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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Four Downs: Big 12 nonconference tests

By Sean Adams

AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Is McCoy the backup?

For a school that has had to use its second-string quarterback frequently over the course of the last decade, Texas' backup QB gig is still up in the air.

Case McCoy
Senior Case McCoy is the frontrunner to be David Ash's backup, but younger quarterbacks are right behind him.
A lot of folks believe that Case McCoy is the man for the job, but at a vital time of the year before the most vital year of coach Mack Brown’s tenure, he is going on a mission trip for what could be an extended stay.

I have a hard time believing the backup quarterback would be taking precious time away from summer workouts. Summer workouts are where teams get closer and young guys are socialized into the offense.

The work that he is going to do on his mission trip is awesome by any standard but some will, and probably should, question the timing if success in 2013 on the football field is a priority.

Second down: The eyeball test

I have probably seen a dozen Texas football players over the last week and one thing we can know for sure is that the strength and conditioning program is working.

Jeff Madden and Bennie Wylie have the players looking bigger, stronger and more importantly better. Being big, strong and lean will allow players to be in better condition and come into the fall and practice better because they are in condition to do so.

Third down: Big 12 nonconference is not great, but ...

No conference in the country has been questioned as much as the Big 12.

We will not know everything we need to know about the conference by the end of the nonconference schedule, but we will know a lot about the four teams projected as possible winners for 2013.

Aug. 31: TCU vs LSU in Arlington, Texas
This could be a game where LSU might have better talent but TCU could be the better team, especially early in the season. LSU lost a lot of talent to the NFL.

August 31: Oklahoma State vs Mississippi State in Houston
The Cowboys have some work to do but could be very good. Mississippi State will be well-coached and will have some NFL-level talent.

Sept. 7: Texas at BYU
Texas comes back with the most experience in the conference but will take on historically the most mature roster in college football. The Cougars will be very well-coached, too.

Sept. 28: Oklahoma at Notre Dame
Notre Dame lost a lot from its 2012 team that beat Oklahoma in Norman, but Oklahoma lost more and has more building to do. This game will be at the feet of Touchdown Jesus, too.

Fourth down: Kansas State is getting it done

Remember the last decade when Texas won national championships in football and baseball and went to a final four in basketball? That success came with a lot of Big 12 success as well.

The team with the most overall success in the major sports now in the conference is Kansas State. The school with the toughest landscape, no natural recruiting base, difficulty in travel and a history checkered by much more failure than success is ruling the roost.

The Wildcats were at, near or tied for the top spot in football, basketball and baseball. The years have been few when Texas was looking to be more like Kansas State but 2012-2013 is one of them.