
2:45 Baylor: Coach Art Briles, LB Antonio Johnson, OT Danny Watkins
3:30 Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads, QB Austen Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, DE Rashawn Parker
4:15 Texas A&M: Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, LB Von Miller, DT Lucas Patterson
Tuesday, July 27
10:00 Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Derrick Washington, CB Kevin Rutland
10:45 Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy, QB Brandon Weeden, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jamie Blatnick
11:30 Kansas State: Coach Bill Snyder, RB Daniel Thomas, S Tysyn Hartman, OL Zach Kendall
12:15 Texas Tech: Coach Tommy Tuberville, QB Taylor Potts, QB Steven Sheffield, DL Colby Whitlock
Wednesday, July 28
10:00 Kansas: Coach Turner Gill, DE Jake Laptad, CB Chris Harris, OL Brad Thorson
10:45 Oklahoma: Coach Bob Stoops, DE Jeremy Beal, LB Travis Lewis, WR Ryan Broyles
11:30 Colorado: Coach Dan Hawkins, CB Jalil Brown, WR Scotty McKnight, OL Nate Solder
12:15 Texas: Coach Mack Brown, QB Garrett Gilbert, OT Kyle Hix, DE Sam Acho, DT Kheeston Randall
A few quick thoughts:
- Definitely surprised that Texas' Garrett Gilbert will be making the trip. I saw firsthand how well-spoken he was this spring on my visit to Austin, but I'm still surprised Brown would trot out his first-year starting quarterback for the media horde outside Dallas. Although his presence guarantees there should be plenty to talk about with the Longhorns.
- Tommy Tuberville probably had to bring two or none of his quarterbacks, lest he tip his undecided hand at his starter and get people talking about a nonexistent decision. He chose the former. Interesting to note that Colorado's Dan Hawkins went with the latter.
- Not sure why DE Jamie Blatnick will be one of Oklahoma's State's representatives instead of DE Ugo Chinasa or S Markelle Martin. Chinasa is a senior two-year starter heading into his third, while Blatnick is a junior who started only part-time last season. Martin is one of the conference's rising stars.
- Baylor is the only team in the league bringing just a three-man contingent, and in Waco, they're the closest team to Media Days. A little surprised that Robert Griffin III won't be making the short drive, but at least that forces everyone to ask questions not about Griffin's knee. For that, I thank you, Art. But throwing WR Kendall Wright in the car at the last minute wouldn't be a terrible idea.
- Meanwhile, Texas is the only team with a five-man crew. Everything's bigger.
- Pretty good representation elsewhere, no real complaints. What do you think?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Baylor sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns to highlight Baylor's 130-play scrimmage that culminated spring practice for the Bears.
Griffin played about half the scrimmage Thursday afternoon and also added a 1-yard TD run. He had a hand in four of Baylor's five touchdowns during the scrimmage.
Griffin connected with three different receivers on his scoring strike, starting with a 60-yard screen pass for a score to Jay Finley on the third play of the scrimmage for the first-teamers. Griffin also hooked with Justin Akers on a 35-yard TD pass and Brad Taylor on a 43-yard TD aerial.
Baylor coach Art Briles was pleased with his team's work, culminated his second season of spring practices.
"We weren't trying to set any records or create new opportunities for people," Briles said. "We are just trying to get in and get out and stay injury free with a little bit of production and I think we did that.
"We really feel good about the direction we are going and about how we are going to get there. What we have to do is turn it into reality on the field, but that is going to happen and we are very confident of that."
Senior backup quarterback Blake Szymanski passed for 113 yards by completing 17 of 29 passes.
Andrew Pierce produced a scrimmage-high 52 rushing yards, punctuating his efforts with a 48-yard TD run.
Baylor receivers accounted for 458 yards in receiving yards, led by Kendall Wright's five grabs for 68 yards. Wright participated in only the final two weeks of spring practice after spending most of spring practice as a member of Baylor basketball team.
Senior safety Jeremy Williams led the defense with eight tackles, while linebacker Rodney Chadwick produced six tackles and linebackers Earl Patin and Antonio Johnson notched five stops apiece. Cornerback Michael Williams produced the lone turnover of the scrimmage when he intercepted Griffin inside the 5 yard line.
Baylor will return for summer practice on Aug 5 and start practicing the following day. The Bears open their season Sept. 5 at Wake Forest.