Texas Longhorns: Nick Florence

Trending up or down: Big 12 in 2013

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
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Colleague Phil Steele checked in with our ESPN Insider folks for a look at all 70 bowl teams Insider... in 2013.

What can they all expect next season? You'll need Insider to see his full comments, but he weighed in on the nine Big 12 bowl teams.

Baylor's stock: Down

My take: I'd lean more toward even for the Bears. They're losing Nick Florence and Terrance Williams, but Tevin Reese is a strong candidate to continue the receiver tradition at Baylor under Art Briles, and Lache Seastrunk might end up being the Big 12's best back next year. Don't be surprised if new QB Bryce Petty is even better than Florence. It's very easy for me to see Baylor winning seven (or more) games next year, and once again, it's hard to see the defense getting worse.

WVU's stock: Even

My take: The record might be the same (7-5) next year, but I would lean toward trending down for WVU, just because it won't have the upside or potential of this year's team. WVU was good enough to win 9-11 games this year, but with a new QB, no Tavon Austin and no Stedman Bailey, it's tough to see next year's team being able to make that claim.

Texas' stock: Up

My take: How up depends on David Ash's development, once again. When he played well early in the season, Texas looked like it could beat a whole lot of teams. When he struggled against KU and Oklahoma, Texas didn't look like it could beat anyone. The defense can't be any worse.

TCU's stock: Up

My take: Way, way, up. Maybe more up than any team in the country. TCU was 70 percent freshmen and sophomore this year and still managed to go 7-5. It has tons of talent on both sides of the ball, and running back Aaron Green, a blue-chip transfer from Nebraska, will be on the field. Quarterback Casey Pachall may return, too. Big 12 title contenders.

Iowa State's stock: Even

My take: I'd agree. Sam Richardson showed some promise, but I don't know if I see a true impact player there. ISU still has to improve its skill position talent in a big way to truly make the jump from fringe bowl team.

Oklahoma State's stock: Up

My take: Other than TCU or Texas, no Big 12 team's stock should be more up next year. OSU can absorb the loss of Joseph Randle if he leaves, and if he stays, OSU will likely have the Big 12's best offense with a good O-line, maturing QBs and experienced backs. They'll go from seven wins to a Big 12 title contender.

KSU's stock: Down

My take: Agreed here. It's pretty simple. This is a very, very experienced team with two huge talents in Collin Klein and Arthur Brown that will be difficult to replace. K-State has a lot of potential at QB in Daniel Sams and juco commit Jake Waters, but Chris Harper will be gone, too. John Hubert and Tramaine Thompson will have to play big, and the offensive line will have to lead the way.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Longhorns relied on plenty of their usual suspects to overcome Baylor 56-50 on Saturday. But there were some lesser-known players who contributed greatly to Texas ending the Bears’ two-game winning streak in the series.

Safety Josh Turner and tight end M.J. McFarland played arguably their best games as Longhorns and could see expanded roles because of their efforts.

[+] EnlargeJosh Turner
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesTexas defensive back Josh Turner had a big interception against Baylor.
Turner is listed as the backup to Kenny Vaccaro at strong safety but really played a starting role because Texas had to stay in its dime package to match Baylor’s five-wide sets.

He really made his presence known over a two-play period in the middle of the second quarter with the game tied at 28-28. The smaller Turner, who is listed at 6-foot and 177 pounds, stuffed Baylor quarterback Nick Florence for no gain and followed that up by intercepting him on the following snap.

“It was a great read,” Turner said. “It mainly came from our defensive line. They had a great push, and I was in the right place at the right time.”

After an official review upheld the pick, Texas took the ball and capped a five-play drive with a Johnathan Gray 25-yard touchdown, his first score as a Longhorn. The Longhorns never trailed again.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Don't look now but there appears to be some optimism around No. 23 Texas.

Oh wait, that's just Kansas.

Yep, the Big 12's panacea is up next. And the game couldn't come soon enough for Texas. The Longhorns, fresh with perhaps a false sense of confidence after not-so-thoroughly dispatching Baylor, 56-50, need a game in which the defense can rule the day as well as perhaps playing some young guys.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesThe Longhorns have struggled as a unit on defense this season, but Kansas' pro-style offense has struggled with inconsistency.
Kansas sets up perfectly for just that. The Jayhawks, coached by Charlie Weis, who Mack Brown said is a great, not good coach, are actually not all that great. Statistically, at least. Or in the record books. Kansas is 0-4 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks are 89th in total offense and 85th in total defense. The thing they do the best is run the ball. They are 49th nationally in rushing yards per game with 180 yards per game. In addition, James Sims is back after a suspension and rushed for 102 yards against Oklahoma.

Now that does not dovetail too great with what Texas does not do well, defend the run. The Longhorns have given up 1,065 rushing yards in just the last four games. But again, there is some optimism.

While Texas did give up 255 yards on the ground to Baylor, 69 of that was to the quarterback. Kansas does not have a quarterback who can run the ball. Or a quarterback at all. Dayne Crist was benched after throwing for 13 yards against Oklahoma. Redshirt freshman Michael Cummings threw for 111 yards and two interceptions in relief.

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Film review: Five stops that beat Baylor 

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Longhorns coach Mack Brown has made it perfectly clear that Texas’ defense is now operating under simplified standards.

“The only thing we're evaluating now is wins,” Brown said after Saturday’s game.

Stats are out the window, he says. Texas beat Baylor 56-50 on Saturday night. That is all. The rest is what it is. Let’s judge this win, then, by the new standard.

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For the second straight week, Texas proved it couldn't stop its opponent. The only difference was this time Texas couldn't be stopped either.

The Longhorns, who have given up 600-plus yards, in two straight games, got 532 yards of their own and utilized some of its speed early to pull away from Baylor.

THREE UP

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AUSTIN, Texas - - It wasn’t pretty by any means, but that didn’t matter too much when Texas found itself in a shootout against a Baylor program that was looking for its third straight win over the Longhorns.

Mack Brown & Co. just needed a win, good, bad or ugly.

However you want to classify it, the Longhorns got it with a 56-50 victory at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

Here’s how it all played out:

It was over when: Longhorns linebacker Steve Edmond caused a fumble on a run by Baylor running back Glasco Martin, which was recovered by Texas safety Mykkele Thompson at the Baylor 46-yard line with nine seconds left in the third quarter. Texas turned that into a 15-yard touchdown catch from Mike Davis to make it a two-possession game at 56-43. With Baylor’s defense unable to get a stop all night that proved to be too much of a hole to dig out of even though the Bears did score with 1:57 left to make it 56-50.

Game ball: Joe Bergeron. The sophomore bullied his way to the endzone on five separate occasions, supplying Texas with the running game it couldn’t get going against Oklahoma last week. He finished the night with 19 carries for 117 yards and those touchdown runs of 15, 2, 9, 4 and 8 yards.

Game ball, part II: Josh Turner. Texas played a ton of nickel and dime against Baylor and needed its safeties to step up. Turner did. He intercepted a Nick Florence pass with 8:30 left in the second quarter, which led to a Johnathan Gray touchdown and a 35-28 lead. The game was never tied again.

Stat of the game: Texas gave up 255 rushing yards to a Baylor team that relies heavily on the pass. In the Longhorns’ past four games they’ve given up 1,065 rushing yards. When Texas played for a national title in 2009, it gave up 1,013 yards the entire season.

What it means: The Longhorns are 5-2 and should be 6-2 after it plays Kansas next week. That’s it. This victory, especially with the way the defense played, is not going to do much to make the Texas fan base forget about what happened against Oklahoma. Baylor is still searching for its first conference victory and it’s going to be difficult to get it next week at a much-improved Iowa State. Will the Bears be able to stop anyone on defense?
Five storylines for Texas as it plays Baylor Saturday night at DKR.

1. Watch out for Williams
Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams has proven to be the most explosive player at his position in FBS. Williams has eight receptions that have gained 40 or more yards. Seven of those eight 40-plus yard gains were on balls throw at least 20 yards in the air, meaning Williams uses speed to beat a defender off the line. That also means that the defense needs help with a safety over the top. And this is where Texas could have issues.

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Numbers, it's said, rarely lie. With that thought in mind, HornsNation -- with a healthy assist from the ESPN Stats and Info crew -- will dig into the numbers each week and pull three stats that could play a significant role in the outcome of Texas' game. This week the focus is on Baylor, its explosive offense and wet-firecracker defense.

1. 120
Baylor is dead last in total defense allowing 559 yards per game. Seriously, West Virginia is better. Only six spots, but better.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs didn’t need an embarrassing team effort against Oklahoma to get riled up. He was peeved before he even got to the Cotton Bowl.

“I am one of those guys that is wired different than a lot of people,” Diggs said. “I am always mad. Even just walking around campus.”

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMITexas cornerback Carrington Byndom said the Longhorns are frustrated with their defensive performance.
Factor in Texas’ dismal performance in its 63-21 loss to the Sooners, then, and his anger meter has to be on the verge of combusting.

“It’s not acceptable to go out and get beat like that and give up that many yards,” he said.

How many yards, you ask? The Longhorns allowed Oklahoma to wrack up 677 of them, which is the most they’ve given up in a game since Houston put up 733 in 1992.

The difference in this Texas team than that one, which finished 6-5 in John Mackovic’s first season -- the Longhorns still beat the Cougars, 45-38.

Turns out this Longhorns team had a better chance at winning a carnival game than ending their two-game losing streak in the Red River Rivalry.

“It is more frustration [than anger],” said cornerback Carrington Byndom. “We know what we are capable of. It just hasn’t shown.”

If blame were a blanket it would have covered the entire Texas sideline on Saturday. Nestled underneath, without question, would be a Longhorns secondary that has not lived up to the preseason expectations placed upon them.

Texas has the third-worst pass defense efficiency rating in the conference at 140.3. The Longhorns have allowed 59.4 percent of opponents passes to be completed (104-of-175) and have given up the third-most passing yards (1,443) despite seeing the second-fewest number of pass attempts.

Those would be alarming statistics anywhere in the country, but especially to a program that stakes claim as being "Defensive Back University.”

(Read full post)

Campus location: Waco, Texas
Nickname: Bears
Conference: Big 12
Record: 3-2, 0-2 in the Big 12
Record vs. Texas: 24-73-4

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas defense, which has suffered many blows in the past few weeks, just took another to the gut.

Jackson Jeffcoat is out. Gone for the season. He tore his pectoral muscle. This time it was the right one. Last year it was the left one. So much for Texas having the top two defensive ends in the Big 12. Instead Texas is just left with big questions at a time when it is searching for answers.

The foremost is: Can Cedric Reed or Reggie Wilson even come close to producing at Jeffcoat’s level? The answer is no. If they could, they would have had the starting spot.

[+] EnlargeJackson Jeffcoat
John Albright/Icon SMITexas will have to replace DE Jackson Jeffcoat, arguably its top defender, with inexperienced players.
Wilson showed a flash against Ole Miss when he jumped a diving blocker and sacked Bo Wallace.

Jeffcoat does stuff like that every game. The junior had four sacks, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown already this season. Reed and Wilson have a combined five tackles for loss and one sack.

But Jeffcoat’s game went beyond stats. He, along with bookend Alex Okafor, was able to pin in quarterbacks and shrink their options. The reason Geno Smith was unable to roll the pocket and therefore roll Texas was because he had Jeffcoat to his left and Okafor to his right every time he dropped back. It was the combined pressure of the two that forced Smith to take four sacks and be stripped of the ball twice.

Without that type of pressure the Texas secondary, which already has issues in coverage, is susceptible to being picked apart by a quarterback like Baylor’s Nick Florence. Florence, the FBS leader in total offense, just so happens to be the next QB Texas faces.

The Longhorns might consider pulling the redshirt off someone like Shiro Davis in order to get more speed on the edge. But, as Texas has proven in the past two losses, it is very tough to play fast as a defensive player when you do not know where you are going.

Without Jeffcoat, Texas, a team that has allowed 111 points and more than 1,100 yards in the past two games, might be wondering where it is going.

Ash not ruled out
Texas has prepared itself since the spring to use two quarterbacks. Now the Longhorns might have to do just that.

While quarterback David Ash has not been ruled out with a bruise to his non-throwing wrist, he has not been cleared to play, either. That means Texas might once again be turning to backup Case McCoy.

The junior, who was 3-2 as a starter in 2011, lost out on the starting job after what was an eight-month competition. But the Texas coaches qualified their selection of Ash by stating, repeatedly, that they felt McCoy was more than an adequate backup and that they would not hesitate to play him.

Well, now the time might have come and it might be against Baylor, which happens to be the last team McCoy started against. In that game, McCoy was responsible for five turnovers. That, as much as anything, is what led to his demotion.

The coaching staff could not abide a quarterback who played fast and loose with the ball. They wanted a game manager. Ash better fit that role. McCoy, on the other hand, is much more of a draw-it-up-in-the-dirt player.

But McCoy has matured. He has added 15-20 pounds and put more zip on his intermediate throws as well as length on deep throws.

If he is the quarterback, it is almost a certainty that co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin will play it close to the vest and try to get McCoy to distribute the ball to playmakers such as Daje Johnson, Marquise Goodwin and Johnathan Gray. That has been when Texas is at its best. And to beat Baylor, a team that is No. 2 in total offense and No. 4 in scoring offense, Texas’ offense will have to be at its best.

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
12:30
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.
Today is the next step in a new series on the Big 12 blog that we've never done before. I love predicting the standings from top to bottom, but we're going to do it week by week leading up to the season. The goal is to offer my official prediction for each Big 12 team's record heading into the bowl games.

Remember, these are preseason predictions. We'll obviously still do week-to-week picks once the season arrives, and they might change between now and then. There are a lot of preseason practices, and a lot of games between now and the end of the season.

There are always teams that disappoint and teams that surprise. But here's how I see the Big 12 shaking out in Week 10.

PREVIOUS PREDICTIONS
WEEK 10

West Virginia 38, TCU 28: The Horned Frogs will be walking into a powder keg in Morgantown. A year ago, these teams were to meet in a conference game, but who would have figured it'd be a Big 12 game instead of a Big East game? WVU takes care of business against a TCU secondary that can't handle the Tavon Austin-Stedman Bailey duo. Big game for Geno Smith. Two consecutive losses for TCU after starting 7-0.

Texas 31, Texas Tech 17: Texas has had some tough games in Lubbock, including a hard-fought win in 2010 to stay undefeated before the wheels fell off on a five-win season. Texas does the same thing it did last season and walks away a winner again, just not as emphatic. Texas uses a powerful running game to control the pace from start to finish.

Kansas State 28, Oklahoma State 24: Kansas State nearly knocked off the title contender in Stillwater last season. Kansas State got better. Oklahoma State's not as good. Kansas State takes care of business in Manhattan this time around, keeping the ball out of the offense's hands. OSU's biggest strength on defense is at cornerback. Collin Klein takes advantage of its biggest weakness, the defensive line. Snyderball, baby.

Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 24: These two played in maybe the windiest conditions of any game in the conference last season. Oklahoma didn't play its best, and receivers' drops were maddening for the Sooners' coaching staff. This time around, the Sooners' talent gap is pretty large when you compare the depth charts. Ames is proving to be a difficult place to play these days, but Oklahoma's got this one.

Baylor 27, Kansas 24: Baylor needed overtime and a three-touchdown comeback last season, and Kansas gives the Bears another scare. Nick Florence leads a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes with a touchdown pass to Jordan Najvar to win it. Kansas is threatening to break the barrier and its Big 12 losing streak, now at 15 games.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (after Week 9)

1. Oklahoma: 8-0 (6-0)
2. West Virginia: 7-1 (4-1)
3. Kansas State: 7-2 (4-2)
3. TCU: 7-2 (4-2)
3. Texas: 7-2 (4-2)
6. Oklahoma State: 6-2 (3-2)
7. Baylor: 5-3 (2-3)
8. Texas Tech: 4-5 (1-5)
9. Iowa State: 3-6 (1-5)
10. Kansas: 3-6 (0-6)
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.
The Big 12 season is approaching, and there's no league in which the quarterback position is more important. Want success? Experience is a good place to start. How do the QBs rank in experience? Let's take a look.

1. Landry Jones, Oklahoma (37 starts): Jones is the league's elder statesman by a long, long ways. He took over as a redshirt freshman in 2009 when Sam Bradford injured his shoulder, and didn't miss any of his 27 starts in 2010 and 2011.

2. Geno Smith, West Virginia (26 starts): Smith has been the team's unquestioned starter for each of the past two seasons, and should be ready for a big 2012 after topping 4,000 yards in 2011.

[+] EnlargeCollin Klein
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNo doubt, Kansas State QB Collin Klein drew a ton of attention from opposing defenses in 2011.
3. Collin Klein, Kansas State (15 starts): Klein had two more starts at receiver earlier in his career, but we're not counting those. Klein was a gadget QB in 2010, but took over as the team's offensive workhorse in 2011, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the team's total offense.

4. Casey Pachall, TCU (13 starts): Pachall played well in his first year as a starter, but often relied on his three star running backs in the offense and didn't top 3,000 yards. He's ready for more responsibility if necessary this year.

5. Seth Doege, Texas Tech (13 starts): Doege earned one start all the way back in 2009, but ceded that spot by the end of the game. He did no such thing in a strong 2011 season, though Tech missed a bowl game and had a losing season (5-7) for the first time in almost two decades.

6. Dayne Crist, Kansas (10 starts): Crist's 10 starts all came at Notre Dame, but there doesn't look to be much challenge from any other QBs on the roster this season. Does he have the offensive weapons to be productive?

7. Nick Florence, Baylor (seven starts): Florence started seven games in 2009 when Robert Griffin III suffered a knee injury, and earned a half of playing time last season against Texas Tech that cost him his redshirt season.

8. Steele Jantz, Iowa State (seven starts): Jantz got off to a strong start, but never figured out his very serious turnover issues. That cost him his starting job in midseason, despite three fourth-quarter comebacks to begin the 2011 season 3-0.

9. David Ash, Texas (six starts): Ash was the fourth-string QB last summer, but when Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood transferred, it was up to him and Case McCoy to carry the load. By season's end, Ash had established himself as the future at the position, at least immediately, but Texas' coaches haven't given him the official designation yet.

10. Jared Barnett, Iowa State (six starts): Barnett took over for Jantz in the middle of the season and engineered wins over Texas Tech, Kansas and a historic win over No. 2 Oklahoma State, but struggled with inconsistency late and opened up the competition to Jantz in a Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers. There's no assurance for either to be the starter after the spring.

11. Case McCoy, Texas (five starts): McCoy's gutsiest performance came in a comeback win over Texas A&M, but his lack of arm strength limited what the Longhorns could do in 2011. McCoy's got all the heart you could ask for, but his physical attributes bring about plenty of questions about his ability to carry the team over the course of his career.

12. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State (zero starts): Lunt shocked even his own offensive coordinator by beating out junior Clint Chelf and redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh in the spring to earn the starting job. He still has to validate that spot in the fall, but Lunt is in a class of his own at the bottom of the Big 12 when it comes to experience. He's a big, NFL-sized QB with a big arm, though. Can his mind catch up fast enough to help the Cowboys defend a Big 12 title?

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