Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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It works for Baylor. Oklahoma used it to perfection against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor and Texas Tech seldom have trouble moving the ball. The same goes for Oklahoma State.

Apparently Gary Patterson likes what he sees when it comes to the hurry up offenses he faces most Saturday's in the Big 12. Enough so that TCU is going to change their offensive philosophy entirely entering the 2014 season.

It's no secret that TCU's offense was is for a significant reconstruction with the hiring of Doug Meacham and Sonny Crumbie as offensive coordinators following a disappointing season that saw the Horned Frogs finish with a 4-8 record. Meacham spent last season as Houston's offensive coordinator following eight seasons at Oklahoma State, the last two working with Dana Holgorsen and Todd Monken.

TCU isn't wasting any time cranking up the new offense in spring practice which opened Saturday in spring practice.

"You can tell the tempo is a lot quicker than we've been doing it," Patterson said on Saturday. "There is going to be learning curve. The biggest thing that you've got to understand with this offense is it's about the first downs. You've got to play throw and catch. It can't be about incompletions, and that's one of the things, the attention to detail we've got to do a better job of perfection (through) the air."

In 2013, TCU's offense ran a total of 818 plays (403 rush/415 pass). Compare that to Texas Tech which ran 1,136 plays, 313 more than did TCU playing only one more game. Based on the Horned Frogs average plays per game last season, TCU would have to play four and-a-half more games in order to reach that total.

Of course, in order to run such an offense it helps to have a quarterback capable of doing so. Trevone Boykin is the man for now along with redshirt sophomore Tyler Matthews. With the change to far more passing than what TCU has done in the past, expect incoming freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein to join fray this summer.

With the change to an up tempo offense there is the trade off that a team's defense is going to be on the field more, but it appears as if putting more points on the board is the focus for TCU going forward.

After all, TCU's defense has done a better than average job of slowing down Big 12 offenses thus far finishing both of the past two seasons second and first in yards allowed. They may just have to do it a little more frequently with their offense now moving at a much faster clip.

After going 6-12 in Big 12 games the past two seasons, the risk is likely worth the higher reward.

Baylor announced on Friday that's its first road game of the season against Buffalo has been moved to Friday night, September 12th and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The game was originally slated to be played on Saturday, September 13th.

The move is a good one for national exposure as the Bears will now have a lot more eye balls watching given a Saturday afternoon game against the Bulls probably wouldn't raise many eyebrows.

The move doesn't come without its pitfalls, however. Baylor opens the season Sunday, August 31st against SMU meaning Baylor will have two straight short weeks to prepare for its second and third games of the season. Given the competition (Northwestern State and Buffalo), having a chance to play on national television obviously outweighed having one less day to prepare in back-to-back weeks.

Baylor will then have its first bye week of the season following the Friday night game at Buffalo before they open Big 12 play at Iowa State on September 27th.

Bryce Petty returns at quarterback for Baylor. Trevor Knight is back for Oklahoma as is Jake Waters for Kansas State. Those are established names you know and all three should be in for big seasons in 2014.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a slew of true freshmen quarterbacks who could have the opportunity to make a significant impact in the Big 12 next season. Playing as a true freshmen is anything but a given - especially at quarterback - but here's a few names you could be hearing over the PA system sooner than you might expect.

USATSI 7500614 117736234 lowresMason Rudolph - Oklahoma State, 6'4" 217 lbs.

Will Mason Rudolph have a chance to take over the starting quarterback job in his first season? Maybe, but if so, we likely won't know about it until after the Pokes take the field this fall. Mike Gundy has already said he's not talking about his quarterbacks until after the opener against Florida State.

Rudolph is already on campus and will participate in spring ball beginning what should prove to be an interesting battle with J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman for the starting job.

Walsh will have the early leg up given what he's already accomplished at the position but don't count out Rudolph who ran an offense similar to what they Cowboys run while in high school.

"He chose Oklahoma State over LSU for those reasons," said Rudolph's high school coach, Kyle Richardson. "To come in and compete for a job the minute he gets there and be in the system that he could get into a spot to compete earlier because he knows (it). At this point, it's gonna be on him to go in and take advantage of whatever reps he can get early and then from there, see what happens."

Walsh may have the early advantage but remember, Gundy gave the starting job to Wes Lunt as a true freshman just two seasons ago so if Rudolph comes in and performs like many think he will, don't be surprised if he's under starting under center at some point in the coming season.

Darius Lee-Campbell - Iowa State, 6'2 200 lbs.

The Cyclones return two quarterbacks with starting experience in Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach so Darius Lee-Campbell winning the starting job won't be easy. Then again, with Mark Mangino taking over as offensive coordinator, the door might be more open than it would have been otherwise.

Lee-Campbell will arrive on campus in June and brings with him plenty of play making ability with his ability to move the ball on the ground. That playmaking ability is something that has been lacking in ISU's offense of late and if Lee-Campbell can get his arms around Mangino's offense, there's no reason to think he can be a factor in the quarterback competition during his first season on campus.

"I'm pretty confident," Lee Campbell said. "With the new offensive coordinator, they don't have too much more experience inside the system than I do. Just a couple more practices than I do. So I'll start off a step behind. But then again, I am more athletic than most of the quarterbacks there."

Jerrod Heard - Texas. 6'1" 193 lbs.

It's no secret the play of the quarterback in recent seasons was a big reason for Mack Brown's demise in Austin. The Longhorns simply haven't found anyone capable of playing with any type of consistency since Colt McCoy left town.

Entering his first season, new head coach Charlie Strong has options at the position. David Ash is back after missing a good chunk of the 2013 season due to concussions and Tyrone Swoopes will be squarely in the mix for playing time, as well, after seeing limited playing time as a freshman.

How Ash and Swoopes perform this spring and into fall camp will be the deciding factor on what UT's staff decides to do with incoming freshman Jerrod Heard who will arrive in Austin this summer as the top dual threat in the country coming out of high school.

If Ash and Swoopes struggle, Heard certainly provides a nice fall back option if he doesn't take the job outright at some point in 2014. He finished his high school year by amassing over 11,500 yards of offense including back-to-back seasons rushing for over 2,000 yards.

Will he see the field in 2014? Ash and Swoopes will likely have first dibs but with Heard now in the mix, the pressure will be on both to perform to perform at high level on a week-to-week basis.

Skyler Howard - West Virginia, 5'11" 205 lbs.

Clint Trickett might be the guy once again for West Virginia next season, but he's sitting out the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery. Trickett's absence combined with Paul Millard playing baseball this spring (no word on what that means for spring football practice) means junior college transfer Skyler Howard should get plenty of reps when spring practice opens this weekend.

Howard is already on campus and so far, so good, at least as far as offseason workouts go. "I haven't seen him in a football setting yet," Dana Holgorsen said. "The workout end of it, though, is good. The players gravitate toward him. He gets through a workout better than our skill guys. He's a breath of fresh air to me."

With both Trickett and Millard struggling at times a season ago, the race for the starting quarterback job should be wide open.  Howard will get his chance, that much is certain. The 5'11" signal caller also has the ability to make plays with his legs potentially adding another element to the Mountaineers offense.

"Skyler’s an athletic kid," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "A lot of his bigger plays (last year) were extended plays when he kept his eyes downfield.”

True freshman William Crest will also arrive on campus this summer and very well could work his way in the quarterback mix, as well.

USATSI 7643943 117736234 lowresPatrick Mahomes - Texas Tech, 6'3" 198 lbs.

Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer are gone leaving Davis Webb as the only scholarship quarterback on campus. Patrick Mahomes is set to arrive on campus this summer, that is if he doesn't choose to play professional baseball instead. He would most likely become the number two QB behind Webb the moment he steps foot on campus.

“Yeah, he’s of that mindset," Kliff Kingsbury said. "We told him to get ready to come in. It’s a unique situation. We only have one scholarship quarterback on the roster. Get ready to come in and compete and play right away.”

If Webb were to succumb to any type of injury, Mahomes would find himself the starter just like that.

Of course, Texas Tech must first sweat out the MLB draft to find out where Mahomes is drafted and what type of money he would be looking at if he were to sign a pro contract. If he does decide on baseball, then Tech will once again be forced to look at a walk on class that features four incoming QB's. That worked out well for Tech this past season but you can bet getting Mahomes on campus will be a big plus for the upcoming season.

Foster Sawyer - TCU, 6'5 210

Grayson Muehlstein - TCU, 6'3 199 lbs

Let's assume for a second that part-time starter the past two seasons, Trevone Boykin, makes a permanent move to wide receiver. That would open the door for two true freshmen to earn significant playing time sooner rather than later.

Those true freshmen are Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein, both of who will arrive on campus this summer meaning they'll have a steep learning curve in order to earn playing time. The good news for both is that given TCU is installing a new offense this spring, it's going to be new for everyone.

Each guy possesses significant upside with Sawyer's strong suit being his passing ability while Muelstein falls into the dual threat mode. "This offense is simple enough that a younger player can play at a high level and that's what we're hoping for," Gary Patterson said. "This offense could help them (freshmen receivers), along with Foster and Grayson."

Who wins the starting quarterback job at TCU is anybody's guess, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if one or both of these guys get the opportunity to make a significant impact in 2014.

If West Virginia was looking to add an experienced coach to its defensive staff, mission accomplished.  WVMetroNews reported on Friday that the Mountaineers have fired former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley to their staff.

Tom BradleyBradley served 33 seasons as an assistant under Paterno at Penn State and was also the interim head coach after Paterno was fired during the 2011 season.

He won't be calling the plays for West Virginia, however, as the coordinator position was already given to last year's safeties coach, Tony Gibson, following Keith Patterson's departure to Arizona State.

Bradley's role in the defense has yet to be publicly announced, although the Metro News report indicated that Gibson would also work with the linebackers while Damon Cogdell would coach the lineman and Joe DeForest would coach the safeties.

If accurate, that could potentially leave Bradley handling the cornerbacks. He was a defensive back for the Nittany Lions during his playing days.

Whatever his position responsibilities turn out to be, having him on staff will surely bolster the defensive staff as a whole while giving the newly anointed Gibson a good sounding board in his first season as a coordinator at the FBS level.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 17:52

No spring game for Oklahoma State in 2014

If you're an Oklahoma State fan hoping to watch the Orange squad dismantle the White squad (or vice versa) in the spring game, you're out of luck this year.

The Cowboys athletic department announced on Monday that instead of concluding spring practice with the usual scrimmage, they'll hold what they are calling the "Orange Blitz".

The Blitz will consist of a 90 minute practice for fans to watch followed by a meet and greet between fans and players on the field after practice has concluded.

Why the change? It depends on what theory you want to believe.

It's no secret that Oklahoma State is going to be searching for starting quarterback when spring practice opens. Mike Gundy already said during is recruiting press conference that he wasn't going to discuss the quarterback battle until after OSU's opener against Florida State.

Is this a way to shield the quarterback competition from the public during the spring? It's possible.

Whatever the case, in the grand schemes of things, it's not a huge deal other than having a few disappointed fans, possibly. They'll still practice 15 times just like everyone else in the country.   And I'm guessing they'll do plenty of scrimmaging among themselves only behind closed doors.

But if you're a fan wanting to draw conclusions about who's in the lead for starting spots, you're going to wait until August 30th to find out. That or do your best breaking down the position drills you'll be watching on April 5th.

Thursday, 13 February 2014 17:27

Baylor selling gold chrome helmets for $2,000

If you have an extra $2,000 laying around, one of the coolest helmets worn by any team in the country this season can become a new piece on your mantel. And there's even an Art Briles autograph to go with it.

Baylor decided to sell the helmets worn against Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl as a way to celebrate their 2013 Big 12 title. The cost includes $700 to replace the originals with the remainder going to the Baylor Football fund.

"Our guys love it," Briles said in his office as he personally signed each and every one. "Our fans love it, and — fortunately — 17- and 18-year-olds love it. It's great for recruiting, and that's the game that never stops."

What is their not to love? If you're into the uniform craze that has swept through college football over the past few seasons, Baylor's gold helmets are/will be tough to top.

"That is a good looking helmet," Briles said.

Baylor debuted the helmets in their first Big 12 game of the season against West Virginia. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they also wore them against Texas Tech in addition to the Fiesta Bowl game.

If you're interested in purchasing one from Baylor, here's all the information you'll need but you'd better move fast as there are only a few remaining.

Thursday, 13 February 2014 13:20

Big 12 spring game dates

Signing day is in the books which means spring football is just around the corner.

In the Big 12, Baylor is the first to kick off spring practice in just under two weeks (February 28th) with TCU starting spring practice a day later.  Both teams will hold their spring games on April 5th.

Here's a look at the entire conference's spring schedule.  It may just be practice, but any football is better than no football.

Baylor

  • Start practice: February 28th
  • Spring game: April 5th

 

TCU

  • Starts practice: March 1st
  • Spring game: April 5th

 

West Virginia

  • Starts practice: March 2nd
  • Spring game: April 12th

 

Kansas

  • Starts practice: March 4th
  • Spring game: April 12th

 

Texas Tech

  • Starts practice: March 5th
  • Spring game: April 12th

 

Oklahoma

  • Starts practice: March 8th
  • Spring game: April 12th

 

Iowa State

  • Starts practice: March 10th
  • Spring game: April 12th

 

Oklahoma State

  • Starts practice: March 10th
  • Spring game: TBA

 

Texas

  • Starts practice: March 19th
  • Spring game: April 19th

 

Kansas State

  • Starts practice: April 2nd
  • Spring game: April 26th
Monday, 10 February 2014 16:11

Top five Big 12 nonconference games in 2014

Apparently teams are taking notice of the strength of schedule component in the upcoming college football playoff because after several seasons of less than stellar out of conference opponents, the Big 12 has solid slate of games outside of Big 12 play we can all look forward too.

There are still the usual clunkers but Florida State is there, and so are Auburn and Alabama. Take a look at the weekend of September 13th alone and you'll see Big 12 schools playing UCLA, Maryland, Tennessee, Duke, Arkansas and Iowa - all on the same weekend! It leaves you thinking what took so long for a playoff to become reality.

Here are the five best games coming up, at least from one guy's opinion. Tick, tock, six plus months and counting until August 30th.

1. Oklahoma State vs. Florida State - August 30th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX

The Cowboys went away from their schedule easy philosophy a bit last season when they opened with Mississippi State but things really get ratcheted up in 2014 when they take on Florida State who happens to be the defending national champions.

The Seminoles return Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and 13 starters from their national championship team to go along with a top five recruiting class. The Cowboys will also have to prepare not knowing exactly what FSU will be doing on defense with linebackers coach Charles Kelly slated to take over as defensive coordinator for the departed Jeremy Pruitt.

Oklahoma State will have a monumental task on their hands trying to knock off the Noles in the season opener, but if they can find a way, what a springboard it would be to the rest of the season.

2. Auburn @ Kansas State - Thursday, September 18th

If playing one of the teams in last year's BCS title game wasn't enough, Kansas State gets the chore of playing the loser when Auburn visits for a Thursday night tilt in Manhattan.

The Wildcats have plenty of holes to fill on defense this offseason and the newcomers will get put to the ultimate test against the Tigers who return eight starters on offense including quarterback Nick Marshall.

The good news is that K-State should have salty offense returning themselves and if they can hang with Auburn early, anything can happen given it's a pretty safe assumption to say the atmosphere inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium is going to be a bit electric.

3. Texas vs. UCLA - September 13th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX

How far has Texas fallen from being one of the nation's elite? By the looks of how they fared against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, a long ways. How fast can Charlie Strong turn the ship around? We will have a good idea as to the answer to that question before the Longhorns begin Big 12 play.

After opening with North Texas and BYU, Strong will face a stiff test from a UCLA team that many believe will open the season ranked inside the top ten.

Quarterback Brett Hundley returns along with 16 starters from a team that finished 10-3 last season.

Texas, on the other hand, will spend the bulk of spring practice trying to sort out their quarterback situation. They could go with experience - David Ash - or give one of the young guys - Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard - their shot. Either way, if they can find to knock off the Bruins it would be a solid beginning to the Charlie Strong era in Austin.

4.   West Virginia vs. Alabama - August 30th at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA

Looking at the 2014 schedule and seeing Alabama at the top probably won't help Dana Holgorsen sleep much this offseason. The Crimson Tide aren't coming off another national title, but that doesn't mean they won't be loaded again next season.

If there's any good news for the Mountaineers, it's that three-year starting quarterback A.J. McCarron has finally graduated. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is a good bet to win the starting job but whoever is under center for Alabama will be making their first career start so there's that.

This is a bit of a dangerous game for WVU because getting manhandled on national TV in the season opener isn't exactly a way to build confidence but then again, if the Mountaineers can hang around into the second half, it could work the other way, as well.

5. Tennessee @ Oklahoma - September 13th

Few teams will enter the 2014 season with more momentum going their way than the Sooners following victories over Oklahoma State and Alabama to close the season.

This isn't the Tennessee of old but it is still a team with plenty of tradition which helped them land of the top recruiting classes in the country. They may not be at the level to beat OU on their home field just yet, but their name alone makes this one of the more intriguing games of the nonconference season.

Honorable mention:

  • Arkansas @ Texas Tech - September 13th
  • Iowa State @ Iowa - September 13th
  • Minnesota @ TCU - September 13th
  • West Virginia @ Maryland - September 13th

 

Sony gift card giveaway!

While you may be only dreaming about watching football next season, it's never to early to dream about what you may be watching it on.  HD television is great - no question about it - but have you checked out Sony's new Ultra HD 4K TV's?

  • Four times clearer than HD: Greater than eight million pixels, 4K is the highest resolution Sony has ever produced. Watching a football game on this TV is as good as good as sitting front row.
  • Everything enhanced: All content is viewed at the highest resolution possible with enhanced images reaching near 4K with Sony’s proprietary two-chip – 4K X-Reality™ Pro picture engine so you won’t miss a single moment of play.

 

Television viewing has never been better and Sony is willing to help out a new purchase by offering our readers a $100 Sony gift card. 

All you have to do is tweet at me, @jaybeck12 and @sonyelectronics.  In your tweet, tell us why you should be the winner of a $100 Sony gift card by February 28th.  On March 1st a drawing will be held and you could be $100 closer to owning a new Sony product! And just in time for March Madness!

You may also follow Sony on Facebook as well as Instagram.

So what are you waiting for?

Friday, 07 February 2014 01:37

Big 12 sending 25 players to NFL combine

The NFL released its official list of players invited to the 2014 combine scheduled to be held February 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More than 300 players are scheduled to attend including 25 from the Big 12.

Baylor led the way with six player invites followed by Oklahoma with five and Texas with four.

Here's the list of Big 12 players that will have the opportunity to showcase their skills in Indy. (The complete list is here).  For everyone else, they'll have to wait until their school's pro day held on each campus.

Big 12 invitees to 2014 NFL combine

Player Pos School
Lache Seastrunk RB Baylor
Tevin Reese WR Baylor
Jordan Najvar TE Baylor
Cyril Richardson G Baylor
Ahmad Dixon SS Baylor
Demetri Goodson CB Baylor
Jeremiah George LB Iowa State
Cornelius Lucas OT Kansas State
Marcus Helt LS Kansas State
Trey Millard FB Oklahoma
Damien Williams RB Oklahoma
Jalen Saunders WR Oklahoma
Gabe Ikard C Oklahoma
Aaron Colvin CB Oklahoma
Josh Stewart WR Oklahoma State
Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State
Jason Verrett CB TCU
Mike Davis WR Texas
Jackson Jeffcoat DE Texas
Chris Waley DT Texas
Anthony Fera K Texas
Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
Kerry Hyder DT Texas Tech
Charles Sims RB West Virginia
Will Clarke DE West Virginia

 

The combine will once again be shown on the NFL Network this year and here's a rundown of the days each postion group will work out, as well.

» Saturday, Feb. 22: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
» Sunday, Feb. 23: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
» Monday, Feb. 24: Defensive linemen, linebackers
» Tuesday, Feb. 25: Defensive backs

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 16:38

Compiled Big 12 recruiting rankings

Whether you love it, hate it, or are somewhere in between, signing day has become a national spectacle for college football fans.

There's plenty to get excited about but for as many four and five star recruits that never pan out to the walk-ons who become all-conference selections, trying to decipher whose has the best class is far more art than science.

That much we know. But what fun is all of it without putting some rankings to it. Everybody loves rankings, lists, or whatever as long as it gives us something to talk about.

In the Big 12, here's a look at where each team in the league finished nationally among the major recruiting service (it's worth noting there could be some slight movement in the coming days).

National Recruiting Class Rankings - Big 12

Team Rivals Scout 247Sports ESPN Avg.
Oklahoma 14 12 14 14 13.5
Texas 19 16 16 16 16.75
Oklahoma State 27 13 28 28 24
Baylor 34 24 26 22 26.5
West Virginia 37 40 36 37 37.5
Texas Tech 43 35 41 35 38.5
TCU 51 37 42 -- 43.33
Kansas State 47 57 49 -- 51
Iowa State 56 52 55 -- 54.33
Kansas  55 62 54 -- 57

*ESPN only ranks the Top 40 classes.

It's no shock to see Oklahoma and Texas have signed the top two ranked recruiting classes in the conference. That's par for the course in the Big 12. The only thing that may be concerning about it, however, is that neither team - or any team in the Big 12 for that matter, finished ranked among the top ten classes in the country.

That's probably splitting hairs because who really knows if the eighth ranked class is better than the 12th or 15tth rated class but even so, you'd love to see somebody out of ten teams crack the top five or ten.

Based on the average of the four recruiting services, six of the ten teams finished inside the top 40.

West Virginia looks to have put together a solid class especially considering they are coming off a 4-8 season.

Texas Tech is likely happy, as well, although they did suffer a couple last second defections.

I'm no recruiting expert, but I'd expect to see TCU finish ranked higher than the low 40's.   The competition is stiff in Texas but considering four and five star recruits grow on trees right outside their doorstep, I would think they would be able to land more than one four star guy.

Kansas State finished with the eighth ranked class in the Big 12 which is actually an improvement from ninth and tenth spots they regularly find themselves in. No worries for Kansas State, however.  All it probably means is that another conference title is probably coming sooner rather than later.

Kansas coach Charlie Weis had this to say about the Jayhawks 2014 class. "I'm very pleased with this recruiting class. Our staff had to show good patience and through hard work, we filled almost every pressing need."

Take that exact quote, put any coaches name behind it, and you can quickly summarize every recruiting class in the country. Kansas checked in with the lowest ranked class in the Big 12.

Iowa State won't wow anyone with their recruiting ranking, but they landed one of the top recruits in the Big 12 with wide receiver Allan Lazard officially signing on Monday. He's a local kid from Urbandale, Iowa with a load of talent. At least for one recruiting class, the Cyclones found out what it's like to be Texas with a top flight kid just miles from their campus.

All things considered, not a bad haul of recruits for most of the teams in the league. What do you think, are you happy, sad, angry, or jubilant with your squad's class?

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