NCF Nation: Brandon Sheperd

Here's what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 2:

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Michael ThomasIt was a long night against BYU for Texas coach Charlie Strong and his Longhorns.
1. Texas has issues beyond QB: Sure, the Longhorns were missing quarterback David Ash. But quarterback was hardly Texas’ only problem Saturday. For the second consecutive season, BYU demolished the Longhorns, this time 41-7, while handing them their worst home loss in 17 years. Missing three offensive linemen, Texas couldn’t block anyone, as running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown averaged just 2.6 yards per carry. In the second half, the Texas defense couldn’t corral BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, who had another monster outing with three rushing touchdowns against the Longhorns. Ash’s replacement, Tyrone Swoopes, actually didn’t play poorly in his first career start. But it didn’t matter. Charlie Strong was right before the season: The Longhorns aren’t ready to contend for the playoffs. Heck, as anemic as they looked against BYU -- coupled with a daunting upcoming schedule that features three top-12 teams in the next month -- they might have to scramble just to be bowl eligible.

2. Jake Waters has grit: Down two touchdowns in the second half in a hostile environment, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder put the game in the hands of his senior quarterback. That senior quarterback delivered. Waters threw for 239 yards and ran for a career-high 138 while willing the Wildcats to a hard-fought, comeback victory in Farmageddon. Waters led K-State to a potential game-tying scoring midway through the fourth quarter. But on the two-point try, he was stood up just shy of the goal line by Iowa State safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, who delivered a vicious hit to Waters’ head to keep the Cyclones ahead 28-26. Two possessions later, K-State got the ball back with 3:01 remaining, and Waters marched the Wildcats back down the field and capped the drive with a game-winning, 8-yard, touchdown scamper. K-State didn’t play its best in Ames. But Waters, Tyler Lockett and Ryan Mueller wouldn’t let the Wildcats lose. That type of grit from its stars could take K-State a long way this season.

3. Daxx Garman can spin it: The last time Garman played a snap of competitive football, he was a junior in high school in 2009. But after relieving an injured J.W. Walsh in the first quarter, the former walk-on opened up the Oklahoma State offense with his big arm. Garman completed 16 of 26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, as the Cowboys disposed of Missouri State 40-23. Garman's first touchdown came on an 87-yard pass to Brandon Sheperd on third-and-19, in which he threw the ball back across his body downfield for the second-longest completion in Oklahoma State history. It’s unclear just how serious Walsh’s injury is, but he came out of the locker room on crutches and wearing a boot on his right foot. Although Walsh played well in the opener against Florida State, the offense has bogged down at times in the past with him at the helm because of his limited arm strength. Garman demonstrated no such limitations, as he peppered the ball around to Oklahoma State’s deep and talented receiver crew. The Cowboys should be in good hands with Garman as long as Walsh is out. When Walsh returns, Oklahoma State will have a difficult decision about the direction to take at quarterback.

4 .K.D. Cannon is a boss: With Baylor receivers Antwan Goodley (quad), Levi Norwood (wrist), Corey Coleman (hamstring) and Clay Fuller (collarbone) all out with injuries, true freshman wideout Cannon stole the show in Baylor’s 70-6 waxing of Northwestern State. In the first half alone, Cannon had three touchdown catches and 223 receiving yards -- the second-most in school history for an entire game. Cannon will have to shoulder the receiving load while his cohorts heal up. But Cannon and fellow true freshman wideout Davion Hall, who had 78 yards receiving and a touchdown, appear more than ready.

5. Texas Tech will go nowhere with a hole in its foot: The Red Raiders survived a late scare from UTEP on Sunday morning and won 30-26, but it was hardly the performance Kliff Kingsbury was looking for after a sluggish opener this past weekend against Central Arkansas. Once again, penalties tormented the Red Raiders, who already have 25 of them through two games. One almost comedic sequence late in the third quarter underscored the epidemic. As UTEP punted on fourth-and-8, Tech was flagged because it had two players on the field wearing the same number. After the mark off, facing fourth-and-3, the Miners elected to go for it, except they wouldn’t have to snap the ball because Tech was flagged again, this time because one of its coaches was too close to the field (Tech had already received a sideline warning). Thanks to the pair of gifts, UTEP went on to score a touchdown and get back in the game. The Red Raiders have talent, particularly with their offensive skill players, but they won’t be a factor in the Big 12 if they keep shooting themselves in the foot this way.
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Few programs in college football are equipped to overcome losing three of their four most productive receivers from the previous season.

At least without missing a major beat.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Ateman
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtAs a freshman in 2013, Marcell Ateman caught 22 passes for 276 yards for the Cowboys.
But Oklahoma State could be one of those few programs, armed with several young wideouts on the cusp of breaking out in 2014.

Starters Josh Stewart, Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore, who combined for 146 catches and almost 2,000 receiving yards, are gone, leaving rising sophomore Jhajuan Seales as the only returning starter.

But the Cowboys also welcome back a host of budding young receivers, who seem poised to keep the Oklahoma State passing attack humming.

“I think the receiving corps is going to be good,” Seales said. “I think our offense will be the same. People have to step up and fill in for Tracy and Charlie and those guys. But I think we have the guys who can do that.”

The Cowboys have Seales, which is a nice start.

As a redshirt freshman last season playing alongside Stewart and the Moores, Seales hauled in 39 catches for 571 yards. Two of Seales’ three touchdowns came in two of Oklahoma State’s final three games. Though he still has much to prove, Seales has the same combination of physicality and speed reminiscent of another Cowboy receiver who donned the jersey No. 81 -- Justin Blackmon.

“I feel I can be a go-to guy,” Seales said. “But there are other guys out there who can be that go-to guy, as well.”

Such as Marcell Ateman, who like Seales, carved out a role at outside receiver as a freshman, and caught 22 passes.

“Ateman, when he decides to play hard, he’s a big, physical body,” coach Mike Gundy said.

Sophomores Brandon Sheperd (223 receiving yards) and David Glidden (15 catches) received plenty of time in the rotation last season.

The Cowboys also bring back Blake Webb and Austin Hays, who both started in 2012 as freshmen before injuries sidelined them for virtually the entire 2013 season.

Hays, who played with Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight in high school in San Antonio, started nine games two seasons ago and finished with 394 receiving yards. But he was unable to play most of last season because of a nagging hamstring injury.

“It was so frustrating,” he said. “I kept thinking I was going to come back and never did. Not getting to get on the plane with the team, that very frustrating.”

Hays is close to 100 percent again this spring, and he has shown the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. But he might have more competition for playing time now than he did two years ago.

The Cowboys signed junior-college speed demon Tyreek Hill, who has already broken numerous sprint records on the track team. Ra'Shaad Samples, who redshirted as a freshman last season, can also fly and reportedly has run the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds. Both players could bring major speed to the inside receiver positions.

“Some of those young receivers are starting to make a few plays,” Gundy said. “So it’s exciting that we have talent on our team that can make plays in the future.”

No doubt, Oklahoma State will miss Stewart, Charlie Moore and Tracy Moore at receiver. But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys will miss a beat there, too.

Said Seales: "Now we get to follow in their footsteps.”

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