2012 Big 12 Preview - Team Breakdowns & Picks
Baylor WR Terrance Williams
Baylor WR Terrance Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 5, 2012


Preview 2012 - CFN Big 12 Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finishes


Preview 2012

Big 12 Team By Team

 

- 2012 Baylor Preview | 2012 Iowa State Preview
- 2012 Kansas Preview | 2012 Kansas State Preview 
- 2012 Oklahoma Preview | 2012 Oklahoma State Preview
- 2012 Texas Preview | 2012 TCU Preview
- 2012 Texas Tech Preview | 2012 West Virginia Preview  

- 2012 Big 12 Preview
- 2012 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  

Predicted Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.
 
1. Oklahoma
Predicted Conference Record: 8-1
Predicted Overall Record: 11-1

Offense: The offense that finished fifth in the nation and tenth in scoring might not be quite as explosive, but it should be every bit as strong thanks to the return of quarterback Landry Jones for his senior season. While the top NFL prospect might be the team’s signature star, pounding backup Blake Bell could steal the spotlight with his short-yardage scoring ability. The receiving corps have lost Ryan Broyles, but top recruit Trey Metoyer and Kenny Stills are terrific. A quick group of athletic backs should produce behind an outstanding line that gets four starters back with the depth to keep everyone fresh.

Defense: Welcome back, Mike Stoops. The defense didn’t exactly fall off the map after Stoops left to take the Arizona job in 2003, but it seemed to lose its killer instinct. That should be back now as he takes back his old defensive coordinator gig inheriting a loaded defense full of veterans. Finding a sure-thing pass rush from the ends is a must after losing most of the key parts, but the tackles are strong and deep and there’s plenty of athleticism and promise on the outside. The veteran linebacking corps is fast, fast, fast led by tone-setter Tom Wort in the middle, but it’s the secondary that should be the biggest strength with five good veterans and an outstanding corner tandem in Demontre Hurst and former safety Aaron Colvin to work around. Overall, the defense has to be consistent and has to avoid the meltdowns in key moments like it suffered in losses to Baylor and Texas Tech, but Stoops should turn this group into a killer.

T2. Oklahoma State
Predicted Conference Record: 7-2
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2

Offense: There was some concern that the offense wouldn’t quite have the same pop and explosion with offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen moving on to become the head coach at West Virginia. Todd Monken didn’t seem to have too many problems getting things moving with the O finishing third in the nation averaging 546 yards per game and second in scoring averaging close to 49 points per outing. Now the offense has to replace QB Brandon Weeden, two-time Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon and four starters from the line. No worries. Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith form one of the nation’s best 1-2 rushing tandems working behind a line that quickly filled in the holes. The passing game will take a step back to potentially make a giant leap forward with several good young receivers ready to take on bigger roles and with true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt being thrown to the wolves.

Defense: It was one of the biggest myths of the 2011 college football season: the Oklahoma State defense was bad. Wrong. The defense was fantastic, but the stats didn’t look great because everyone had to bomb away to have any hope of trying to keep pace. Yes, Andrew Luck was Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl, and great running games were able to pound away, but the Cowboys came up with a whopping 44 takeaways with at least one fumble recovery in every game and at least one pick in every game but the blowout win over Arizona. A pass rush has to emerge from the new ends, and the tackles have to hold up better against the run, but the linebacking corps is loaded with athletic hitters and the secondary, despite the loss of strong safety Markelle Martin, will be among the best in the Big 12.

T2. Texas
Predicted Conference Record: 7-2
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2

Offense: Co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin have all the talent in the world to play around with, but now the production has to come. The biggest strength should be a loaded backfield with the 1-2 rushing punch of Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron about to be dominant if the line can get a little more of a push and if the passing game can take the heat off. The receiving corps is full of talent and potential with Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley leading a deep group, but it needs a quarterback to deliver the ball on a consistent basis. David Ash will likely be the main man coming off a solid bowl performance against Cal, but Case McCoy is option No. 1A. The situation needs to be settled as soon as possible with the starter needing to be consistent and careful. The quarterbacks don’t have to bomb away, but they have to move the chains and keep the picks to a minimum.

Defense: If this isn’t the best defense in America, it’ll be in the running to be the fastest and most athletic. The Big 12’s No. 1 defense of 2011 gets back six starters and will enjoy an upgrade in athleticism at almost all the openings after leading the league in run defense, pass defense and finishing second in scoring D. The defensive front is stunningly quick for its size helped by a pair of NFL defensive ends in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat. The line is big and fast, and so is the linebacking corps that might be even better and will be far more athletic despite losing leading tacklers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson; Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs bringing jaw-dropping speed. And then there’s the secondary with warp wheels at all four spots.

4. West Virginia
Predicted Conference Record: 6-3
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3

Offense: Anything less than unstoppable will be disappointing. The team that rolled up 70 points on Clemson and averaged 470 yards per game gets all the key parts back including veteran quarterback Geno Smith. The Heisman potential is there if everything goes according to plan. He gets back all his top targets with Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney combining for 222 catches last year, and he’ll get plenty of time to work behind a veteran line with four starters returning. The running game won’t be deadly, but Shawne Alston leads an experienced crew that will do more than be along for the ride. Now the pressure is on. The offense has to be consistent and it has to produce for a full four quarters instead of needing to turn things up a notch after halftime like it had to do time and again.

Defense: It’ll be a tougher year all-around with nasty Big 12 offenses to face, but the D should be solid. With defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel joining Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, the Mountaineers had to change things up a bit with co-defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson implementing a 3-4 scheme, even if it won’t be that much different than the 3-3-5 of last year. The pass rush will struggle a bit without Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller, but Will Clarke is a rising star on the end and there’s decent quickness across the front three. The linebackers will be the stars with four veterans ready to get into the backfield and be disruptive, while the secondary is loaded with experience and talent led by playmaking safety Darwin Cook and corner Pat Miller. It’ll be an aggressive defense that makes plenty of plays, but it’ll be a whole new world outside of the Big East.

5. TCU
Predicted Conference Record: 5-4
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4

Offense: The Horned Frogs couldn’t be better equipped to jump into the Big 12. The offense exploded for close to 41 points per game, and if the left tackle situation can be solidified, the numbers should be special once again. QB Casey Pachall has the potential to be one of the league’s best passers and a top pro prospect. The passing game should shine with a tremendous receiving corps to work with led by Josh Boyce and a deep group that will be as good as any in the new league. The running game should once again be among the nation’s most effective with three backs – Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Waymon James – who ran for 700 yards or more, but Wesley might not be back after leaving the team for family reasons. The line has potential, and it was able to produce despite losing four starters last year, but there are question marks at tackle.

Defense: Now the TCU defense will really be tested. It didn’t exactly fall off the map last year, but after years of being at or near the top of the charts in several defensive categories, last year was a problem with Robert Griffin and Kellen Moore bombing away on the secondary, and the run defense merely above-average instead of tremendous. On the plus side, even with several new starters in the secondary, the system is perfect for the Big 12 with five defensive backs who can all tackles, and good, sound linebackers. Stansly Maponga should be one of the Big 12’s top pass rushers, and there’s promise along the front four, but a second pass rusher has to emerge and the new starting tackles have to hold up from the start.

6. Iowa State
Predicted Conference Record: 4-5
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6

Offense: While the offense wasn’t anywhere near as strong as many of the high-octane machines throughout the Big 12, compared to other years the Cyclones were able to move the ball. The consistency wasn’t there and the passing game was wildly inefficient, but there were times when things clicked. Now the O should be the best it’s been in the Paul Rhoads era with a promising receiving corps with lots of talent and athleticism making life easier for the veteran quarterbacks. Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett can both run and make things happen, but one has to take the starting QB job and run with it. The backfield is deep and experienced working behind a beefed up line that might not have any stars, but should be solid.

Defense: It’s all relative in the Big 12. The run defense struggled and overall the D finished 95th in the nation allowing 427 yards per game, but that was still good enough to end up in the middle of the conference pack. The biggest problem will continue to be a glaring lack of pass rush coming up with just 17 sacks and 56 tackles for loss. With only one returning starter up front, the line will be trying to hold up, much less figure out how to get to the quarterback. Fortunately, the linebackers will be among the best in the Big 12 with A.J. Klein and Jake Knott a brilliant duo to work around. The secondary has some big losses to overcome, but it shouldn’t be all that bad considering the high-powered passing games it will have to deal with and the lack of a good pass rush to count on.

T7. Baylor
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6

Offense: How does the nation’s No. 2 offense possibly go on without Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, Terrance Ganaway, and linemen Philip Blake and the other Robert Griffin? It’s the Art Briles offense. Life will go on. The loss of five NFL draft picks, including a Heisman-winner, would normally be devastating, but offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery has a lot of great pieces to work with on an attack that should still finish in the top ten. Wright might be gone from the receiving corps, but everyone else is back including Terrance Williams, who might turn out to be a much better pro prospect. The line will do some shuffling and has a nice blend of veterans and talented young prospects to pave the way for a fast group of running backs that will easily make up for the loss of Ganaway. There’s no replacing an all-timer like RG3, but Nick Florence is experienced enough to be able to step in and crank out big numbers.

Defense: The Phil Bennett defense couldn’t come up with any stops. The tackling in the 4-2-5 alignment was shoddy, there was nothing happening against the pass, and the run defense was way too soft. On the plus side, the 118th-ranked pass defense gets all five starters back in the secondary, and while everyone can tackle, they have to spend way too much time doing it thanks to a front six that ends up making too many stops down the field. The front four has to start generating more of a pass rush from the good rotation of ends, while the interior has to start holding up better – don’t remember the Alamo – against anyone wanting to run up the gut. There’s speed and athleticism across the board, but it has to translate into production.

T7. Kansas State
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6

Offense: The offense was extremely effective considering it finished 101st in the nation and had to fight its way through the high-octane Big 12 wars. Everything will revolve around QB Collin Klein and the running game with an emphasis on ball control, limiting turnovers and more ball control. This spring the passing game started to take flight with Klein starting to open it up a bit, and he should be able to do more with a veteran group of speedy targets to work with. The backfield has good, quick rushing options with John Hubert leading the way, but Klein will do most of the heavy lifting. Time of possession is the key stat – holding on to the ball for almost 34 minutes per game – and after three new starters are settled on up front, the Kansas State attack should be able to grind things out again.

Defense: The defense got a huge help from an offense that hung on to the ball and controlled the clock. Now the Wildcat D has to do its part a bit more after an inconsistent season. The good Big 12 passing teams bombed away, and when teams wanted to commit to the ground game, they succeeded. However, the production should be better with Arthur Brown and Tre Walker leading a veteran linebacking corps, and the secondary should be fantastic with corner Nigel Malone and safety Ty Zimmerman among the best in the conference. The line has to do more to get into the backfield, and it should with Meshak Williams and Adam Davis two strong veterans who know what they’re doing. The tackles have to be better, but at the very least there should be a good rotation.

T7. Texas Tech
Predicted Conference Record: 3-6
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6

Offense: Consistency. That’s the biggest issue for an offense that will once again put up tons of yards while winging the ball all over the yard, but the production has to be a lot steadier. Veteran quarterback Seth Doege should crank out another 4,000-yard season, but Michael Brewer is a rising star who could push for time. The top targets from last year are getting over injuries, but Darrin Moore is on the verge of superstardom. The running game will be a problem with Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington suffering knee injuries last year, and the O line could be a major issue if it’s not far more physical than it was in spring ball. It’ll all come together and the offense will eventually be good enough to crank out 500 yards a game, but it has to do it week-in-and-week-out.

Defense: Up next to try to find and the right fit is new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, and while he has the athletes and speedsters to work with, he doesn’t have much depth. The Red Raiders played a 4-2-5 last year, but with cornerback a major question mark and linebacker a potential strength, the D will likely go with more of a 4-3. The safeties should be solid, and the linebackers can fly, but there needs to be some semblance of a pass rush from a shaky line that desperately needs Branden Jackson and Dartwan Bush to produce from the outside.

10. Kansas
Predicted Conference Record: 0-9
Predicted Overall Record: 2-10

Offense: In theory the Kansas offense should work. Charlie Weis is known for his great ability to kick-start passing games, but more importantly, he has to get the running game going to control things early to keep the Jayhawk defense off the field. He has the strong veteran line to do it, but first he has to come up with the right combination of veterans to put the puzzle together. The backfield has a slew of former good recruits who have yet to play up to their billing, but the talent and athleticism are there. The receiving corps is full of experience and upside with the potential to blow up as long as Dayne Crist can stay upright. The former Notre Dame starter needs to be a smart, savvy conductor for an offense that finished 106th in the nation in yards and came up with more than ten points in just four of the final five games.

Defense: The biggest positive is the coaching staff. Dave Campo is a pro coach who’s a steal of a defensive coordinator, but he’ll have to work plenty of magic to generate some sort of production out of this bunch. There’s experience across the board, but the secondary is full of marginal athletes – a big problem in the Big 12 – and other than Toben Opurum there’s little pass rush up front to help the cause. Darius Willis is a promising middle linebacker and Bradley McDougald is a statistical star at safety, but there aren’t enough playmakers and there isn’t enough toughness up front for a D that finished dead last in the nation giving up 516 yards and 44 points per outing.

- 2012 Baylor Preview | 2012 Iowa State Preview
- 2012 Kansas Preview | 2012 Kansas State Preview 
- 2012 Oklahoma Preview | 2012 Oklahoma State Preview
- 2012 Texas Preview | 2012 TCU Preview
- 2012 Texas Tech Preview | 2012 West Virginia Preview  

- 2012 Big 12 Preview
- 2012 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish