Oklahoma Sooners: Steele Jantz

Film review: OU 35, Iowa State 20 

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
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Oklahoma got back on track with its 35-20 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. Landry Jones' trust in his receivers was clear as the Sooners quarterback threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Here's a closer look at some of the key plays in the win as OU strives to keep its BCS hopes alive.

Sterling Shepard’s 20-yard touchdown reception

[+] EnlargeSterling Shepard
Matt Ryerson/US PresswireFreshman wideout Sterling Shepard has 25 catches and three touchdowns this season for the Sooners.
This was a key play for the Sooners for several reasons.

  1. OU had already seen two lengthy drives end without points.
Oklahoma travels to Ames, Iowa, on Saturday to take on Iowa State at 11 a.m. CT at Jack Trice Stadium. Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz had his best game of the season in ISU’s 35-21 win over Baylor on Oct. 27. SoonerNation takes a look at the Cyclones' win over the Bears and came away with three things the Sooners will need to be aware of this weekend.

1. Will the good Jantz or bad Jantz show up?

[+] EnlargeIowa State Cyclones linebacker A.J. Klein
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIREIowa State linebacker A.J. Klein is good against the run and pass.
The ISU quarterback enters the game with loads of confidence, coming off a 381-yard, five-touchdown performance against Baylor, his best game of the season. When he’s playing like he did against the Bears, he presents problems.

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We'll be walking through the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12 before the season, but we'll start with the most important, especially in this league.

Let's do this:

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia: Smith put up huge numbers (4,385 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT, 65.8 completion percentage) and did so efficiently last season. Both of his top two targets are back and the adjustment to Big 12 defenses shouldn't be too difficult.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones and Smith will go head-to-head all season for honors as the Big 12's top passer. Who comes out on top is anyone's guess, but Jones regressed last season, and his receivers let him down after Ryan Broyles' season ended with a knee injury. He'll try to bounce back with just one reliable target (Kenny Stills) to start the season. The rest of the receiving corps is loaded with potential, but very inexperienced.

3. Collin Klein, Kansas State: Clearly, I'm taking more than just passing acumen into account here. Klein is the Big 12's No. 2 returning rusher, and also threw for just under 2,000 yards last season, adding 13 passing touchdowns to the 27 he scored rushing. We'll see how much better he is as a passer this fall.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU's Casey Pachall could be poised for a big year with a stable of talented receivers.
4. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: I refuse to hang last year's failures on Doege's shoulders. Absolutely not. He played well, at least as well as he could. The running game struggled and offered almost no support after Eric Stephens' injury. The defense was a disaster and there were injuries all over the place. Doege still went for more than 4,000 yards, 28 scores and just 10 picks. Don't be surprised if Doege throws his hat in the ring as the Big 12's best passer by season's end.

5. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall didn't have eye-popping numbers, but only because TCU rode on the shoulders of its trio of running backs. Still, Pachall's numbers are going to be better this year, and he's got great targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter, not to mention youngster LaDarius Brown.

6. Nick Florence, Baylor: I like Florence to have a big year with really good receivers, but he's got too much to prove for now. He looked good in spot duty for RG3 against Texas Tech last season, but his senior season will look much, much different than his inconsistent freshman year all the way back in 2009.

7. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State: The Big 12's only freshman quarterback is a true freshman, and Lunt earned this spot by beating out some really tough competition in J.W. Walsh and Colton Chelf this spring. Amazing stuff, and his coaches know good quarterbacks. Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden have established quite the QB tradition in Stillwater. Here's guessing Lunt continues it.

8. Dayne Crist, Kansas: Crist's college career hasn't been what he imagined after coming to Notre Dame as one of the most highly recruited signal-calling prospects in his class, but he's got a chance to start something special at Kansas in his senior year, reunited with former coach Charlie Weis. Crist won't have the weapons some of the other guys on this list have, but he gives KU a big, big upgrade at the position.

9. Steele Jantz/Jared Barnett, Iowa State: These two have to cut down the turnovers, but they've both shown the ability to be playmakers. There's no guessing who wins this legitimate battle in the fall, but coach Paul Rhoads isn't afraid to bench either one if the turnovers don't stop.

10. David Ash/Case McCoy, Texas: Mack Brown insists it's still a contest. My jaw will be on the floor if Ash doesn't trot out on the field for the first game of the season. Ash has some potential and promising targets in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, but he hasn't shown the big-play ability of Jantz or Barnett. Expect Ash to move up this list by season's end, but for now, it's all just potential.

Big 12 position rankings: Quarterback

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
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Today, we'll kick off a look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back on where our first position, quarterback, stood in the preseason.

Quarterbacks' rushing talents are factored into these rankings. As such, it's tough to figure out how to weigh that vs. passing acumen. Ultimately, teams ranked 4-7 were really, really close.

In these position rankings, we take into account backups, though that impact is minimal at the quarterback spot.

1. Baylor

If your quarterback wins the Heisman, you're not finishing below No. 1 on this list. Robert Griffin IIIlit up defenses and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency, even though Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did the same this year, and finished higher than RG3. Even when RG3 suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas Tech, backup Nick Florencecame in and burned Texas Tech's defense in a 66-42 win. Griffin finished with as many touchdowns as Brandon Weeden (37), but threw as few interceptions as Collin Klein (6), despite throwing the ball 121 more times than Klein.

2. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden is a solid second place in this ranking, and backup Colton Chelflooked good in lots of mop-up duty, too. Weeden was the star, putting together an All-Big 12 caliber season, though Griffin's otherworldly performance in 2011 knocked him off his first-team perch from 2010. He led the league with 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also had the second-most pass attempts in the league, with 564.

3. Oklahoma

Landry Jones got some help late in the season when Blake Bell's BellDozer racked up a team-high 13 touchdowns. Jones wasn't outstanding late in the season after Ryan Broyles' knee injury, but his receivers didn't help him much, either. The dropsies seemed to infect everybody after Broyles' college career ended. Jones finished with 4,463 yards passing, second most in the Big 12. He also added 29 touchdowns but must improve on his 15 interceptions, a regression back to freshman-year Jones.

(Read full post)

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
1:45
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

2. Kansas State: The big question mark for this team is can it take care of business and not get stuck in close games in 2012? The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season. They can't count on duplicating that in 2012. They should be better, and return most of the big pieces from this season's 10-win team, most importantly quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. Next season is the time to prove it.

3. West Virginia: Who else is excited to see Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer Express show up in Big 12 country next season? Like I wrote last week, giving up 33 points and still winning by five touchdowns is the Big 12 way of life. The Mountaineers broke Baylor's week-old bowl scoring record with 70 points, and bring back most of a good Big East champion team in 2012. The transition won't be easy, but they've got a chance to make a big splash in their inaugural year. The Big 12 and West Virginia are both convinced that the Mountaineers will join the Big 12 in 2012 and are planning as if it will happen, though pending lawsuits with the Big East mean it's still unofficial.

(Read full post)

Predictions: Big 12 Week 7

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
8:51
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I failed to record a perfect week of picks all last season. This year, I've already had two, thanks to a perfect 5-0 week last week. I also went 10-0 in Week 3.

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this development. I'll be in College Station, Texas, for a third time this season to see the Aggies and Bears tangle in the Litigation Bowl.

On to the picks!

Last week: 5-0 (1.000)

Overall: 31-9 (.775)

No. 21 Texas A&M 41, No. 20 Baylor 38: This is my Pick of the Week. I'll have a video later Thursday explaining it.

Missouri 37, Iowa State 27: Missouri gets back over the hump and back into the win column for the first time in a month against an Iowa State defense that has struggled with dynamic offenses. James Franklin outdoes Steele Jantz in a dual-threat battle and the Tigers earn a much-needed win.

No. 6 Oklahoma State 41, Texas 27: Simply put, Texas doesn't have enough offense to hang and Oklahoma State is going to throw a ton of points on the board against everybody. Brandon Weeden tops 400 yards through the air.

No. 17 Kansas State 30, Texas Tech 27: I'm a believer in the K-State defense, and without Eric Stephens, Texas Tech will look lost a bit. The Wildcats will take advantage, and Bill Snyder's run and one of his best coaching jobs continues.

No. 3 Oklahoma 59, Kansas 17: Ugh. Turner Gill may turn it around at some point, but his Jayhawks won't be taking any steps forward this weekend. Oklahoma's not done scoring defensive touchdowns.

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