Texas Longhorns: Blake Jackson

In celebration of this week's festivities, let's take a look at the Big 12's most explosive players:

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Lache Seastrunk
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBaylor running back Lache Seastrunk rushed for 1,012 yards last season. Can he top that in 2013?
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor: In terms of pure athletic ability, Seastrunk's in a class of his own in the Big 12. Among running backs, he led the league with 7.73 yards per carry on his 131 carries. Of those 131, 102 came after November. Seastrunk broke an 80-yard touchdown run against Kansas State and despite injuring his leg during the run, scored from 76 yards out.

Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma: Williams doesn't have breakneck speed, but has a huge ability to turn medium runs into huge ones once he hits the second level of the defense. That was never more evident than on his 95-yard touchdown run against Texas. He also had an 89-yard run against Florida A&M, a 66-yard run against TCU and a 48-yard run against West Virginia.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor: Reese is the most dangerous vertical receiving threat in the Big 12 and gets to prove it in a wide-open Baylor offense. He's the Big 12's returning leader in catches longer than 40 yards, with eight. He's got a great case as the fastest player in the Big 12, and hauled in a 75-yard score against Oklahoma State. Reese caught passes longer than 38 yards in 10 games last season.

Tyler Lockett, WR/KR, Kansas State: Lockett's the Big 12's best return man and one of the most dangerous special teamers in college football. He was the only Big 12 player with more than one kick return for a touchdown last season, and led the league with 32.76 yards per return. That mark was fourth nationally.

Tony Pierson, RB, Kansas: Pierson quietly established his reputation last year behind James Sims. He didn't bust many game-breaking plays, but he was consistently productive in the passing and running games. Among running backs with at least 100 carries last season, only Seastrunk averaged more than Pierson's 6.5 yards per carry.

Blake Jackson, WR/TE, Oklahoma State: Like Williams at OU, Jackson's not going to wow you with his speed, but he's a mismatch for defenses in the slot and showed it on the stat sheet last season. He's not explosive in the purest sense, but you can't argue with a guy who averaged better than 20 yards a catch last season. He caught just 29 balls, but Jackson's mark was fourth-most nationally.

Mike Davis, WR, Texas: Davis is a balanced receiver with an ability to get vertical. He's always had it, but as David Ash has progressed, Davis' skill has been much easier to appreciate. He caught seven balls longer than 40 yards, and his four catches longer than 50 yards are more than any returning player in the Big 12. He hauled in a 75-yard score against Texas Tech, grabbed a 61-yard catch against Iowa State and logged a 67-yard reception against Baylor.

Question of the Week: Let's talk trades 

May, 9, 2013
5/09/13
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Free agency might be a long way off from never in college football -- at least as far as players are concerned. Coaches, they come and go. Players stick.

But now the time has come to change all that, if only for a day and if only for the purposes of this week’s question of the week. With that in mind and those rules set, here then is the aforementioned question: If you, as Texas’ general manager, could trade for one player within the Big 12, who would it be? And who would you give up for that player?


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AUSTIN, Texas -- Justin Blackmon isn’t walking through that door. Dez Bryant isn’t walking through that door. But that doesn’t mean Oklahoma State’s receiving corps is lacking the kind of talent necessary to test Texas’ touted secondary.

After a week of evaluating what the Cowboys' passing attack has to offer in the face of losing Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden, Texas secondary coach Duane Akina sees plenty of challenges.

[+] EnlargeTracy Moore
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireSenior wideout Tracy Moore had four touchdowns in his first game this season for Oklahoma State.
“There’s not a Dez or a Blackmon, but the staff has done a great job, I think, of utilizing their weapons and their running backs,” Akina said. “It’s still a well-conceived system. Without Dez or Blackmon, it has not hurt their offensive numbers.”

The Cowboys’ top two wideouts this season are inside receivers. Blake Jackson, a junior college transfer, leads the team with 217 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, he provides some matchup challenges.

Then there’s the receiver who will likely be J.W. Walsh’s favorite target. Josh Stewart, Walsh’s go-to receiver during their high school days at Denton (Texas) Guyer, leads OSU in receptions with 19, good for 208 yards and two scores.

And don't forget the big guy on the outside who takes Blackmon’s place, Tracy Moore. The senior has 1,195 career receiving yards and 12 career touchdowns.

(Read full post)

Who will transform tomorrow?

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
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Who's going to transform into a whole new talent this week? These are the five guys I'm watching closely in Week 1 to show us something special and change what we know about them.

Keep an eye on these guys:

Blake Jackson, WR, Oklahoma State: Jackson was the flavor of the spring in Stillwater, but for some reason, the attention slowed down this fall. The juco transfer will change that pretty quick on Saturday against Savannah State. The Tigers don't have the athletes to contend with his size and speed. It could be a big coming out party for the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder.

Terence Garvin, LB, West Virginia: Garvin was banged up late last season and missed a couple games with head and knee injuries, including the bowl win against Clemson. He's back now, and trying out a new position. He played "spur safety" in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 scheme last season, but he moves up to play the "Star" linebacker spot in WVU's new 3-4 scheme. He'll start as a hybrid safety-linebacker and have plenty of chances to make plays as a senior with two years of starting experience. Big 12 fans don't know him now, but he can change that on Saturday.

Kale Pick, WR, Kansas: Pick's story is eerily similar to that of Kerry Meier. He started the first game of the Turner Gill Era, but lost out on his chance after that game. Since then, he's moved to receiver, and now, he looks like he might make a huge impact. He played well late last season, and coaches pegged him as the most impressive player of fall camp. He'll get a chance to showcase his skills against South Dakota State, and with the upgrade at quarterback now that Dayne Crist is in town, Pick could put up some serious numbers.

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas: Brown battled through injuries last season, too, but he and fellow sophomore Joe Bergeron have focused on getting their bodies in ideal shape, and Saturday will be our first chance to see both. Brown is the headliner of the group, and though plenty of Texas fans want to get their first look at national player of the year Johnathan Gray, Brown should be the player who remains the most consistent force in the backfield for the Horns.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma: Coming Out Party City, population Metoyer. Expect big things from the freshman. He's waited a long time to finally make his debut in the crimson and cream. It's not exactly a headline-making opener, but Metoyer might make a whole lot of noise out in the West Texas town of El Paso. Prediction: He will be regarded much differently on Monday morning than he is today.
The Big 12 preseason awards have been announced. West Virginia's Geno Smith won the preseason Offensive Player of the Year Award. Texas defensive end Alex Okafor won Defensive Player of the Year and Oklahoma wide receiver Trey Metoyer won for Newcomer of the Year.

Here's how I voted:

Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. In talking with people involved with the conference voting process this week at media days, I learned that the final vote between Smith and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was very, very close. I went with Geno. It's pretty close, but I didn't debate this one very much. Smith was inconsistent at times last year, sure, but when it mattered most, he was great. Jones faltered in big spots. Sure, Jones doesn't have the same quality of targets for all of last season after Ryan Broyles went down, but when it came to numbers, Smith dominated. Additionally, he takes care of the ball much more efficiently than Jones. That counts for a lot. Even though Smith has never played a down in the Big 12, I went with the Mountaineers' man for the preseason award.

Defensive Player of the Year: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State. There's no slam dunk here. You could probably make a case for no fewer than seven or eight guys. After a lot of debate, I voted for Brown. I mostly did so because of his importance to Kansas State's defense. His speed in the middle and locked-in tackling make him more valuable to his team than any other player in the league. The SnyderCats aren't loaded on depth and athletes, but Brown has the measurables to play for anybody in the league. He's irreplaceable for Kansas State and his speed and athleticism make him a specimen anybody would love to have. Anybody else remember him hurdling a blocker in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas? Not many guys can do that.

Newcomer of the Year: Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma. This was a tough vote, too. You hear a lot about these guys and have to go by players' words in these days of closed practices. For me, Newcomer of the Year comes down to opportunity and need, though. Metoyer has been hyped by coaches and teammates since he arrived on campus as a freak athlete, but he's got to do more than contribute. Oklahoma needs him to be a huge factor, and he'll have every opportunity to do so. He's got a Heisman candidate in Jones throwing him the ball, an established weapon in Kenny Stills to take some attention from defenses and a great offensive line. All the pieces are in place for him to be very, very productive. For me, that earned him my vote just ahead of guys like Wes Lunt and Blake Jackson at Oklahoma State, Dayne Crist at Kansas, Brandon Moore at Texas, Will Smith and SaDale Foster at Texas Tech and Lache Seastrunk at Baylor.
With the spring in the Big 12 over, it's time to hand out some awards.

Best newcomer: Brandon Moore, DT, Texas. Moore and offensive lineman Donald Hawkins were the first two juco transfers at Texas since 2002. This spring, Moore showed why, and Hawkins should start on the offensive line. Moore, a 330-pound force in the middle of the defense was reportedly "unstoppable" this spring. Conditioning may be an issue, but that could get better over the summer. If he's busting up offensive lines, Texas' defense is going to be terrifying. Honorable mention: Blake Jackson, WR/TE, Oklahoma State, Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas

Biggest shocker: Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State. OSU OC Todd Monken said himself he'd be "shocked" if Lunt came in and won the QB job. Well, consider him shocked. Junior Clint Chelf didn't distance himself from his competition, and Lunt learned enough to surpass dual-threat J.W. Walsh and win the job. Chelf and Walsh don't sound like they're itching to transfer, which is a welcome sign for OSU's coaches, but Lunt could begin a storied career in Stillwater this fall, even if there are growing pains in the immediate future.

Best quote: Todd Monken, OC, Oklahoma State. Monken got the Sooners fired up with his take on how quickly things can change for a quarterback when it comes to confidence. "It didn’t take long when ol’ (Oklahoma receiver Ryan) Broyles went down and (OU) started running the dozer to think, 'Do we have our guy?' That didn’t take long," Monken said. "Landry Jones went from like, 'I’m the man,' to all of a sudden, 'I haven’t thrown a touchdown pass, I'm fumbling it over my head at Oklahoma State. I gotta go back and see my quarterback guru." Monken later apologized, and even though he made an example of a rival player, it wasn't explicit criticism. Out of line? Maybe. Definitely not what Mike Gundy wanted to hear. Above all, though, it was fact. Even Oklahoma fans who watched the Sooners in 2011 would admit that. It's the truth. Nice move to apologize, and Oklahoma can call it disrespect if it wants. I'll call it what it is: the truth.

Second-best quote: Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Kansas State. On the light-hearted side of things, the youngest of the Gronkowski boys explained his family slogan, "Get Gronk'd" on his bracelet ("It basically just means beasting as much as possible. It's about beasting and going as hard as possible at all times and in everything you do.") and what it was like growing up with his older brothers, notably New England Patriots' TE Rob Gronkowski. "We'd just break stuff, man. We were into WWE when we were little. One time, we got an old table and pulled it out into the living room. We got Rob and choke-slammed him through it. That thing broke right in half." Mrs. Gronkowski, you are a saint.

Biggest black eye: TCU drug scandal. TCU had a squeaky-clean image before this spring, but there's no doubt the newcomers picked a bad time to have it end. Not the best first impression. Four players were arrested in a campus drug sting, including former All-American linebacker Tanner Brock, who would have been the team's top defender. There's some debate about how widespread the problem was, but the impact, scope and attention of the scandal were a bigger problem for the schools than players at Baylor and Iowa State being under investigation for sexual assault. Isn't that a problem in itself?

Best spring-game performance: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State. Klein was going up against second-teamers, sure. Other K-State quarterbacks have put up crazy numbers in this game, but Klein bested them all with an eye-popping stat line. He completed 47-of-56 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns, though he threw an interception on the final drive with the game tied at 42. Most impressive? He called all the plays, as K-State QBs traditionally do in the spring game. Honorable mention: Charlie Moore, WR, Oklahoma State

Best viral video: Charlie Weis, Kansas. Weis allowed media access to one open practice, and at the end, ripped into his team for not being enthusiastic enough while celebrating what was supposed to be a game-winning field goal to beat TCU and go 3-0, he told them. "I can tell you guys aren’t used to winning. ... Winning a football game is not supposed to be an uncommon occurrence. I know that’s a novel concept around here," Weis yelled. "When you win a football game, there’s supposed to be a celebration that looks like a celebration. And that was a pile of crap." Was it legitimate? Was it a media stunt? I don't care. It was compelling.
Everybody, the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow!

Sorry, I can't do it. I really can't stand horse racing. Alas, our boys on the Big Ten blog handicapped the league title race, and for those of you who do like horse racing, here's how I'd slot the Big 12 if all 10 teams were making the nervous walk to the track right now.

We'll take it from the top.

Oklahoma: 8-to-1 odds

As I've written before, this thing is wide open, and nobody's going to walk into the 2012 season feeling too confident about their chances. That said, Oklahoma has the closest thing to a truly complete team. The Sooners have an experienced quarterback with lots of weapons around him at the skill positions, along with a solid offensive line. OU's defense should be one of the league's best, and the Sooners have been in this position plenty of times. They are a narrow favorite in a loaded Big 12, but the Sooners have enough upside to sneak into the national title game, too.

Kansas State: 10-to-1

Deep down, I don't think I truly believe Kansas State is the Big 12's second-best team (WVU), but I do believe in Bill Snyder, and the Wildcats have very, very few variables. That's a far cry from the two new teams in the league, who both have huge questions on defense and bigger questions about their ability to handle a more difficult schedule. That considered, there's no doubt in my mind Kansas State has the second-best chance to take home the league title. Kansas State is the little engine that could -- that keeps on chugging, seemingly oblivious to the spread offenses all around it.

West Virginia: 12-to-1

Speaking of high-powered offenses, West Virginia might well have the best in the entire Big 12. It's loaded at receiver and running back, and Geno Smith might be the best quarterback in the league. He'll get a chance to prove it this fall. In the meantime, WVU's got to make sure its defense is ready to give its offense a chance to outscore folks across the Big 12.

TCU: 15-to-1

TCU has plenty of question marks on a depleted defense without projected starters, but its offense will be as good as any in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs still can't answer their biggest question -- How will they handle the jump from non-AQ to a major conference? -- until they actually do it. TCU's floor seems pretty high, but can it actually win the Big 12 in its first season?

Texas: 15-to-1

Texas has the most upside of any team in the Big 12, but 2012 seems more likely as a set up for a title run in 2013. It's hard to see Texas running the table or going 11-1, but if the top of the league gets muddled and 9-3 is good enough to win the league? These Longhorns will be physical mudders. Pray for losses raining down on everybody, UT fans. There's nobody in the Big 12 Texas can't beat, but does it have enough offense to beat them all?

Oklahoma State: 20-to-1

Oklahoma State's defense, an underrated unit in 2011, will be much better, and its running backs will be some of the best in the league. Emerging weapons like Josh Stewart, Blake Jackson and Charlie Moore will make names for themselves in 2012, but how far can OSU really get with a true freshman at quarterback? Look out for OSU and Texas in 2013, though.

Baylor: 45-to-1

Aaaaand here's your big drop-off from the legitimate Big 12 title contenders. Baylor's a good team. It might even be a borderline top 25 team. But the Big 12 is so, so stacked at the top. You don't win 10 games, lose a Heisman winner, the Big 12's leading rusher and receiver, and then go win the Big 12. I'd be pretty surprised if Baylor didn't make a bowl game, though.

Texas Tech: 55-to-1

Tech wants to prove it's back, but find me a spot where Tech is better than Baylor. The quarterbacks are close, and Seth Doege's been better when he's played, but Nick Florence is due for a big year at Baylor. Tech's focus for now needs to be staying healthy and getting back into bowl games, not fighting for a Big 12 title.

Iowa State: 75-to-1

Iowa State might sneak into a bowl game again, too. They're good enough. This is still a team that's come pretty close to maxing out its talent the past few seasons and won seven games twice. That's legitimately impressive, but not anything close to Big 12 title contention. This season's team should be solid, though. The battle between Baylor, Tech and Iowa State to grab the last bowl bid or two is going to be really heated.

Kansas: 125-to-1

Charlie Weis has made some nice moves to get KU moving in the right direction, but if the Jayhawks go from 2-10 to Big 12 champs, I'll get a three-foot tattoo of a Jayhawk on my chest. That's a promise.

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