Big 12 Insider
It seems unprecedented that as the Big 12 programs begin spring football workouts, each is looking at the same position and wondering what kind of production it will get there.
In 2012, Oklahoma had its answer (Landry Jones) as did Kansas State (Collin Klein), Texas Tech (Seth Doege), Baylor (Nick Florence), TCU (Casey Pachall) and West Virginia (Geno Smith). All six of those have moved on.
Most of the camps open this month – Texas started Feb. 21 – and there’s nothing definite about this position anywhere from Austin to Ames. You could make the case that Texas and TCU are a little more stable with their signal caller but not by much.
For a league that makes its living by putting the ball through the air, this is one of those odd years where the crazy offensive numbers may not be as crazy this fall.
Thus, that doesn’t give the conference a sense that it’s going to have a program really ready to contend for the national championship.
Of course, time will tell but here’s what each team is dealing with at quarterback. Spring dates are in parenthesis. The last date is the spring game:
Baylor (March 1-April 6): Florence has graduated and the little-used Bryce Petty appears to be the favorite to win the position. He should receive a push from redshirt freshman Seth Russell. However, coach Art Briles has two really talented running backs in Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. The Bears may take advantage of that and allow Petty to be the caretaker of the offense while leaning on the running game early.
Iowa State (March 26-April 20): Sam B. Richardson ditched the redshirt to quarterback the last three games of the year including the Liberty Bowl. But three games do not guarantee the job is his. Junior Jared Barnett lost the quarterback battle to the now-graduated Steele Jantz but should be in contention for the position. This position has never been solidified in Ames.
Kansas (March 5-April 13): In the past three years, this position has been a revolving door. And that’s why you haven’t seen the Jayhawks in a bowl. Coach Charlie Weis is hoping that BYU transfer Jake Heaps – he had to sit out last year – will take over and be more than a compliment to a very solid running game. Sophomore Michael Cummings is still in the equation.
Kansas State (April 3-April 27): Bill Snyder’s coaching staff signed all-american Jake Waters out of junior college so he would have the opportunity to make a reasonable transition from Klein. Waters is a dual threat. Now freshman Daniel Sams will be in this competition but Snyder wants to make sure the learning curve isn’t as sharp. That’s why Waters is the favorite.
Oklahoma (March 6-April 13): It’s been some time that the Sooners really don’t have a hand-picked successor at this position. That’s why this team doesn’t carry huge expectations at least to this point of the season. Blake Bell, known more for his goal line running for touchdowns than anything else, will be in the mix along with senior Drew Allen and sophomore Kendal Thompson. This race is wide open.
Oklahoma State (March 11-April 20): The Cowboys are likely going to be the preseason favorites. But this seems like this is going to be second edition of the quarterback competition between sophomores J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. The two went through last year’s camp with Lunt winning the job before he suffered a knee injury. Then Walsh also went down with an injury. Coach Mike Gundy may not name a starter this spring. Even if he does, it may not stay that way anyway.
TCU (March 1- TBA): It’s well-chronicled how Pachall’s substance abuse issues led to his suspension last October. But he went through rehab – successful we all can hope – and was reinstated in January. So the job is likely going to be his. But he is also going to be under a watchful eye and needs to be a choir boy to make sure he can handle the responsibilities and the pressures. At least sophomore Trevone Boykin nearly had a full season to run the offense. Redshirt freshman Tyler Matthews can start working with first team.
Texas (Feb. 21-March 31): David Ash finished as the starting quarterback and showed his promise as this team’s leader with the way he played the second half of the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State. He can make all the throws. He has the size at 6-3, 220. But he has to trust himself. Casey McCoy didn’t help himself with his incident during the week of the Alamo Bowl but he should still be ready to step in if Ash struggles.
Texas Tech (March 24-April 20): New coach Kliff Kingsbury moved this spring back because he needed some time to get his internal house in order. With Doege gone, the job likely falls to sophomore Michael Brewer who played a lot of mop-up duty in 2012. Brewer leads a position based on youth. Of course, there’s a lot for him to learn between now and the season opener at SMU on Aug. 31.
West Virginia (March 10-April 20): With Smith out of Morgantown, the two contenders are Texas boys in Ford Childress (Houston Kinkaid) and Paul Millard (Flower Mound). Experience is thin and coach Dana Holgorsen is in a position where he has to make sure he picks the right one. Each has a big arm. It’s hard to know if Holgorsen will want to name a starter by the spring game or allow the competition to carry over into August.
OTHER SPRING ITEMS
Watch these other storylines develop:
- Texas has to find a way to fix its rushing defense, which was statistically eighth in the league.
- Oklahoma has to find some help in the wide receiver position since Kenny Stills declared for the NFL draft.
- TCU welcomes back running back Waymon James (knee) who should be close to 100 percent.
- Iowa State needs to replenish at linebacker with the departures of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott.
- Kansas’ running game should be one of the best in the conference between Tony Pierson and James Sims.
- Oklahoma State has to find some answers at defensive end where graduation losses hit this team.
- Texas Tech’s defense is under its fifth defensive coordinator in as many seasons since Mike Wellerstedt came up from Texas A&M. He replaced Art Kauffman.
- Baylor will have to find two explosive wide receivers with the losses of Terrence Williams and Lanear Sampson.
- Kansas State is looking for the next person capable of being the playmaking linebacker that Arthur Brown was.
- West Virginia just needs to find a way to get better defensively with a pass coverage unit that was one of the worst in the nation.