NCF Nation: Bradley Stephens

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Who says you can't go back home again?

Former Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel is disproving that as he helps new offensive coordinator Dave Yost at the Tigers' practices this spring. Columbia Daily Tribune beat writer Dave Matter reports on seeing Daniel's familiar presence at several practices the last few days before the record-breaking former Missouri quarterback goes away to try to make an NFL team.

Daniel has diligently lost weight and looks to be in great shape for his shot at playing football at the next level. But after watching him around the Tigers last week, he appears to be a natural as a football coach.

It wouldn't surprise me to see him get on the quick career path to the coaching profession like former Texas quarterback Major Applewhite or his old high school mentor, Todd Dodge.

As Daniel continues working with Blaine Gabbert and the other Tiger quarterbacks, here are a few other links from across the conference.

  • Colorado defensive coordinator Ron Collins is using a 3-4 defense with more regularity as a base defense this spring, Boulder Daily Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo writes.
  • Texas Tech's defense had the upper hand in the Red Raiders' first scrimmage of the spring, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams.
  • Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News blogs about Texas A&M running back Bradley Stephens, who is emerging as a prime contender for a starting job this spring.
  • Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman discusses Texas' use of the I formation, Colt McCoy's development and strong secondary depth in his breakdown of the Longhorns' spring practice.
  • Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald writes that he hopes that Nebraska is using the trophy it won as co-North Division champions last season as a doorstop.
  • ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman has Texas ranked as his second-most likely team to win the BCS next season and Oklahoma third, trailing only defending national champion Florida.
  • Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud is excited about new coordinator Tom Herman's fast-paced new offensive strategy, Ames Tribune beat writer Bobby La Gesse reports.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Every team is green someplace. Here are the specific areas of the most inexperience for each Big 12 team.

Baylor offensive tackle: The Bears need to break in two new starters after losing Jason Smith and Dan Gay.

Colorado defensive line: Help is needed along the defensive front where the Buffaloes lose starting defensive end Maurice Lucas, starting defensive tackle George Hypolite and starting nose tackle Brandon Nicolas.

Iowa State defensive line: Coach Paul Rhoads desperately wants somebody to emerge on the defensive line where the Cyclones lose starting defensive tackle Michael Tate, starting defensive end Kurtis Taylor and top backup defensive back Travis Ferguson.

Kansas linebackers: Even as Mark Mangino is contemplating going to a two-linebacker base defense because of the Big 12's spread offenses, he still needs to find those two players. The Jayhawks lose starters James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen at the position from last season.

Kansas State quarterback: Josh Freeman departed for the NFL early, leaving Carson Coffman and junior college transfer Daniel Thomas to compete for the starting job. It's not a pleasant introduction back to football for returning KSU coach Bill Snyder.

Missouri skill-position players: The Tigers need a quick infusion of playmakers after losing quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman. All of them arguably were the greatest players at their respective positions in Missouri history. Blake Gabbert will receive first look at quarterback and Andrew Jones will work at tight end. It could take several players to fill in for what Maclin did.

Nebraska quarterback: It will be tough for the Cornhuskers to replace all that Joe Ganz did for them, both as a playmaker and a leader at quarterback. Zac Lee will get the first shot, along with freshman Cody Green and redshirt freshman Kody Spano. Maybe the Cornhuskers really could use former Miami quarterback Robert Marve next season.

Oklahoma offensive line: The departure of starting center Jon Cooper, tackle Phil Loadholt and guards Duke Robinson and Brandon Walker means that Sam Bradford will have an inexperienced group protecting him next season. Trent Williams moves to left tackle and Bob Stoops likes his incoming talent, if not its early work habits.

Oklahoma State defensive tackles: The Cowboys ranked last in the conference in sacks last season and lost starting defensive tackles Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham. It will mean that new defensive coordinator Bill Young will need somebody to step up in the trenches to help shore up that weakness.

Texas defensive line: The major question dogging the Longhorns' national title hopes will be rebuilding a defensive front that loses All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo, defensive tackle Roy Miller, defensive tackleAaron Lewis and defensive end Henry Melton from last season.

Texas Tech offensive line: New quarterback Taylor Potts will be relying on a retooled offensive line protecting his blind side after left tackle Rylan Reed, left guard Louis Vasquez and center Stephen Hamby all departed from last year.

Texas A&M running backs: The Aggies' offensive backfield will need to restock players: Michael Goodson left school early to declare for the NFL draft and fullbacks Jorvorskie Lane and Nick LaMantia are gone. Look for Cyrus Gray to get most of the work this spring with heralded freshman Bradley Stephens arriving in the summer.

 
 John Albright/Icon SMI
 Mike Sherman returned to Texas A&M after spending time in the NFL.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman returned to Texas A&M where he had served as an assistant coach on R.C. Slocum's power-packed teams of the early 1990s. Whether he can return the Aggies to that lofty position remains to be seen. It might be a challenge for Sherman to crack the expected Oklahoma/Texas Tech/Texas logjam at the top of the South Division.

With eight days before the Aggies' Aug. 30 opener against Arkansas State, here are five major questions that have to be settled for the Aggies to have a successful season:

1. Can the offensive line develop?

Only one starter returns and the Aggies will be green in the trenches. Whether this group can open enough holes to accentuate the talents of Mike Goodson and Co. remains to be seen. It will be A&M's biggest question this season.

2. Are there any playmaking linebackers on the roster?

Losing Misi Tupe and Mark Dodge will hurt. But A&M coaches look for some of the young talent to surprise people. Keep an eye on converted DE Von Miller, converted DB Garrick Williams and Matt Featherston.

3. Will Jerrod Johnson see much action this season?

The Aggies' backup has been compared to Vince Young and Randall Cunningham because of his athleticism. Interestingly, he showed more at the Aggies' recent scrimmage as a tight end. But don't be surprised if he gets some playing time during the season at quarterback, particularly if Stephen McGee struggles against some opponents. But it wouldn't also surprise me if he got a chance to work at tight end as well.

4. Can Sherman find any consistency at wide receiver?

Don't be surprised if freshman Jeff Fuller becomes an immediate playmaker after arriving at school for the spring semester. The Aggies also need some consistency from players like E.J. Shankle, Howard Morrow and Pierre Brown. All have received extensive previous playing time but need to show more in order to be featured. Somebody has to step up.

5. How will Jorvorskie Lane handle the move to fullback?

Lane has been battling his weight throughout his college career and has missed several recent practices with a neck injury. But don't look for him to get many carries with a deep tailback rotation that includes Goodson, Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens. Lane will be more of a receiver and short-yardage threat. And if he pouts about his role, he won't play.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Video may have killed the radio star, according to the old English new wave band the Buggles. But expanding mediums are providing additional opportunities for reporters to share their insights with consumers in the rapidly expanding marketplace.

The Big 12 is no different, stocked with a boatload of good weekly vlogs.  And work has started early, even before the season starts, at many newspapers.

The spirited competition between the Lincoln Journal-Star and the Omaha World-Herald in the coverage of all things concerning Nebraska football has spilled over into a video war of sorts.

Omaha World-Herald beat writers Mitch Sherman and Rich Kaipust talk about the need for increasing sacks and turnovers in their most recent video chat. And Lincoln Journal Star columnist Steve Sipple and beat writer Brian Christopherson discuss freshmen who will play for the Cornhuskers this season. It will continue for both papers throughout the season.

But the most effective use of video by a newspaper that I've seen so far is what the Oklahoman has done for its stellar series on Bob Stoops. A group of Oklahoman reporters provide analysis of Stoops' leadership, done with tight videography in a style much like ESPN Classic has used in its Sports Century documentaries. Despite the lack of live action footage, the use of some memorable still pictures of Stoops and Sooners was still very effective.

More newspapers are going to this synergy using different formats. I'll try to include some of the more notable ones in my upcoming posts.  

But the written word still remains supreme in my mind. And here are some scrumptuous morsels for a Friday morning links collection.  

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