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Big 12 Players to Watch Blog

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 11, 2008


The Big 12 players to watch and to look out for in each week's games.

Big 12 Players Blog

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By Adam Barnes &
Mike Lednicky

Baylor – Robert Griffin, QB.  In Baylor’s 41-13 loss to Wake Forest, Griffin showed flashes of greatness after coming on for starter Kirby Freeman, with an especially dazzling run down the sidelines in the second quarter.  However, he also showed that he was a true freshman in his first game in college, with several miscues that led to Wake Forest scores.  Griffin should get a chance to shine this week against Northwestern State, in a good chance to get the first win of the Art Briles era.

Oklahoma – Sam Bradford, QB.  Bradford looked comfortable in the new no-huddle offense, completing his first eight passes against UT-Chattanooga.  This week, the Sooners get a little sterner test in Brian Kelly’s Bearcats, who have nothing to lose coming into Norman on Saturday.

Oklahoma State – Dez Bryant, WR.  Bryant has the potential to be a big play wide receiver, and may have a breakout year this year.  He is tall, fast, and has great hands.  He should have an opportunity to shine against Kevin Sumlin’s Houston Cougars.  The Cowboys lost to the Cougars last time they played in 2006, so Bryant, Zac Robinson, and company will be trying to prove a point in this game.

Texas – Vondrell McGee, RB.  In Texas’s 52-10 drubbing, it was Colt McCoy who led the Longhorns in rushing with 103 yards.  Mack Brown does not want this trend to continue.  Going into the Sun Bowl against a UTEP team that got annihilated at Buffalo in Game 1 would be a good time to establish the ground game and it appears McGee is the guy to be the featured back.

Texas A&M – Stephen McGee, QB.  McGee didn’t look at all like the poised fifth year senior he is in an inexplicable loss at Kyle Field to Arkansas State, missing several throws and having two passes intercepted.  He needs to rebound against an attacking New Mexico defense this week or the calls for heralded sophomore Jerrod Johnson to step in will only get louder.

Texas Tech – Jamar Wall, CB.  Texas Tech struggled more than expected with FCS member Eastern Washington.   The defense again looked inconsistent, as has been the story throughout Mike Leach’s tenure.  Chris Ault’s pistol offense should give Wall and his defensive backfield mates a sterner test this week and Reno is not an easy place to play.

Missouri: Jeremy Maclin – Maclin and the Tigers face off against SE Missouri this week.  Maclin injured his ankle during the game and had only 2 yds. on 3 carries and 31 yds. receiving.  Despite the potential ankle problem expect big production from Maclin.

Kansas: Todd Reesing – The Jayhawks host a La. Tech team that defeated SEC member Miss. St. and will be a much more daunting task than Florida Int. was in week one.  The search for a feature back isn’t settled… and may not be this entire year… leaving Reesing with the task of leading as the constant for the offense. 

Nebraska: Marlon Lucky – The Big XII leading rusher from ’07 had only 43 yds. on the ground against W. Michigan last week.  Yes, I know all about Joe Ganz (see my Players to Watch in Week 1), but Lucky will have to be a threat at some point in order for the Huskers to win the north.  Playing San Jose St. this week (whose reputation precedes them) Lucky should be able to pick his yardage and get his legs ready for that all of a sudden not so exciting game against Va. Tech game in two weeks.

Colorado: The Entire Buff Defense – All parties involved in the making of Colorado’s schedule this year ought to be drawn and quartered.  This week the Buffs will prepare for E. Washington… in between their win over their in state rival and national beasts WEST VIRGINIA and FLORIDA ST.!  Not only are the opponents tough, but the timing is ridiculous.  The Buff D had better not sleep on E. Wash. in preparation for the Mountaineers or Seminoles.  While it isn’t as sexy of a match-up the Eagles didn’t exactly lay down on Texas Tech in week one.

Kansas St.: Keithen Valentine – Continuing with the tradition of playing a powerhouse non-conf. schedule (whose weakness has admittedly spread like a virus though the Big XII), K-St. will prepare for Montana St. this week.  Last week’s game against Southlake Carroll… oops N. Texas gave us a look at Keithen Valentine, the Mississippi Delta CC transfer, who scored a TD on his first run for the Wildcats from 4 yds. out.  His success in week one should translate into more carries in against Montana St.

Iowa St.:  Jason Harris & Alexander Robinson – Harris and Robinson rushed for 78 and 74 yds. respectively against S. Dakota St. in their opener.  Kent St. will provide for more of a test for the Cyclones and the running back duo.  It will be interesting to see the competition not only between these two, but 3rd team RB Jason Scales from now until the annual beating of their in-state rival Iowa.

Oklahoma: Manuel Johnson – Coming into the season many thought that the Oklahoma receiving corps would be a question mark.  Many underestimated Manny.  His 9 catches for 120 yards in against Chattanooga will add to the lengthy list of headaches that the Cincinnati defense will have to prepare for this week.

Texas: Colt McCoy – I chose Colt McCoy and the Texas offensive line as players to watch for week one.  I don’t know if it’s against the rules… but I’m taking McCoy again. Why? 24 of 29 for 222 yds. 3 TDs and no picks.  Oops, that didn’t include his 12 carries for 103 yds. and another TD on the ground.   This week, he leads the Longhorns to El Paso to face a UTEP team that gave up 484 yds. and 42 points… TO BUFFALO!  Oh crap.

Texas Tech:  Graham Harrell – 6,432 yards.  That’s Harrell’s pace for passing yards in 2008.  That’s based on only one game… and it was against an FCS team… so he won’t keep it up… right?  I’m not betting against him.  Nevada at home will pose more of a defensive threat to the Red Raiders than any of their other non-conf’s.  However, I’m not convinced that Harrell, Leach, and Co. gave the Wolf Pack an accurate depiction of the pain to come in their 49-24 win over E. Wash.

Oklahoma State:  Dez Bryant – Two words.  Jump ball.  If Houston plans on playing a man defense against OSU this week they had better take a look at the Cowboys opener against Wash. St.  Bryant embarrassed the Cougar secondary on a series of jump balls that reduced their corners to playing the “Intentional Pass Interference” defense.  Houston’s DBs are taller but if the ball’s in the air… my money’s on Bryant.

Texas A&M:  Stephen McGee – New Mexico won’t be as big of a challenge for the Aggies as Arkansas St. was (ouch), but the game isn’t at Kyle Field.  Stephen McGee will have to shake off his performance in the opener and rally the troops. What McGee lacks in talent is made up for in leadership… and A&M needs a leader right now.  He will be the player to watch this week and the rest of the season as the Aggies will probably go only as far as he takes them.

Baylor: Robert Griffin – If you watched the Bear’s opener against Wake Forrest, you don’t need to read on.  Robert Griffin is (not is going to be…but IS) special.  That is something that isn’t said very often about Baylor freshman.  If he is protected and stays healthy then Griffin will thrive in Art Briles system.   Baylor plays Northwestern St. in week two… and I can’t believe I’m saying it… but Griffin makes me want to see it.