Texas Longhorns: Joseph Randle

Big 12 Power Rankings: Postseason

January, 8, 2013
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The season has come and gone, and brought with it lots of change in the Big 12 Power Rankings. Still, with all the games officially over, here's how I ranked the Big 12 to close the season:

1. Kansas State (11-2, 8-1 Big 12, last week: 1) K-State's year met an unsatisfying end in the desert with another ugly bowl loss. Like last season, the loss was to a team not very far outside of the BCS title picture. Oregon knocked off K-State, but the loss didn't mar all the fantastic things K-State accomplished this year.

2. Oklahoma (10-3, 8-1, last week: 2) Oklahoma suffered a bad bowl loss too, but it mostly exposed defensive deficiencies that may get worse next year. Oklahoma shared a Big 12 title this season, but lacked a big, impressive win. It did have two home losses, but the gap between K-State and OU and the rest of the Big 12 is wide in the standings.

3. Baylor (8-5, 4-5, last week: 4) No team was hotter than the Bears, who closed the season with four consecutive victories, including a home win against then-BCS No. 1 Kansas State to kick off the finish. The streak that featured three wins against ranked teams and the blowout bowl victory over UCLA has Baylor thinking big in 2013.

4. Oklahoma State (8-5, 5-4, last week: 3) The Pokes were better than their record this year, with blowout wins over decent teams such as Texas Tech, West Virginia and TCU. OSU wishes it had those Arizona and Texas games to do over again, but winning eight games with the injuries at quarterback is no small feat. The Pokes will be loaded for 2013, especially if Joseph Randle returns.

5. Texas (9-4, 5-4, last week: 5) Texas rescued a bowl win against a top-15 team, but David Ash still must be better if the Longhorns are going to return to Big 12 prominence. The tenor of spring practice will be heavily influenced by how an ongoing sexual assault investigation plays out. Regardless, until it's over, it's a possible distraction that could substantially affect personnel.

6. TCU (7-6, 4-5, last week: 6) With a bowl win, TCU might have slid inside the league's top five, but coughing up a late lead put a really frustrating end to a gutsy season from the Frogs. Trevone Boykin and Matthew Tucker did their best filling in for injured players, but the Frogs didn't have enough offense without Casey Pachall and Waymon James to win big in 2012.

7. Texas Tech (8-5, 4-5, last week: 8) Tech's finish was ugly, and narrowly surviving against a barely mediocre Minnesota team didn't really impress many folks. The Red Raiders' losing four of five in Big 12 play didn't inspire much confidence, but the future will be really, really intriguing in Lubbock.

8. West Virginia (7-6, 4-5, last week: 7) West Virginia's ugly bowl loss to Syracuse removed any question about the conference's biggest disappointment in 2012. The defense is nowhere near good enough to be competitive in the Big 12, and the offense didn't have enough juice to outscore very many good teams.

9. Iowa State (6-7, 3-6, last week: 9) Beating teams twice is never easy, but Iowa State had an opportunity to move up in these rankings with a win over the Golden Hurricane. Instead, Tulsa dominated the final three quarters, and did so on the line of scrimmage. A second lopsided bowl loss in as many years is not the finish Paul Rhoads wanted.

10. Kansas (1-11, 0-9, last week: 10) No bowl, and not much to report, but the recruiting class is loaded up with about 70 percent junior college commits. We'll see how that looks in the fall, but this spring should be interesting, too.

Five storylines: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 11, 2012
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Storylines for the Longhorns as they face Oklahoma on Saturday:

1. Winner take all
OK, not exactly. But the loser almost certainly will be out of the Big 12 race while the winner will at the very least stay one game behind Kansas State and West Virginia.

Stats that matter: Texas vs. Oklahoma 

October, 10, 2012
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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 the Red River Rivalry as Texas is headed to Dallas to take on Oklahoma.

1. 190
[+] EnlargeDamien Williams
William Purnell/Icon SMIJuco transfer Damien Williams is the Sooners' top tailback.
With all the talk about how well or poorly Landry Jones is or isn’t playing at quarterback for Oklahoma, one stat lost in the shuffle is that the Sooners are in the top four in rushing in the Big 12. Led by Damien Williams’ 85.3 yards per game, OU has piled up 190 rushing yards per game. Now while that is not quite the 300 per game Oklahoma State has averaged it still should be a concern for Texas given what the Longhorns have given up on defense as of late. After holding its first opponent to 69 rushing yards, Texas has allowed 211 rushing yards per game. In the last two games, Texas has allowed 199 yards rushing to OSU’s Joseph Randle and then 207 to West Virginia’s Andrew Buie. Even against Ole Miss Texas’s defense allowed a single back to victimize it. Jeff Scott had 95 yards on eight carries or 11.7 yards per carry.

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A closer look at Texas' tackling woes 

October, 2, 2012
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After tackling woes troubled Texas in its game at Ole Miss, the Longhorns spent the past two weeks addressing the issue. The result? More of the same.

On Monday, Texas coach Mack Brown said his staff counted a total of 12 missed tackles against Oklahoma State on seven plays.

We rewatched the game on Sunday night and, with our best conservative judgment, reached a similar conclusion: 12 broken tackles on eight plays, plus five broken tackles on kickoff coverage.

[+] EnlargeJosh Turner
Mark D. Smith/US PresswireTexas defensive tackle Josh Turner will get a chance to compete for Adrian Phillips' starting safety spot this week.
There’s no ignoring the two most glaring mistakes. First, on Oklahoma State’s second play from scrimmage, OSU tailback Joseph Randle juked out Kenny Vaccaro and shook off an Adrian Phillips hit for a 69-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys struck again later in the quarter when Phillips tried to drill Josh Stewart in the back after a long catch. Stewart bounced right off him and hit paydirt on a 44-yard score.

Three missed tackles, 113 yards, two touchdowns. There’s no hiding that. Half of the Longhorns’ misses on the night came in the game’s opening quarter.

“We didn’t tackle good to start,” Brown said. “And we weren’t tired on the second play, I don’t think.”

No, fatigue wasn’t the issue. Perhaps, as appeared to be the case with Phillips’ miscues, the Longhorns were merely trying to make the big hit instead of the right one. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said that might be the case.

By our count, Phillips and fellow safety Josh Turner were each responsible for three missed tackles. Vaccaro recorded two -- both in the game’s opening drive -- as did Carrington Byndom, and Steve Edmond and Mykkele Thompson each accounted for one.

Judging missed tackles is far from a black-and-white process, and on many plays, taking the wrong angle or overrunning a play ends up being more costly. But this does give a window into why Texas’ defensive staff is considering some changes to its lineup.

Brown said on Monday he’ll let Phillips, Turner and Thompson battle this week for the starting strong safety job that Phillips has held down all season. He’s also looking for solutions at linebacker. An inexperienced unit missing leader Jordan Hicks failed to properly fill gaps or get off blocks time and time again against Oklahoma State.

“Because most of our missed tackles have been linebackers and secondary,” Brown said, “what we’ve got to do is, if we’ve got four weeks of a guy who’s missing tackles, we’ve got to start looking for another guy.”

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz agreed, calling changes to playing time and the starting lineup “the ultimate accountability.” But he doesn’t exactly consider his defense’s tackling problems an epidemic at this point.

“We’re not missing more tackles than we missed in the past,” Diaz said. “We missed 15 tackles last year at Iowa State, and they had no points going into the last [quarter] of the game. The tackles that we’re missing are in parts of the field that are causing them to become touchdowns. Those are the things that did not occur last year.”

The touchdowns are problematic. But so is the bonus yardage that Texas’ misses provided the Cowboys.

Of Oklahoma State’s 576 total yards of offense, 142 yards came after a Longhorn defender missed a tackle. That’s close to 25 percent.

On the two kickoff coverage busts, a missed tackle at the 13-yard line in the first quarter and a miss at the 34-yard line in the third led to a combined 53 extra yards. That's invaluable field position, and OSU scored on both subsequent drives.


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STILLWATER, Okla. -- Texas coach Mack Brown was curious to see how his team reacted against a solid Big 12 team. In the first half, the answers were mixed. Offensively Texas was solid. Defensively the struggles from Ole Miss continued.

Stat of the half: After scoring a combined 35 points in the first quarter, all these two teams could only manage three points in the second quarter. Oklahoma State clearly struggles in second quarters. The Cowboys failed to score against Arizona in that loss and only scored three against Texas. This was the first time that Texas has failed to score in the second quarter.

Player of the half: Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle has devastated Texas in the run game. The junior took his first handoff and went 69 yards for a touchdown. Randle had 103 yards in the first quarter and continued to carve up Texas in the second, finishing with 147 yards and a touchdown. Oklahoma State had 168 rushing yards in the first half.

What's working for Texas: David Ash has continued to play with poise. The sophomore has directed two scoring drives and been accurate on most of his downfield passes. Ash, who has two touchdown passes, should have had another, but a 40-yard toss was dropped by Mike Davis in the end zone.

What's not working for Texas: The Longhorns are once again failing to tackle. Both of Oklahoma State's first half touchdowns came as a result of missed tackles by safety Adrian Phillips. The first was the 69-yard run by Randle. Phillips had Randle wrapped up at the 48, released hum and watch him run the next 52 yards. On the next touchdown, Phillips hit receiver Josh Stewart at the 23 but bounced off, getting injured on the play. Stewart scooted into the end zone from there.

What Texas needs to do to stay ahead: Continue to get a rotation of fresh players in on defense. The Longhorns are down four potential starters on that side of the ball. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore (virus) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (hip) did not make the trip. Phillips was hurt in the game. Defensive tackle Desmond Jackson also was hurt. Texas has had to use true freshman Malcom Brown at defensive tackle and little-used junior Kyle Kreigel.

First glance: Breaking down OSU 

September, 24, 2012
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Campus location: Stillwater, Okla.
Nickname: Cowboys
Conference: Big 12
Record: 2-1
Record vs. Texas: 4-22

Last game: The Cowboys got the win over a lowly Louisiana-Lafayette team but suffered the loss of quarterback Wes Lunt. The freshman was named the starter in the spring and as such took the majority of the snaps in the preseason. Lunt had set a Big 12 freshman record of 436 passing yards against Arizona the previous week. His status for the Texas game remains unclear. Another freshman, J.W. Walsh, finished out the Lafayette game for the Cowboys.


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I saw colleague Heather Dinich's look at the longest 1,000-yard rusher droughts in the ACC earlier this week, and got curious: What about the Big 12 droughts?

No big surprise, Texas Tech leads the way by a long, long time.

Florida State has the nation's longest 1,000-yard rusher drought (Warrick Dunn, 1996), but Tech is only two years behind.

The Big 12 had just three 1,000-yard rushers last year among teams that return for 2012, but every other team in the Big 12 has had at least one 1,000-yard rusher since 2007.

The last team to have two 1,000-yard rushers? Oklahoma's record-setting offense in 2008, which scored more points than anyone in college football history. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown both topped quadruple digits.

The Big 12 is known for its passing acumen, and perhaps no one is synonymous with that than Texas Tech. Last year, Eric Stephens was well on his way to a 1,000-yard season before dislocating his knee, among other damage.

Here's how long each team's drought has been:

No drought
  • Baylor: Terrance Ganaway, 2011: 1,547 yards
  • Oklahoma State: Joseph Randle, 2011: 1,216 yards
  • Kansas State: Collin Klein, 2011: 1,141 yards

One year

  • Oklahoma: DeMarco Murray, 2010: 1,224 yards
  • TCU: Ed Wesley, 2010: 1,078 yards

Two years

  • West Virginia: Noel Devine, 2009: 1,465 yards
  • Iowa State: Alexander Robinson, 2009: 1,193 yards

Four years

  • Texas: Jamaal Charles, 2007: 1,619 yards
  • Kansas: Brandon McAnderson, 2007: 1,135 yards
13 years

  • Texas Tech: Ricky Williams, 1998: 1,582 yards

 

Big 12 Heisman Trophy dark horses

August, 17, 2012
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Colleague KC Joyner made his list of dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidates , including two from the Big 12.

Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle is the top candidate from the Big 12 outside the usual suspects (Geno Smith, Landry Jones, Collin Klein).

I couldn't agree more. Joyner liked Randle's penchant for maximizing his touches and turning them into points. He needed just 208 carries last year to rack up 24 rushing scores, and he's the league's only returning back with 1,000 yards or 20 scores, with apologies to Klein, a QB.

Joyner admits the Cowboys' offense won't be as dangerous, but it'll still be great, and Randle should be a big reason why.

The other Big 12 candidate? I'm not so sure about this one.

Joyner pegs Texas CB Carrington Byndom as the next-best dark horse.

Byndom might end this season as the league's best defender, but it's hard to see a cornerback who doesn't also contribute on special teams getting any real consideration for the Heisman. Yes, he might be the Longhorns' top overall talent (though, Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat might disagree), but I'd lean more toward up-and-comer Malcolm Brown.

The most likely scenario is carries are split so much between Brown, Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron that nobody emerges with any real Heisman hype, but Brown seems the most likely of the trio.
We're moving on with our rankings of the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12. Today, we tackle the running backs, a position with a lot of potential but not very much returning talent. My only rule for this list: No freshmen or newcomers. You don't know until you know.

Let's get started.

1. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State: Randle is the Big 12's only returning 1,000-yard running back, and even the league's best back has something to prove in 2012. Quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon took a ton of pressure off him and opened up a lot of space. Can he help carry the offense early this season with a true freshman at quarterback and unproven receivers in the passing game?

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Brown
Ray Carlin/Icon SMIMalcolm Brown has the talent to emerge as the top rusher in a crowded Texas backfield.
2. Malcolm Brown, Texas: Brown's nose for tiny creases in the line is unparalleled in this league, even though he doesn't have breakaway speed. He's tough to bring down and loves to fall forward. In short, he's a perfect fit for Texas' offense, and the likeliest member of Texas' talented backfield trio to top 1,000 yards in 2012.

3. John Hubert, Kansas State: Life is good for Hubert when defenses focus heavily on quarterback Collin Klein, but you can't argue with his production. He averaged nearly five yards a carry and racked up 970 rushing yards last season.

4. Waymon James, TCU: James averaged a silly 7.23 yards per carry last season, leading TCU's trio of backs in rushing, though all three had between 120 and 123 carries (seriously). Ed Wesley is gone, and James' yards per carry average will drop as he faces tougher defenses this season, but he's still a big talent.

5. Jeremy Smith, Oklahoma State: Smith is the forgotten man in Oklahoma State's backfield until he keeps his legs churning and converts third downs, and chips a blitzing nickel back in the backfield to give Wes Lunt a couple more seconds to get rid of the ball. He's faster than he gets credit for, and averaged better than seven yards a carry in the Big 12 last season, the league's second-highest average.

6. Eric Stephens, Texas Tech: Stephens' season was cut way short last year by an awful knee injury. There's no telling how he'll look when the season starts back up, but not many guys were better than him over the first half of last season.

7. Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma: Whaley's season was cut short, too. He suffered a broken ankle, but the former walk-on is back and will try and make a run at a 1,000-yard season for the Sooners' pass-heavy offense. If he plays like he did last season before the injury, expect it to happen, and expect him to hog the carries in a crowded backfield.

8. Matthew Tucker, TCU: Tucker joins James in TCU's backfield. He scored 12 touchdowns last season, which ranks second among returning Big 12 running backs. Without Wesley, Tucker is due for more touches. The trio combined for more than 2,300 yards on the ground last season. Watching Tucker and James race for 1,000-yard seasons will be fun.

9. Roy Finch, Oklahoma: Finch loves to put defenders in the spin cycle, but could hardly get on the field last season until Whaley was injured. Once he did, though, he made a big impact. He topped 83 yards four times in five weeks late last season, but he has to be more consistent. He also had four yards on six carries against Iowa. We'll see if he showcases his explosiveness as a junior in 2012.

10. James White, Iowa State: Iowa State badly needed White to step up when Shontrelle Johnson went down with a neck injury, and White did. He topped 135 yards twice after Johnson's injury and scored eight times, including two in a triple-overtime win against Iowa early in the season.

Honorable mention: Dustin Garrison, West Virginia; Joe Bergeron, Texas; James Sims, Kansas; Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa State; Tony Pierson, Kansas

Podcast: Maisel with big names from Big 12

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
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Ivan Maisel talks to some players from the Big 12 including Bob Stoops, Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat, Joseph Randle and Arthur Brown.
We offered a few thoughts on the All-Big 12 team earlier this morning, but here's how it shook out by team.

T-1. Oklahoma -- (5)

T-1. Oklahoma State -- (5)

3. Texas -- (4)

T-4. West Virginia -- (3)

T-4. Kansas State -- (3)

T-6. Baylor -- (2)

T-6. Iowa State -- (2)

T-8. TCU -- (1)

T-8. Texas Tech -- (1)

10. Kansas -- (0)

(Read full post)

We've already discussed the conference's 3,000-yard passers in 2012, followed by the 1,000-yard receivers.

But what about the guys toting the ball?

Last season, 47 running backs topped 1,000 yards, including five from the Big 12.

Here's who will hit quadruple-digit rushing yards in 2012 across the Big 12.

1. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle is one of two returning 1,000-yard rushers in the Big 12, and the league's leading returner. He'll do it again as a junior in 2012. He's the best and most experienced weapon in OSU's offensive arsenal, and he'll get plenty of touches with true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt learning the ropes in 2012.

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Nobody could stop him in 2011, so why would anyone be able to do it in 2012? Manhattan, Kansas' resident Panzer tank could have stood up and alerted the entire defense to the play for some of his snaps in 2011, and it still wouldn't have mattered. He led the Big 12 in carries last season and he may do it again this year. He'll top 1,000 yards easily. He may throw it better and a little more, but coach Bill Snyder won't get away from the bread and butter of his offense.

3. Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas: Brown will break through a crowded backfield this season and surge ahead of Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray to earn his first 1,000-yard season as a sophomore. He'll barely do it, but he'll do it. The carries will be spread out between that trio, but Brown should be the most consistent of the group. The only variable is his health. Brown and Bergeron both had trouble staying healthy in 2011.

4. Waymon James, RB, TCU: Ed Wesley's offseason exit frees up 120 or so carries in the offense, and James will be the man to take a few more and top 1,000 yards. James had 875 yards last year, and TCU will have to throw it more than it did in 2011, but James will hit quadruple digits late in the season.

Just missed: Dustin Garrison, RB, West Virginia; Matthew Tucker, TCU; Tony Pierson, Kansas; Joe Bergeron, Texas; John Hubert, Kansas State; Jeremy Smith; Oklahoma State; James White, Iowa State
College football guru Phil Steele is previewing his must-read offseason magazine, and with it, he's releasing his all-conference and All-America teams.

Here's who he slated as his first-team All-Big 12 squad:

OFFENSE

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB: Malcolm Brown, Texas
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
WR: Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
WR: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
TE: Jordan Najvar, Baylor
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
  • I'd probably go with Geno Smith ahead of Jones, but it's close. You could definitely make a compelling case for both.
  • I'd also lean more toward Terrance Williams at Baylor for that third receiver spot ahead of Stills. Stills' upside is still really high, but again, it's close between those two.
  • Good grief, the tight end spot in the Big 12 is a rough. Navjar is a good selection. Travis Tannahill at Kansas State could grab that spot, too. You're almost better off picking a sixth offensive lineman or a fullback like Trey Millard at Oklahoma, who's more valuable than any of the league's tight ends.
DEFENSE

DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Jamarkus McFarland, Oklahoma
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Tom Wort, Oklahoma
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
CB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma

SPECIALISTS

P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
K: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
KR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
  • No complaints among the specialists, but I'd definitely have kept a more traditional three linebackers. You could afford to leave Tom Wort off that list. Not so with the other three.
  • After a sad group of cornerbacks in 2011, the position looks pretty loaded this year. There's no fewer than five guys in my book who deserve strong consideration and probably a spot on the first team. It's too bad there are only two spots. Clearly, Malone and Brown are deserving, but so are Justin Gilbert, Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs.
  • Safeties are both loaded. Maybe two of the best defenders in the league.

Here's who Steele tabbed as All-Americans, too.

FIRST TEAM
  • Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
SECOND TEAM
  • Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
  • Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
  • Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
  • Quinn Sharp, K, Oklahoma State
THIRD TEAM
  • Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
  • Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
  • Lane Taylor, OL, Oklahoma State
  • Quinn Sharp, P, Oklahoma State
  • Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State
FOURTH TEAM
  • Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
  • Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
  • Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
  • Gabe Ikard, OL, Oklahoma
  • Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
  • A.J. Klein, LB, Iowa State
  • Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma
  • Tavon Austin, KR, West Virginia

100 Days Countdown: Big 12

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
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As part of “College Football Live’s” 100 Days Till Kickoff countdown, here’s a look at the top 10 players in the Big 12.

Note: This is a separate list from our preseason top 25 players. We'll tackle that later. It might be a lot different. It might be much of the same.

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Geno's a newcomer to the Big 12, but putting up big numbers is nothing new for the senior, who threw for 4,385 yards last season. Only one quarterback threw for more, but Smith had two more touchdown passes and eight fewer interceptions than the No. 2 quarterback on this list. Smith also completed nearly 3 percent more of his passes.

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Kim Klement/US PresswireGeno Smith led the Big East last season in pass efficiency and average passing yards per game.
2. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Jones checks in at No. 2 as the Big 12's leading returning passer, and will try to climb back in 2012 to give the Sooners another Big 12 title. Jones is the Big 12's most experienced quarterback, which should pay off the fall.

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein was the league's No. 4 rusher and threw for 1,900 yards? You can't argue with that production, and Klein accounted for 69.8 percent of the Wildcats' offense. That's insane. His importance to K-State can't be understated.

4. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Austin's the most dangerous playmaker in the Big 12, a true triple threat as a receiver, runner and kick/punt returner. He's the Big 12's No. 2 returning receiver, but he also returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2011, joining two other Big 12 returners who duplicated that feat last season.

5. Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott was outplayed by teammate A.J. Klein last season, but not by much. Knott was also playing through injuries. He's a superior talent, and like Klein, there's no arguing with his production. He's made 244 tackles in the past two seasons.

6. Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle is the Big 12's leading returning rusher and should see an increased workload from his 208 carries last season. He turned those into 24 touchdowns to come three short of the Big 12 record.

7. Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State: Brown's one of the league's most impressive freak athletes, a cruise missile of a linebacker who doesn't miss tackles in the open field and gets there faster than any true linebacker in the league. (You nickelbacks don't count.)

8. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: Vaccaro's the most versatile talent on a loaded Texas defense, and as a roaming nickelback, offenses must account for where he is on every snap. He's also got a case as the hardest hitter in the Big 12.

9. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Who has two last names and is the Big 12's returning sack leader? This guy. His 8.5 sacks were 1.5 more than any other returner in the Big 12, and he made four more tackles for loss (17) than any other returner, too.

10. Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia: Bailey's a more traditional receiver in WVU's offense and he's taken advantage. He's the league's leading returning receiver and offers the Mountaineers a steady, dangerous target with sure hands who will help make WVU arguably the league's most dangerous offense.
Heisman Pundit is exactly that. Chris Huston knows his stuff about the Heisman, and famously penned The 10 Heismandments, which outline what has to happen for players to earn the greatest individual honor in sports.

He looked at his top 10 candidates from the Big 12, ranking them from top to bottom.

Topping the list?

West Virginia's Geno Smith. Huston pegged Oklahoma's Landry Jones as the No. 3 candidate, but had a moderate surprise at No. 2 with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein on his list of "Contenders"

"Klein was probably the toughest player in college football last year, pound for pound," wrote Huston. "I can’t remember the last time I saw a player improve as much as Klein did between his sophomore and junior seasons."

No arguments here. The guy carried the ball 317 times, 67 more times than anybody else in the Big 12 and third-most in the nation. He took a beating every week and kept improving, kept running and kept growing as a passer.

I might have Jones ahead of both Klein and Smith, but it's definitely close. Klein needs wins and production to gain some more name recognition, but he's everything to Kansas State's offense.

I liked Huston's picks as the three dark horses, too.

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall topped that list, ahead of running back Joseph Randle at Oklahoma State and receiver Tavon Austin from West Virginia.

I think it'll be tough for Austin to legitimately win as a receiver, but if OSU and TCU start racking up wins by the bushelful, Randle will make an appearance on the short list, as will Pachall, who has three outstanding targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter.

Check out Huston's blog for his list of longshots, which includes four boys in burnt orange from Texas.

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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Monday, 12/22
Saturday, 12/20
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12