1. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys went through three different quarterbacks last season, all of which threw for more than 1000 yards. Wes Lunt transferred to Illinois to be closer to home, but senior Clint Chelf was expected be the starter even before Lunt transferred. Oklahoma State brings back plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Defensive lineman Calvin Barnett and linebacker Shaun Lewis were named to the Preseason Big 12 team. Receiver Josh Stewart returns after a great season, where he caught 101 catches for 1210 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Big 12 will come down to the Bedlam Game, which is at Boone Pickens.
2. Oklahoma - I'm skeptical about this pick, as Oklahoma has a long history of falling short of expectations under Bob Stoops. The Sooners lose Landry Jones and their top two receivers, as well as a good portion of their defense, but still have plenty of talent to make a run at the Big 12. They return their top two running backs in Damien Williams and Brennan Clay, as well as their number three and four receivers, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard. The real wild card is quarterback Blake Bell, who has thrown 10 career passes.
3. Texas - The Longhorns return almost all of their offensive weapons. Quarterback David Ash is back as well as their top four runningbacks: Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown, and Daje Johnson. Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, the Longhorns top two receivers, are also back. Still, Texas' offense was not all that impressive last season and will need to improve if they want to be back among the Big 12's best. The defense took a major step back last season, much of which was due to poor tackling. That will also need to improve. If Texas fails to finish in the top three of the Big 12, look for Mack Brown's seat to continue to warm up.
4. TCU - The Frogs had the second best defense in the Big 12, behind Kansas State, and with all the players the Wildcats have lost, it is a safe bet that TCU will have the Big 12's best defense this season. Quarterback Casey Pachall returns after being suspended last season. If he can keep out of trouble, the Frogs' offense should see some improvement. Devonte Fields is back after an outstanding freshman season, and the Frogs have what many believe to be the Big 12's best defensive back in Jason Verrett. One piece TCU does lose is leading receiver Josh Boyce who caught 30 more passes than number two receiver Brandon Carter.
5. Baylor - The Bears had another outstanding year on offense, finishing fourth in the nation in points scored. However, their defense was once again atrocious, finishing 113th in points against. The defense will have to get better if they ever want to compete for a Big 12 title. There is a lot of hype surrounding quarterback Bryce Petty, but is completely unproven, throwing for only 10 passes last season. He will be helped out by the Big 12's best running back, Lache Seastrunk. Baylor does however lose leading receiver Terrence Williams as well as receiver Lanear Sampson. They do return Tevin Reese and Levi Norwood. Also, watch out for true freshman receiver Robbie Rhodes.
6. Texas Tech - Tommy Tuberville is gone, and the Red Raiders bring in former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury as the new head coach. I would expect immediate offensive improvement under Kingsbury. Though a starting quarterback has not been officially named yet, all signs point to sophomore Michael Brewer. Texas Tech loses 1000-yard receiver Darrin Moore, but return Eric Ward who also had more than 1000 receiving yards. Starting runningback Kenny Williams returns, and DeAndre Washington is coming back after redshirting last season. The Red Raiders will need to replace three starting offensive line. The defense returns almost it's entire front seven. but replace both safeties, and the loss of Cody Davis will hurt.
7. Kansas State - I do not like underestimating Bill Snyder, but the Wildcats lost so many starters. They lose what is essentially their entire defense, and Heisman finalist quarterback Collin Klein. Either DJ Sams or JUCO transfer Jake Waters will take over the quarterback position. Kansas State also loses leading receiver Chris Harper, but do return runningback John Hubert.
8. West Virginia - The Mountaineers were a defensive disaster last season, finishing 117th in points against. Add to it that offensive stars Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and J.D. Woods are gone, this could be a very bad year for West Virginia. The top returning receiver is Jordan Thompson, who caught 13 passes last season. The Mountaineers did sign three JUCO receivers to address that issue. West Virginia does return leading rusher Andrew Buie and got a big addition with transfer Charles Sims. Holgorsen has yet to name a starting quarterback. The Mountaineers will struggle to make a bowl game.
9. Iowa State - Iowa State will once again struggle and end near the bottom of the Big 12. They simply don't have enough talent and lose star linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. Sam Richardson showed some good signs, but he will need to continue to improve. It does not help that the Cyclones lost their three leading receivers. Runningbacks James White, Shontrelle Johnson, and Jeff Woody return for their senior seasons. Iowa State may make a bowl game, but getting six wins will not be easy.
10. Kansas - The Jayhawks are riding 21-game conference losing streak. They will get some help in the passing game now that Jake Heaps is eligible after transferring from BYU. Charlie Weis and his staff went all out in JUCO recruiting, signing 18 of them. I would expect to see plenty of them on the field this season. Kansas has some good runningbacks in James Sims, Tony Pierson, and Taylor Cox. I believe Kansas wins a conference game this season, but I do not see more than three wins this season as the Jayhawks continue to rebuild.
Monday, July 15, 2013
An aura of excitement currently surrounds the Texas Tech football program like it rarely has before the last few months. After, Tommy Tuberville left the program for the University of Cincinnati athletic director Kirby Hocutt made arguably the most popular hire in program history, naming Kliff Kingsbury, who played quarterback at Tech, head coach. Last year Kingsbury was the offensive coordinator for Texas A&M who went 11-2. Aggie signal-caller Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and Kingsbury was named a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, which is given to the best assistant coach in college football.
The 33-year-old Kliff Kingsbury is third youngest coach in the football bowl subdivision, behind Toledo coach Matt Campbell and Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. Kingsbury brought in what he promised to be a “young and energetic staff”, many of them younger than himself. Five assistant coaches played football for Texas Tech: Sonny Cumbie, Eric Morris, Mike Smith, Trey Haverty, and Kevin Curtis. The youngest staff member is Co-Offensive Coordinator and Inside Receivers coach Eric Morris, who played receiver for the Red Raiders from 2005-2008.
Quarterback Seth Doege leaves after starting for two seasons to graduation. Doege threw for 39 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season. His 16 interceptions were the most in the Big 12 and the most by a Texas Tech quarterback since 2004. Texas Tech coaches and fans will be hoping for more consistent play from sophomore Michael Brewer this season. Though Kingsbury hasn’t named a starting quarterback yet, Brewer is believed to be the heavy favorite. He is currently competing with freshman Davis Webb. While at Lake Travis, Brewer won every game he started and lead them to two championships.
Matt Wallerstedt is Texas Tech’s fifth defensive coordinator in as many years. The defenses under Tuberville struggled mightily. Last year’s defense saw improvement but still finish 92nd in scoring defense. Wallerstedt has eight years as a defensive coordinator under his belt and was the linebackers coach at Texas A&M last year. A new defensive coordinator means Texas Tech will once again be changing their defensive scheme. This time the Red Raiders will be going to a 3-4, three defensive lineman and four linebackers. Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson moved from defensive end to the new linebacker spot. However, defensive end Delvon Simmons transferred to USC, and Jackson was moved back to defensive end. In his introductory press conference, Kingsbury said Texas Tech will have “an attack defense”, so expect plenty of rushing. The defense returns all but one player from the two-deep of the front seven.
Kingsbury said the offense will adapt to the personnel they have, so expect the run-to-pass ratio will vary year to year. However, expect the air raid to continue. The Red Raiders return a considerable amount of firepower. Eric Ward decided to return for his senior season rather than entering the NFL Draft after catching 82 passes for 1053 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jace Amaro is back and healthy after being injured midseason. He was leading the team in receiving at the time of his injury. Receiver Bradley Marquez is returning from injury. Senior receiver Javon Bell, however, is no longer on the team.
Texas Tech has solid depth at the running back position. Leading rusher Kenny Williams is back for his junior year of rushing for 824 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry last season. SaDale Foster also returns after rushing for 451 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 5 yards per carry last season, but hasx been moved to inside receiver. DeAndre Washington redshirted last season after tearing his ACL during his freshman year. He rushed for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry that season. Freshman Quinton White has been impressive in spring practice, and will likely see playing time as well.
The Red Raiders lose four starters from their secondary. Bruce Jones returns after starting six games last season. Losing four-year starter Cody Davis and three-year starter D.J. Johnson at safety could be a significant blow. They are expected to be replaced by Tre’ Porter and J.J. Gaines. Porter started multiple games his freshman and sophomore year at both safety and corner. He also saw significant time at nickelback last season. The second cornerback position is wide open. La’Darius Newbold, Derrick Mays, Olaoluwa Falemi, and Jeremy Reynolds are battling for that spot. Falemi came out of the spring listed as the starter in that spot. Derrick Mays started multiple games his sophomore year after being replaced due to poor performance. Jarvis Phillips, who most likely would have won the nickelback spot, has left the program. That means the nickel spot is now wide open .
The offensive line lost three starters from last season. Le’Raven Clark and Beau Carpenter are the return starters. The other three offensive line spots are open. Le’Raven Clark was named to the Freshman All-American team last season and is considered the team’s best offensive lineman. Alfredo Morales started multiple games last season, but is currently coming off injury.