By KEVIN LONNQUIST
Big 12 Insider
Every week, the Big 12 coaches hold a conference call with the media. Rattle and Hum Sports points out some of the issues that made the most news. All rankings are BCS.
Although No. 23 Texas (5-2, 2-2) defeated Baylor this past Saturday, 56-60, coach Mack Brown has infused a lot of freshmen into the playing rotation. That includes wide receiver Kendall Sanders and running back Johnathan Gray. “Really, we started over the last two years playing 18 freshmen last year and 16 this year. The [grind of the league season] is something that older teams can handle. The staff is demanding.’’…former Texas 2011 star running back commit Traylon Shead, who transferred to Navarro College because he wasn’t receiving any playing time, has given a verbal commitment to SMU. Shead is expected to transfer in December and will have two years of eligibility availability.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis said he will announce his quarterback plans on Tuesday as the Jayhawks (1-6, 0-4) prepare to take on Texas. The decision will be between senior Dayne Crist and freshman Michael Cummings. Both played against Oklahoma. Cummings played more snaps but struggled against one of the conference’s top units…one of the thing Weis likes about this team is that the running game has improved especially since James Sims returned. Sims has rushed for 100 yards in each of the last three games. He has a pretty good chance to make it four Saturday against the Longhorns
As No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1) prepares to play No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) Saturday in Norman, OK., in a game that has many BCS implications, coach Bob Stoops has really liked how quarterback Landry Jones has found a resurgences. “He’s trusting his reads and not forcing anything,’’ Stoops said. “He’s taking what they are giving him. But really, this is only his third game to work with all of his receivers. The only one he had to work with from 2011 was Kenny Stills. The Sooners know they have a chance to climb higher in the BCS rankings with a win in a nationally televised game. “After the Kansas State game, I knew we were a good team,’’ Stoops said. “I knew it right after the game.’’… the game with Notre Dame was scheduled well in advance of the conference realignment.
With J.W. Walsh out for the year with a knee injury, Oklahoma State (4-2, 3-1) coach Mike Gundy said he will evaluate the week between Wes Lunt and junior Clint Chelf. Lunt, who has missed the last four weeks with his own knee injury, has been practicing with the team for the last two weeks. Chelf it a little like Walsh in that he is a run-pass threat. Gundy wouldn’t disclose the nature of Walsh’s injury but said it was not career threatening. Regardless, Walsh played about 70 percent of the game after the injury occurred.
Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) is now ranked No. 3 in the BCS polls, but coach Bill Snyder doesn’t want to compare this group to the 1998 team that was a national title contender. He knows the attention will increase now that the Wildcats won impressively at West Virginia, 55-14. “You can’t keep it away from them,’’ Snyder said. “It’s not my intention to do that… but the similarities with 1998 team are all of the intrinsic values that we’ve had for years. They cared about each other. They were disciplined and were hard working. We had a family environment. But they have to understand how you got where you are.’’… Snyder did acknowledge the Heisman Trophy attention will also increase with quarterback Collin Klein.
West Virginia’s bye week comes at the right time after the No. 19 Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) suffered embarrassing consecutive losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. They have been outscored 104-28 in those two games. “The message is we need to grow up,’’ coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We need to be a mature team and be mentally and physically tough. We just have to get back to work.”… when asked if the Big 12 season is taking its toll, Holgorsen said, “I’m pretty familiar with it. I thought it would take a whole year to understand the Big 12. It’s a challenging conference.’’… running back Shawne Alston, who has missed the last three games, tweeted recently he thought he would be back for the Nov. 3 game against TCU. Holgorsen said he was hopeful that would happen.
No. 14 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1) faces a big challenge on Saturday at Kansas State. But coach Tommy Tuberville said it’s going to come down to how well his defense plays. Back in the summer Tuberville said he was concerned about how his lack of size along the defensive front would hold up against it. “We have had some big concerns,’’ Tuberville said. “You have to tackle well. But we have more depth on both sides of the ball and we have a quarterback [Seth Doege] that can play. We just have more speed and more talent. Players win games but a senior quarterback doesn’t hurt.’’
Baylor’s embattled defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has coach Art Briles’ confidence for now. Briles knows that side of the ball has not been able to catch up with his high flying offense. “We’re certainly depleted depth wise on down,’’ Briles said. “That’s a concern. What’s we got to do is get off the field on third down. That’s been a thorn for us this season. But we feel like better days are ahead.’’ Baylor (3-3, 0-3) has the worst third-down defense in the conference. Opponents are converting nearly 64 percent on that down.
Ask Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads who is starting quarterback is for Saturday’s game against TCU, and he really doesn’t know. He’s back with the same problem this year between Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett like he was last year. Neither has taken control of the offense to the point where the Cyclones (4-3, 1-3) know they can be consistent. “I’m not pleased,’’ Rhoads said. “I’m not sure we have an identity. We had some quick throws against Tulsa and hit some long balls against TCU. But we don’t have any consistency. We’re not playing well enough to help our defense.’’… The Cyclones are last in the Big 12 in total offense at 342.6 yards per game.
TCU (5-2, 2-2) coach Gary Patterson said defensive end Stansly Maponga will be another gametime decision for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State. That was a bit of a change from Saturday when Patterson thought his pre-season All-Big 12 player could miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile offensive lineman Blaize Folz should be ready to play against the Cowboys after spraining an ankle against Texas Tech… Patterson knows about freshmen making mistakes. His team went from committing five turnovers against Iowa State three weeks ago to committing none the next week at Baylor to committing three more against Texas Tech.