Oklahoma Sooners: Wes Lunt

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
9:00
AM ET
After a Red River upset, the power rankings have a new top two:

1. Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12, last week 2): Kansas State coach Bill Snyder had the right game plan to slow Baylor. Run the ball, chew up clock, bottle up Lache Seastrunk, take away the quick passing attack and hope you can somehow survive Baylor’s vertical speed downfield. But that’s what makes the Bears so prolific. Take away the short stuff, and Bryce Petty will beat you deep with Tevin Reese & Co. Back off, and Baylor will tear you apart with quick passes and a heavy dose of Seastrunk with a side of Glasco Martin. K-State proved the Bears could be slowed. But can they be stopped?

2. Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0 Big 12, last week 3): In 2012, West Virginia was 5-0 when it traveled the 1,500 miles to Lubbock, Texas, where its season began to go the wrong direction. Can the Red Raiders avoid a similar fate against a likewise backloaded schedule? There’s reason to believe Tech is better equipped to do so than last year's Mountaineers. At the moment, the Red Raiders’ balanced offense claims four of the top eight receivers in the Big 12, while the defense has been tremendous at getting off the field on third down. The next two games, on the road at West Virginia and Oklahoma, will determine whether Tech is a contender or pretender. If the Tech quarterbacks keep spreading the ball around and the defense continues to buck up in key situations, it very well might be the former.

3. Texas (4-2, 3-0 Big 12, last week 5): The 1989 Longhorns and 1996 Sooners also pulled off big upsets in the Red River Rivalry. Both teams, however, went just 2-4 the rest of the season. The biggest question for Texas coming off its most impressive victory in four years is whether it can keep it going. At 3-0 in the Big 12 standings, the Longhorns have plenty to play for. If Texas keeps running its offense through running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown and its veteran offensive line, and defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed keep wreaking havoc, it’s not unthinkable that Texas could be playing for the Big 12 title in Waco, Texas, on Dec. 7.

4. Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12, last week 1): Quarterback Blake Bell was completely off in his first Red River start, but he didn’t get a lot of help from Josh Heupel, either. The offensive coordinator kept Oklahoma’s designed quarterback running plays that had been so effective on the shelf even though Texas had been vulnerable all year to stopping the quarterback run game. While Texas finally elected to ride Gray in the running game, the Sooners are the ones that now seem confused about who to ride. Is it Brennan Clay? Damien Williams? True freshman Keith Ford? The good news is that Bob Stoops is 14-0 the game after Texas, with an average winning margin of 27 points; OU visits Kansas on Saturday, too. But if the Sooners don’t figure out who they are offensively soon, they could be staring down yet another second-half swoon.

5. Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12, last week 4): An interesting question to think about: Had he not transferred to Illinois, would Wes Lunt be Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback this weekend against TCU? My hunch is he would. Spotty downfield passing is restricting the potential of this Cowboys offense, which still has the playmakers at receiver to form the the basis of a prolific attack. Problem is, J.W. Walsh can’t consistently get them the ball. And now the best pass defense in the conference comes to town. If the Cowboys sputter again, they’ll have to give serious thought to giving Clint Chelf another shot to open up an offense that has looked shockingly mediocre against Big 12 competition.

6. TCU (3-3, 1-2 Big 12, last week 6): Announced attendance of Saturday’s home game against Kansas was almost 42,000. But based on photos taken of the stands, it looked like there was less than half that. As one of the preseason favorites, the Horned Frogs carried plenty of hype into the season. But after three early-season losses, apparently the excitement surrounding the program for this season has completely evaporated. It might be too soon, however, to give up on TCU. Nobody has played a tougher schedule thus far. And few teams have been bit harder by the injury bug. If the Frogs can pull off the upset in Stillwater, Okla., they could fight their way back into the Big 12 race, especially if quarterback Casey Pachall can return to the field from a broken forearm before month’s end.

7. West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12, last week 7): The West Virginia defense has had a week to recover from the TKO it suffered in Waco. No matter who Dana Holgorsen goes with at quarterback this week, the Mountaineers’ best chance of getting bowl eligible is with solid defense. But is this a solid defense? It’s hard to tell. The Mountaineers have had two good defensive performances (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) and two bad ones (Maryland, Baylor). What West Virginia does against Texas Tech this weekend will be revealing about where this defense really is.

8. Kansas State (2-4, 0-3 Big 12, last week 8): The Wildcats have been in every game, and yet don’t have much to show from it. This still could be a bowl team, however. Getting starting receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson back from injury after the open week would be a boost. But the real key will be limiting turnovers. The Wildcats are last in the Big 12 in turnover margin, a year after they led the conference in the category. If quarterback Daniel Sams can take better care of the ball, K-State is good enough and well coached enough to get to six wins despite the tough start.

9. Iowa State (1-4, 0-2 Big 12, last week 9): With a bounce here or there, the Cyclones could easily be 2-0 in the conference. This young team is making plays, but it still has to figure out how to win games in the fourth quarter. Now, the Cyclones find themselves in a tough spot this week. They face a Baylor offense looking to prove it’s better than it showed over the weekend. The Bears also haven’t forgotten about losing in Ames, Iowa, last year. If Iowa State is still in the game at halftime, that will be a victory in and of itself.

10. Kansas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12, last week 10): You have to give it up to the Jayhawks for showing some fight at TCU. The early start, the paltry crowd, the loss of running back Tony Pierson -- there were many reasons for Kansas to mail it in. Instead, the Jayhawks took TCU to the brink and had the ball three different times in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. The Jayhawks might not win a Big 12 game this season, but if they keep scrapping and clawing like they did Saturday, they'll have more chances.
PLANO, Texas -- Bob Stoops says he's never been in a position in which he's restricted where a transferring player would go.

That said, he supports those who do. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy restricted outgoing quarterback Wes Lunt from transferring to 37 schools, including all teams from the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12.

[+] EnlargeBob Stoops
Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports"I havent done it, but I support every coach who does," Bob Stoops said of coaches who limit the schools players can transfer to.
Stoops was emphatic when asked about the talk surrounding Gundy's controversial decision.

"I support every coach and I support Mike Gundy in every way if they have their issues because all situations are different. I mean that sincerely. Mike’s doing the right thing in his case," Stoops said at an Oklahoma caravan event on Wednesday night. "A guy says, 'I’m coming to you' and you get a running back, and then all of a sudden you don’t have a running back. He leaves. That doesn’t leave your program in a great spot, right? So, I’m totally in agreement."

Stoops cited a case last year when he let Brandon Williams, the nation's No. 35 overall recruit, transfer to Texas A&M.

"I haven’t done it, but I support every coach who does," he said.

Stoops said he'd read a little bit about Gundy's situation with Lunt, but made it clear that he never wanted to be sided against any coach on the transfer issue. Asked directly if he ever would support a player's choice to transfer, Stoops said, "No, not really."

"It isn’t right that they can just do what they want to do," Stoops said. "It isn’t good. I don’t believe in it."

Stoops argued that players sign letters of intent with schools and not coaches, so even a coaching change shouldn't make it OK for players to leave. He acknowledged that tampering does happen with players, and if players were allowed to transfer without sitting out a year, that illegal act would be encouraged.

"Nobody made them sign with me. I didn’t force them to, it was what they wanted to do. And because we’re limited in what we’re allowed per scholarship, it’s the right thing to have consequences, otherwise you’d have kids changing their mind every year. It’s not right," he said.

Stoops also said he supported the advent of four-year scholarships, rather than the one-year model currently employed by the NCAA. It allows some coaches to simply remove players at the end of their scholarship agreement and give that scholarship to a different player. Stoops said he would never do that and doesn't support those who do.

Ranking Oklahoma's remaining schedule 

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
12:00
PM ET
During the offseason, I ranked Oklahoma’s schedule from toughest game to easiest. The Sooners’ home date with Kansas State ranked fifth.

Almost a month into the season, OU’s remaining schedule looks even tougher overall.

Ranking those games from toughest to easiest:

Sooners schedule preview: Oklahoma St. 

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
2:00
PM ET
November 24, 2012: Oklahoma State
2011 record: 12-1 | 2011 conference record: 8-1 (Big 12)
OU’s all-time against Oklahoma State: 82-17-7

Top returners: RB Joseph Randle, FB Kye Staley, WR Josh Stewart, WR Tracy Moore, OG Lane Taylor, DT Nigel Nicholas, LB Shaun Lewis, LB Alex Elkins, CB Brodrick Brown, CB Justin Gilbert, S Daytawion Lowe, P/K Quinn Sharp

Key losses: QB Brandon Weeden, WR Justin Blackmon, WR Josh Cooper, C Grant Garner, RT Levy Adcock, DE Jamie Blatnick, DE Richetti Jones, S Markelle Martin

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Joseph Randle* (1,1193 yards)
Passing: Brandon Weeden (4,328 yards)
Receiving: Justin Blackmon (1,336 yards)
Tackles: Daytawion Lowe* (97)
Sacks: Jamie Blatnick (8)
Interceptions: Justin Gilbert*, Brodrick Brown* (5)

What they’re saying: "Our facilities gave us a chance a number of years ago. We've had tremendous continuity with our coaching staff. We had a plan and we were able to stick with it, particularly in recruiting and our thought process and how we wanted to approach it, the type of young men we were looking for, try to be very detailed in how they fit in our style of play and what kind of character they had and whether football and graduation and things that we think would contribute to success was really important to that particular player. And sustaining it, again, it comes down to recruiting and having quality people in our organization.” – head coach Mike Gundy

Three things to watch:

1. The Oklahoma State Cowboys went from having the oldest starting quarterback in college football to one of the youngest. All eyes will be on true freshman Wes Lunt, who won the starting job in the spring. Lunt figures to go through growing pains. But whether the Cowboys can be viable Big 12 title contenders depends on how fast he grows up.

2. There may not be a better corner duo in the country than Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. Physical and fast, Gilbert and Brown will allow defensive coordinator Bill Young to focus the rest of his defense on stuffing the run. If they play up to their potential, OSU might have its best defense in 15 years.

3. Who will be OSU’s primary pass-catcher now that Justin Blackmon is gone? The Cowboys don’t have a lot of production returning at receiver with Josh Cooper also gone. Then again, nobody had heard of Blackmon two years ago when the Cowboys were trying to replace Dez Bryant.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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.
[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireFreshman receiver Trey Metoyer has already been penciled in as a starter for the Sooners in 2012.
All eyes in Stillwater will be on Oklahoma State’s true freshman starting quarterback, Wes Lunt. Unrelated to Lunt, Bob Stoops was asked about how playing true freshman receivers this season compares to playing freshman quarterback Landry Jones in 2009.

“Inexperienced quarterback is a lot tougher,” Stoops said. “Remember, we were fumbling snaps. In the end, I think this has a better chance to be polished up quicker, all being that Landry has so much experience, the line has so much experience.”

Jones is entering his fourth season as the starter, and the offensive line returns four starters. But following suspensions to Trey Franks, Jaz Reynolds and Kameel Jackson, the Sooners will likely play as many as three true freshman wideouts: Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal and Trey Metoyer. Stoops said even with so much youth at wideout, the offense shouldn’t miss much of a beat.

“We get a couple of these younger receivers to come along,” Stoops said, “we can be doing what we’re used to doing.”

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
1:45
PM ET
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)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Drive Through: Projecting the Playoff Field
Week one of the college football season is in the books. Time to talk playoffs, right? Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich take an early look at what the playoff field looks like.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video