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Big 12 Spring Football - Ok St to WVU
Texas QB David Ash
Texas QB David Ash
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 20, 2012


As spring ball kicks in, what's happening for each Big 12 team? Oklahoma State to West Virginia


2012 Spring Preview   

Big 12 - Ok State to WVU


Baylor | Iowa State | Kansas | Kansas State | Oklahoma
Oklahoma St | Texas | TCU | Texas Tech | West Virginia

2012 Big 12 Pre-Spring Preview
- Big 12 Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Big 12 Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Big 12 Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Big 12 Team Needs To Work On 
- Big 12 Recruiting Rankings
- 2012 Big 12 Schedule Analysis - Baylor to OU
- 2012 Big 12 Schedule Analysis - Oklahoma St to WVU
- 2012 Big 12 Composite Schedule & Week Rankings

By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... #ColFootballNews 

- 2012 Big 12 Preview - Baylor to Oklahoma

Oklahoma State

Was 2011 the breakthrough, the culmination or a little bit of both? Of course Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, and several other key starters were a big part of taking a good program and bringing to the cusp of playing for the national championship, but it’s about the system and the coaching, too. Oklahoma State under Mike Gundy has been able to get the pieces, but the machine also puts the good talents in great positions to succeed.

Remember, there was a huge concern about who was going to replace Dez Bryant. Cowboy quarterbacks always produce, and the running game always has speedy options who rip off yards in chunks. This offseason the goal is to find the pecking order at quarterback, receiver, and safety as soon as possible to get the machine back up and rolling.

Okay, so the Cowboys benefitted a little bit from Texas still trying to find itself, Texas A&M inventing ways to lose games late, and Oklahoma being just flaky enough at the right times to avoid being in the national title hunt. This year, it’s about staying power and that means spring football is about reloading rather than rebuilding.

- Don’t forget about the loss of Josh Cooper, the team’s No. 2 receiver. All eyes will be on replacing Blackmon, but Cooper was a steady producer who made 71 grabs for 715 yards and three touchdowns. Tracy Moore is back after finishing third on the team with 45 catches.

- The quarterback derby will likely go on into the summer with J.W. Welsh, West Lunt, and Clint Chelf all getting an equal shot. Chelf was the No. 2 last year, but that’s supposedly not going to mean much this spring in the open competition. Don’t believe it; Chelf will end up being the main man.

- Receiver will work itself out, and the quarterback situation will be fine. OSU’s biggest job might be to replace Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnik on the defensive front. Tyler Johnson is a linebacker and Nigel Nicholas is a tackle, but they’ll get a shot on the end.

- The Cowboy defense got a bad rap last year by those who just looked at the stats. Yes, OSU was 107th in the nation in total defense and 107th against the pass, but that’s partly because everyone had to bomb away. The D was a terror at coming up with takeaways, helping the Cowboys finish first in the nation in turnover margin.

- The punt return game has to be a focal point after finishing 115th in the nation and averaging just 3.43 yards per try.

Texas

Enough is enough. Now it’s time for Texas to go back to being Texas again, and if this spring was any indication, play time is over. The talent is in place, the experience is there in key spots, and the coaching staff appears to have a direction again after trying to figure out what it was doing offensively. The offense has its quarterback – David Ash appears to be the main man going into the summer – and it has a stable of potentially special running backs to take the heat off. The defense was great last year and it should be solid again even after a slew of losses to the NFL.

It’s Texas and the expectations are always going to be high, but a national title might not be in the picture quite yet. The talent level is as strong as any in college football, but it might be one more year before everyone matures enough to be ready for a BCS championship run. This offseason is about getting back to being BCS-good, and while there might be a greater sense of urgency than normal, that’s a good thing. There’s no excuse not to win at least ten games.

- The quarterback situation will be fine, even if David Ash and Case McCoy end up rotating again in some form, but the receiving corps has to be healthy. Jaxon Shipley proved he’s a playmaker when he’s on the field, but he was never quite right getting banged around too much. DeSean Hales has emerged as a potential star in spring ball, while Mike Davis has the look of a No. 1 target.

- Hold your horses on Connor Brewer. The superstar quarterback prospect has to be night-and-day better than Ash and McCoy to be a part of the mix this year, and the coaching staff might not trust the critical season to a true freshman. Ash has been good enough to keep Brewer on the backburner – for now.

- The biggest position battle could turn out to be kicker after losing Justin Tucker. Nick Jordan might be the most talented option on the lot, but he’s a newbie who’ll fight it out with Will Russ and Ben Pruitt throughout the offseason. There isn’t an answer at the moment.

- It got lost in all the hullabaloo over the offense and another disappointing season, but the defense was tremendous. The Longhorns didn’t allow much of anything against the run and was terrific at getting into the backfield. It’s not going to take too much from the offense to make the D’s life far easier.

- While it can be fool’s gold to breakdown schedules and assume things ease up in sections – like the second half of the 2010 slate – the Longhorn season might come down to the three-game midseason stretch against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. If Texas is close to being back to form, it shouldn’t have a problem with Baylor, at Kansas, at Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU – following a week off – and at Kansas State.

TCU

Okay, so how much does the drug scandal really matter to the bigger picture? This is a time when it should be all about the huge move to the Big 12 and the big-time, and it should be about a team that has the talent and the potential to make a whole bunch of noise right away. Of course, the offseason has been about more than football with its perfect image under coach Gary Patterson now with a big stain. However, unlike other schools in the news for the wrong reasons over the last several months, TCU is handling the problem as well as can reasonably be asked with transparency across the board. So how will all of this affect the team on the field?

The lone positive is that this all hit the fan in February, giving it almost the entire offseason to breathe and be resolved as much as possible. If this came out in August, the season would probably be a wash. Even with a few suspensions – and before any more fallout to potentially come – the Horned Frogs should be loaded and should make a splash. The passing game will be more than good enough to keep up the pace in the high-octane world of Big 12 shootouts, and the defense should be back to 2010 form with a little bit of tweaking. TCU will get through this. It’s just going to take more than spring football to get there.

- Gut feeling/prediction – the drug scandal won’t make a difference to TCU’s season by the time Grambling State comes to Fort Worth. Even if it does and there are some early suspensions or problems, the first half of the season isn’t bad with a road trip to Kansas and Iowa State the first two Big 12 games to go along with Grambling, Virginia, and a bus ride to face SMU. Schedule-wise, the payback comes with a finishing kick at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas, Oklahoma.

- However, losing linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, and corner Devin Johnson really hurts a defense that could’ve used their experience. .

- Much will be made out of West Virginia’s receiving corps, and rightly so. Baylor will be loaded even without Kendall Wright; Texas will have a great group if everyone can stay healthy and with better quarterback play; and Oklahoma will have a phenomenal corps if it wakes up and realizes how good it is. But don’t sell TCU’s targets short. Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson, and Brandon Carter will be as good as any trio in the country.

- Several Big 12 programs would kill – cough, Oklahoma, cough – to have TCU’s stable of running backs. Waymon James, Ed Wesley, and Matthew Tucker all ran for more than 700 yards.

- If Casey Pachall isn’t a 3,000-yard passer – he set record in a 2,921-yard, 25 touchdown season – TCU will have a hard time getting to ten wins.

Texas Tech

There are few coaches in college football on a hotter seat than Tommy Tuberville, and he and his staff have to use this spring and this offseason to turn things around by figuring out how to find a defense and a more consistent offense. After so much promise and so much potential shown in close losses to Texas A&M and Kansas State, and with the shocking upset of Oklahoma, the Red Raiders fell off the map with one of the nation’s worst defenses and an offense that went into a mystifying tank.

Tuberville is a proven, talented coach, but he’s still the guy who replaced Mike Leach. The Red Raider passing game might still be great, but it seems like everyone in the Big 12 has a great air attack. Tech averaged 345 yards per game through the air and finished seventh in the nation in passing, but ended up fourth in the conference. The identity the program had under Leach is slipping away, but Tuberville has to come up with a new one - a winning one – and that’ll only come with an improved defense.

- The TCU drug scandal has taken center stage among Big 12 offseason issues, but Tech has a black eye of its own with tight end Jace Amaro and running back Kenny Williams were arrested on felony charges of credit card abuse. The two have claimed to be innocent and are still on the team, but it’s a distraction for a team that needed them to be in the hunt for starting jobs.

- Why did the team stink so badly over the second half of last season? Injuries had a part, and they’re an issue in spring ball with several key players continuing to heal up. The offense is missing several important players like WR Alex Torres and RB Eric Stephens. For a team that needs to improve its consistency and timing, that’s a problem.

- The star of the early part of spring ball has been linebacker Will Smith. The 6-2, 220-pound JUCO transfer isn’t all that big, but he’s a hitting machine with unlimited range. While he’s an outside linebacker by trade, he might end up in the middle.

- Seth Doege might have struggled at times down the stretch, and he was inconsistent with both his decision making and passes, but there’s no quarterback controversy in any way. This is his job, and the coaching staff thinks there’s more Oklahoma-game magic waiting to come.

- Northwestern State, at Texas State, New Mexico, and a week off to prepare for a trip to Iowa State. Anything less than an impressive 4-0 start will be a major disappointment.

West Virginia

West Virginia would’ve gone back to the BCS had it stayed in the Big East one more year. Rutgers is solid and Louisville is up-and-coming, but the Mountaineers would’ve been the head-and-shoulders class of the conference and would’ve been everyone’s runaway favorite to take the title. In the Big 12, though, West Virginia might be just another team unless last year was just the preview of things to come.

Almost everyone has an offense in the Big 12, and while coach Dana Holgorsen knows how to succeed in the league as the former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, it’s going to be a whole other ball game to keep up the pace. Only one other Big East team – South Florida – ranked in the top 30 in total offense, and it was No. 30. The returning Big 12 teams had four of the nation’s top 13 offenses, and newcomer TCU was 28th. The Mountaineers have to be even more explosive, more consistent, and more efficient. They have to go Orange Bowl on the Big 12.

- It’s been glossed over after the 70-33 blasting of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but it’s not like the Mountaineers were dominant in 2011. There was a six-point win over a horrible Maryland team; puzzling loss to Syracuse and a home loss to Louisville; and wins over Cincinnati, Pitt, and South Florida were by a grand total of seven points.

- Finally healthy, running back Anthony Buie is making an early impact in place of starter Dustin Garrison, who’s getting past a torn ACL suffered in a pre-Orange Bowl practice.

- The Mountaineers get almost all the key parts back on both sides of the ball. The one exception is left tackle where Don Barclay is gone. Nick Kindler is a taller, lighter option who was the key backup last year. He’ll get the first look.

- Some defense - ANY defense – goes a long way in the Big 12. The Mountaineers lose ends Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller up front, and now the D will try to bring the pressure from the linebackers in a 3-4 scheme. The old 3-3-5 will still be around from time to time, but coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson will play to the strengths of the returning starters.

- The punting game has to be better after averaging just 34.6 yards per try. Mike Molinari and Corey Smith only had to kick 56 times, but they need to generate a bigger blast.

Baylor | Iowa State | Kansas | Kansas State | Oklahoma
Oklahoma St | Texas | TCU | Texas Tech | West Virginia

2012 Big 12 Pre-Spring Preview
- Big 12 Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Big 12 Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Big 12 Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Big 12 Team Needs To Work On 
- Big 12 Recruiting Rankings
- 2012 Big 12 Schedule Analysis - Baylor to OU
- 2012 Big 12 Schedule Analysis - Oklahoma St to WVU
- 2012 Big 12 Composite Schedule & Week Rankings