Texas Longhorns: Tre Walker

Big 12's unsung heroes: Week 10

November, 4, 2013
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The Big 12’s unsung heroes for Week 10:

Linebacker Jake Love, Kansas: Playing alongside Ben Heeney, it’s easy to overlook Love, a sophomore. He tied Heeney for the team lead with nine tackles, including six solo stops, in the 35-13 loss to Texas. Love added one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup against the Longhorns.

Linebacker Jonathan Truman, Kansas State: Lining up alongside Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker, the junior has been overshadowed this season. He had seven tackles, including six solo stops, to tie for the team lead in KSU’s 41-7 win over Iowa State. It was the first time he recorded seven tackles after beginning the season with four consecutive games recording at least seven tackles.

[+] EnlargeDeVondrick Nealy
Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsDeVondrick Nealy rushed for 53 yards and Iowa State's lone score against Kansas State.
Running back DeVondrick Nealy, Iowa State: There wasn’t much to be proud of for the Cyclones in their 41-7 loss to Kansas State, but Nealy was one bright spot for ISU. The sophomore was seldom used in Iowa State's first five games but has 24 of his 29 total carries in the past three weeks. He led ISU with 12 carries for 53 yards and one touchdown against the Wildcats and finished with 96 all-purpose yards to lead the squad. It’s been a disappointing season, but Nealy’s emergence could pay off in the future.

Cornerback Tyler Patmon, Oklahoma State: A Kansas transfer, Patmon stepped in and stepped up with starting cornerback Kevin Peterson out. Patmon had six tackles, all solo, including one tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. It was just his second multiple-tackle game of the season. Patmon’s performance is the reason the Cowboys were interested in bringing the senior to Stillwater to provide quality, veteran depth at cornerback.

Receiver Jaxon Shipley, Texas: Running back Malcolm Brown received all the headlines with his four-touchdown performance, but Shipley recorded his best game during the Longhorns’ five-game winning streak. He finished with six receptions for 77 yards, with four of his receptions coming on third down in Texas' 35-13 victory over Kansas. The junior is a quarterback’s best friend with his quickness, route-running and sure hands.

Receiver Josh Doctson, TCU: It’s probably fair to say more was expected from the Wyoming transfer heading into the season. However, the sophomore might have had a breakout performance against West Virginia with eight receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. He had five receptions for 33 yards and one touchdown on first-down plays. He entered the game with 12 total receptions.

Safety Keenon Ward, Texas Tech: Making his first career start, Ward finished with four tackles, including one tackle for loss and one interception. The redshirt freshman wasn’t perfect, but he showed he could become a playmaker on the Red Raiders' defense for the rest of the season and beyond.

West Virginia offensive line: Charles Sims was the clear standout with his 24 carries for 154 yards and one touchdown in WVU’s 30-27 victory over TCU. The Mountaineers’ offensive line deserves a lot of credit as they paved the way for Sims to average 6.42 yards per carry. WVU’s offensive front was particularly nasty on first down, paving the way for Sims’ 14 first-down carries for 98 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 4

September, 22, 2013
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Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were all off. But we still learned plenty about the Big 12 in Week 4:

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBaylor QB Bryce Petty leads the nation in QBR and the Bears have been nearly unstoppable in its nonconference games.
1. Baylor can’t be stopped: What the Bears have accomplished in three nonconference games has been incredible. Sure, the nonconference slate was bad. But the numbers Baylor is putting up are absurd. Capped with the 70-7 win over Monroe, the Bears outscored their three nonconference opponents by a combined score of 209-23 -- the largest scoring differential in an opening three games, according to ESPN Stats & Information, by any FBS team of the past 10 seasons. The Bears lead the nation in scoring, Bryce Petty leads in the nation in QBR and running back Lache Seastrunk is averaging 11 yards per carry. This offense, obviously, faces tougher tests ahead. But Baylor has the look of an offense that will be scoring on everyone it faces.

2. West Virginia can’t score: How far the West Virginia offense has fallen since that 70-point outburst in the 2011 Orange Bowl. In the first half against Maryland, the West Virginia offensive effort was futile. West Virginia compiled 65 yards compared to 61 yards in penalties; the Mountaineers also had as many first downs (two) as interceptions in the first half, as Maryland jumped to a 30-0 halftime lead before coasting to the 37-0 victory in Baltimore. Coach Dana Holgorsen said afterward he’s sticking with Ford Childress at quarterback, but the quarterback can only do so much with the West Virginia offensive line and receivers. Had running backs Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith not transferred in, this offense would be completely hopeless -- assuming it isn’t already.

3. Texas proved it doesn’t always lie down: During Big 12 media days, Kansas State linebacker Tre Walker was quoted saying that “Texas laid down a little bit” in their game last season because “that’s what they do.” Despite tumbling in with a two-game losing streak, the Longhorns didn’t lie down Saturday, instead grinding out a 31-21 win over the Wildcats. Who knows what -- if anything -- the win will do for Mack Brown or the Longhorns’ season? At the least, the win offered a little respite for a team that’s had to endure nothing but negativity since the first week of the season.

4. The Kansas schools have issues offensively: Both Kansas and Kansas State should be better offensively than what they’ve showed. Despite having former blue-chipper Jake Heaps at quarterback and one of the league’s better running back tandems in Tony Pierson and James Sims, the Jayhawks needed 10 points in the fourth quarter to edge out Louisiana Tech, 13-10. Meanwhile, against a Texas defense that had been porous stopping the run, the Wildcats managed just 115 yards rushing on 38 carries. If not for wideout Tyler Lockett, K-State might not have scored the whole night. Both the Kansas and K-State offenses have good players. Just not good offenses at the moment.

5. Texas Tech is back to square one at QB: For the second straight game, Davis Webb replaced fellow true freshman Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Last week, it was due to injury. In Saturday’s sloppy 33-7 win over Texas State, it was due mostly to the offense remaining stagnant, though Mayfield did get shaken up after taking a shot to his back. Mayfield completed 13 of 18 passes for 122 yards and an interception before getting replaced. But Webb didn’t fare all that much better, going 19-of-43 passing for 310 yards and an interception. Webb also badly missed Jakeem Grant and Jace Amaro wide open in the end zone near the end of the game. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said both quarterbacks would play going forward, but he also noted the position “just has to get better.” It’s unclear how Kingsbury will use his quarterbacks, but Michael Brewer is getting closer to practicing again after sitting out the past several weeks with a back injury. Brewer, the projected starter going into the preseason, could ultimately become Kingsbury’s answer at quarterback once he returns.

Big 12 predictions: Week 4

September, 19, 2013
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Instead of going to a game this weekend, I stopped by Waco, Texas, earlier in the week to check out Art Briles’ bunch in person.

Our guest picker this week is Roger Berman, a Red Raider who hails from Orange, Texas. Here is Roger’s guest picker submission:
I have been around a few years. Just turned 60 in August. I attended Texas Tech, and got my B.S. in chemical engineering in 1976. Older brother went to Oklahoma State. Little brother was smart -- he graduated from Texas Tech. I have been following the Southwest, Big 8 and Big 12 conferences for more than 45 years. I know I can pick 'em better than a young pup like you. What you say to that?

Well, Roger, compared to you, I suppose I am a young pup. Challenge accepted.

By the way, thanks to Roger’s Red Raiders, I dispatched of last week’s guest picker, James. Get ready to join him, Roger.

If you want to be next week’s guest picker, contact me, and tell me why. And, as always, creativity counts.

Now, to the picks for Week 4:

SEASON RECORD

Last week: 7-1 (.875)

Guest picker last week: 6-2 (.750)

Overall: 21-4 (.840)

Guest picker overall: 6-2 (.750)

Saturday
Kansas 33, Louisiana Tech 21: Jake Heaps struggled in the loss at Rice, but Charlie Weis said this week the one player he's not worried about is Heaps. I’m not worried about the Kansas quarterback, either. As for the rest of the team, well, that's another story. The Jayhawks will be fine in this one, before they embark on another long season in the Big 12.

Roger’s pick: Heaps takes it up a notch with more than 200 yards passing. Kansas, 28-17

West Virginia 30, Maryland 27: The Terrapins are 3-0, but their best win came last week over Connecticut, which fell to Towson in its opener. In other words, Maryland has yet to play anybody. The Mountaineers lost at Oklahoma, but they hung tough. That moral victory should give them the confidence they can win this game. Especially with Ford Childress now at quarterback.

Roger’s pick: I think Childress has a great day; once again, a freshman steps up in the Big 12. West Virginia, 35-27

Baylor 63, Louisiana-Monroe 10: By picking the Bears to score nine touchdowns, I’m actually picking them to have a down day. Baylor, which is averaging 70 points a game, has scored four touchdowns in the first quarter of both games this season. Mercifully for Monroe, the Bears don’t touch that first-quarter mark this game, due to a little rust coming off an open week. Not that it really matters. Baylor drops off four touchdowns in the second quarter to put another game away before halftime.

Roger’s pick: Bryce Petty has another good day; not sure who can stop this offense. Baylor, 49-7

Texas Tech 45, Texas State 13: The Red Raiders won ugly last week. This week, they get back to winning pretty. Boosted by Kliff Kingsbury’s vote of confidence, quarterback Baker Mayfield gets back on track with a 400-yard passing game. The Tech defense gives up a couple of scores early, but settles in to keep the momentum going from last week’s gutty performance against TCU.

Roger’s pick: Jace Amaro has a coming-out party; 150-plus yards and three touchdowns. Texas Tech, 56-14

Texas 31, Kansas State 28: The reasons to pick against Texas are many. The Longhorns have been an embarrassment stopping the run, and K-State’s Daniel Sams runs as well as any QB in the league. The Wildcats also own Texas with a five-game winning streak in the series. But QB David Ash should be back in the lineup for Longhorns, and K-State has had its own problems defensively this season. Plus, after K-State linebacker Tre Walker accused Texas this summer of always rolling over, the Longhorns -- if they have any heart at all -- have to show up for this game, right?

Roger’s pick: Texas finally gets it together; plus, very rarely has Texas lost three games in a row. Texas, 24-21
Tre Walker tried to soften it but it didn’t change the underlying message when he was asked about Kansas State’s 42-24 win over Texas last season.

“They kind of laid down a little bit,” the Wildcats linebacker said during Big 12 media days in July.

Kansas State Wildcats
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesBill Snyder and Kansas State have owned the Longhorns recently, winning the last five games.
Undoubtedly, Texas players, coaches and fans look at that statement and scoff. Yet, if anyone in the nation has the right to make that declaration it would be Walker, who is part of a Kansas State program which holds the longest current winning streak against the Longhorns in college football. The Wildcats have the last five meetings starting in 2006.

“They have played better than us for sure and coached better than us,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We haven't played very well against them. They've been more physical than we have.”

The Wildcats won 45-42 in 2006, 41-21 in 2007, 39-14 in 2010 and 17-13 in 2011 during the winning streak. For Kansas State, the win streak could bring confidence but the past will only mean so much on Saturday.

“It probably depends on the individual,” KSU coach Bill Snyder said when asked about the Wildcat’s win streak. “Most of the youngsters are probably more concerned with preparation and ourselves than things that have happened in the past.”

In other words, they’re focused on playing K-State football. And K-State football is exactly what has provided the foundation of the win streak. The Wildcats have found a way to beat Texas the same way they usually find a way to beat any other team that has the overall talent advantage.

Defense, turnovers and special teams.

In KSU’s wins over the Longhorns, the Wildcats’ average turnover margin is 2.6 (13 turnover margin in five games) and their average starting field position margin was 9.2, meaning they consistently started almost 10 yards closer to the end zone than UT during the winning streak.

The Longhorns have had the clear advantage when they have ball and when playing defense. The Longhorns are averaging 369.8 yards while holding KSU to 274.2 yards during the streak. The Wildcats didn’t outgain the Longhorns in any of those wins. KSU’s offense has been horrible, going three-and-out 42 percent of the time and averaging 3.07 yards per carry during the win streak.

<How do you overcome being outgained by an average of nearly 100 yards?

Simply taking the ball away is a great start. On average, the Longhorns have had to make up 15.6 points off turnovers against KSU thanks to 16 turnovers in five games. KSU’s 45-42 win in 2006 was the only time the Longhorns didn’t have to overcome a double digit, points off turnover margin. It’s hard to spot a Big 12 opponent more than 15 points and expect to win.

The often overlooked third part of the game is another way the Wildcats win. KSU consistently produces terrific special teams play featuring a great return game and its victories over UT are no different. The Wildcats average starting line has been their own 39-yard line and they’ve averaged 22 yards per punt return and 28.64 yards per kick return during the win streak, including punt and kick returns for touchdowns in 2007.

And the Wildcats defense has had a bend but don’t break mentality, allowing 4.88 yards per play and only allowing UT to score points 33.3 percent of the time after the Longhorns have started a drive by making a first down. The Wildcats defense has been resilient and come up with key plays when they need them allowing UT to gain just 38.3 percent of the possible yards to gain on 69 total drives in those five games.

Defense, turnovers and special teams make Kansas State football come to mind, so it’s no surprise those three words have defined the Wildcats’ current five-game winning streak over Texas.
HornsNation is breaking down Texas' 2013 football schedule every Monday this summer. This week: The Longhorns' fourth game of the season vs. the Kansas State Wildcats on Sept. 21.

We're moving on with our postseason position rankings. Today, it's time for linebackers. If you missed it, here's how I ranked them in the preseason.

At this position, depth is a major factor in these rankings. Additionally, I included nickelbacks in this grouping. Hybrid defensive end/linebackers will be grouped with defensive lines.

[+] EnlargeJake Knott
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireIowa State linebackers Jake Knott, 20, and A.J. Klein combined for 231 tackles in 2011.
More postseason position rankings: 1. Iowa State: The Cyclones top the list after a huge year from their outstanding duo, Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. They combined for 231 tackles in 2011, both finishing among the top four in the Big 12 in tackles. They had 241 together in 2010, but this season Knott played through injuries and Klein was awarded co-Defensive Player of the Year honors from the league's coaches.

2. Texas: The Longhorns will sorely miss an outstanding duo of their own with tons of experience. Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho are both NFL-bound after combining for 215 tackles.

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners weren't quite as good as expected in 2011, but part of that was because of a Travis Lewis preseason toe injury that slowed him for much of the season. Lewis, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort all topped 70 tackles in 2011, and are a solid group.

4. Kansas State: Arthur Brown reinvigorated this group, finishing eighth in the Big 12 with 101 tackles, but the Wildcats linebackers were more than just Brown. Tre Walker and converted safety Emmanuel Lamur combined for 135 stops and helped lead one of the league's most underrated units and a much-improved run defense.

5. Texas A&M: The Aggies' backers were big pass-rushers, though they struggled in coverage this season. Sean Porter was the Big 12's sack champion with 9.5, and Caleb Russell and Jonathan Stewart combined for six more. Damontre Moore is the rawest talent of the bunch, but built on that in 2011, making 72 tackles.

6. Oklahoma State: OSU's group was good, but not great. Alex Elkins' crazy story came to an end with 90 stops in 2011. He showed up everywhere for the Cowboys, but reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year Shaun Lewis didn't quite have the sophomore season some had hoped. Caleb Lavey added some solid play for the turnover-hungry unit, producing 74 tackles and five tackles for loss.

7. Missouri: Zaviar Gooden wasn't quite the impact player Mizzou had hoped, but he was solid alongside a group that's been injury prone over the past two years. Sophomore Andrew Wilson emerged as the team's top tackler with 98 stops, and Luke Lambert added 82 more. A high ankle sprain in the season opener kept Will Ebner off the field, but he'll be back in 2012 after the NCAA granted him a fifth year of eligibility.

8. Kansas: Steven Johnson led the Big 12 with 119 tackles, but the rest of the unit left a lot to be desired. Darius Willis has some potential, but the rest of the team's linebackers have their work cut out for them in 2012. Tunde Bakare also returns from a unit that ranked ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense.

9. Baylor: The Bears needed help just about everywhere. Elliot Coffey was solid, and finished tied for fourth with 114 stops, but Baylor was eighth in the Big 12 in rush defense. Baylor has solid athlete in the secondary and on the defensive line, but at linebacker, Rodney Chadwick and Brody Trahan leave a bit to be desired. Ahmad Dixon was better in 2011, but still has a lot of potential that needs to be filled.

10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are looking for a new defensive coordinator and the 4-2-5 made a short stop in Lubbock. The Red Raiders were awful everywhere on defense, but especially up front. Nobody in college football was worse at stopping the run, and D.J. Johnson, Daniel Cobb and Cqulin Hubert turned in forgettable performances. Time to get better for 2012.

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