Oklahoma Sooners: Henry Josey

We're continuing our look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back at where the running backs ranked in the preseason.

In this position, unlike quarterback, depth is a major, major factor in these rankings.

1. Texas A&M

The Aggies had the two most talented backs, and despite injuries to both, proved it through an otherwise frustrating 2011. Christine Michael suffered a torn ACL, but still managed 899 yards on just 149 carries. Cyrus Gray injured his shoulder late in the season, but secured his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and ranked third in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 198 times. This duo should have easily surpassed 1,000 yards, but even when they were injured, Ben Malena played well in the final two games.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
AP Photo/Brandon WadeChristine Michael averaged 6 yards per carry before a torn ACL ended his season.
2. Missouri

Mizzou dealt with injuries, too, first to Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore. Cue Henry Josey. Josey became the best back in the Big 12 this year before suffering a major knee injury that included torn ligaments. He may not be back in 2012. His 1,168 yards were third most in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 145 times. Lawrence finished 12th with 566 yards.

3. Oklahoma State

Joseph Randle stole the show this year, rushing for 24 scores and ranking second in the Big 12 with 1,216 yards. Only Collin Klein ran for more touchdowns and Terrance Ganaway was the only player with more yardage. Still, Jeremy Smith had averaged more than 7 yards a carry, and he'd be able to start for anyone else in the league. Herschel Sims showed promise, too, with 242 yards on 31 carries.

4. Baylor

Ganaway led the Big 12 in rushing with huge performances late in the season, including a 200-yard, five-touchdown game in his final outing as a college athlete in the Alamo Bowl. He averaged more than 6 yards on his 250 carries and had 330 more yards than any other back in the league. Jarred Salubi added 331 yards, too.

5. Texas

Texas' Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were banged-up late in the season, but Fozzy Whittaker played well until suffering a torn ACL against Missouri, too. Scatback D.J. Monroe was effective in the passing game as well. Four running backs topped 300 yards and Brown led the team with 742 yards, despite missing three games and having his carries limited early in the season.

(Read full post)

The Big 12 Primer: Week 10

November, 3, 2011
Time for a glance at this weekend.

I'll have my predictions up in the morning, but until then, let's hear your picks in the comments.

Here's when and where you can expect this weekend's games (all times ET):

Texas Tech at No. 21 Texas (Noon, FX): Tech is coming off its worst performance of the season, a 34-point home loss to Iowa State, while the Longhorns are basking in a dominant defensive performance in a 43-0 win over Kansas. The Longhorns beat Tech in Lubbock during last year's 5-7 season, but Tech QB Seth Doege will try to get back on track after a frustrating night. We'll see if David Ash continues to be in the driver's seat of the QB spot at Texas.

Kansas at Iowa State (12:30 p.m., Fox College Sports): If Kansas is going to get a conference win, this looks like its best shot. The Cyclones are riding high, though, after a dominant win over Texas Tech. Jared Barnett will make his second career start after a big night in Lubbock, but the Kansas offense will try to rebound from the loss to Texas last week, which featured just 46 yards of total offense.

Texas A&M at No. 6 Oklahoma (3:30 p.m., ABC): Oklahoma will try to avenge last year's loss to the Aggies on Saturday and restart a home winning streak that was snapped at a nation-leading 39 the last time out. What once looked like a showdown that could tip the balance of the Big 12 looks like Texas A&M looking for a signature win, toting three losses in eight games to Norman.

Missouri at Baylor (7 p.m., Fox Sports Net): Both teams badly need a win to get one step closer to bowl eligibility, and this will only be Robert Griffin III's second career start against Missouri. The last time RG3 started against the Tigers, Chase Daniel was the opposing quarterback. Mizzou will bring the league's leading rusher, Henry Josey, to Waco, trying to ride some momentum from last week's win over Texas A&M.

No. 14 Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State (8 p.m., ABC): Kansas State's late-season grind continues with another game against a high-flying offense and a top 10 team. The Wildcats lost by 41 at home to Oklahoma, and will face a similar challenge on the road this week. Oklahoma State's fast-paced, high-octane offense will match up against the Wildcats' ball control attack, and the pass defense will look for redemption after giving up 505 yards to Landry Jones last week.

Predictions: Big 12 Week 10

November, 3, 2011
Week 9 wasn't my best, but it always gets a lot tougher in conference play.

Last week: 3-2 (.600)

Overall: 42-12 (.777)

Texas Tech 31, No. 21 Texas 27: Tech showed what it's capable of two weeks ago against Oklahoma, and Texas hasn't dealt well with dynamic offenses. The Red Raiders are getting healthier and healthier, and will pose major problems. Seth Doege and the Red Raiders are angry, and this challenge looks a lot different than Kansas. A word of advice, Horns: Look out for that slip screen.

Iowa State 38, Kansas 28: All of a sudden, there are major questions about Kansas' offense, but the Jayhawks will get back on track this week. Once again, though, the defense will keep the Jayhawks from capitalizing on their best chance to grab a conference win. Jared Barnett continues to mature, and Darius Reynolds gets back to early season form with a big game.

No. 6 Oklahoma 45, Texas A&M 21: I went back on a fearless prediction once. Not this time. You wouldn't like the Sooners when they're angry, and this team isn't real happy about what happened the last time they played on their home field. Oklahoma protects the quarterback better than anybody, and Landry Jones is smart enough to get the ball out to prevent putting the offense in holes. Texas A&M's poor pass defense is exposed, and the Sooners roll.

Missouri 34, Baylor 30: Missouri has by far the Big 12's best rushing offense in conference play. Baylor has the league's worst rush defense. That'll be too much for Robert Griffin III to overcome, though he'll get back on track with a huge day. E.J. Gaines on Kendall Wright will be a fun matchup to watch, but Henry Josey and James Franklin carry the Tigers to a second consecutive road victory in Texas, the first time all season Missouri has won consecutive games.

No. 3 Oklahoma State 44, No. 14 Kansas State 28: There will be too much offense for the Wildcats to handle in this one. Oklahoma State's is playing at Oklahoma's level, and this one won't be pretty for the K-State defense. Come back later Thursday for a video that further explores this matchup.
Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in this week's games.

1. Kansas State's secondary. The Wildcats failed their big test last week against Oklahoma and it gets just as difficult, if not more so, this week in Stillwater. And time it's on the road. OSU's running game is better than Oklahoma's, and its passing game is just as difficult to cover. Brandon Weeden has been sharp, and the task ahead of Nigel Malone and David Garrett is enormous. This matchup will decide the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesMissouri QB James Franklin should give SEC defenses cause for concern next season.
2. Baylor's front seven. The Bears are giving up almost 250 yards on the ground in conference play, and Missouri fields a two-headed rushing attack with James Franklin and Henry Josey, who both torched a solid Texas A&M front seven last week. These guys have to play well to give Robert Griffin III and the Bears a chance, or Missouri will control possession and the game.

3. Oklahoma's home prowess. The home streak is gone, but did the mystique follow Texas Tech out of the building? Badly beating a good Texas A&M team would be a nice start for the Sooners, but Texas A&M has to be significantly less intimidated by a) seeing that result and b) beating Oklahoma last season. So which is it?

4. Texas QB(s)? Texas continues to list Case McCoy and David Ash as co-starters when the playing time looks like there's nothing "co" about it. Does McCoy still have a future on the field, or has the true freshman, Ash, taken over a full-time role? My guess is the latter, but Texas Tech will be a real test, unlike Kansas. The Red Raiders could be revealing.

5. Kansas ... offense? Prove to us that this offense really is better. Iowa State's defense doesn't really scare many folks across the Big 12, but KU had just three first downs against Texas last week and 46 total yards in a 43-0 loss. Part of that was the Longhorns eliminating the Jayhawks' running game, but can the offense help the Jayhawks get their first conference win?

6. Missouri's secondary. E.J. Gaines & Co. have stepped up their play in recent weeks, but this week will be a tough test for the Tigers. Griffin III endured a frustrating outing against Oklahoma State last week and will be back at home, where he's been dominant all season. Are the Tigers up to the task? They're dealing with one of the best receiving corps in the league, and a quarterback that would love nothing more than to beat them over the top.

7. Seth Doege's accuracy. Iowa State didn't blitz Tech much in last week's 41-7 win, but Doege wasn't sharp and the Red Raiders paid the price with a nonsensical loss. Doege's been outstanding, but can he bounce back this week? I expect him to, but Texas' secondary is one of the league's best, and the Longhorns will harass him and make him hurry throws at corners Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom.

8. Texas A&M's second half. It has to be said, does it not? Texas A&M has been the league's most odd team this year, only a few plays away from being in the top 3, instead of Oklahoma State. But alas, here they are, with losses to three teams after possessing double-digit halftime leads. Second halves haven't been the issue on the whole for this team, but they've been more evident in the losses. What's in store this week at Oklahoma?

9. Iowa State's identity. Who are these Cyclones? Was last week a statement of how good they can be? Or did Texas Tech lay an egg? I don't know how much Kansas can answer that question this week, but the Cyclones would be well-served to be the next team to blow out the Jayhawks, but Kansas could reach up and do to Iowa State what the Cyclones did to Tech. Should be an interesting matchup.

10. Oklahoma State's yes, focus. We've seen it the past two weeks. Oklahoma, then Texas Tech. If Oklahoma State isn't sharp, K-State will make it pay for dropped passes and poorly-timed three-and-outs. The ranking beside K-State's name should help the Cowboys perk up, but seeing last week's blowout loss to Oklahoma might inspire a bit of complacency. Or will it? OSU's stayed pretty loose this week, and this will be one of the toughest tests left before the showdown with Oklahoma.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 7

October, 13, 2011
Here's what I'm watching for in Saturday's games.

1. Have mercy, Oklahoma. At this point, it's mostly just curiosity. It won't get any worse for Kansas this year, but I remember checking my phone on the field at the Cotton Bowl last Saturday and seeing OSU led 35-7 at the end of the first quarter. I shouldn't have been surprised. I was. Oklahoma's winning this game. The biggest question is by how much.

2. Whaddaya got, Wrecking Crew? Especially you guys at the back. There's no reason Texas A&M should be this bad defending the pass. It's a definite anomaly. The Aggies rank last nationally and are giving up 113 more yards per game through the air than in 2010, but it is second nationally in sacks. Want to prove you're not that bad? Shutting down or slowing down Baylor will do it.

3. Baylor's front seven. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is fully capable of running over just about anybody in the league, and definitely Baylor. The Bears rank 82nd nationally in rush defense, and that could mean a big day for Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray.

4. Kansas State's time of possession. Caring about this stat has gone out of style everywhere but Manhattan, it seems. The Wildcats average 35:56 a game, which is almost three full minutes more than anyone in the league. Tech, meanwhile, is one of seven Big 12 teams under the 30-minute mark. Will a win in this stat mean a win on the scoreboard?

5. Does home field matter...at all? Can the crowd in Kansas do anything to help stave off an ugly loss for the Jayhawks?

6. Which side is more desperate? Iowa State needs this game to keep its hopes of a bowl game alive. If Missouri loses, the possibility of missing the postseason becomes very real, too. Win and the Tigers may get some momentum moving forward. This is a classic case of a must-win for both sides. That usually produces great football.

7. Henry Josey. I'm guessing most of you didn't know the man who started the season as Missouri's third-string running back is leading the Big 12 in rushing. He's been outstanding. That's what happens when you average more than 10 yards a carry. Will Missouri keep handing him the ball as its other backs get back to health?

8. Texas' pass rush. There's no truth to rumors that Landry Jones consuming both a corn dog and a fried Snickers in the backfield last week, but he had enough time to do it if he wanted to. The Longhorns can't let Oklahoma State's quick-release offense do the same. Brandon Weeden must be pressured, or OSU will roll in this one easily.

9. Case McCoy and David Ash. How will the distribution between these two Texas quarterbacks look? Ash is the more physically impressive quarterback, but he made big, big mistakes against Oklahoma's experienced defense. These guys have to play well and move the ball consistently for the Horns to pull the upset.

10. OSU stays consistent? The Cowboys, outside of a game last year without Justin Blackmon, was the Big 12's most consistent team a year ago. That's been the case again this year, and OSU has won seven consecutive road games. Texas has never lost the week after the Red River Rivalry under Mack Brown, but this is likely the toughest team the Horns have seen in that 13-game stretch. Austin is generally a tough place to play, but OSU made it look easy last year. Will this year look the same?


Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sits down with Gene Wojciechowski to discuss his team's stand against racism.