Oklahoma State the Favorite in Wide-Open League
The Big 12 Conference has been quarterback-centric for 15 years. But that could change in 2013 as only two of the 10 teams have significant starting experience at the position.
Two years after winning the program’s first Big 12 championship, Oklahoma State could recapture the magic.
The Cowboys went 8-5 last season and came within inches of winning 10 games. Mike Gundy made unconventional changes at both coordinator spots, firing a popular coach on defense and replacing departed offensive assistant Todd Monken with a coach Gundy hand-picked from Division II.
This year’s team has some holes to fill on the defensive and offensive lines, but game-breakers are plentiful at defensive back, linebacker, receiver and running back.
OSU cycled through three quarterbacks last season before settling on Clint Chelf, who seems to have won the job again, though dual-threat J.W. Walsh will have a role.
Perennial favorite Oklahoma also endured some changes at the top. After 11 years of never firing an assistant, Bob Stoops fired three.
Now, if Blake Bell can throw as well as he ran for two years as Landry Jones’ backup, OU’s offense — loaded with experienced linemen, tough runners and fleet receivers — will be just fine. Mike Stoops’ defense lost some talent and lacks depth, but in his second season back, the Sooners should be better.
After 15 years without a bowl game, Baylor now has been to three in a row. There’s also a jaw-dropping new stadium going up in Waco. That’s the impact Art Briles has had — that, and wildly productive quarterbacks.
After Nick Florence replaced Heisman winner Robert Griffin and almost led the nation in total offense, Briles hands the keys to strong-armed Bryce Petty. Petty will hand to Lache Seastrunk and throw to Tevin Reese, and the defense, with eight full-time starters back, will be much improved.
Texas is an experienced team, including at quarterback with David Ash, who has grown in the last two seasons. Ash also had setbacks but, alongside playmakers like receiver Mike Davis and running backs Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, could be primed for
a breakout year.
New coordinator Major Applewhite has plenty of weapons. Eight starters return on defense, but it’s a defense that gave up 404 yards per game. The big question after three seasons of 5-7, 8-5 and 9-4:
Is Texas back?
Much was expected of TCU last season, but the suspension of quarterback Casey Pachall early in the year was
a major setback in the program’s first year in the Big 12. As of May, Pachall was back in Gary Patterson’s good graces (and hadn’t officially beaten out Trevone Boykin, a salty freshman last season). Pachall’s return makes the Horned Frogs — well-stocked on defense, as usual —
a conference contender.
Bill Snyder completed his second Manhattan Miracle last season, with the Wildcats on the cusp of playing for the national title before a late upset at Baylor. But quarterback Collin Klein, a Heisman finalist, has graduated, leaving an open battle between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters (it’s close; Snyder chose the spring game starter on a coin toss).
The offense should be fine; it’s a reloading defense that creates anxiety.
Geno Smith’s departure normally would be cause for concern at West Virginia, but in Dana Holgorsen’s offense, it’s next-man-up. That’s either backup Paul Millard, redshirt Ford Childress or brand new Florida State transfer Clint Trickett. Holgorsen has more than a quarterback to replace; receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey also are gone.
Sam Richardson is Paul Rhoads’ starter at Iowa State after finishing the season at the position. But Richardson spent the offseason in a new offense. Second-year coordinator Courtney Messingham and new offensive line coach Chris Klenakis (Colin Kaepernick’s coach at Nevada) have integrated the Pistol. Replacing significant talent on defense, particularly at linebacker, is a more pressing issue.
When Tommy Tuberville unexpectedly bolted for Cincinnati, it didn’t take Texas Tech long to find its new coach. Kliff Kingsbury, Mike Leach’s first quarterback way back in 2000, brought back with him the swagger he had as offensive coordinator at Houston and Texas A&M.
Kingsbury’s last two QBs were NCAA record-breaker Case Keenum and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Now Kingsbury wants to impart that swagger to Michael Brewer.
BYU transfer quarterback Jake Heaps is the frontrunner at Kansas, but the Jayhawks have plenty of other issues after going 1-11.
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM|
|QB||Clint Chelf||Sr.||Oklahoma State||QB||Casey Pachall||Sr.||TCU|
|RB||Lache Seastrunk||Jr.||Baylor||RB||John Hubert||Jr.||Kansas State|