NCF Nation: Matt Ballenger
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
This is the getaway-day version of lunchtime links as I'm headed north to cover some Oklahoma/Oklahoma State football stories and the upcoming Big 12 tournament.
But I would never think of shirking nourishment, particularly with March Madness approaching. There's always room for some football stories from across the conference at our lunchtime table.
- Kansas will moderate its basic defensive philosophy by playing two linebackers and a hybrid safety/linebacker in its starting lineup, Dugan Arnett of the Lawrence Journal-World reports.
- The Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls has the uplifting story of how former Texas fullback Steve Worster has persevered, despite losing most of his worldly possessions to Hurricane Ike.
- New Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Joe Wickline will pocket a $72,000 yearly salary increase with his job promotion, Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World reports.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch analyzes what to watch for across the Big 12 this spring.
- John Hillman of realfootball365.com breaks down the quarterback competition at Texas A&M this spring.
- Matt Ballenger needs to become more assertive if he wants to become a factor in Colorado's battle for the starting quarterback position, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Camera writes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Spring practice is a time for competition across college football. Clashes for jobs are as much a part of offseason work as gassers and not hitting quarterbacks in inter-squad games and scrimmages.
Some of the spring competition across the Big 12 will be particularly notable. Here are some positional battles that bear watching over the next few weeks.
Nebraska quarterback: Even though Patrick Witt left, there still should be an intense battle between Zac Lee, Kody Spano and heralded freshman Cody Green to replace Joe Ganz. Don't expect this battle to be settled until shortly before the season -- perhaps the major reason Witt decided to leave for another opportunity.
Oklahoma right tackle: Although the Sooners' offensive line should be their most pressing concern this spring, there will be notable competition at one position. Trent Williams has moved to left tackle to protect Sam Bradford's blind side. That will leave Cory Brandon and heralded LSU transfer Jarvis Jones battling for snaps on the other side.
Texas running back: The Longhorns have to develop some kind of running threat to keep from using Colt McCoy too much again as a runner. Without a dominant back, it looks like Mack Brown again will opt for a rotation-by-committee setup. Fozzy Whittaker has impressed coaches with his breakaway burst, but must stay healthy. Vondrell McGee will get his chance, but better learn how to pick up blitzes better. Redshirt freshman Tre' Newton has shown flashes of becoming the next Chris Ogbonnaya because of his receiving abilities. Cody Johnson might be the best move-the-pile runner if he can stay in shape. And all of this is before heralded incoming freshman Chris Whaley arrives this summer.
Colorado quarterback: Cody Hawkins arrives as the favorite because of his experience, but burning Tyler Hansen's redshirt last season indicated the need at that point of the season for a change. Both will compete for the job along with true freshmen Clark Evans and Matt Ballenger, who appear to have some of the qualities of both of last season's starters.
Texas Tech kicker: Matt "Lynwood" Williams was one of the best stories in college football when he joined Texas Tech's team after coaches discovered him in an in-game kicking promotion. Williams converted 33 straight extra points, but wasn't counted on to kick field goals very often. Donnie Carona, who received a rare scholarship offer from Mike Leach before last season, could be poised to challenge if he can forget about last season's struggles. And Blinn College kicker Brad Hicks will try to walk-on at the position. Whoever emerges has to boost Tech's kicking after the Red Raiders converted only seven field goals to tie for the second fewest in the Big 12. The Red Raiders' field-goal conversion rate was 54 percent -- second worst in the conference.