Texas Longhorns: Big 12
When Malcom Brown hit the field, everyone else stopped to watch.
Brown, a projected mid-first round pick, was the star of Texas’ pro day as expected Tuesday. The coveted defensive tackle stood by his NFL scouting combine testing numbers but did perform positional drills run by three NFL defensive line coaches: the Colts’ Gary Emanuel, the Lions’ Kris Kocurek and the Bengals’ Jay Hayes.
“I came in, attacked the work, did my best job and whatever that gets me is where I’ll go,” Brown said.
The 6-foot-2, 319-pound defensive lineman is currently the No. 17 pick in mock drafts by both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. That pick belongs to the San Diego Chargers, though Brown said he doesn’t know where he’ll take pre-draft visits for workouts.
Brown did say he’s excited by the possibility of the Lions showing interest after losing Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
“It would be great,” Brown said. “I idolize myself after him. He plays really great and I’ll try to go somewhere to make an immediate impact.”
A year after having no players selected in the NFL draft, the Longhorns have several more standouts who will merit mid- to late-round consideration.
Jordan Hicks said he was out to prove he can be a three-down linebacker in his positional drills, and he already has visits lined up with the Texans and Eagles.
Running back Malcolm Brown improved his 40-yard dash from the NFL scouting combine, running an unofficial 40 in the mid-4.4 range on Tuesday after clocking 4.62 in Indianapolis.
“I want to be a four-down back who can run the ball, pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield and, on fourth down, special teams,” Brown said. “That’s something I’m going to put my mind to and work as hard as I can.”
Cornerback Quandre Diggs was proud of his footwork in defensive back drills and is still trying to fight the perception that a 5-9 corner will have limited opportunities at the next level.
“Everybody is talking about slot corner but, you know, get on a team and let me play slot and I’ll show you I can play outside,” Diggs said. “I just need a chance, need a shot, and I think it’ll come in the draft. I think I’ll surprise a lot of people.”
Defensive end Cedric Reed did not participate in the pro day while he continues to recover from January surgery for a torn meniscus suffered during his senior season. He performed only the bench press at the NFL scouting combine last month. Receiver John Harris, who was not invited to the scouting combine despite a 1,000-yard season, likely raised his stock with an unofficial 4.5 in the 40.
Other Texas pro day notes:
- Receiver Jaxon Shipley made a big impression on scouts with an unofficial 40 time around 4.45. With brother Jordan Shipley in attendance for support, the younger Shipley tested well and looked sharp catching passes from former Texas quarterback David Ash.
- Nate Boyer, the Longhorns’ 34-year-old former Green Beret, is hoping to find an opportunity in the NFL as a long snapper. He bulked up 20 pounds to 216 and is hoping for at least a tryout after working out for scouts Tuesday. He was honorably discharged by the Army last month after 10 years of service, including spending the past two summers stationed in Afghanistan.
- Tight end Geoff Swaim helped his chances on Tuesday with a strong testing day. Swaim, primarily a blocker in his two seasons in Austin, produced a 35 ½ inch vertical and a 40 in the 4.6 range. Defensive back Mykkele Thompson, who wants to prove he’s a tall corner at the next level, had a good day as well with a 40 time in the 4.4 range.
We've been tracking this not-so-advanced statistic on Texas' defense throughout the season because it continues to amaze.
Texas' defense has been responsible for allowing a total of 129 points in Big 12 play this season, an average of 16.1 points per game. Throw out the special teams TDs and the offensive turnovers for scores and you get 129. It's a pretty impressive number.
Last season, against these same eight Big 12 opponents Texas has already faced, the Horns' defense was responsible for 185 points allowed. Scoring against Texas' defense is down 30 percent in Big 12 play under Charlie Strong, Vance Bedford and the new coaching staff.
You can credit that substantial improvement to a few things, and the number of veterans Texas has on D is certainly one of them. But it seems pretty clear Strong, Bedford and the staff have gotta much more out of this group than the previous coaches did.
2. Ten and nine
Tyrone Swoopes' first season as Texas' starting quarterback has evoked a lot of good statistical comparisons lately, from the first seasons of Teddy Bridgewater to Colt McCoy to Vince Young. But what about Trevone Boykin?
TCU's Heisman contender quarterback debuted under similar circumstances in 2012. He started TCU's final nine games after Casey Pachall (rehab) was lost for the season. Boykin wasn't supposed to start. He was supposed to back up and learn from a veteran. He was thrown into the fire, and some weeks went better than others.
Take a look at the stats from Boykin's nine starts in 2012 and compare them to Swoopes' numbers so far in 2014. A little too similar, aren't they?
Boykin made the leap this year because of a new offensive scheme and better QB coaching, but also because he's in his fourth year. It required a lot of time and patience and tough games, but he got there. His rise this season ought to provide Swoopes with a little inspiration.
This is still one of my favorite stats about last year's TCU team, one that just looks insane now that the Horned Frogs' offense has come this far.
A year ago, TCU was averaging 3.7 points per game in the first quarter and 8.8 points per game in the first half. That's a pretty good and simple explanation for why they were playing so many close games. Gary Patterson's defense kept them in games they had no business winning. They went 4-8. When you can't score early in games, you're only putting more pressure on your whole team.
This year? The Frogs are putting up 13.2 per game in the first quarter and outscoring foes 230-120 in the first half. They took 14-0 leads against Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. If TCU can do that again on Thursday, how will Texas respond?
Three more to remember
18.6 percent: We mentioned this one a few weeks ago. Going into the Texas Tech game, the Longhorns were 3-5 and their odds of reaching six wins were 18.6 percent, per ESPN Stats & Info. So yes, Strong, his coaches and his players pulled off something kind of improbable here.
74 percent: In terms of "game control," TCU is indeed one of the nation's best. The Frogs rank No. 7 nationally in that ESPN metric and have held a lead for 74 percent of their total plays this season. In Big 12 play, that percentage is nearly 66 percent.
Two: The number of plates Strong says he loads up when he eats Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy the holiday and enjoy the game, everybody.
Here's an interesting testamant to how stingy Texas' defense has been in 2014.
The Longhorns have held opponents scoreless on a total of 109 drives this season. They rank No. 4 nationally in that category behind Louisville, Utah State and Ole Miss. Included in that 109 are 71 drives in which Texas' defense got off the field in two minutes or less, and 53 in which no first downs were allowed.
Texas' defense is giving up points on 22 percent of possessions, or about two out of every nine drives. Its ability to keep teams out of the end zone and off the scoreboard has gone a long way toward making up for all of this team's flaws, injuries and inexperience.
Daxx Garman threw as many as any Big 12 quarterback when he took over the job, and his 25 completions of 20-plus in his first five games ranked No. 2 in the conference. He's completed just one in each of OSU's three consecutive losses. Over the past month, Garman has the conference's worst passer efficiency among Big 12 starters.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, have given up the third-fewest completions of 20-plus in the Big 12. They've not too vulnerable to those long bombs and would probably welcome Garman throwing deep as much as possible.
Ten game in, Texas has still scored just 20 points in the third quarter this season. Twenty. That's crazy. (Somehow, one FBS school has actually been worse: Vanderbilt has scored 13 through 10 games.)
In Big 12 play, Texas has scored a total of six points in the third quarter. Just to put that in perspective, TCU has scored 93 third-quarter points in Big 12 games and the conference average (excluding UT) is 48.
Why the Horns continue to have so much trouble in that quarter is hard to understand, but they've been shut out in the third in four of their five losses. Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline are going to need a lot better post-halftime plan for this must-win week.
Three more to remember
Nine: The number of offensive linemen who have started at least one game for Texas this season. Wickline has been earning that paycheck of his. The current lineup will be making its fifth start together if Kent Perkins is good to go.
8.6 percent: In Big 12 play this season, Oklahoma State's line is giving up sacks on 8.6 percent of their snaps. That's the worst rate in the conference. Garman has taken 24 sacks, eighth-most among all Power 5 conference quarterbacks.
714: Tyreek Hill's return yardage this season. He has two kickoff return TDs and four punt returns of 20-plus yards. He changes field position in an instant. Texas would be wise to kick away from him.
More Big 12 predictions for 2014.
at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.
at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.
at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.
Final Big 12 standings
1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9
Baylor has a chip on its shoulder: Despite winning the Big 12 last season and returning the Big 12 offensive player of the year in quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor was voted second in the conference’s preseason poll behind Oklahoma. The Bears clearly felt a bit disrespected while in Dallas this week. "That comes with being Baylor," defensive end Shawn Oakman said. "We're gonna be great one day and y'all are gonna notice." The Bears were pretty great last season, stomping the Sooners 41-12 on the way to their first Big 12 title. "That game from OU last year, that should have showed you that that product was nowhere near as good as the product that Baylor was putting on the field," Oakman said. "The execution, the players from each and every position ... You could tell we were on a different level from OU." Still getting picked to finish behind Oklahoma has given the Bears extra fuel for this season. "In our minds, we’re still underdogs," Oakman said. "We play with a chip on our shoulder. You only get the respect if you earn it."
Stoops is loose as a goose: The loosest coach at Big 12 media days might have been Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. He was cracking jokes, photo-bombing his wife’s TV interview (she was there for a Mary Kay convention) and taking a break between interview sessions to grab a strawberry smoothie. He even chided Alabama coach Nick Saban for suggesting the Crimson Tide didn’t care about being in the Sugar Bowl. "So if I’m not in a national championship game, that means I’ve got a built-in excuse?" Stoops said. Such bravado could be a sign that Stoops thinks he has a pretty good team. With Trevor Knight at quarterback and nine starters back defensively, it’s not hard to see why.
TCU has a big problem: Though they had already left, the Horned Frogs were the story the second day of Big 12 media days. Defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was voted the league's preseason defensive player of the year, was accused of pulling a gun on his ex-girlfriend. TCU acted quickly after the news surfaced, claiming it had "separated" from Fields. If any part of the allegations levied against Fields are true, it’s difficult to see him ever playing another game in the Big 12. That is a big loss for the league. And an even bigger one for TCU, which is attempting to bounce back from one of its worst seasons in the Gary Patterson era.
Strong believes in Ash: The biggest question mark in Charlie Strong’s first season as coach at Texas is quarterback. More specifically, quarterback David Ash. But even though Ash missed virtually all of last season with concussion issues, then the spring with a fractured foot, Strong said he was impressed with Ash when watching old game film. "When Ash is healthy, he played very well," Strong said. All signs point to Ash being the starter when the Longhorns open the season. Whether he can be consistent and be healthy could go a long way in dictating how Strong’s first season goes, too.
Bowlsby does not believe in the NCAA: According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, cheating pays. And the enforcement wing of the NCAA is broken. Bowlsby painted a bleak future for the NCAA, also predicting that Olympic sports could be in trouble down the line. "If you like intercollegiate athletics the way it is, you're going to hate it going forward," he said. "There's a lot of change coming." Because of its popularity, football will always be fine. But with lawsuits and athletic department expenses about to rise dramatically, Bowlsby thinks something will have to give.
Everyone’s mind is on the playoff, even if all minds don’t quite get it: The inaugural College Football Playoff was one of the big topics of conversation this week. The Big 12 coaches all believe the league is positioned strongly for inclusion, thanks to a robust nonconference slate of games and a nine-game conference schedule. Many players, however, weren’t well-informed about how the playoff will work. One didn’t know how many teams would be in it. Another thought every conference champ automatically advanced to it. And still another had no idea just how the playoff would be picked. The playoff is going to be an adjustment for college football fans. There is going to be an adjustment for the players, too.
Trickett was always the guy: According to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Clint Trickett was always going to be this season’s starting quarterback. It was just a matter of him getting cleared medically. "We wanted him to be the guy," Holgorsen said. "We had to wait and see how he did coming off the shoulder surgery." Holgorsen said there was little the other West Virginia quarterbacks could have done this spring to unseat Trickett, who sat out while recovering from the shoulder injury. "He was the best option we had this year, he was the best option we had last year," Holgorsen said. "Once I was pleased with what I saw, it was a no-brainer to me."
Hill will get the ball a lot: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has had some talented offensive players over the years. But Gundy said it has been a long time since the Cowboys had a playmaker like juco running back Tyreek Hill. "He's very fast," said Gundy, comparing him to former West Virginia standout Tavon Austin. "He gets [past] that first level [of the defense] and no one is caching him." Gundy wants Hill to touch the ball at least 20 times a game. Whether he’s at running back or lined up in the slot, Hill is going to be the focal point of the Oklahoma State attack.
Snyder is still the man: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is 74 years old, just two years younger than former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who popped by media days Monday night. But Snyder is still coaching strong, with a team that was voted third in the preseason poll behind co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor. Apparently everyone should eat only one meal a day.
The Big 12 media days on Monday and Tuesday gave coaches a chance to share their opinions on their teams, their competitors and the future of college football. It also allowed each coach to talk about the positives and negatives of recruiting.
Big 12 media days came to a close Tuesday in Dallas, yet the biggest news of the day came from nearby Fort Worth, where the future of TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year, is in doubt after he has "separated" from the Horned Frogs program. Meanwhile, on site, Texas coach Charlie Strong made his debut and Oklahoma arrived with plenty of confidence.
ESPN.com's Big 12 reporters Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon answered four questions in our roundtable to wrap up the final session, which included Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.
What stuck out to you most?
Trotter: The biggest Big 12 story of the day actually didn't come from one of the five teams at media days Tuesday. Quickly, the buzz about the serious allegations levied against TCU defense end Devonte Fields made its way around the hotel with reporters and coaches alike. Later in the day, the Horned Frogs "separated" with the Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, placing Fields' collegiate-football future gravely in doubt. That could have a major impact on the Big 12 landscape.
Chatmon: The way Kansas State players seemingly take on the personality of Wildcats coach Bill Snyder is a sight to see. Quarterback Jake Waters, receiver Tyler Lockett, center B.J. Finney, linebacker Jonathan Truman and defensive end Ryan Mueller were personable, thoughtful and engaged during their answers yet still navigated their way through the landmines some college football players seem to step on during similar settings. The overriding message: K-State is confident yet hungry heading into 2014.
What's something new you learned?
Trotter: Even though Charlie Strong arrived at Texas via Louisville, he and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops know each other well due to their connection as former Florida defensive coordinators. "I think Charlie's a great coach," Stoops said. "He's an excellent person. We've really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can't wish him too much luck, but I know he'll do a great job."
Chatmon: Short conversations with Texas defensive end Cedric Reed and center Dominic Espinosa left me with the impression that Charlie Strong's vision for the Longhorn program is starting to take hold. Reed said he could see signs the Longhorns could be tougher mentally this fall with guys showing up to meetings on time (or even early), and Espinosa said the mental focus of the squad has been upgraded with players willing to do the extra things to get to the another level. UT might not have a 100 percent buy-in to Strong's ways, but it sounds like things are heading in the right direction.
Olson: I'm sorry, I just have to address one of my favorite quotes of the day here. When Bill Snyder was asked to assess how optimistic he is about his team in 2014, he paused and said warmly, "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily." Then he continued a winding answer about one-day-at-a-time expectation that concluded with a laugh and Snyder proudly saying, "Didn't tell you anything, did I?" He later acknowledged he is "as old as time and that's not going to change." Basically, Bill Snyder is the best.
Your favorite exchange of the day?
Trotter: I don't know if counts as an "exchange," but Stoops purposefully photobombed his wife's TV interview. He actually did it twice. Carol Stoops, a national director with Mary Kay, was at the same hotel for a Mary Kay convention. Stoops was laid-back all day, which is usually a sign he thinks he has a good team.
Chatmon: I walked up on Tyler Lockett doing a Q&A with another reporter who asked which three people he would like to have dinner with if he could choose anyone in the world. Lockett looked at me with a sideways glance and responded: "This guy." Once our laughter subsided, Lockett answered the question. I now have a new favorite player.
Olson: I pressed Quandre Diggs on the state of his relationship with Kevin Durant. This is a sore subject for the Texas cornerback, who's a vocal member of Team LeBron. He said Durant unfollowed him on Twitter due to Diggs' preference for LeBron. Diggs is hoping to repair that relationship with his fellow Longhorn soon, and he has plenty of respect for the MVP. But Diggs was adamant he will not be able to bury the hatchet until Durant gives him a follow again.
The most impressive person?
Trotter: Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley and Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters were all very impressive. Diggs would make a great sports columnist someday. He has an opinion on everything. Worley, just a true sophomore, comes off like he's 10 years older than he actually is. Waters pulled off donning a bow tie, and he and Farniok were plenty sharp to extemporize on any player or team in the conference -- something many players in the conference struggle with.
Chatmon: West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley may be more impressive off the field than he was on it in 2013. The sophomore appears to be on the road to becoming one of the Big 12's best cornerbacks, but the way he handled our one-on-one session left me holding him in a high regard. He's just a sophomore, but he handled himself like a fifth-year senior. It's easy to see why Dana Holgorsen had the trust to bring a true sophomore into this setting. "Last season enhanced my work ethic, just knowing I didn't reach my goals. I told myself I wouldn't let that happen again," he said. This from a guy who started five games at cornerback as a true freshman in the Big 12.
Olson: Besides Diggs, who is absolutely money when it comes to spitting the truth in interviews, I had to say I enjoyed chatting with famed West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole -- better known as Boomstache by the Mountaineer faithful -- about his dedication to mustache maintenance. He went for the Rollie Fingers curled look Tuesday, with the help of a little wax, and was also sporting red USA socks. He is indeed a great American.
Five years later, the league’s top position turned out to be cornerback, headlined by eventual first-round picks Justin Gilbert and Jason Verrett.
Ryan Mueller, Texas’ Cedric Reed, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman and TCU’s Devonte Fields -- all of whom have All-American potential.
Mueller was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last year after finishing second in the league with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Only Jackson Jeffcoat, the departed Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, topped Mueller in either category.
Just one spot behind Mueller, Reed finished third in the league with 10 sacks, and was a second-team All-Big 12 pick. Even though his teammate Jeffcoat racked up all the accolades, many coaches around the league felt Reed was the tougher assignment.
Tapper was another tough assignment, and the only underclassman defender to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors last season. Tapper was timed running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds during the spring, underscoring why he’s such a nightmare matchup for opposing offensive linemen.
Speaking of nightmare matchups, Oakman presents just that with his 6-foot-9, 275-pound frame. Despite being a part-time player last year, Oakman still finished sixth in the conference with 12.5 tackles for loss. According to coach Art Briles, Oakman was unblockable during spring ball and could be in for a monster breakout season.
Fields already broke out two years ago, when he was the AP’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a true freshman. A suspension followed by season ending foot surgery turned Fields’ sophomore campaign into a disaster. But by all accounts, Fields was his old self again this spring, and seems primed to have a dominating season.
But which of these defensive ends will have the most dominating 2014 season?
We put the question to you via our weekly Big 12 poll.
Here are the Big 12 players that made each list:
- BJ Finney, Kansas State
- Dominic Espinosa, Texas
- Joey Hunt, TCU
- Tom Farniok, Iowa State
- Ty Darlington, Oklahoma
Monday, the Maxwell (player of the year), Bednarik (defensive player of the year) and Hornung (most versatile player) watch lists were released.
Below is the rest of the preseason watch list schedule:
- Lou Groza Award, best place-kicker
- Ray Guy Award, best punter
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy, best defensive player
- Outland Trophy, best interior lineman
- Jim Thorpe Award, best defensive back
Monday, July 14
- Butkus Award, best linebacker
- Lombardi Award, best lineman
Tuesday, July 15
- Biletnikoff Award, best receiver
Wednesday, July 16
- Davey O’Brien Award, best quarterback.
Thursday, July 17
- Doak Walker Award, best running back
Friday, July 18
- Walter Camp Award, best player
But off the bat, unsavory collusion from the state of Ohio bounced the 2005 Texas Longhorns from the bracket in the very first matchup in the very first round to rob the tournament of legitimacy.
With no other national champion in its path, the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners cruised with ease through all four rounds to capture our Big 12 BCS era playoff title.
Now it's time to find out whether the '00 Sooners would have won the title anyway.
Now it's time to pit them head-to-head with the '05 Longhorns.
Both teams went undefeated, toppling the preeminent programs of their day (USC/Florida State) in the national championship behind a pair of all-time great title game performances (Vince Young/OU’s defense).
But who do you think was best?
Tell us by voting in the weekly Big 12 poll.
Final ranking: No. 1
Top player: QB Vince Young
Consensus All-America:Young, OT Jonathan Scott, DT Rod Wright, S Michael Huff
First-Team All-Big 12:Young, Scott, Wright, Huff, OL Justin Blalock, DE Tim Crowder, LB Aaron Harris, CB Cedric Griffin
Second-Team All-Big 12: RB Jamaal Charles, TE David Thomas, DT Frank Okam
Best wins: at No. 4 Ohio State (25-22); Oklahoma (45-12); No. 10 Texas Tech (52-17); Colorado (70-3, Big 12 championship); USC (41-38, national championship)
2000 OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Final ranking: No. 1
Top player: QB Josh Heupel
Consensus All-America: Heupel, LB Rocky Calmus
First-Team All-Big 12: Heupel, Calmus, DT Ryan Fisher, S Roy Williams, S J.T. Thatcher
Second-Team All-Big 12: QB Quentin Griffin, WR Antwone Savage, OT Frank Romero, LB Torrance Marshall, P Jeff Ferguson
Best wins: No. 11 Texas (63-14); at No. 2 Kansas State (41-31); No. 1 Nebraska (31-14); at No. 23 Texas A&M (35-31); No. 8 Kansas State (27-24, Big 12 Championship); No. 3 Florida State (13-2, national championship)
We continue this series on Wednesday with the Texas Longhorns:
Nonconference opponents (with 2013 record)
Aug. 30: North Texas (9-4)
Sept. 6: BYU (8-5)
Sept. 13: UCLA (10-3) (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas)
Big 12 home games
Oct. 4: Baylor
Oct. 18: Iowa State
Nov. 8: West Virginia
Nov. 27: TCU
Big 12 road games
Sept. 27: Kansas
Oct. 11: Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl in Dallas)
Oct. 25: Kansas State
Nov. 1: Texas Tech
Nov. 15: Oklahoma State
Gut-check time: The annual midseason bowl game. When Texas and Oklahoma face off on Oct. 11, you can throw out their respective season records and trajectories. They don't really matter. All that matters is Texas is in possession of The Golden Hat and the Sooners want it back. This year's Red River Showdown will likely feature a top-5 Oklahoma team with playoff aspirations and a thirst for revenge. It's absolutely gut-check time for David Ash, who has one TD and five turnovers in his two career games against OU.
Trap game: By definition, a trap game is a potential upset you don't see coming. They don't get much more "trappy" than last year's Texas-BYU game in Provo, when the Cougars put up 40 points and 550 rushing yards and the Longhorns lost the game, Ash, Daje Johnson and, a day later, their defensive coordinator. So yeah, Texas players aren't going to be sleeping on Taysom Hill and BYU this time around. This is a real trap, too, because a loss by any margin could snowball into a 2-4 start to the season.
Snoozer: In 2012, Texas had a close call at Kansas and a snoozer at home against Iowa State. Last season, it was a close call at Iowa State and a snoozer at home against Kansas. So unless West Virginia's season has completely fallen apart by the time they visit Austin in November, the safe bet here is that the Iowa State game is a win for Texas and a forgettable one. Considering it's the first post-Red River game, that's probably a good thing for the Longhorns.
Telltale stretch: Sept. 13-Oct. 11. In the span of a month, Texas will likely have three games against top-10 opponents, with two of those games coming in sold-out neutral sites with crazy atmospheres. If Texas gets past BYU and enters its UCLA-Baylor-Oklahoma stretch unscathed, it sets up a gigantic stage for new coach Charlie Strong to send a message. Winning two of three would get a lot of folks excited about the program's future. Winning all three would put Texas right in the middle of the playoff hunt. An O-fer would make a clear statement that Texas has some rebuilding to do.
Final analysis: Notice how we didn't even mention the second half of the schedule? That's because, after Oklahoma, it's all downhill (or uphill?) from there. Once Texas begins its Big 12 slate, it does not have a bye week until Nov. 22. That's eight consecutive weeks of conference games. It's going to be one long, brutal run for these Longhorns, one that will test the resolve of its players and its new coaching staff. There are no cupcakes along the way like Strong's Louisville teams faced in the Big East and American Athletic Conference. Still, these Longhorns overcame a brutal start in 2013 to win their first six Big 12 games, and this team has just as much veteran talent and leadership. How they respond to those three huge games, no matter the result, will dictate how this seemingly unfriendly schedule plays out.
- Baylor landed an offensive line transfer from Texas A&M.
- Oklahoma released alternate uniforms on Tuesday. They are designed to represent the tradition of the Sooners.
- The Sooners released their new look on Tuesday, and former players like the move.
- The Sooners' alternate uniforms had been in the works for a long time.
- ESPN Insider Travis Haney takes a closer look at the Sooners' College Football Playoff hopes.
- OU isn't the only Big 12 team that will have a new look in 2014. Iowa State will add a matte helmet to its uniform options.
- The Dallas Morning News projects TCU's starting quarterback and running back. The preseason competition for both spots will be interesting to watch.
- Athlon ranks the schedules for each Big 12 school.
- It's a big day for the conference as the Big 12 released its new logo.
- West Virginia safety Karl Joseph and Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker are among college football's top 14 hitters on NFL.com's list.
- Naming Clint Trickett as the Mountaineers' starting quarterback is the right call, writes Dave Hickman of The Charleston Gazette.
- A former Baylor commitment has Oklahoma at the top of his list of favorite schools.
- TCU coach Gary Patterson chatted about the Horned Frogs with FoxSports' Bruce Feldman.
- Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy took another shot at Alabama coach Nick Saban.
- Former Sooners All-Big 12 lineman Gabe Ikard is looking to pass along his expertise, at a price, this summer.
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Bears lost their top-rated commitment last week when John Humphrey Jr. decommitted. Baylor had plans to use the four-star prospect as a cornerback, but Humphrey has his eyes on playing receiver, where the Bears are well stocked with playmakers.
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed another commitment last week in Denton (Texas) Guyer safety Jordan Wallace, who is reportedly a distant cousin of former Iowa State standout OB Seneca Wallace. The coaching staff snagged five of their six commitments in the month of June, including Austin (Texas) Lake Travis dual-threat QB Dominic DeLira.
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Kansas continued to make noise on the recruiting trail by snagging a pair of Texas prospects last week. Carl Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman from Denton (Texas) Guyer, had offers from Duke, Minnesota and Vanderbilt. Taylor Martin, a 5-foot-9, 179-pound running back, committed to Kansas later the same day. He had an offer from Colorado State, and was reportedly drawing interest from TCU, Illinois and Kansas State. The Jayhawks went into the month of June with one commitment, but now have nine.
Total commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats landed two running backs last week, one from their backyard, the other all the way out of Georgia. Denzel Goolsby's recruitment picked up in the last week, with Kansas and Iowa State both extending offers. But the Wichita (Kansas) Bishop Carroll product wound up pledging to Kansas State. Goolsby is a versatile offensive threat, who also plays slot receiver and returns kicks. The Wildcats picked up another intriguing playmaker earlier in the week in Cartersville, Georgia, running back Kalin Heath, who had offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Washington State and Louisville. At 6-foot-1, Heath has the frame to become K-State’s next power back in the mold of Daniel Thomas.
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: John Humphrey’s decommitment from Baylor could be Oklahoma’s gain. The Sooners are giving Humphrey the option to play receiver, and Oklahoma appears to be his favorite. The Sooners also recently made the top five that ESPN 300 WR Ryan Newsome released, along with Texas, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame.
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Cowboys already have one ESPN 300 cornerback commitment in Jaylon Lane, and now have a strong chance to grab another. Xavier Lewis announced last week that Oklahoma State made his cut of final four schools along with LSU, Arkansas and Texas. Lewis, out of Laplace, Lousiana, is the No. 14 rated cornerback in the country, seven spots behind Lane. If the Cowboys managed to scoop up Lewis, too, they would have an incoming cornerback tandem that would be the envy of the Big 12, and perhaps the country.
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Even though they didn’t add anyone last week, the Horned Frogs still easily have the biggest commitment total of the Big 12. They’ll have to fight to hold onto to guard Cody Ford, who is showing interest in the Sooners after recently getting an offer. At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds, Ford has the potential to be a road grader in the run game down the line.
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Texas is hosting a key night camp July 18 that will include visits from several of its top targets as well as top-rated pledge, QB Zach Gentry. Texas is also planning to host four-star QB Kai Locksley in mid-July after making his top six, along with with Florida State, Auburn, Maryland, Oregon and Virginia Tech. Locksley is the son of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Texas Tech is still looking for its running back from this class, and last week extended an offer to three-star New Orleans product Kendall Bussey, who is currently committed to Nebraska. The Red Raiders also got a visit recently from Waco, Texas, four-star safety Kahlil Haughton, who has offers from Baylor, Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma, among many others.
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers already have three pledges in this class from their Miramar, Florida, pipeline, and could be close to adding another. Mammoth offensive lineman Leeward Brown, who is currently committed to Miami, visited West Virginia last weekend along with Miramar teammates Kahlil Lewis and Kendrell McFadden, and reportedly came away impressed. If the Mountaineers wind up offering the 6-4, 340-pound Brown, they stand a chance of flipping him.
Baylor: Quarterback Bryce Petty, wide receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager, defensive end Shawn Oakman.
Kansas: Wide receiver Nick Harwell, linebacker Ben Heeney, tight end Jimmay Mundine, safety Cassius Sendish.
Oklahoma State: Wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, corner back Kevin Peterson, linebacker Ryan Simmons.
TCU: Safety Sam Carter, defensive tackle Chucky Hunter, center Joe Hunt, wide receiver David Porter.
Texas Tech: Wide receiver Bradley Marquez, linebacker Sam Eguavoen, running back Kenny Williams.
Iowa State: Offensive lineman Tom Farniok, defensive end Cory Morrissey, tight end E.J. Bibbs, linebacker Jevohn Miller.
Kansas State: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett, quarterback Jake Waters, defensive end Ryan Mueller, linebacker Jonathan Truman, offensive lineman BJ Finney.
Oklahoma: Quarterback Trevor Knight, linebacker Geneo Grissom, defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue, offensive tackle Daryl Williams, safety Julian Wilson.
Texas: Center Dominic Espinosa, running back Malcolm Brown, cornerback Quandre Diggs.
West Virginia: Wide receiver Kevin White, corner back Daryl Worley, punter Nick O'Toole.
Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
TBD Oklahoma State Central Michigan TBD Northern Iowa Iowa State TBD South Dakota State Kansas TBD South Dakota Kansas State TBD Texas Notre Dame TBD Akron Oklahoma TBD Sam Houston State Texas Tech TBD Georgia Southern West Virginia