TCU picked up some much needed depth at quarterback on Thursday night with former Texas A&M signal caller Matt Joeckel announcing on Twitter that he's headed to TCU.
I am now TCU Horned Frog. Go Frogs!— Matt Joeckel (@MattJoeckel) April 17, 2014
Joeckel will be a fifth year senior with one year of eligibility remaining following his graduation from Texas A&M this past December.
At the very least, Joeckel will provide a much need insurance policy at the position with Trevone Boykin being the lone quarterback on the roster with any playing experience. Tyler Matthews - Casey Pachall and Boykin's backup last season, announced earlier on Thursday that he was transferring, as well, a move which likely wasn't a coincidence given the pending arrival of Joeckel.
Joeckel's move to Fort Worth is good news for TCU fans. Although he only started one game during his four seasons in College Station, he brings a veteran presence and will likely have every opportunity to win the starting job when fall camp opens in August.
Although Boykin is atop the QB depth chart currently, his best position may be at receiver and having Joeckel on campus may open the door for him to move back to the position.
Joeckel's arrival could also give incoming freshmen Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer a chance to get their feet wet at the college level without having the pressure of being forced into a starting role right off the bat.
With TCU moving to quick paced passing offense in 2014, Joeckel looks to be a perfect fit after playing in Kevin Sumlin's offense the past two seasons even if most of his time was spent on the sidelines watching Johnny Manziel do his thing.
Whatever route TCU decides to take, he'll give Gary Patterson some much needed flexibility at the position. His only options previously were to leave Boykin running an offense that didn't necessarily fit his skill set or turning over the offense to a true freshman straight out of high school.
The timing couldn't be better for TCU.
Charlie Weis has seen enough.
Just a week after contemplating playing two quarterbacks this fall, KU's head man saw enough in Saturday's spring game and throughout the Jayhawks's 15 spring practices to name sophomore Montell Cozart Kansas' starting quarterback.
"After the completion of post spring ball evaluations and individual player meetings, I met with the offensive staff and we have decided to name Montell Cozart our starting quarterback," Weis said.
The move isn't a huge surprise given the direction the Kansas offense is headed under new offensive coordinator, John Reagan. It's no secret Reagan likes to use the quarterback in the run game and including the other candidates - senior Jake Heaps and sophomore T. J. Millweard - Cozart is the most efficient runner of the group.
In the past two seasons with Reagan calling plays at Rice, the Owls' quarterback, Taylor McHargue, carried the ball 321 times (including sacks) so it stands to reason we'll see more of the same this season with Cozart under center.
The biggest question mark surrounding Cozart is his ability to throw the ball after completing just 36.5% last season which included three starts while he played in seven games overall. But Weis apparently saw enough improvement throughout the spring to hand the offense over to Cozart full time.
"I wish we were done with summer workouts and all that,” Cozart said. “I wish it was September and we were getting ready to play our first game. But it's been a great process and I've definitely been able to learn and get better and I needed it.”
The past two seasons, KU's offense has finished last in the Big 12 averaging just 15.3 (2013) and 18.2 (2012) using a mixture of quarterbacks including transfers Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps.
Now it's Cozart's turn with a new coordinator calling the plays. Combine his ability with some new receivers including Miami (OH) transfer Nick Harwell, and KU's offense has the chance to be much improved in 2014.
After a week loaded with intriguing matchups, the Big 12 takes a breather in week number four with only three games on the schedule. Even so, Kansas State's matchup with Auburn on Thursday night qualifies at must see TV and we have our second Big 12 game of the season to get us through until the six other Big 12 schools return to action the following weekend.
Big 12 schedule: week four
|Thurs. 9/18||Auburn @ Kansas State||KSU loss|
|Sat. 9/20||Central Michigan @ Kansas||KU win|
|Sat. 9/20||Oklahoma @ West Virginia||OU win|
Game of the week:
Auburn @ Kansas State (Thurs.)
Is there a better way to get the weekend started early than a Thursday night tilt in Manhattan? If there is, I can think of it.
Auburn will likely come to town sporting a top five ranking after falling to Florida State in the national title game to end last season. Kansas State, on the other hand, will be trying to make an early season statement that they are indeed a team to fear in the Big 12.
The Tigers return 14 starters including quarterback Nick Marshall and will give a relatively inexperienced Kansas State defense all they can handle. If the Wildcats can keep a potent Tiger offense under wraps, they'll have to feel good about moving forward - win or lose - because they might not see a better offense all season.
Big 12 action, game two:
Oklahoma @ West Virginia
After K-State and Iowa State kicked off Big 12 play in week two, Oklahoma and West Virginia get the ball rolling again in the second conference game of the season.
Despite finishing last season with a 4-8 record, the Mountaineers hung tough with the Sooners losing 16-7 in Norman. This will be a different OU team, however, and one looking to make a big statement in their first conference game of the season.
After already playing Alabama and Maryland in nonconference games, it goes without saying this is a rather important game for the Mountaineers. Not only because it's a conference game, but WVU could be looking to avoid a 1-3 start depending how they fare in the two previously mentioned games.
That could raise the temperature on Dana Holgorsen's seat to lukewarm status, but on the other hand, a win over the Big 12 favorite would be a gigantic statement win for a program looking to return to its winning ways.
Hit the Snooze Button
Central Michigan @ Kansas
Projected Big 12 standings: week four
Well, after having a one year hiatus of prime time games, Nebraska will be back in the spotlight at least twice in 2014.
On Tuesday, ABC and ESPN announced its six preseason picks for prime-time games on either network and the Huskers made the list twice.
Nebraska will kick off in Lincoln against Miami at 7:00 (CST) on September 20th and again when they travel to East Lansing to play Michigan State on October 4th.
Hey, twice in three weeks, not bad. It beats the heck out of any more 11AM kick-offs.
The Big Ten Network will announce its prime time picks sometime next week so there could be more to come.
If you want to believe what Charlie Weis said prior to spring practice, then Kansas doesn't have a starting quarterback, at least not yet. He said then:
"It's never a good thing of it goes deep into August because it means you don't have (a quarterback). Any time there's a quarterback competition that goes to the end - I had one, trust me - it means you don't have one."
That's contrary to what Weis said on Tuesday as the Jayhawks get set for their spring game Saturday in Lawrence.
“I think if you intend to use them both in the same way, then you’re in trouble,” Weis said. “But if we were playing both of those guys — which right now, if we played this week, we would — we wouldn’t use them the same way.”
The both guys he's referring to are senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart who have, for the time being at least, separated themselves from sophomore T. J. Millweard and junior Michael Cummings in the race to be the Jayhawks signal caller.
The good news for Weis is that KU doesn't have to play this week. They'll have Saturday's scrimmage, summer workouts, and fall camp before they have make a decision about who's going to be under center.
With the uncertainty still lingering through the bulk of spring practices, should Kansas fans be worried about the quarterback position? Maybe, but they'd be probably be worried even if Weis had already named a starter. That's just the nature of the beast.
But the simple fact is, if both Heaps and Cozart have performed well, there's probably no damage being done by waiting until fall camp to name the guy who will start the opener.
As for two quarterback systems, we all know how that usually turns out - i.e. see Weis' comment from early March. But Kansas State made a work last season with Jake Waters and Daniel Sams.
It's probably worth noting, however, that K-State won six of their final seven games after Waters started to assert himself and received the majority of the playing time.
That's no knock on Sams, but rather an indication that maybe one is better than two, after all.
It's good to have goals, right? Well don't fault Kansas' defense from shying away from setting some pretty lofty goals for next season.
According to the Topeka-Capital Journal, the Jayhawks are setting out to have the best defense in the Big 12 next season.
“From the outside, I bet people will hear that and be like, ‘Ha,’ ” D-Lineman Keon Stowers said. “But all they see is wins and losses, score of the game. They’ve got fan goggles — I call it fan goggles. They don’t really see what’s going on.”
He can call them fan goggles if he'd like, but last season there's no escaping the fact that KU's defense gave up more than 30 points seven different times and more than 50 points in two of those games.
That's not to say KU's defense can't or won't be much improved in 2014. They return nine starters from last year's team including second team All-Big 12 linebacker Ben Heeney and all their starters from a good secondary.
A bigger concern - even with defensive improvement - is an offense that failed to score more than 20 points in 10 of their 12 games a season ago. Holding Big 12 offenses under 20 points a game on average is something no Big 12 defense did a season ago. Oklahoma State led the Big 12 in 2013 allowing 22.1 points per game in nine conference games.
Of course, Kansas is already attempting to jumpstart that side of the ball with the hiring of John Reagan to run the offense. But if Kansas wants to improve it's won-loss record - and what else really matters - scoring more points is a necessity no matter how much improvement the defense makes.
“It’s not about what (others) think,” Stowers said. “We’re the ones that are going to be out there on fourth-and-1 when we have to make that stop. As long as the 11 guys that’s on the field believe that we can do it, we’ll be able to attain it.”
Hey, fielding a good defense starts with an attitude and it sounds like the Jayhawks have that covered which is a solid starting point. Whether or not that's enough to bring KU out of the Big 12's cellar is another question entirely.
Teams in the Big 12 haven't exactly played daunting nonconference schedules over the past couple seasons. That changes a bit this season, especially this week.
On the docket for the Big 12 in week number three are UCLA, Duke, Tennessee, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Maryland. That might not be great, but it could be a heck of a lot worse and keep in mind, Alabama and Florida State have already appeared on the Big 12's schedule so hopefully things to continue to trending in this direction. Thank you college football playoff?
Big 12 schedule: week three
|Fri. 9/12||Baylor @ Buffalo||BU win|
|Sat. 9/13||West Virginia vs. Maryland (at College Park, MD)||WVU win|
|Sat. 9/13||Tennessee @ Oklahoma||OU win|
|Sat. 9/13||Kansas @ Duke||KU loss|
|Sat. 9/13||Arkansas @ Texas Tech||TT win|
|Sat. 9/13||Iowa State @ Iowa||ISU win?|
|Sat. 9/13||UT San Antonio @ Oklahoma State||OSU win|
|Sat. 9/13||Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington)||TX loss|
|Sat. 9/13||Minnesota @ TCU||TCU win|
Game of the week
Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington)
The biggest test in Charlie Strong's first season in Austin comes in the form of the UCLA Bruins who - assuming they take care of Virginia and Memphis in the season's first two weeks - very well may head to Arlington sporting a top ten ranking and one of the favorites to capture this year's Pac-12 title.
The Bruins return 15 starters from last year's 9-4 team including quarterback Brett Hundley who figures to be one of the early favorites to win the 2014 Heisman trophy.
Is Texas ready to take out a top 10 team three weeks into Strong's tenure? Maybe, maybe not, but how the Longhorns perform against the Bruins should provide a solid look at how close, or how far away, Texas is to returning to the nation's elite.
The Helmet Game
Tennessee @ Oklahoma
Butch Jones might not have Tennessee back to an elite level just yet, but seeing these two football heavyweights on the field together beats the heck out of an OU matchup against Name Your Score U.
The Volunteers return just 10 starters from last year's 5-7 team and are unsettled at quarterback as they work their way through spring practice. Even so, Tennessee has last year's surprise victory over South Carolina and a top five incoming recruiting class to build upon.
The Sooners should come away with a victory on their home field but this is still one to put a star next to on your viewing calendar.
Kansas @ Duke
Kansas vs. Duke in September? No, it's not basketball season, at least I don't think it is.
Going on the road to play Duke probably didn't sound like a bad idea to the Kansas administration when the game was originally scheduled. Those feelings may have changed with the Blue Devil's resurgence last season as they won the Atlantic Division before falling to Florida State in the ACC championship game.
Duke returns 14 starters from that team and should enter the matchup against KU with a 2-0 record after a relatively easy opening to the season with games against Elon and Troy.
This will only be the Jayhawks second game of the season and picking up a road win in Raleigh will all of sudden by nice win for Charlie Weis as he continues to try and turn around the Kansas program.
The Cy-Hawk Series
The Cyclones and Hawkeyes continue their annual matchup with a return to Iowa City after the Hawkeyes picked up a road victory in Ames last season.
Over the past 15 seasons, the Cyclones hold an 8-7 advantage including winning two of the past three meetings.
Iowa has plenty of holes to fill on a defense that loses seven starters from last year's team while new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino will have 10 returning offensive starters to play with for Iowa State.
The Cyclones will come into the Iowa game already battle tested after opening with North Dakota State and Kansas State. Iowa, on the other hand, should come in 2-0 with expected wins over UNI and Ball State.
Worth Keeping an Eye on
Hit the Snooze Button
Projected Big 12 standings through September 13th
Former Oklahoma State quarterback, Brandon Weeden, was back in Stillwater on Thursday and took time to watch the Cowboys spring practice.
Is there a better guy to offer his opinion on the current crop of quarterbacks competing for Cowboys' starting job? With the exception of Mike Gundy and Mike Yurcich, there aren't many although it's worth noting it was only one practice.
On true freshman Mason Rudolph:
"Mason looks good. From the reps I saw in team (periods), he sits back there and he’s a big kid. You can tell he’s still learning, but I think he’s a guy that has a pretty high ceiling.”
On J.W. Walsh:
"You can just watch him practice and tell he’s a leader on offense and does things the right way." He later added, "J.W., I was around him for a few years so I kind of know what he brings. He’s just a football player. He throws a good ball. You can tell he’s in complete control of the offense (and) again, just being a leader."
And on Daxx Garman who hasn't played in a game since his junior year in high school.
"I think Daxx Garman can just flat-out spin it. I think he sits back in the pocket and throws a good ball, very accurate."
There's not anything earth shattering there with the possible exception that Garman may actually be a serious contender for the starting job. Rudolph is still learning the ropes as you would expect from a guy who just arrived on campus after graduating early from high school. As for Walsh, he's a leader who has the offense down, as you'd expect.
As for Garman, Gundy also offered his thoughts as the Pokes continue to work their way through spring practice.
“He’s an accurate thrower and he’s starting to understand the game. He works hard at it and he spins the ball really nice. The one thing that’s happened to him is he’s not really played competitively for a number of years.... Now that it’s kind of his turn, he’s starting to get back into the role and understanding. He’s out there getting action and I see kind of a little bit of a gleam in his eye.”
Does any of that mean he's a serious candidate to start over Walsh and Rudolph? No, but at a minimum it feels like they think he can play at this level and are getting him ready to go.
Everybody has high hopes for Rudolph but who knows how he's develops in his first season and if Walsh should go down with an injury, Garman may just be the next guy up. That said, it's probably a bad idea to be jumping to any conclusions before anybody knows who actually wins the starting job.
But Oklahoma State knows all too well since that guy Weeden left campus that having more than one capable quarterback is a necessity. If there's anything to take away from Weeden's comments, it may just be that Oklahoma State might have three solid choices on its hands. That's a good thing for Oklahoma State.
Who needs Wes Lunt, anyway (besides Illinois!).
Former Iowa State cornerback, Jeremy Reeves, finished his Iowa State career in 2012 but that doesn't mean he's given up on his hopes of playing in the NFL.
Reeves participated in ISU's pro day this week after missing last year's event because of an injury. Let's just say he made the most of another opportunity.
Reeves clocked a time of 4.29 seconds in the 40 yard dash which - not surprisingly - was the fastest of any of the 11 Cyclones who ran in front of the scouts.
He also had a broad jump of 11'6" and a vertical leap - yes leap - of an amazing 43 inches. Each score was also tops for the day among those participating. Both his broad and vertical jumps would have been the top marks at this year's NFL combine while his 40 time would have been the second fastest.
If you've never seen a guy jump 43 inches into the air, check this out.
Gotta love it.
Here's to hoping Reeves finds his way into a NFL training camp. If Tuesday's results mean anything, he's proven he deserves a long hard look from the NFL scouts.
UPDATE 3/28: That didn't take long. The New York Jets signed Reeves to a free agent deal on Friday.
Week two of the Big 12 season will feature the first conference game of the season along with Texas trying to get some payback for one of last season's meltdowns.
Of course, there will likely be several blowouts, as well, as teams continue to ramp up for the conference slate. But hey, there's still enough in week two to peak our interest and considering we're sitting here at the end of March, tuning in to see Baylor hang 70 on Northeastern State actually sounds intriguing.
In case you missed week one's breakdown, click the link to catch yourself up.
Big 12 schedule: week two 2014
|Sat. 9/6||Towson @ West Virginia||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||Northeastern State @ Baylor||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||Kansas State @ Iowa State||KSU win|
|Sat. 9/6||Missouri State @ Oklahoma State||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||Oklahoma @ Tulsa||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||Texas Tech @ UTEP||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||BYU @ Texas||Win|
|Sat. 9/6||SE Missouri State @ Kansas||Win|
Game of the week:
Kansas State @ Iowa State
We don't have to wait long for the first Big 12 game of the season with the Wildcats set to visit Ames in an early Big 12 season opener.
The Wildcats will hit the road following what should be an easy season opener against SFA while the Cyclones will be coming off what will likely be a much tougher game against the Bison of NDSU.
It goes without saying, but this is a big game for both sides. Iowa State is trying to get back to a bowl game and one key factor in getting there is protecting your home turf. If they can pick up a win over what should be a solid K-State squad, it would be a big first step in getting back to six plus wins while picking up a big dose of confidence to carry through the rest of the nonconference schedule.
For the Wildcats, they are expecting to once again challenge for Big 12 title and can ill afford to drop a game to a team expected to finish on the bottom half of the conference. They'll bring an offense capable of putting points on the board but all eyes will be on the defense in their first significant test of the season.
Remember Last Year?
BYU @ Texas
The Longhorns had plenty of questions to answer entering last season but nobody saw coming what happened in Provo. The Cougars completely dismantled the Texas defense to the tune of 679 total yards, 550 of which came on the ground.
Texas had no answer for BYU quarterback Taysom Hill who picked up 259 of those rushing yards all by himself. The lackluster performance led to the firing of defensive coordinator and Manny Diaz while Mack Brown's seat become hotter than ever.
Charlie Strong is now in charge and you can bet the Texas faithful will be expecting a little bit of payback for last season's debacle against the Cougars. Hill and the bulk of last year's offense returns for BYU so it will be a huge opportunity for the Horn's defense to prove the shoddy tackling and gaping holes in the defensive front are a thing of the past.
Hitting the road
Oklahoma @ Tulsa
Texas Tech @UTEP
After opening with what should be relatively easy victories, Texas Tech and Oklahoma both hit the road for a pair of games against opponents from Conference USA.
Texas Tech will head to El Paso to play the Miners in the Sun Bowl for the first time since 2006.
After beating Tulsa 51-20 last season in Norman, Oklahoma will head to Tulsa this season where they haven't played at since 2007.
It's a bit unusual for BCS conference schools (can we still use that term?) to travel to the likes of El Paso and Tulsa, but given the history between the in-state schools, it's not unprecedented, either.
The games will give both schools the chance to get their feet wet on the road while picking up a couple victories in the process.
Hit the snooze button
Projected Big 12 Standings: week two