Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Big 12 2011 Preview
Head Coach: Bob Stoops, 129-31, 12 Years
2010 Record: 12-2 (6-2), Tied 1st South
2010 Results: Utah State, W 31-24; Florida State, W 47-17; Air Force, W 27-24; @ Cincinnati, W 31-29; Texas, W 28-20; Iowa State, W 52-0; @ Missouri, L 36-27; Colorado, W 43-10; @ Texas A&M, L 33-19; Texas Tech, W 45-7; @ Baylor, W 53-24; @ Oklahoma State, W 47-41; + Nebraska, W 23-20; * UConn, W 48-20
+ Big 12 Championship, * Fiesta Bowl
The system all starts and ends with Landry Jones, who passed for 4718 yards and 38 TDs as a sophomore last season. Jones is one of the four best QBs in the country this season, and the team around him is loaded.
Jones got huge news when his top receiver, Ryan Broyles, announced that he would return to OU for his senior season. Broyles was nothing short of incredible last fall, grabbing 131 receptions for 1622 yards and 14 TDs. Also returning is Kenny Stills, a sophomore, who posted a very nice freshman line of 61-786-5.
The loss of DeMarco Murray is going to hurt just a little bit. Roy Finch is the frontrunner to replace him after rushing for 398 yards last fall, but Brennan Clay and newcomer Brandon Williams will give him a shove or two this fall. Williams rushed for 2438 yards and 33 TDs in high school last fall.
The line is almost entirely intact. Gabe Ikard (LG), Ben Habern (C), Tyler Evans (RG), and Donald Stephenson (LT) all return, but the RT job is open heading into camp.Josh Aladenoye and Lane Johnson look to be fighting it out for the job.
DT Stacy McGee and DE Frank Alexander both return up front. Alaexander had a very good season, recording 13.5 TFLs last fall. He added 7.5 sacks to his total. McGee is a block hog, and rarely makes plays behind the line, but did record 26 tackles. Ronnell Lewis, RJ Washington, and David King will compete for the open DE spot, while Casey Walker, Dan Noble, and Jamarcus McFarland will battle for the open DT spot.
Two starters return for the sooners at LB in Tony Jefferson and Travis Lewis. Lewis led the team last fall with 109 tackles on the season, including 5.5 TFLs. Jefferson finished with 65 tackles. There was a tragedy for the Sooners when MLB starting candidate Austin Box died from what was an apparent overdose of a drug taken at a party. Tom Wort, who saw action as a part time starter last season, should take his place at MLB. Wort finished last season with 66 tackles, including 7.5 for loss.
The Sooners are thin in the secondary as only Demontre Hurst returns from last season as a starter. Hurst was a force, knocking away 11 passes and forcing 3 fumbles. He also finished with 50 tackles, but only picked off 1 pass. Gabe Lynn, Julian Wilson, and Lamar Harris will battle for the open CB spot. Wilson is a freshman. Aaron Colvin and freshman James Haynes will fight for the SS spot, while Javon Harris and Sam Proctor will compete for the open FS slot.
Jimmy Stevens returns at PK after hitting 19 of 23 FGs last fall. Stevens was automatic on PATs, nailing all 53. If something should happen, Patrick O'Hara returns to back him up. Tress Way was a punting machine last fall, averaging 44 yards per punt as a sophomore. Trey Franks looks to be the new kick returner, but Brennan Clay could compete with him this fall. Broyles averaged 7.88 yards per punt return last fall, and returns to that post for 2011.
9/3 Tulsa; 9/17 @ Florida State; 9/24 Missouri; 10/1 Ball State; 10/8 Texas; 10/15 @ Kansas; 10/22 Texas Tech; 10/29 @ Kansas State; 11/5 Texas A&M; 11/12 Iowa State; 11/19 @ Baylor; 12/3 @ Oklahoma State
If the Sooners can figure it out on defense, especially in the depleted secondary, they will compete for a national title. Everything should culminate on 12/3 with the Bedlam game as to who will win the Big 12-2, and compete for the national title. Offensively, the Sooners are stacked, and it's possible that they could just outscore everyone if they have to.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head Coach: Mike Gundy, 47-29, 6 Years
2010 Record; 11-2 (6-2), Tied 1st South
2010 Results: Washington State, W 65-17; Troy, W 41-38; Tulsa, W 65-28; Texas A&M, W 38-35; @ UL-Lafayette, W 54-28; @ Texas Tech, W 34-17; Nebraska, L 51-41; @ Kansas State, W 24-14; Baylor, W 55-28; @ Texas, W 33-16; @ Kansas, W 48-14; Oklahoma, L 47-41; * Arizona, W 36-10
* Alamo Bowl
When OSU plays OU in the Bedlam Game, the scoreboard very well could just explode. OSU is going to put up some points this fall, you can guarantee that. Brandon Weeden may be the oldest starting QB in America by far, but he is one of the 4 best playing right now. Weeden was explosive last fall, passing for 4277 yards and 34 TDs. A lot is asked of him in this offense, but he has the maturity and mental makeup to handle it. The only thing that remains to be seen is how he will react to having a new coordinator after Dana Holgorson left for West Virginia.
Justin Blackmon is the best receiver in the nation. He makes everything look so damned easy that it makes you sick. Blackmon posted a line of 111-1782-20 last fall, while averaging 16.05 yards per catch and 148.5 yards per game. Simply amazing. The only issues is that he is the only returning starter at WR, and OSU employs a 4 receiver set. Isaiah Anderson, Josh Cooper, and Tracy Moore look to take the open jobs, but Michael Harrison, Hubert Anyiam, Colton Chelf, and Justin Horton are all in the mix. All are upperclassmen, with the exception of Harrison, who is a sophomore, so these guys have been in the system for a while.
The loss of Kendell Hunter will sting a little bit, But Joseph Randle looks ready to step up, and Jeremy Smith will push him in camp. Randle rushed for 453 yards last season, and Smith rushed for 7 TDs in limited action, so no real worries here.
The line returns intact. Nick Martinez (LT), Jonathon Rush (LG), Grant Garner (C), Lane Taylor (RG), and Levy Adcock (RT) all return and there is experience at all but one spot on the bench.
Jamie Blatnick is the lone returning starter up front at DE. Blatnick was the team leader last fall with 5.5 sacks on the season. Richetti Jones, Davidell Collins, and Ryan Robinson are all in the mix for the other DE opening. Freshman Christian Littlehead is pencilled in at one DT spot, while junior Nigel Nicholas is slotted at the other. Junior Maurice Hayes and freshman James Castleman are also in the mix.
Shawn Lewis returns at the STAR slot, which is a safety/LB hybrid. He collected 58 tackles, 8 TFLs, and forced 3 fumbles last fall. The MLB and WLB spots are open for now. Tyler Johnson and Caleb Lavey will compete at MLB, while LeRon Furr and Chris Dinkins will fight it out for the WLB spot. all should play at some point.
Three starters return in the secondary. Brodrick Brown returns at CB, where he broke up 8 passes last fall. Devin Hedgepeth, Andrae May, and Justin Gilbert will compete for the spot opposite Brown. Markelle Martin returns at SS, while Johnny Thomas returns at FS. Martin broke up 10 passes last season and recorded 55 tackles, while picking off 3 passes. Thomas broke up 5 passes and forced 2 fumbles, and also picked off 3 passes.
Quinn Sharp had a cannon leg as the punter last fall, averaging 46..24 yards per punt as a sophomore. He will also be taking over the PK duties this fall, as automatic Dan Bailey has moved on after hitting 27 FGs last fall. Justin Gilbert returned 2 kicks for TDs last fall, and will return to that role, while Josh Cooper returns to field punts, having returned one for a score last fall.
9/3 UL-Lafayette; 9/8 Arizona; 9/17 @ Tulsa; 9/24 @ Texas A&M; 10/8 Kansas; 10/15 @ Texas; 10/22 Missouri; 10/29 Baylor; 11/5 Kansas State; 11/12 @ Texas Tech; 11/18 @ Iowa State; 12/3 Oklahoma
OSU has their best chance to win a national championship this season. The window essentially closes after this, so now is the time. Despite the lack of returning starters at receiver, there is still plenty of explosiveness and talent there for Weeden to work with, and you always have Blackmon. The defense was the issue last fall, ranking only 88th nationally, so that will have to improve, but OSU can score with the best of them. If they can shave 2 to 4 points per game off of what they allowed a season ago, this can be a very special season.
Texas A&M Aggies
Head Coach: Mike Sherman, 19-19, 3 Years
2010 Record: 9-4 (6-2) Tied 1st South
2010 Results: Stephen F. Austin, W 48-7; Louisiana Tech, W 48-16; FIU, W 27-20; @ Oklahoma State, L 27-20; Arkansas, L 24-17; Missouri, L 30-9; @ Kansas, W 45-10; Texas Tech, W 45-27; Oklahoma, W 33-19; @ Baylor, W 42-30; Nebraska, W 9-6; @ Texas, W 24-17; * LSU, L 41-24
* Cotton Bowl
Something just changed when Ryan Tannehill took over the starting QB job from Jarrod Johnson last fall. The Aggies were coming off of a 3 game losing streak, and the season was in danger, and then the dynamics just changed for the better, with the Aggies tearing off on a 6 game winning streak. He passed for 1638 yards in 7 games as the starter with 13 TDs. He does have to slow down the picks, as he tossed 6 in 7 games. His best game came against Texas Tech, where he passed for 449 yards and 4 TDs.
The Aggies have a two headed monster in the backfield in Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. Gray rushed for 1133 yards and 12 scores last season, while Michael rushed for 631 yards and 4 scores despite missing 4 games with an injury. Both are back and healthy now.
Jeff Fuller is considered to be one of the best returning receivers in the nation this fall. Fuller posted 72-1066-12 last fall, and is built like a TE. Ryan Swope ia almost as good. Swope posted 72-825-4 last fall as the second receiver, giving the Aggies one of the best duos in the country. Uzoma Nwachukwu and Brandal Jackson will compete for the 3rd receiver slot.
The line returns 4 starters in LT Luke Joekel, LG Brian Thomas, C Patrick Lewis, and RT Jake Matthews. Shep Klinke, Evan Eike, and Jarvis Harrison will compete for the open RG spot in camp.
Jonathon Mathis and Tony Jerod-Eddie return at the DE spots. Jerod-Eddie finished with 49 tackles last fall, while Mathis finished with 41, but neither was a major playmaker in the backfield. Eddie Brown and freshman LaMarc Strahan will compete at DT, while Caleb Russell and Damontre Morgan will battle for the open JOKER spot. Moore should have an edge after finishing with 6.5 TFLs last fall.
Garrick Williams returns at ILB, and Sean Porter returns at OLB. Williams finshed with 112 tackles last fall, while Porter finished with 74. Jonathon Stewart, Kyle Mangan, and freshman Donnie Baggs will compete to replace Michael Hodges, the teams leading tackler with 115. The loss of Von Miller will be a difficult one to replace.
Terrence Frederick and Coryell Judie both return at CB, and Steven Campbell and Trent Hunter return at the safety spots, but A&M finished just 89th against the pass last fall, so this group has some work to do. Judie finished with 4 picks last fall, as did reserve Dustin Harris. Frederick and Harris each batted away 9 passes last fall.
Randy Bullock returns after hitting 16 of 21 FGs last season. He will look to improve, but he did nail all 53 PATs tried last fall. Drew Kazer, a freshman, will come on to punt this fall, after the committee used last season totally bombed out. Judie returns to return kicks after taking two back for TDs last season, while Kenric McNeal returns punts again after a very below average effort last fall.
9/3 SMU; 9/17 Idaho; 9/24 Oklahoma State; 10/1 Arkansas; 10/8 @ Texas Tech; 10/15 Baylor; 10/22 @ Iowa State; 10/29 Missouri; 11/5 @ Oklahoma; 11/12 @ Kansas State; 11/19 Kansas; 11/24 Texas
The Aggies could play spoiler in the Big 12-2 race once again this fall. They are the trap game, but they are also a team that could sneak up and steal the whole thing out from under OU and OSU. Mike Sherman needs a very succesful season this year, as he is exactly .500 after three seasons in College Station. Nobody is feeling the heat in this conference as much as Sherman is. This season is a turning point. I see 10 wins here.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Head Coach: Tommy Tuberville, 118-65, 15 Years
2010 Record: 8-5 (3-5), 5th South
2010 Results: SMU, W 35-27; @ New Mexico, W 52-17; Texas, L 24-14; @ Iowa State, L 52-38; Baylor, W 45-38; Oklahoma State, L 34-17; @ Colorado, W 27-24; @ Texas A&M, L 45-27; Missouri, W 24-17; @ Oklahoma, L 45-7; Weber State, W 64-21; Houston, W 35-20; * Northwestern, W 45-38
* Ticket City Bowl
A change is coming in Lubbock this fall, as there are new starters at all of the skill positions on offense, starting at QB where Seth Doege looks to be the starter, but he is being pushed by Jacon Karam, Scotty Young, and freshman Michael Brewer. They combine for 66 total pass attempts amongst all four of them.
Eric Stephens appears to be the starting RB after rushing for 668 yards last fall with 6 TDs. He will likely be replacing Barron Batch, who has moved on. Aaron Crawford will be there to compete, but likelywill not take the job away from Stephens. The up and comer, however, is freshman Ronnie Daniels, an early enrollee who got the eye of the coaches in the spring.
Tech still runs 4 receivers in Neal Brown's offense, but only one receiver returns with any starting experience, and that is Tramain Swindall, who does not show up as a first teamer on the depth chart. Swindall did post 33-271-1 last fall. Eric Ward, Austin Zouzalik, Alex Torres, and Darrin Moore are listed as current starters, but Swindall, Marcus Kennard, and Cornelius Douglas are all in the mix. Still hanging around is Adam James, who got Mike Leach canned.
The entire starting offensive line returns for the Red Raiders, giving them their only area of stability heading into fall camp.
The defense is thin...I mean, really thin. There are no returning starters on the front line or in the LB corps. None. Leon Mackey, Jackson Richards, Dartwan Bush, and Scott Smith are all battleing for the DE spots, while Kerry Hyder, Lawrence Rumph, Donald Langley, and Pearlie Graves will fight for the DT and NT jobs.
Daniel Cobb, Cqulin Hubert, Sam Fehoko, and Blake Dees will all fight for the vacant SLB and MLB jobs.
Tre Porter and Jarvis Phillips both return at CB, but Phillips is not listed as a starter right now. He may compete with Derrick Mayes and freshman Jeremy Reynolds for the open CB spot in fall camp. DJ Johnson returns at FS, and Cody Davis comes back at the WS spot, but the SS slot is open between Terrance Bullitt and Jared Flannel. The defense ranked 114th nationally last year, and with this lack of depth, it may be worse now.
Donnie Carona looks to be taking over at the PK spot, but he onlyhit 1 of his 4 attempts last fall, so that is not encouraging. Carona was a better punter, averaging 47 yards on 10 punts, but Ryan Erxleben looks to have the job as of now. Things could change in fall camp. Eric Stephens will retain his job as the kick returner, after averaging 24.34 yards per return last fall. Austin Zouzalik is the listed starter on punt returns, but he could be pushed by Aaron Crawford in camp.
9/3 Texas State; 9/17 @ New Mexico; 9/24 Nevada; 10/1 @ Kansas; 10/8 Texas A&M; 10/15 Kansas State; 10/22 @ Oklahoma; 10/29 Iowa State; 11/5 @ Texas; 11/12 Oklahoma State; 11/19 @ Missouri; 11/26 Baylor
There are far too many holes on both sides of the ball for the Raiders to have much success this fall. They were terrible on defense last season, and they could be worse now, and the likelihood of them repeating their ranking of 15th on offense seems unlikely. The system always seems to work on offense, but that was under Leach, not Tubberville, and the jury is way out on him right now. They will be lucky to win 6 games this season.
Head Coach: Gary Pinkel, 150-86-3, 20 Years
2010 Record: 10-3 (6-2), Tied 1st North
2010 Results: Illinois, W 23-13; McNeese State, W 50-6; San Diego State, W 27-24; Miami (Ohio), W 51-13; Colorado, W 26-0; @ Texas A&M, W 30-9; Oklahoma, W 36-27; @ Nebraska, L 31-17; @ Texas Tech, L 24-17; Kansas State, W 38-28; @ Iowa State, W 14-0; Kansas, W 35-7; * Iowa, L 27-24
* Insight Bowl
There are bound to be a few growing pains this fall for sophomore James Franklin, as he takes over at QB for the early departed Blaine Gabbert. Franklin attempted all of 14 passes last fall, so experience is not at an all time high. His primary competetion was Gabbert's younger brother Tyler, but he bailed after the spring, and despite a brief flirtation with Louisville, he has not landed anywhere as of yet.
The good news is that Franklin has a strong receiver corps to get the ball to. TJ Moe caught 92 passes last fall for 1045 yards and 6 scores to lead the team. He will be joined by Jerrell Jackson (50-656-3) and Wes Kemp (39-420-3) as starters, and all were starters last season as well. Even better is the return of super TE Michael Egnew. Egnew fininshed second on the team with a line of 90-762-5.
Four starters return on the line in LT Elvis Fisher, LG Jayson Palmgren, RG Austin Wuebbels, and RT Dan Hoch. Travis Ruth and Justin Britt should battle for the open Center spot.
Three starters return up front for the Tigers, but this group finished 62nd against the run last fall, giving up 152.9 yards per game rushing. More pressure is needed. Jacquies Smith returns at DE after recording 10 TFLs last fall. DT Terrell Resonno returns after collecting 35 tackles last season, and he is joined inside by NG Dominique Hamilton, who really brought nothing to the stat sheet last fall, but takes up blockers. Brad Madison, Michael Sam, and freshman Kony Ealy will compete for the open DE position. Madison has the edge as he led the team with 11 TFLs and 7.5 sacks last fall. Sam added 7 TFLs and will work into a rotation.
2 of 3 LBs are returning starters in WLB Zaviar Gooden and MLB Will Ebner. Gooden finished with 7.5 TFLs last fall coming off of the edge and finished with 84 total tackles. Ebner was very quiet last fall, and will need to be more active. He did miss 3 games last season. Andrew Wilson and Jared Parham will compete for the SAM spot.
The CBs will be new starters this fall. Kip Edwards, Robert Steeples, EJ Gaines, and Trey Hobson will all compete for the two spots, but all 4 will see action on passing downs throughout the year, barring injury. SS Kenji Jackons is the lone returning starting safety. Jackson finished with 66 tackles last fall, but was not very active in other areas. The Tigers simply need more from him. Tavin Bolden and Matt White look to compete for the open FS spot, but Kenronte Walker could slide over from the SS side.
Grant Ressel rarely ever misses at PK, and he returns after hitting 17 of 19 FGs last fall. This is a huge gain for Mizzou. Matt Grabner moves on at Punter, but coaches are high on the ability of junior Trey Barrow, who averaged 45 yards on two punts last fall. Marcos Murphy was below par as a kick return man last fall, but he tops the depth chart after the spring. Gahn McGaffie is available as well, and one of his 3 returns last fall was taken to the house. Kip Edwards takes over on punt returns, and has next to no experience.
9/3 Miami (Ohio); 9/9 @ Arizona State; 9/17 Western Illinois; 9/24 @ Oklahoma; 10/8 @ Kansas State; 10/15 Iowa State; 10/22 Oklahoma State; 10/29 @ Texas A&M; 11/5 @ Baylor; 11/12 Texas; 11/19 Texas Tech; 11/26 Kansas
Mizzou has to be pissed off that they were not included in an even bigger Big 10 expansion process, as they wanted out of the Big 12 in a huge way. They were jilted by the process, and were left right where they are with their tails hanging between their legs, and they have to endure the laughter of the other members, with none laughing louder than T. Boone Pickens, who told the Tigers to deal with it and shut the hell up. That being said, it could be a bumpy ride for the Tigers this fall, as every house they visit will seem extra hostile. They lack experience in the secondary, and lose their best player on defense in Aldon Smith, and losing Gabbert early is not a good thing either. How quickly Franklin develops could mean a ton. Early road trips to Arizona State and Oklahoma will tell the tale. I still can see 8 wins.
Head Coach: Mack Brown, 219-108-1, 27 Years
2010 Record: 5-7 (2-6), 6th South
2010 Results: @ Rice, W 24-17; Wyoming, W 34-7; @ Texas tech, W 24-14; UCLA, L 34-12; @ Oklahoma, L 28-20; @ Nebraska, W 20-13; Iowa State, L 28-21; Baylor, L 30-22; @ Kansas State, L 39-14; Oklahoma State, L 33-16; Florida Atlantic, W 51-17; Texas A&M, L 24-17
Nobody was a bigger letdown than QB Garrett Gilbert, who comes back with the job hanging by a string after a disastrous sophomore season that saw him toss 17 picks to just 10 scores. That's not getting it done for the Longhorns, and he fumbled a bunch as well. Don't be surprised if he continues to struggle to see the ball handed over to freshman Connor Wood.
While we're talking about flopping, let's discuss Fozzy Whittaker, who never developed into the back that coaches thought he could be last fall. Whittaker was held to 351 yards on 81 carries last fall, but returns on top of the depth chart over freshman Malcolm Brown. How long he can hold off Brown for remains to be seen, but I am guessing that it won't be long. He is a 20 carry per game bruiser who rushed for 86 TDs in high school.
The Longhorns change their offensive philosophy this season, as gone is Greg Davis, and in is former Boise State OC Brent Harsin and former Longhorn QB Major Applewhite (who Brown screwed over for a flop artist named Chris Simms, if you'll remember). The Horns will employ a 3 receiver set with a TE. Here's a problem. They don't have any returning starting receivers or TEs. Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin, and Darius White are pencilled in to start at WR, but DeSean Hales, Jaxon Shipley (brother of Jordan), and John Harris are all hanging on. Shipley and Harris are freshmen. At TE, Dominique Jones will compete with Blaine Irby, but both should play often.
Stacy Searels has been brought in from Georgia, where he had some solid linemen during his tenure, to coach this train wreck of a line. C David Snow and RG Mason Walters are the only returning starters. Tray Hopkins will compete with Tray Allen at LT, while Tray Allen may actually wind up being shifted to LG (does everyone here have to be named Tray?). Thomas Ashcroft is in the mix for the LG spot as well coming into the fall. Palden Kelley and freshman Garrett Greenlea will compete at RT.
The defense, shockingly, finished 6th in the nation last fall after giving up only 300.2 yards per game on the season. The weaknees came against the run, as the Horns gave up 138.6 yards per game on the ground, which is still not terrible. DT Kheeston Randall and DE Alex Okafor return to bolster the line. Randall had a huge season, collecting 10 TFLs from inside. Okafor finished with just 27 tackles last season on the end, and was not much of a factor behind the line. Jackson Jeffcoat, Dravannti Johnson, and Reggie Wilson will compete for the open DE spot, while Ashton Dorsey, Calvin Howell, and Taylor Bible are trying to work into a rotation in new DC Manny Diaz's new scheme.
Emaanuel Acho returns at OLB, while Keenan Robinson rtuens in the middle. Acho finished with 81 tackles last fall, and 10.5 TFLs. Robinson led the Horns with 106 tackles on the season. Jordan Hicks, DeMarco Cobbs, and Patrick Nkwopara will compete for the open OLB spot.
The secondary is scary thin. Only safety Blake Gideon returns this fall as a starter for a group that was ranked 6th against the pass. Gideon is not a known playmaker, as he only defended 3 passes with only one pick last fall. He did finish with 63 tackles. Adrian Phillips, Quandre Diggs, Carrington Byndom, and Adrian White will compete for the CB jobs, while Kenny Vaccaro, Christian Scott, and Nolan Brewster will battle it out at the open safety spot. Scott does have some starting experience. Vaccaro defended 7 passes in reserve last fall.
Justin Tucker was quite good last fall, nailing 23 of 27 FGs, and he returns to handle the Pk duties. The Horns will need his leg for guaranteed points after only averaging 23.85 points per game last fall, which was only good for 10th on the conference. William Russ steps in as a fresh leg with no experience to handle punting duties, but Tucker could fill in there as well on occasion after averaging 41.86 yards per punt last fall.DJ Monroe returns to handle kick return duties, but was highly average there last season. Freshman Quandre Diggs is slated to handle punt returns.
9/4 Rice; 9/10 BYU; 9/17 @ UCLA; 10/1 @ Iowa State; 10/8 Oklahoma; 10/15 Oklahoma State; 10/29 Kansas; 11/5 Texas Tech; 10/12 @ Missouri; 11/19 Kansas State; 11/24 @ Texas A&M; 12/3 @ Baylor
The O Line was awful last fall, and that had something to do with the poor play of Gilbert and Whittaker, but they were both just awful for the most part. Harsin and Applewhite have both known success in other locations, as has new DC Manny Diaz and Line Coach Searels. Mack Brown will not let this team stay down for long, but an immediate bounce back may not be in the works this season. Maybe 6 or 7 wins this season?
Head Coach: Art Briles, 49-50, Years
2010 Record: 7-6 (4-4), 4th South
2010 Results: Sam Houston State, W 34-3; Buffalo, W 34-6; @ TCU, L 45-10; @ Rice, W 30-13; Kansas, W 55-7; Texas Tech, L 45-38; @ Colorado, W 31-25; Kansas State, W 47-42; @ Texas, W 30-22; @ Oklahoma State, L 55-28; Texas A&M, L 42-30; Oklahoma, L 53-24; * Illinois, L 38-14
* Texas Bowl
8 starters return on offense for the Bears, but none of them are more important than QB Robert Griffin, who has the fate of this football team resting on his shoulders. Griffin returned from a year off after a heinous knee injury to take the reins and pass for 3501 yards and 22 TDs to just 8 picks. He added another 635 yards and 8 more TDs rushing, so he is the star, and he butters the bread.
No loss of the 3 on offense could hurt more than that of Jay Finley at RB. Finley rushed for 1218 yards and 12 scores last fall, and was the perfect compliment to Griffin in the backfield. Jarred Salubi and Terrence Ganaway will compete to see who wins that job, and this is a very important battle.
Laner Sampson returns at WR, as does team leader Kendall Wright. Wright posted 78-952-7, while Sampson caught 42 passes for just 390 yards. Josh Gordon, Terrence Williams, and Darius Jones will compete for the WR job. Jordan Navjar, a transfer from Stanford, will take over at TE after beating out Jerod Monk for the job in spring ball.
Four starters return on the line. Cyril Richardson shifts over to LT to replace Danny Watkins. LG Cameron Kaufhold returns, as do C Philip Blake, RG Robert Griffin, and RT Ivory Wade.
DT Tracy Robinson, NG Nicholas Jean-Baptiste, and DE Gary Mason all return up front, but the Bears gave up an average of 170.3 yards rushing per game last fall, so this group has some work to do. Tevin Elliott has the edge as the new starter at DE, as he led the team with 5 sacks and and 9 TFLs on the season. Terrence Lloyd will try to work into a rotation at DE.
Elliott Coffee is the lone returnee at LB for 2011. Coffee only collected 66 tackles last fall, so that is not encouraging news. He did miss 3 games, so health is a factor as well. Brody Trahan and Ahmad Dixon are sitting on top of the depth chart, with Prince Kent, and LeQuince McCall pushing them into the fall.
CB Chase Casey is the lone returning starter in the secondary, and the Bears were awful against the pass, ranking 114th in the country last season. Tyler Stephenson, Ronnie Blaylock, and Tuswani Copeland are fighting for the open CB job. Mike Hicks and KJ Morton top the depth chart at SS going into fall camp, while Sam Holl and Josh wilson battlefor the FS job.
Aaron Jones returns at PK, but hit on only 19 of his 27 attempts last season. The bears will need more consistency from him as a sophomore this season. Freshman Spencer Roth has the Punter job coming into the season, replacing Derek Epperson, who averaged 43.75 yards per punt last fall. The kick return game was lackluster last fall, so Josh Gordon is being handed the job after returning just 3 kicks last fall. Kendall Wright is being given the punt return job, but Terrence Williams is still around, and can steal the job back.
9/2 TCU; 9/17 Stephen F. Austin; 9/24 Rice; 10/1 @ Kansas State; 10/8 Iowa State; 10/15 @ Texas A&M; 10/29 @ Oklahoma State; 11/5 Missouri; 11/12 @ Kansas; 11/19 Oklahoma; 11/26 Texas Tech; 12/3 Texas
The Bears, as good as they were at times last season, are still maybe only the 5th or 6th best team in this conference. That's probably as good as they are likely to be for some time, as they don't have the resources to go up against Texas or Oklahoma. If you can accept that, then it's ok. I see a 6-6 season coming up.
Kansas State Wildcats
Head Coach: Bill Snyder
2010 Record: 7-6 (3-5), tied 3rd North
2010 Results: UCLA, W 31-22; Missouri State, W 48-24; Iowa State, W 27-20; Central Florida, W 17-13; Nebraska, L 48-13; @ Kansas, W 59-7; @ Baylor, L 47-42; Oklahoma State, L 24-14; Texas, W 39-14; @ Missouri, L 38-28; @ Colorado, L 44-36; @ North Texas, W 49-41; * Syracuse, L 36-34
* Pinstripe Bowl
Collin Klein and Justin Tuggle left spring ball as 1 and 2 on the depth chart, but Samual Lamur and incoming freshman Daniel Sams to join the battle in fall camp. Klein is believed to be the guy that will win the job, but that remains to be seen. It's been a while since K-State has produced a decent QB, and the jury is out on this entire group.
Tennessee transfer Bryce Brown is in the running to become the starter at RB, replacing Daniel Thomas, who was incredible last season. Brown will be either the best thing since sliced fucking bread, or he'll be the biggest flop in years. He has gotten a ton of hype, and if you ask me, he's done and shown nothing to me to deserve it yet. If he succeeds, I'll gladly eat these words. With the state of the line coming in, I'm guessing that I may go hungry.
Speaking of the line, the entire interior, guards and center, must be replaced. BJ Finney (a freshman) and Shaun Simon are competing for the center job, while Tomasi Mariner ( another freshman) and Nick Puetz are competing at LG. Colten Freeze and Ethan Douglas enter camp battling it out for the RG spot. This could get ugly if the Wildcats are starting a pair of freshmen on the line.
Chris Harper is the lone returning starter at WR. He was not impressive last season. Harper caught just 24 passes for 325 yards and 4 scores, so nobody is going to be jumping up and down about him being the most experienced guy out there for a new staff of QBs to throw to. Brodrick Smith, Tremaine Thompson, and Sheldon Smith will fight for the vacant WR spot. Travis Tannahill returns as the starting TE, but he caught all of 7 passes last season in 13 games. Non factor.
This defense is a black hole of bottomless crap. KSU gave up 40 points or more 4 times, including in the season finale to North Texas...yeah, North Texas. In the end, K-State ranked 106th in total defense, and 119th against the run out of 120 schools. They gave up 231.4 yards per game on the ground last fall.
Brandon Harold (DE) and Ray Kibble (DT) return up front, but they are two of just 3 returning starters in the front seven, with LB Alex Hrebec being the other. Harold finished with 7.5 TFLs from his end position, but only recorded 2 sacks. Nobody is worried about him, let me tell you. Kibble was basically a human waste of space, recording just 0.5 TFLs, and 0.5 sacks. It took him 13 games to accumulate that whopping number. Meshak Williams and Jordan Woelker are battling it out for the open DT slot, while Raphael Guidry and Jordan Allred are up for the open DE slot.
Hrebec recorded 77 tackles last season, which was good for 3rd on the team, but nobody is going to be running away from him this fall. He is not a factor in the backfield at all. Arthur Brown and Tre Walker look like the starters at the open LB spots, but Blake Slaughter, Emmanuel Lamur, and Jarell Childs all figure into the fight in fall camp.
Three starters return in the secondary, where KSU may be the strongest. David Garrett returns at CB after defending 9 passes last fall. Garrett also led the team in tackles with 92, but should your CB be leading your team in tackles? Nigel Malone and allen Chapman will be competing to win the spot opposite Garrett. Ty Zimmerman and Tysin Hartman both return at the Safety spots, and they could be the heart of the team. Zimmerman recorded 74 tackles, and led the team with 3 picks. Hartman finished with 86 tackles on the season, but is not much on pass coverage or making plays in the secondary, but due to the front seven's inability to stop the run, he was forced to be more of a LB anyway.
Anthony Cantele is listed as the starter at PK, and only hit on 1 of 2 FGs last fall. Inexperience here will hurt, as the inexperience of the offense could use someone that they could rely on here. Ryan Doerr is back at Punter after a very solid season of averaging over 41 yards per punt. With William Powell gone, Bryce Brown takes over on kick returns, whileTysyn Hartman won the punt return job in spring ball. Tramain Thompson could still steal the job back, or Ty Zimmerman could grab it as well.
9/3 Eastern Kentucky, 9/17 Kent State; 9/24 @ Miami (FL); 10/1 Baylor; 10/8 Missouri; 10/15 @ Texas Tech; 10/22 @ Kansas; 10/29 Oklahoma; 11/5 @ Oklahoma State; 11/12 Texas A&M; 11/19 @ Texas; 11/26 Iowa State
Get ready for a long and bumpy ride in Manhatten this fall, as fall will be the key word. But hey, it's nice to see that Bill Snyder still knows a thing or two about putting together a creampuff schedule early on to pad his win record. Very nice. Seriously...Eastern Kentucky and Kent State? So what if they travel to Miami, they'll already be a severely padded 2-0 by the time they go down there to get their asses handed to them. Oh well. In all sincerity, KSU will not be good. Maybe 4 wins...tops. Hey Bill Snyder...remember what they said about going home again? Not so good this time around, buddy.
Head Coach: Turner Gill, 23-39, 5 Years
2010 Record: 3-9 (1-7), 6th North
2010 Results: North Dakota State, L 6-3; Georgia Tech, W 28-25; @ Southern Miss, L 31-16; New Mexico State, W 42-16; @ Baylor, L 55-7; Kansas State, L 59-7; Texas A&M, L 45-10; @ Iowa State, L 28-16; Colorado, W 52-45; @ Nebraska, L 20-3; Oklahoma State, L 48-14; Missouri, L 35-7
What, they have one? Could have fooled all of us. The Jayhawks finished 113th in the nation in total offense last season. I would fill you in on what juggernauts finished ahead of them, but that's just salt in the wounds. Turner Gill is an offensive guy, yet this team has nobody on offense. OK, not his bad, as this will only be his second class, and the first one doesn't count.
Jordan Webb is being bounced out of the starting job at QB for true freshman Brock Berglund. If there was ever a time to go this route, it's now, and I don't blame Turner Gill one bit for that move, but Webb will push him in the fall. Webb was not good in 9 games last fall.
KU needs a new RB as well, and James Sims will battle freshman Darrian Miller for the job. Sims rushed for 742 yards and 9 scores last fall, but Miller should get some serious work in as well this fall.
KU plays with 3 receivers, but only one starter returns this fall, as Daymond Patterson comes back as a senior. Patterson was credible last season, posting a line of 60-487-2, but that average of 8.12 yards per catch is not good. Chris Omigie and Christian Matthews will line up in the open WR spots, but DJ Beshears, Kale Pick (former QB), and Erick McGriff will figure in the fight as well. Tim Biere returns at TE, but caught only 19 passes last fall.
The line from center to RT is fine, but the left side is vacant heading into the fall. Jeff Spikes and Gavin Howard are competing at LT, while Trevor Marrongelli and Tom Mabry will duke it out at LG. Jeremiah Hatch returns at Center, Duane Zlatnik at RG, and Tanner Hawkinson comes back at RT.
It wasn't much better on this side of the football, as KU finished 98th in total defense, and gave up 205.2 yards rushing per game along with 222.5 yards passing per game.
Toben Opurum (DE), Patrick Dorsey (DT), and Richard Johnson (DT) all return up front, while Kaba Agostinho and freshman Julius Green look to work out at the open DE spot. Nobody is fearing this group.
Steven Johnson is the lone returning starting LB for the Hawks. Johnson led the team with 95 tackles from his SLB position, and will be greatly depended on once again to make plays that the front 4 miss. Hulden Tharp and Chea Peterman will compete in fall camp for WLB, while Darius Willis and Stevan Mestan will compete at MLB.
Tyler Patmon is the only returning starter in the secondary, which at 65th nationall was the strongest part of this unit last season. Not saying much. Patmon was the best of the bunch, having defended 10 passes last season. Greg Brown, Anthony Davis, and Isaiah Barfield will battle for the other CB spot. Bradley McDougald and Ray Mitchell are in a battle for SS, while it's down to Keeston Terry and Lubbock Smith at SS.
It's starting over time at PK, as Ron Doherty, a sophomore, is handed the job heading into the fall. Jacob Brandstetter was, in a word, horrible last fall, hitting only 8 of 14 tries. Incoming freshman Victor McBride will hanle punting duties, as Alonso Reyes departs after a strong season. DJ Beshears was actually quite good on kick returns last fall, averaging 25.61 yards per return and scoring one TD. Daymond Patterson was the punt returner, for lack of a better term. He sucked.
9/3 McNeese State; 9/10 Northern Illinois; 9/17 @ Georgia Tech; 10/1 Texas Tech; 10/8 @ Oklahoma State; 10/15 Oklahoma; 10/22 Kansas State; 10/29 @ Texas; 11/5 @ Iowa State; 11/12 Baylor; 11/19 @ Texas A&M; 11/26 Missouri
If KU loses their opener to another FCS squad this season, just burn your season tickets, because it'll be very ugly. I actually see this team getting worse this season, if that is at all possible. Turner Gill picked the wrong job, and he may get exposed very quickly here. This team is a train wreck. I see only 2 wins, unless they lose to that vaunted FCS foe McNeese State, like they did against North Dakota State last fall, but hey, at least NDSU was an FCS playoff team last fall. You always have that...
Iowa State Cyclones
Head Coach: Paul Rhodes, 12-13, 2 Years
2010 Record: 5-7 (3-5), tied 3rd North
2010 Results: Northern Illinois, W 27-10; @ Iowa, L 35-7; Kansas State, L 27-20; Northern Iowa, W 27-0; Texas Tech, W 52-38; Utah, L 68-27; @ Oklahoma, L 52-0; @ Texas, W 28-21; Kansas, W 28-16; Nebraska, L 31-30 (OT); @ Colorado, L 34-14; Missouri, L 14-0
If this unit had just been maybe 10 spots better than 99th, they may have gone bowling. More on that later.
The Cyclones are starting over again at QB, but some think that Austen Arnaud moving on is a good thing, and I count myself in that crowd. Arnaud was a loose cannon at times, and the Cyclones tried to ride that wave too many times, and got drowned by it more often than not. Jerome Tiller is set to take over, if he can hold off Steele Jentz in fall camp. Tiller definately has the edge as of now, but his passing will be at issue.
Shontrelle Johnson will be the feature back, but Jeff Woody will see carries as well, no matter who wins the job in the fall. Johnson is well liked by the staff, and looks to be a bulk carry kind of back.
Darius Darks and Darius Reynolds are back to WR, and Josh Lenz, Jarvis West, Aaron Horne, and Donnie Jennert are looking to gain time at the 3rd receiver slot. Darks and Reynolds caught only 54 passes between them, so there is some concern here. Kurt Hammerschmidt and Ernst Brun are at the top of the TE chart as of now.
LT Kenechi Osemele may be the best LT that you have never heard of, and he would be able to start at any of the better programs in the conference. He is definately top 5 in the country. Hayworth Hicks returns at RG, while Braydon Burris is back at RT. The LG and C spots are open heading into the fall.
Stephen Ruempolhamer is the lone returnee up front at NG, and he collected 33 tackles last season with 6.5 TFLs. Jacob Lattimer, Patrick Miller, Roosevelt Maggitt, and Rudy Nelson will all be fighting for playing time at DE, and may all play at some point. Cleyton Laing and Jake McDonough will compete at the open DT spot as well, and again, may both figure into a rotation.
AJ Klein and Jake Knott are back at the OLB spots, and will be counted on to be the team's top playmakers in a blitzing scheme that will come from all angles. Klein collected 8 TFLs to lead the team last fall, while Knott had 6. Knott led the team in tackles with 130 last fall, while Klein collected 111. Matt Tau'fo'ou will compete with Jeremiah George at MLB.
Leonard Johnson and Jeremy Reeves come back at the CB spots. Johnson finished with 64 tackles last fall, and defended 7 passes. Reeves knocked away 6 passes, picked off 2, and finished with 62 tackles. Te'Ran Benton returns at SS as well, and he finished with 58 tackles on the season. Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield will both compete for the FS spot, but have no experience.
Grant Mahoney returns at PK, but that may not be a good thing, as he only connected on 8 of 17 FGs last fall. Kirby Van Der Kamp returns as the punter, and he was stellar as a freshman last fall, averaging 45.17 yards per punt. Leonard Johnson has been named the kick return man, but Shontrelle Johnson was very good there last fall, averaging 23.4 yards per return. Josh Lenz is slotted to return punts after averaging 10.36 yards per return with a TD last fall.
9/3 Northern Iowa; 9/10 Iowa; 10/16 @ UConn; 10/1 Texas; 10/8 Baylor; 10/15 @ Missouri; 10/22 Texas A&M; 10/29 @ Texas Tech; 11/5 Kansas; 11/12 @ Oklahoma; 11/18 Oklahoma State; 11/26 @ Kansas State
The Cyclones are a pesky kind of team that comes out of nowhere just when you leave them for dead. I have to be honest though, I just don't see them repeating their 5 wins. If the offense had just been a bit better, the Cyclones would have held off Nebraska in that one point loss, and that one point kept ISu out of a bowl game. That and an inexplicable loss to Colorado AFTER Dan Hawkins had been canned. Go figure. ISu was close last fall, but they are farther away now, and don't count on repeat wins over Texas and Texas Tech, either. I see a 2 win season coming up.