2007 CFN Big 12 Preview
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2007 CFN Big 12 Preview
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Texas over Missouri
Big 12 North
Conf. record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player:
Martin Rucker, Sr. & TE Chase Coffman, Jr.
Best Defensive Player:
Lorenzo Williams, Sr.
the parts are working as expected, this should be one of the nation's
five most productive offenses with an embarrassment of riches to work
with. Junior QB Chase Daniel is growing into a star leader with more
than enough weapons to choose from. The tight end combination of Martin
Rucker and Chase Coffman is the best in the nation, Will Franklin can
fly on the outside, and Tony Temple leads a small, quick backfield
that'll rip through the holes created by a talented, experienced line.
The problems? Consistency and proven play in crunch time. The numbers
are going to be there, but they have to come against the top teams in
the big games.
Defense: The whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. A
pass rush will emerge eventually from the outside linebackers as well as
end Stryker Sulak, while Brock Christopher has the makings of an All-Big
12 performer at middle linebacker. The secondary will be fine thanks to
the return of starting corners Darnell Terrell and Hardy Ricks, but
replacing safeties David Overstreet and Brandon Massey won't be easy.
There's tremendous speed and athleticism in the back seven, several good
young players to get excited about among the backups, and an excellent
tackle pair in Evander Hood and Lorenzo Williams to anchor things up
front. Now the D has to prove it can come through on a consistent basis
against the top teams.
Conf. record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player:
Sam Keller, Sr.
Best Defensive Player:
Bo Ruud, Sr.
From the issues with star receiver
Maurice Purify, after being a knucklehead off the field, to losing
leading rusher Brandon Jackson to the NFL, promising runner
Kenny Wilson to a broken leg while moving a TV, and starting
guard Matt Huff to a blown out Achilles (though he might be
back), it's been a rough off-season for the offense. Even with
all the problems, the offense will roll if, and it's a screaming
if, the once-promising tackle prospects come through and the
starting 11 stays healthy. Top back Marlon Lucky can't be
counted on for a full season, while backup Cody Glenn is already
hobbling with a foot problem. There's no one of note behind
them. The line had to do some shuffling after a variety of
injuries, meaning the ground game could struggle at times.
Fortunately, former Arizona State mad bomber Sam Keller is at
the helm with a speedy, veteran receiving corps to work with.
Don't be shocked if the attack becomes one-dimensional at some
point this year. That might not be a bad thing.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is about throwing
different looks at offenses over the last few years, and while he loses
all four starters off a great front four, he has more talent and depth
to work with. The strength is in the linebacking corps, where Bo Ruud,
Corey McKeon, Steve Octavien and Lance Brandenburgh will control the
defense. There's speed to burn in the secondary, but the defensive backs
haven't played up to their potential or athleticism over the last few
years. This will be one of the Big 12's better defenses, but it still
might not be close to the killer of some of the great Husker teams of
Conf. record: 4-4
Hugh Charles, Sr.
Jordon Dizon, Sr.
this a stepping-stone season for the offense before it explodes in 2008.
The overall production can't help but be better after averaging a Big
12-worst 291 yards and 16 points per game. There are too many ifs. If a
backup can emerge behind top running back Hugh Charles, and if all the
problems this spring finding healthy offensive linemen go away, and if
the veteran receiving corps can prove that it's better than last season
showed, and if Cody Hawkins and/or Nick Nelson can shine right away at
quarterback, the Buffs should start to have the offense that Buff fans
expected when Dan Hawkins was hired.
Defense: The defense was better than it every got credit for
considering the offense provided no help whatsoever. The starting 11, in
whatever configuration that turns out to be, should be excellent as long
as a pass rush is found from the ends. The linebacking corps will be the
strength with tackling-machine Jordon Dizon leading the way. George
Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas form an excellent tackle tandem to work
around, while Terrence Wheatley is an All-Big 12 corner to handle
everyone's number one. Now there needs to be more from the secondary,
and the run defense has to be as strong as it was last year despite
losing key linemen Abraham Wright and Walter Boye-Doe.
Conf. record: 3-5
LB/DE Ian Campbell, Jr.
another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep,
but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of
good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count
on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon
Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one
behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a
plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now
is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a
superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's
over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and
Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're
unstoppable, just not enough of them.
Defense: Raheem Morris lasted one year as defensive
coordinator before moving on to the NFL. Tim Tibesar will take over and
put in a 3-4 scheme, which might, at times, appear to be more of a 4-3
with star Ian Campbell playing outside linebacker and the occasional
end. There's a ton of overall experience and depth, even with just six
returning starters, with the strength to likely be in the secondary,
where safety Marcus Watts leads a veteran cast. While the D likely won't
be sixth in the nation in sacks and 18th in tackles for loss, there will
be plenty of big plays made in the backfield with all the speed and
athleticism across the positions. The overall net result should be
better than last year, when KSU gave up 346 yards and 24 points per
Conf. record: 2-6
Kerry Meier, Soph.
Aqib Talib, Jr.
spending last year running the ball, new offensive coordinator Ed
Warinner will try to stretch the field more with a big, experienced
group of receivers. The big question will be who the quarterback will be
throwing to them. Sophomores Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing are talented,
mobile passers who can do a little of everything well, but they'll be in
a battle for the starting job up until the opener. The other big
question mark is at running back, where Jon Cornish and his 1,457 yards
and eight scores will be replaced by Jake Sharp (fast) and Brandon
McAnderson (powerful). The line is nothing special, but the tackles are
experienced and solid.
Defense: The defense had to go through a little bit of a rebuilding
phase last season, and while the overall results weren't terrific, and
too many yards were allowed, it wasn't as bad as it might have appeared.
The secondary gave up more yards than anyone in America, but it gets
Aqib Talib back at corner to go along with an upgrade in speed at the
other three spots. The linebacking corps, by design, is small on the
outside with a slew of safety-sized defenders designed to fly to the
ball. They have to hold up better when they're getting pounded on. James
McClinton is a star at tackle who should set the tone for the front
Conf. record: 1-7
Alvin Bowen, Sr.
Meyer might be the Big 12's best quarterback, Todd Blythe is an
All-America caliber receiver leading a good corps, and in time, Jason
Scales and JUCO transfer J.J. Bass will be strong runners. None of it
will matter if the line doesn't go from abysmal to at least mediocre.
That might be a problem with four starters gone and no developed depth
whatsoever. The team will rely on a slew of JUCO transfer and career
benchwarmers to patch together a front five that will try to allow fewer
than the 38 sacks given up last year. Expect Meyer to be everything for
the offense with the passing game front and center early on. Because of
the concerns on the line, Meyer will use his mobility to try to buy time
and get the ball out of his hands quicker while on the move.
Defense: A complete and total disaster last season, defensive
coordinator Wayne Bolt has his work cut out for him with a mediocre
collection of talents and few obvious stars to build around other than
outside linebackers Alvin Bowen and Jon Banks. The defensive front
should be more aggressive and better at getting into the backfield, but
will the lack of size cost them in the running game? For a while, yes.
The secondary is the bigger concern after giving up yards in bunches and
without a true number one cover-corner to count on. Linebacker is the
strength to build around, and it could be even better if Adam Carper
returns ready to go from a knee injury.
Big 12 South
Conf. record: 6-2
Colt McCoy, Soph.
Frank Okam, Sr.
might be the best offense yet under head coach Mack Brown, with one bump
in the road: the line. The starting five will be fine, but there's
absolutely no depth at tackle. While that's the concern, the skill
players will be fantastic with a deep, talented receiving corps that
welcomes back the top four targets, Jamaal Charles and a speedy
backfield, and Colt McCoy to lead the show. Now a seasoned veteran,
McCoy will run more than last year while making more plays on the move.
Expect plenty of scoring, plenty of explosiveness, and a top five finish
in total offense ... as long as the line holds up.
Defense: Duane Akina goes from co-defensive coordinator to the
head man in charge, and there will be changes. Last year's defense was
all about stopping the run, and the talented secondary got torched. This
year's D will focus on doing everything, with an eye towards being more
aggressive and generating more pressure. The strength is at tackle and
in the linebacking corps, with NFL caliber talent that should keep the
Longhorns among the nation's leaders against the run. The ends will be
fine, in time, and they'll get to pin their ears back and go to the
quarterback. All the pressure should help out a secondary in transition,
with only one starter returning from a group that loses Thorpe Award
winner Aaron Ross and All-American Michael Griffin.
Conf. record: 6-2
Reggie Smith, Jr.
If a quarterback comes through and
shines, this could be the nation's most effective offense. If
the offensive line isn't the best in college football, it's
number two, the running backs are very fast and very talented,
and the receiving corps, led by top pro prospect Malcolm Kelly,
is very big and very fast. It all comes down to redshirt
freshman Sam Bradford, who won the quarterback
battle over junior Joey Halzle. If he can be steady in the plum gig,
the attack is loaded enough to win a national title.
Defense: It'll be an interesting defense that has the potential
to be a killer, but has some major concerns. The secondary should be
among the best in America with enough size, speed, and talent to keep
the NFL scouts buzzing. DeMarcus Granger is a rising superstar tackle
who should combine with Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Steven Coleman to
stuff up everything on the inside. If the unknown ends come though with
a halfway decent season, and the untested linebacking corps is nearly as
good as last year's, look out.
Predicted record: 9-3
Conf. record: 5-3
Chris Collins, Soph.
potential is there for the nation's 16th best offense and seventh best
scoring attack to be even better. Quarterback Bobby Reid lived up to the
hype last season and proved he could be a star. While he loses a great
target in D'Juan Woods, he gets Adarius Bowman back to go along with a
slew of speedy but unproven receivers to stretch the field. The 1-2
rushing punch of Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston is among the fastest
and most dangerous in America running behind a decent line that has
experience, but will be a work in progress to find the right starting
Defense: If nothing else, the defense was certainly interesting
with an aggressive style that produced a ton of sacks, plenty of tackles
for loss, and gave up too many big plays. New defensive coordinator Tim
Beckman will tone things down a little bit while still taking the fight
to the offense. The back seven will be terrific with a fantastic
linebacking corps, even with top middle man Rodrick Johnson playing end
and star Chris Collins trying to get through knee and off-the-field
problems, while the secondary will strong as long as injuries don't hit
the safeties. Experience on the line, especially at tackle, will be an
issue early on, but the starting ends, Marque Fountain and Nathan
Peterson, will be all-stars.
Conf. record: 5-3
Red Bryant, Sr.
run, and run some more. The Aggies finished last year eighth in the
nation in rushing, and now the line should be even better with four
legitimate All-Big 12 candidates paving the way for the devastating
rushing tandem of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson. QB Stephen McGee was
better than anyone could've hoped for last year taking over for Reggie
McNeal, and while he might not throw only two interceptions again, he'll
be one of the league's best all-around quarterbacks. The tight end
tandem of Martellus Bennett and Joey Thomas would get all the conference
attention if it wasn't for Missouri's tremendous pair, but the receivers
are suspect and could be the Achilles heel if there Earvin Taylor
doesn't have a huge season.
Defense: First of all, realize what amazing strides the defense
made under defensive coordinator Gary Darnell. The pass defense was the
worst in the nation in 2005 and became more than just respectable last
season in a 4-2-5 alignment that led to a solid year until the Holiday
Bowl meltdown against Cal. There wasn't enough of a pass rush outside of
Chris Harrington, but that could change if tackle Red Bryant is healthy
again and occupies two blockers on the inside. There aren't any
all-stars in the back seven, but it's a good, sound group that will do
just enough to get by.
Conf. record: 4-4
Graham Harrell, Jr.
Joe Garcia, Sr.
surface, there might appear to be a world of problems. The quarterback
situation is allegedly up for grabs, the star running back practiced
like he was too secure and got booted to third string, almost all the
top receivers are gone, and four starters have to be replaced on the
line. Don't shed too many tears. Graham Harrell had a great spring and
will be the staring quarterback once again, Shannon Woods will get back
in everyone's good graces this fall and be a top back, and Michael
Crabtree might be the best receiver the program has had in several
years. Of course, it all goes kaput if the line doesn't come together
quickly, but Mike Leach and his coaching staff have dealt with worse.
There might be question marks, but there's also a whole bunch of
talented prospects. This will be one of the nation's five best passing
offenses once again, but it might not be consistent.
Defense: This D will be a major part in several shootouts, and
not in a good way. The secondary will be the strength, and it's not even
close, with a pair of all-star safeties in Darcel McBath and Joe Garcia,
along with star corner Chris Parker. The front seven is a major problem,
especially the defensive line, with no depth and only one starter
returning. The linebacking corps isn't all that big, but it's fast and
should be good in time. Expect good running teams to be able to rumble
Conf. record: 0-8
Joe Pawelek, Soph.
making the change to a Texas Tech-like passing attack, the Bears threw
well, but did absolutely nothing for the running game, finishing dead
last in the nation averaging just 40.17 yards per game. There will be
more emphasis on running the ball, but this will still be a passing
attack. First, BU has to find someone to throw, and someone to catch.
It'll be a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job, with
former Kent State Golden Flash Michael Machen the leader in the race,
while the two star receivers of last season are gone. Several young
players have to turn into reliable targets, while Brandon Whitaker has
to try to provide some semblance of a rushing attack behind a line that
should be a bit better.
Defense: Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Baylor didn't come up with
any last year, and it affected the entire defense. With only 11 sacks
and 51 tackles for loss, BU let opposing quarterbacks spend all day to
throw, and the secondary struggled. Worse yet, the run defense was
awful. Now, there's hope for improvement in the 4-2-5 alignment with
promising tackles in Vincent Rhodes and Trey Bryant, along with tackling
machine Joe Pawelek at linebacker. The secondary has more raw talent
than last year, but not a lot of experience, so it'll be up to veteran
ends Jason Lamb and Geoff Nelson to finally produce some sort of
pressure on the quarterback.