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2010 Big 12 Preview - Team By Team Looks
Kansas State S Tysyn Hartman
Kansas State S Tysyn Hartman
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 6, 2010


Preview 2010 - CFN Big 12 Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2010

Big 12 Team By Team


North
- Colorado Preview | Iowa State Preview |
Kansas Preview
- Kansas State Preview | Missouri Preview | Nebraska Preview 

South
- Baylor Preview | Oklahoma Preview | Oklahoma State Preview
- Texas Preview | Texas A&M Preview | Texas Tech Preview 

- 2010 Big 12 Preview | 2010 Big 12 Unit Rankings | 2010 Big 12 Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players | Get Big 12 Tickets
- 2010 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

Predicted Champion: Texas over Nebraska

Big 12 North Predicted Finish

1. Nebraska
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Nebraska was able to win ten games with the 99th ranked offense in America, so it’s not like the lack of production was a killer, but the Huskers could be in the hunt for the national title if they can get decent quarterback play. That’s how big the quarterback battle is, and that’s how important it’ll be for Zac Lee and Cody Green to be more consistent. The line isn’t special, but it’s good enough to win with helped by four returning starters, the receiving corps gets back Niles Paul and some big, promising prospects, and 100% of the rushing yards gained last year return. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson must get something out of the passing game, though, or else all the other pieces won’t work.
Defense: The defense went from soft in Bo Pelini’s first year to a killer in Year Two. The Pelini brothers, Bo and defensive coordinator, Carl, will have everyone flying around and being disruptive. While there’s no Ndamukong Suh to be the star of the show, and losing four of the top five tacklers is a problem for any defense, there’s no reason to expect much of a drop-off after finishing seventh in the nation and No. 1 overall in scoring D. Jared Crick and Pierre Allen are back to star up front, but they have to show the can handle life without Suh. The defensive back seven will be the story as it’ll often go into a five defensive back set called the Peso. The corners could end up being the best in the Big 12, and while there might not be a lot of star power at safety, there will be plenty of stats. The linebacking corps should be excellent with Sean Fisher about to blow up.

T2. Colorado
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 5-3

Offense: Taking the KISS approach, Keep It Simple, Stupid, Colorado is looking to simplify things to speed up the play a bit. Offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau has to try to do something to get the attack moving after struggling for a few years, and he has the veterans to work with to make it happen. The Buffs were 113th in the nation in rushing, last in the Big 12 and 104th in total yards, and last in passing efficiency. The quarterback situation needs to be settled with Tyler Hansen the starter (for the moment), but he needs time to throw. The line gets everyone back, but it has to be far, far better after a miserable year in pass protection and doing nothing for the ground game. The backs, led by Rodney Stewart, are all quick, and the receiving corps should be solid with Scotty McKnight, Markques Simas, and Toney Clemons forming one of the best trios the team has had in years.
Defense: The defense struggled to take the ball away, rarely came through in the clutch, and struggled a bit too much (especially early on) against the run. However, the overall stats weren’t bad considering the D got no help whatsoever from the O. Defensive coordinator Ron Collins will once again switch around alignments on the fly depending on the opponent. While the defense will play a 4-3 in theory, last year there was a lot of 3-3-5 with a nickel being the main playmaker. The secondary might be the team’s biggest strengths with a NFL-sized corner duo in Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown, while the safeties have the potential to be fantastic. The linebackers don’t have the big names, but that should quickly change with a decent group in place that should surprise. The line is big, but it has to be more active and more effective against the run.

T2. Missouri
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 5-3

Offense: Predictably, the offense had consistency problems in a year of transition, and now the hope will be for more rushing production, steadier play, and even more explosion to a passing attack blew up at times and finished second in the Big 12 in passing efficiency. Blaine Gabbert is one of the nation’s rising star quarterbacks, and while he loses his two top targets from last year (Danario Alexander, who caught 113 passes, and Jared Perry, who made 46 grabs), he has a very big, very promising receiving corps to work with. Four starters return to a line that was great in pass protection and should be even better, but the ground game has to be stronger after a mediocre 2009. The hope is to balance out the production, after averaging 285 passing yards per game and 127 on the ground, but the bread will still be buttered with the air attack.
Defense: Shhhhh. That sound you don’t hear is LB Sean Weatherspoon, an all-star both on the field and in the woofing department, around Columbia anymore. He’s the only loss of note on a defense that came up with some puzzling collapses and gags, but showed the promise and potential to be really, really good. Ten players with appreciable starting experience are back, led by DE Aldon Smith and a loaded linebacking corps, but the secondary has to come up with more picks and big plays while the front seven has to get tougher when push comes to shove. The defensive backs will be more aggressive, and they can afford to be with Smith and the rest of the athletic front four certain to be regulars into the backfield, while Andrew Cachkar and Will Ebner should shine at linebacker now that Weatherspoon is an Atlanta Falcon.

T4. Iowa State
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: The pieces are there for offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s offense to shine, but the production has to come. The line that was among the best in the Big 12 North gets three good starters back, the receiving corps is loaded with experience and size, Alexander Robinson is one of the league’s most explosive backs, and Austen Arnuad has the potential to be a dangerous all-around playmaker after refining his technique a bit. So why was it like pulling teeth to score over the second half of last year? The Cyclones finished last in the league in scoring offense and couldn’t get the passing game moving deep, but they have the pieces in place to do far more and be far more consistent. The pass protection will be great, the running game will shine, so if Arnaud has a good year, the offense could be one of the surprises of the Big 12 season.
Defense: Gene Chizik was supposed to be a defensive head coach and he didn’t have any luck. Paul Rhoads knows defense and he didn’t do much better. Now the Cyclones have to patch together a defense with three new starting linebackers, no pass rush, and a lot of hope that experience in the secondary and on the line can finally translate into production. The D did a nice job of keeping points off the board, for the most part, keeping the mediocre teams in place, with a lot of bending without much breaking. Talent-level is a problem, and while everyone hustles and everyone works hard, everyone has to be more disruptive. Score 24 on Iowa State last year, win the game. The defense has to keep points off the board to help on an offense with inconsistent firepower.

T4. Kansas
Predicted Overall Record: 5-7
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: The offense that relied almost exclusively on throwing the ball last year is likely going to going to try to find a little bit of balance under offensive coordinator Chuck Long. The line didn’t do much of anything, but it gets everyone back and should be better with decent depth, nice size, and good versatility. The running game has some huge backs in Toben Opurum and Angus Quigley to combine with speedy Deshaun Sands to add more pop, but the key to the season will be the emergence of either Kale Pick or Jordan Webb as the new starting quarterback. With star receivers Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe gone, the KU passing game needs big years from Johnathan Wilson and Bradley McDougald or the offense will hit a brick wall. The star power might be lacking, but the overall experience is there to potentially be more consistent if the quarterback play is solid.
Defense: The defense wasn’t really the problem last year, but it didn’t help the cause with too many problems against the better offenses over the second half of the season. The Carl Tobush-led defense of this year will ditch the 4-2-5 alignment and go to a more conventional 4-3, but there needs to be the same production into the backfield as last year’s D was able to generate. Sacks and tackles for loss weren’t an issue, but the D struggled to come up with big plays, interceptions, and key stops. There front seven should be quietly good with pass rushing end Jake Laptad and middle linebacker Drew Dudley two good all-stars to work around, but the secondary has to be more productive and needs to find the right combination.

6. Kansas State
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 1-7

Offense: Daniel Thomas, Daniel Thomas, Daniel Thomas. There’s no secret to what the Kansas State offense is going to do with an NFL-caliber back in Thomas with the potential to put up a huge year behind a huge veteran offensive line that returns four starters. The receiving corps is starting from scratch with no one who did anything last year coming back, but the cupboard is hardly bare with Brodrick Smith transferring from Minnesota, Aubrey Quarles sitting down last year, and Chris Harper coming in after starting his career at Oregon. The key will be at quarterback where Carson Coffman struggled when he got his chance early last year, but he has to shine to try to improve the Big 12’s worst passing game.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh has a nice blend of talents to work with from a defense that made great strides last year. More often than not, the Cats will employ a 4-2-5 defense with the strength likely to be at safety. Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, and Troy Butler form a nice, veteran group that’s starting to come into its own, but they’ll have to help out a shaky corner situation after losing Joshua Moore early to the NFL. The linebackers are feisty, but limited, while the defensive front will count on the healthy return of promising pass rusher Brandon Harold from a knee injury and the infusion of talented JUCO transfers. This isn’t going to be a brick wall of a defense, but it’ll play hard, will always be swarming, and it should be better with all the returning experience.

Big 12 South Predicted Finish

T1. Texas
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Colt McCoy was the heart and soul of the offense and the team, as painfully evidenced by the BCS Championship loss to Alabama, and now the attack will gear more towards the running backs and the ground game to balance things out. The problem, however, is that the best players are still in the passing game with Garrett Gilbert a still-emerging, but ultra-talented quarterback while the receiving corps is fast and full of promise. The running backs are veterans, but health has been an issue and no one has carried the workload before. The goal is to get more physical and to do far more to pound the ball, and the backs will get their chances behind a line that’s been mediocre by UT’s standards and now has to replace three starters. The offense might not be third in the nation in scoring, but it’ll still be good enough to be among the best in the Big 12.
Defense: The Will Muschamp-led defense led the nation in run defense, finished third in total defense, and 12th in scoring D, and there won’t be much of a drop-off. It might be a bit of a reach to finish second in the nation in sacks without Sergio Kindle, but there are more than enough good defensive end options, and speed at outside linebacker in Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho, to get into the backfield on a regular basis. The tackle situation is a wee bit iffy, for Texas, but only because there might need to be some shuffling done, and the backup middle linebacker situation is a bit of a question mark, but that’s nitpicking. The secondary is loaded with NFL talent and might be the best in America (even without ball-hawking superstar Earl Thomas at safety), there’s a slew of pro talent waiting in the wings from the latest recruiting class, and there’s an elite coaching talent in Muschamp, who has gushed over the potential of this ultra-talented, ultra-athletic D.

T1. Oklahoma
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: After the Spinal Tap drummer-like array of mishaps throughout last year, the O is now loaded with veterans and should be far better. The key will be the maturation of QB Landry Jones, who stepped in when Sam Bradford went down and had a good year. He’ll get more help behind a line that suffered injury after injury in 2009 and should be far more consistent this season. The return of RB DeMarco Murray gives the ground game a star to work around, while WR Ryan Broyles will be on the short list for the Bilitnikoff Award as the leader of a fast, promising group of receivers.
Defense: The defense flew under the radar last season with all the attention paid to the issues on offense. This will once again be a good enough defense to finish in the top ten nationally as long as the defensive interior is solid. There’s star power to work around if DT Adrian Taylor’s broken leg isn’t a big deal and DE Jeremy Beal is the pass rushing terror he has been over the last two seasons. Replacements are needed at linebacker and corner, but the safeties, Quinton Carter and Sam Proctor, are solid, and Travis Lewis is an All-America caliber weakside playmaker who can clean up everything the other linebackers don’t get to.

T1. Texas A&M
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: The offense has the potential to be among the most productive in the nation once again, but it needs to be more consistent. QB Jerrod Johnson is a veteran who came into his own last year and should do even more with a loaded receiving corps full of speed, experience, and talent led by top NFL prospect Jeff Fuller. The offensive line desperately needs the tackle situation to be solidified, but the interior will be fine as a strength for a underappreciated ground game. The Aggies finished second in the Big 12 in rushing, and with Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael returning, there will be nice balance. There will be a whole bunch of fireworks, lots of fun games, and enough talent and explosion to make up for a shaky defense.
Defense: There’s excellent size up front, more than enough speed to fly all over the field in the back eight, and promising depth up and down the depth chart, but the results have to come for a defense that finished last in the Big 12 in yards, points allowed, and pass defense and next-to-last against the run and in pass efficiency D. Former Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is coming in with the hope to take all the speed, all the athleticism, and all the experience, despite the youth across the board, to finally make the Aggie defense work. He’ll implement a 3-4 alignment taking the nation’s leading pass rusher, Von Miller, and moving him to a hybrid role called the Joker which should make him even more dangerous. Overall, to make the defense work, everyone has to be more physical, which wasn’t exactly a part of the Aggie D over the last few years, and even more aggressive than last year when the defense was 18th in the nation in sacks (mostly due to Miller).

4. Texas Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 5-3

Offense: Fast, fast, fast, fast, FAST. If you thought the old Texas Tech offense moved quickly, this one will look like the DVR is stuck in fast forward. At least that’s the hope as young offensive coordinator Neal Brown will try to install an up-tempo style designed to maximize the number of plays and keep defenses on their heels. However, to do that, the line has to go from bulky and weight room strong to quick and agile, and that’s going to be a process for a young, massive group brought in by the old coaching staff to fit a certain type. The skill players are in place with all the top receivers returning, three excellent quick backs to work with, and five quarterback options to play around with. Seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield might be the top passers, but they each have problems staying healthy meaning Seth Doege and Jacob Karam could be a part of the equation. The passing game of the past isn’t expected to go away, but there will be a bit more balance and more of an emphasis on the ground game.
Defense: Ruffin McNeill was a beloved defensive coordinator who did a fantastic job with the Red Raiders. While he made them aggressive and delivered a phenomenal pass rush, the plan was to read and react and bend without breaking. The new 3-4 scheme will be all about speed and quickness with new defensive coordinator James Willis bringing more blitzes from different angles taking a few more chances. The secondary will rely on corners who’ll sit on an island rather than work in a scheme that keeps everything in front of them, while the front seven will shift around as needed to fit the opponent. Tommy Tuberville likes small, speedy linebackers, and that’s what he’ll have as the scheme will more often than not uses an outside linebacker, with last year’s star in the middle, Brian Duncan, working as a hybrid.

T5. Baylor
Predicted Overall Record: 5-7
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin. It could be argued that there isn’t a more valuable player to any one team than RG3 is to Baylor. The star quarterback is a playmaker and an X factor who gives offense a weapon, and after he injured his knee the team went into the tank losing seven of its last eight games. The line is big, but it needs to be better with more experience and more shuffling being done, and RB Jay Finley needs to be healthy again after struggling through an ankle injury. The receiving corps, led by WR Kendall Wright, is fast and potentially good, and the coaching staff is great, but it all comes down to Griffin’s knee. As long as he’s fine, BU will throw a scare into defenses.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Brian Norwood has done a decent job so far considering the talent he has had to work with and with the high-octane Big 12 offenses to deal with, but this year could be a step back to take a major leap forward. Six players with major starting experience return, but there are some big losses in production with LB Joe Pawelek, FS Jordan Lake, and OLB Antonio Jones all gone. On the plus side, this is a deeper, more athletic defense than in the past after years of decent recruiting. The tackles, led by massive Phil Taylor, are big and strong and the linebackers can move, but the entire front seven has to be far better against the run after getting ripped up way too often. The secondary has a few phenomenal freshmen coming in, but they have to boost a group that got picked apart by almost anyone who wanted to throw. This D isn’t going to stop anyone cold, but it’ll be more active.

T5. Oklahoma State
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: The offense was supposed to be among the most talented and most dangerous in America last year with stars like WR Dez Bryant, OT Russell Okung, RB Kendall Hunter, and QB Zac Robinson leading the way after a stellar 2008. An injury to Hunter, a Bryant suspension, and the inconsistent play of Robinson led to a disappointing year. Now there’s a massive overhaul going on with just two starters returning, and while the attack isn’t going to be devastating, it should be fine even though former Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen will take over the play-calling duties from head coach Mike Gundy and he’ll be trying to utilize the spread to create more big plays. Hunter is back and healthy to lead a group of talented backs, and while four starters up front are gone, it’s a big line that should open up a few holes for the speed runners. It’s 26-year-old Brandon Weeden at quarterback for the time being, but three true freshmen are better fits for the OSU offense and there could be an interesting fight for roles and work as the season goes on. The receiving corps, as a whole is unproven, but Hubert Anyiam leads a promising crew that should be better with a year to get its feet wet without Bryant. Overall, expect a faster-paced attack that gets the ball into the hands of the playmakers in a hurry.
Defense: Quietly, the defense came up with a nice year and picked up the slack for the inconsistent and disappointing offense. But that was a veteran group that didn’t make a whole bunch of mistakes. This year’s defense is full of tremendous athletes and loads of promise, but there’s little to now experience or sure-thing star power to rely on. Ugo Chinasa leads a good front four that should be the strength of the defense, while the back seven desperately needs the talented young defensive backs to keep the errors to a minimum and the linebacking corps to stay healthy. This won’t be a bad defense since it’ll simply be faster and more athletic than most of the offenses it’ll face, but it won’t be a brick wall, either.

North
- Colorado Preview | Iowa State Preview | Kansas Preview
- Kansas State Preview | Missouri Preview | Nebraska Preview 

South
- Baylor Preview | Oklahoma Preview | Oklahoma State Preview
- Texas Preview | Texas A&M Preview | Texas Tech Preview 

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