Big 12 Media Days - The Big Questions
TCU DE Stansly Maponga
TCU DE Stansly Maponga
Posted Jul 23, 2012

As the fun kicks off, what are the questions for each Big 12 team?

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Big 12 Media Days Questions

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How does a program like Baylor possibly replace a player like Robert Griffin III? America, welcome to Nick Florence. Baylor isn't Oklahoma or Texas and doesn't have No. 2 overall draft pick quarterback talents falling through the door, but head coach Art Briles has a brilliant passer-friendly offensive system that always cranks out big numbers. Florence is a smart, solid veteran with good accuracy and nice touch. He might not complete 72% of his passes for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns with six picks like RG3 did, but he has a next-level talent in receiver Terrence Williams along with other veteran targets, so don't expect the Baylor offensive machine to stop. It might not be as magical, but it'll be productive.

Iowa State
Is it possible for Iowa State to ever take any sort of a step forward despite returning a team full of veterans? The Cyclones always seem to shock the world every once in a while – like it did last year beating Oklahoma State – but they're likely going to be the underdog in every Big 12 game except the road date at Kansas. This is the deepest Cyclone team yet under head coach Paul Rhoads, highlighted by a terrific linebacking corps, but the team could be better and the results might not reflect it. Iowa State would be one of the favorites in the Big East, but the Big 12 isn't the Big East.

Can Charlie Weis turn Kansas into a winner? Not right away, but he'll get time to change things around. While he came in like a ball of fire and cleaned house, booting the guys who didn't want to put in the work needed to try to turn things around, he also got rid of several players who could've contributed right away. But Kansas has miles to go to be able to keep up the pace in the high-octane Big 12, and in time the hope is that Weis can work some sort of offensive magic to make the Jayhawks relevant again. The biggest positive is that Weis has something to prove. He's motivated and ready to show that he can learn from the mistakes at Notre Dame, and as the offensive coordinator at Florida last season, but he needs more talented players, especially on defense.

Kansas State
Was the 10-3 season a mirage or is Kansas State back to being great under Bill Snyder? Maybe it's a little of both. Kansas State can be great again but it's going to take everything going its way. The Wildcats were ninth in the nation turnover margin, dominated in time of possession and was flagged 24 fewer times than their opponents. You know what you're getting with the offense – running, running and more running - even with more of an emphasis on downfield passing this offseason, and it's biggest strength is ball security. Eight of the ten wins came by a touchdown or less, and once again there won't be any margin for error. Fortunately for KSU, the veterans are in place to do more of the same.

Are the Sooners back to being nasty again? It's a big stretch to say that the loss of former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to Arizona was the difference between Oklahoma being the big bully in the Big 12 and being a half-step down from the elite of the elite – the Sooners won five Big 12 titles after 2003 – but it seemed to lack the same sort of consistent swagger it owned in the early part of the 2000s. Now Stoops is back to join his brother Bob, and the hope will be for the defense that broke down in too many key situations to become more consistent, more aggressive and a lot tougher. With veteran quarterback Landry Jones back, the nation's fifth-ranked offense will be more than fine again. Now the defense should do its part.

Oklahoma State
Will the offensive machine keep on rolling after losing quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon? Why not? The Cowboys lost offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen before last season, and the offense finished third in the nation in yards and second in scoring. Dez Bryant was supposed to be an irreplaceable receiver, but Justin Blackmon came along a few years ago and finished up winning two Biletnikoff awards. True freshman Wes Lunt is being thrown to the wolves in place of Weeden as the program's next big-passing quarterback, and he'll be helped by a loaded backfield to take the heat off with Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith forming one of the nation's best 1-2 rushing attacks. This might not be the Oklahoma State juggernaut of last season, but it's not going to be far off.

Is Texas ready to be back among the elite of the elite? It all depends on whether or not quarterback David Ash is the real deal. The Longhorns weren't all that bad last season despite the 8-5 record, finishing sixth in the nation in total defense and averaging 203 rushing yards per game, and now everything should be in place to come back roaring. The defense should be even better with blinding speed in the secondary, next-level athleticism at linebacker and a potentially devastating front four. The offensive line will be solid and the backfield is loaded with talent and options. Now it's up to Ash or possibly Case McCoy to take over the attack and do more with the passing game. Texas doesn't need Vince Young or Colt McCoy under center, but it needs Ash to be efficient and more effective.

Will TCU be able to keep the production going after moving up to the Big 12? Maybe not, but that doesn't mean the Horned Frogs can't be terrific. The back half of the schedule with Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma isn't anything like the program had to deal with in the Mountain West or the WAC, and the overall talent might not be there compared with the conference big boys, but the receiving corps and quarterback Casey Pachall form a passing game as good as any in the Big 12 and the running game is deep and talented. Head coach Gary Patterson has never had a problem cranking out top defenses despite the absence of four and five-star talents, but in the Big 12 all the D has to do is hold serve once in a while and this one can do that. Don't expect a Big 12 championship right away, but the Horned Frogs will be a tough out week after week.

Texas Tech
What does Tommy Tuberville have to do to keep his job? There's still a sizable portion of the fan base that still can't figure out why Mike Leach is the head coach at Washington State instead of at Texas Tech, but the chance is there for Tuberville to change around a rocky first two seasons and start to show that the program can be a player again in the Big 12 title chase. The defense hasn't shown up in the Tuberville era, while the offense has to be more consistent and show off the same firepower that made Leach such a fan favorite. For this to work and for Tuberville to be around for Year Four, quarterback Seth Doege and the passing game must crank out yards in even bigger chunks and start winning more shootouts. A little more help from the D along way wouldn't hurt.

West Virginia
Is the West Virginia that hung up 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl ready to challenge for the Big 12 title? The fan base certainly thinks so, however, It has been totally forgotten that there was a blowout loss at Syracuse and it took everything in the bag to beat Cincinnati, Pitt and South Florida, winning the last three games of the regular season by a grand total of seven points and needed a late field goal just to get to the Orange Bowl. The offense is loaded and shouldn't have a problem keeping up the pace with anyone in the conference, while the defense is just good enough to come up with a few stops needed to let the offense win games. It might be asking for too much to win the Big 12 title in the first year after moving over from the Big East, but the bar is set higher now, just the way the program wants it.

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