2013 Big 12 Preview - Team Breakdown & Picks
Texas Tech WR Eric Ward
Texas Tech WR Eric Ward
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2013


Preview 2013 - CFN Big 12 Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2013

Big 12 Team By Team

 

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Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

2013 CFN Big 12 Preview

- 2013 Baylor Preview
- 2013 Iowa State Preview 
- 2013 Kansas Preview 
- 2013 Kansas State Preview
- 2013 Oklahoma Preview
- 2013 Oklahoma St Preview 
- 2013 Texas Preview 
- 2013 TCU Preview 
- 2013 Texas Tech Preview
- 2013 West Virginia Preview 

- 2013 Big 12 Preview
- 2013 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2013 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2013 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2013 Big 12 Team Looks & Predicted Finish   

1. Texas
2013 CFN Prediction: 11-1
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 8-1

Offense: With Bryan Harsin taking off to become the head man at Arkansas State, now Major Applewhite gets all the offensive coordinator duties to himself, and now comes the adjustment. Forget about plodding, deliberate Texas and get ready for fast, fast, fast with everyone being coached up to speed up the style of play and keep defenses moving. With ten starters returning and a ridiculous level of quality depth, there’s no excuse to not put up massive numbers. Quarterback David Ash has to take his game to another level, and he’ll get time to work behind a good, athletic line that welcomes back all five starters. The running back rotation should be lethal with Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron all getting their chances, while the 1-2 receiving combination of Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley should be deadly.

Defense: There’s speed, experience, athleticism and talent to that most programs could only dream of having, but now everyone has to actually play after allowing 404 yards and 29 points per game. The pass rush was fantastic last season and it should be even stronger with Jackson Jeffcoat returning healthy to go along with a great rotation in the interior. The back seven can move, but now someone has to tackle after a painfully soft season in all phases. Getting linebacker Jordan Hicks back from a hip injury should help in a huge way, but the lightning fast defensive backs have to be more physical.

T2. Oklahoma
2013 CFN Prediction: 10-2
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 7-2

Offense: The offense finished in the top 15 nationally in both total offense and scoring offense, and it was fifth in passing, but the consistency wasn’t there and there weren’t enough clutch plays in key moments. Blowing up Texas was nice, and ripping apart West Virginia and Oklahoma State was fun, but the O went bye-bye in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M and couldn’t convert yards into points in losses to Notre Dame and Kansas State. This year, expect more from a running game that welcomes back a terrific group of running backs and a whale of a line that lacks the overall star power, but is loaded with experience and skill. The receiving corps will have no problems making up for the loss of top targets Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, but the focus and spotlight will be on the quarterback situation with Blake Bell the best of an interesting lot of options who’ll had more mobility to the position.

Defense: It was a rocky year for defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, made worse by the meltdown in the Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M. There’s talent, upside and athleticism across the board, but after finishing ninth in the Big 12 against the run and dead last in tackles for loss, there’s work to do. The pass rush was inconsistent, there weren’t any plays in the backfield, and the run defense went bye-bye way too often. It could be an issue to change things up with no thumpers at linebacker and likely to rely again on defensive backs to make most of the big plays. Stoops will play around with more of a 4-3 than a 4-2-5, but the line has to do its job to get into the backfield with new options on the outside and some playing around with the interior.

T2. Oklahoma State
2013 CFN Prediction: 10-2
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 7-2

Offense: The pressure is on new offensive coordinator Mike Yurich to fill some very, very big shoes. Expect a lot more of the same, but even more four-wide sets to take advantage of all the receiver talent led by Josh Stewart and helped by the return of Tracy Moore. The line will be terrific again after the right combination is found, and the combination of running backs Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland should make up for the loss of Joseph Randle, but the key to the season will be the quarterback call. Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt all saw time last year and all got an equal shot at the gig, but Mike Gundy isn’t letting on who the No. 1 will be even with Lunt choosing to transfer. No matter what, there will be a quarterback controversy.

Defense: Get ready for the new and improved Oklahoma State defense. It hasn’t been as bad as the stats, but it’s time for the secondary to stop being a punching bag. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer has put the call out to start bringing the heat from all sides, and that means more blitzing and a lot more attacking. Fortunately, there’s enough speed, quickness and experience to do just that. However, the stars could be at tackle, where Calvin Barnett and James Castleman should be rocks. Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey are two excellent linebackers to work around, while the safety tandem of Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary should be among the best in the Big 12. With the pass rush, the corners have to be able to handle themselves, and Justin Gilbert and the speedy Kevin Peterson need to make big plays.

4. Kansas State
2013 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 6-3

Offense: The offense might not be as good, but it’ll be effective again. The offensive coordinator combination of Del Miller and Dana Dimel have a few tweaks to do, but they have a tremendous base of veterans to work with. First and foremost, the attack has to replace Heisman-caliber quarterback Collin Klein, but Daniel Sams is even more athletic and Jake Waters is a better pure passer – they’re not Klein, but one of them will be more than fine. No. 1 receiver Chris Harper is gone, but the rest of the top wideouts are back led by the explosive Tyler Lockett. The key will be the running game that welcomes back John Hubert in the backfield working behind a terrific line that returns all five starters.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Tom Hayes has lots and LOTS of work to do. Kansas State is used to having to replace lots of talents and starters, but this is ridiculous. The entire front seven has to be replaced after doing a fantastic job against the run and getting to the quarterback on a regular basis, and finding a new leader to take over for linebacker Arthur Brown will be next to impossible. The secondary that struggled against the better Big 12 passing teams has to replace Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman, but has two nice veterans in Ty Zimmerman and Randall Evans to work around. Forget about any developed depth, and the talent level is taking a huge dip, but the Wildcats always seem to make big things happen defensively out of the blue.

T5. Baylor
2013 CFN Prediction: 7-5
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 4-5

Offense: How good is the Baylor offensive coaching staff? The Bears lost Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, a few key offensive lineman and running back Terrance Ganaway from an offense that cranked up 587 yards and 45 points per game, and there was a negligible drop-off averaging 572 yards and 45 yards per outing. Expect the production to continue highlighted by a running game that might be unstoppable with the combination of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin cranking up yards. The receiving corps is fast and explosive, and quarterback Bryce Petty appears to be ready to be the next statistical superstar. The line is a slight issue with health problems and little developed depth, but the starting five should be fine.

Defense: There’s lots and lots of speed, lots and lots of athleticism, and enough experience to come up with a great year, but it’s Baylor – the defense is going to get torched. With the second-worst D in America – allowing 502 yards per game – and doing next to nothing against the pass even with a slew of all-star talents, it’s going to be another work in progress. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s D will stick with a 4-2-5 alignment for the most part, and the hope will be for the five defensive backs to start coming up with more stops in the pass-happy Big 12. The run defense wasn’t awful, and linebackers Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey should be as strong as any twosome in the conference, but the pass rush needs to be better and more consistent and the secondary can’t be so miserable each and every week.

T5. TCU
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 4-5

Offense: No, it’s not going to be an explosive attack that hangs punch-for-punch in shootouts against the elite teams, but that’s not going to be its job. The offense wasn’t bad considering it lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall early on to suspension and starting running back Waymon James to injury. The line that was mediocre and inconsistent gets three starters back, but it’s young and needs more work and seasoning; it’s not physical enough. However, the skill players should be terrific with Pachall back to battle with Trevone Boykin for the starting job, and with James returning to join a crowded backfield full of quick and talented runners. No. 1 target Josh Boyce will be missed, but it should be a consistent and decent group of midrange targets who’ll take turns being the main man.

Defense: The TCU defense slipped two years ago in the last year of playing in the Mountain West, so how was it going to do in its first season in the Big 12? No. 1. The Horned Frogs led the Big 12 in total defense and run defense, and wasn’t bad against the pass. Now comes the scary part – almost everyone is back. All five starters return in the secondary, including ball-hawking corner Jason Verrett, while Devonte Fields and Chucky Hunter are terrific linemen who’ll end up on the All-Big 12 team. In all, nine starters return to the 4-2-5 alignment, and while losing end Stansly Maponga and leading-tackler Kenny Cain at linebacker isn’t a plus, with nine starters returning, there’s no reason to expect any sort of a slip.

7. Texas Tech
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 3-6

Offense: You know what’s coming. Texas Tech didn’t exactly get away from the passing game last season, leading the Big 12 averaging 356 yards per game, but now the attack is going to be ramped up in a big way with the quarterbacks being allowed to do even more. Former Texas Tech star quarterback Sonny Cumbie and co-offensive coordinator Eric Morris will speed things up and try to generate even more big plays. Michael Brewer doesn’t look the part, but he’s a smart, accurate quarterback with a great receiving corps to work with. The line needs a little time, but it should be fine once the starting five is settled on. The backfield is full of typical ultra-quick, athletic Red Raider running backs.

Defense: The Red Raider defense finally seemed to get it right, and now it’s all changing. The D finished second in the Big 12 in total yards allowed, led the way against the pass and wasn’t bad against the run, but now it’ll be up to new coordinator Matt Wallerstedt to prove the production can continue. There aren’t enough returning interceptions, and the stats are a bit misleading, but with eight starters coming back there’s hope for the transition to not be a problem. The key will be flexibility in a league where playing five defensive backs on a regular basis is a must, but a few hybrid positions will allow the coaching staff to play around with different formations on the front seven when needed. The hope is for more of a pass rush and more big plays for a team that finished dead last in the conference in turnover margin, but it’ll take a while to develop the depth and come up with steadier playmakers.

T8. Iowa State
2013 CFN Prediction: 4-8
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 2-7

Offense: The Cyclones haven’t been able to keep up the pace with the other Big 12 offenses over the years – they just don’t have the firepower or the talent – but they’ve been effective enough at times to get by. Consistency is always an issue, and finding one thing that works is a problem, but it’s a surprising attack once in a while. This season the key should be an overhauled receiving corps that loses the top three targets. However, Ernst Brun and the tight ends are a positive, and quarterback Sam Richardson is an emerging dual threat star. James White and the deep stable of backs are experienced, ultra-quick and talented, but they all need more room to work behind a veteran line that should be good if injuries don’t strike. There’s potential a wideout, but it could take a little while to come together for an offense that finished second-to-last in the Big 12 in yards, points and rushing.

Defense: Everyone struggles in the Big 12 defensively when the top offenses start to get rolling, but the Cyclones need to start doing more to take over games. It will start with the pass rush that completely and totally disappeared over the second half of last year, but needs to find someone from the outside who can get to the quarterback on a regular basis. The secondary might be better than the stats, needing help from the line to get to the quarterback. The safety situation might be the strength of the defense, and the corner rotation should be strong with a little bit of time. The big focus, though, will be at linebacker with Jake Knott and A.J. Klein gone. Fortunately, there are talented prospects returning who’ll put up big numbers.

T8. Kansas
2013 CFN Prediction: 5-7
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 2-7

Offense: The running game couldn’t have been more of a pleasant surprise in the first season under Charlie Weis, with James Sims and company rumbling for 2,540 yards and 19 touchdowns even though everyone knew what was coming. The passing game couldn’t have been more of a stunning disaster, finishing dead last in the nation in passing efficiency with just seven touchdown passes and 13 picks. Fortunately, help is on the way with former BYU superstar recruit Jake Heaps set to take over at quarterback and with several good new receivers coming into the mix to play right away. The offensive line might need some retooling, but three JUCO transfers will help in the transition to pave the way for Sims and one of the Big 12’s best stables of backs.

Defense: JUCO, JUCO, JUCO. After a disastrous 2012 season allowing 482 yards and 36 points per game and doing nothing with the pass rush, the defense needed to undergo an overhaul. The secondary needs the most work after losing all four starters – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and now it’s up to a few big corners from the JUCO ranks to hold up right away under fire. Chris Martin is a special defensive end prospect and Marquel Combs could be an anchor after spending their last few seasons prepping and the lower level, and the linebacking corps is getting a little instant help, too. Ben Heeney is a nice middle linebacker to work around, and there are just enough veterans from last season to not have to start from scratch, but any and all improvements have to come from the newcomers.

T8. West Virginia
2013 CFN Prediction: 4-8
2013 Big 12 Prediction: 2-7

Offense: Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and head coach Dana Holgorsen seemed like they had it easy with a loaded attack led by quarterback Geno Smith, receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin and a veteran line that did its job, but the attack sputtered way too much over the second half of the season. The yards were there, but the clutch plays and points didn’t always follow. Now the Mountaineers have to figure out their quarterback situation and hope for all the good receiver prospects to quickly fill in the gaps left by all loss of last year’s terrific stars. Andrew Buie and the running game should be a bit stronger, while the line will be good in time with Quinton Spain and Curtis Feigt two veteran tackles flanking solid options in the interior.

Defense: The Mountaineers quickly discovered that life in the Big 12 is a wee bit different. The pieces were in place to be excellent, but the secondary didn’t find a big pass play it didn’t like to give up, while the run defense went bye-bye in an ugly effort in the bowl loss to Syracuse to close out the season. There’s lots of room to play around with the personnel with the ability to go with a 3-4 or a 4-3 depending on the situation, but it’s going to be a work in progress up front to find consistent pass rushers. There’s talent and upside in the secondary, and safeties Karl Joseph and Darwin Cook are fantastic, but the production has to come from the corners.