What are CU’s chances in the Big 12?
SAN ANTONIO The 2007 Big 12 season sure was amazing, wasnt it.With a new commissioner watching, those kids we didnt expect to come through sure surprised us almost as much as the clubs that were supposed to be great and didnt. Wow, hard to believe.There were some great games every weekend, from the old rivalries to some new ones that might be brewing after what we just saw.Whats that? We havent seen anything yet?Oh yeah.This is the time of year when fact and fiction are strictly TBD.After all, who figured Colt McCoy would throw more touchdown passes as a freshman last season than Vince Young did when he led the Longhorns to the national title? Who figured Kansas and Oklahoma State would be in bowl games last year?Who expected Colorado and Iowa State to struggle so badly? Who figured Kevin Weiberg would quit running the league?So instead of prophesying, consider these 12 big questions about what might transpire between Thursday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, when a champion is crowned in San Antonio:
Brown says the Longhorns have a chance to be good. Hes not willing to stake a bolder claim because he hasnt seen enough from several guys who are going to have to play key roles, such as three new starters on the offensive line and three more in the secondary. Also, Duane Akina will be calling plays on the defense after apprenticing for three years.Weve got some talented guys coming back with experience (and) weve got some talented guys that havent played a lot, Brown said. Weve got to do a great job of trying to mix those two together and get them to be able to connect and get the right chemistry.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops seems to think his club will be better off without Peterson. At least, thats how he is spinning it.We average rushing the ball actually more yards per game without him than we did with him, Stoops said. I believe in the last two years weve had eight games without Adrian Peterson and weve won all eight games in the last two years.Well, someone will have to carry the ball. Look for it to be Allen Patrick, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray.Theres also a battle to replace Paul Thompson at quarterback. Candidates are junior Joey Halzle, redshirt freshman Sam Bradford and freshman Keith Nichol.
Record-setting quarterback Chase Daniel is the reason Mizzou fans think they have a chance at their first conference title since 1969. A leaky defense is the reason some fans are bracing for a 38th straight year without a conference title.Whats going to be critical for our defense is (if) our defense gets better every week, coach Gary Pinkel said. I think thats going to be real important for us to achieve our goals.As for Daniel, Pinkel raves: Ive been fortunate to be around a lot of guys, several of which have played in the NFL, and Ive never been around a guy like this guy.
The Aggies finally had a breakthrough year under coach Dennis Franchione that couldve been even better. For their next trick, theyll try matching last years 5-0 road record by going to Miami, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.Put another way, A&M will face four of its five toughest conference foes at their place, and be the opposition for the Hurricanes first prime-time game under their new coach.Coach Dennis Franchione is trying to soothe his players by noting tough schedules for other teams, like Nebraska, and dropping lines like thats the life in a BCS conference. He even said it helped them focus all summer looking forward to these challenges.
Coach Bill Callahan sure hopes so. With quality quarterbacks, a renewed commitment to the running game and a defense that should be solid, the Cornhuskers hope to return to being a Top 10 program. Doing so would mean traversing a schedule that includes September games against Wake Forest and Southern Cal.Its going to be fun and its going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out, Callahan said.
The Red Raiders never have been worse than 4-4 in conference play all 11 years in the league. Theyre the only team never to have a losing record.Its strange to think Tech would go in reverse the first time theyve had an incumbent quarterback since Kliff Kingsbury in 2001-02. But with a batch of receivers to replace, plus nearly all of the front seven on defense, Mike Leach is going to have to pull off some of his most creative coaching yet to keep the Red Raiders afloat.
The Cowboys were ahead of schedule last year, getting to a bowl for the fourth time in five years, and were close in nearly all their losses. That had to make uber-donor Pickens smile more often than frown.More nail-biters might be in the forecast, with a stout offense and a defense thats trying to replace two stars.Obviously were not as athletic defensively as we are on offense, coach Mike Gundy said. But that doesnt mean our players wont hit and run to the football. And theyve accepted that challenge.
Freeman was the first freshman quarterback to start for K-State since 1976 and proved he deserved it. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a victory over Texas. However, the kid had only three other TD passes all season. And he threw 15 interceptions.Expect that ratio to change as the 6-foot-6 Freeman grows even more comfortable.I really felt that everything that he gave us a year ago was a bonus, coach Ron Prince said. But if you look at some of the games we had last year, it was fantastic, the plays that he made with his ability.
The Jayhawks get to avoid playing Texas and Oklahoma, and get Nebraska at home. Coach Mark Mangino may never get another chance this good to claim the division … or at least finish in the top three, something the Jayhawks have yet to do.The enthusiasm that (players) have has rubbed off on everybody: on campus, on coaches, on the community, Mangino said. They really are a group of kids that want to succeed. And they will succeed.
Hopefully Buffaloes fans didnt trash those Hawk Love signs they had last year for their new coach. They may get to break them out again for Cody Hawkins, who is vying to be the starting quarterback. His competition is juco transfer Nick Nelson.Worth noting: QBs coach Mark Helfrich will pick between them, not dear ol dad.Either way it goes, I think were going to be fine, coach Hawkins said.
Chizik has the dubious task of replacing the winningest coach in school history. But that guy needed 12 years to win 56 games. Thats less than five a year.Chizik isnt far removed from winning 29 straight games.I certainly didnt come anywhere to lose, Chizik said. Im not used to it. I dont like it. I took this job because they had a vision on what its going to take to be a champion.
Coach Guy Morriss is no longer talking about getting to a bowl game. Now hes throwing out the hopes of being able to stomp non-conference foes like Texas State, Buffalo and Rice, while holding out hope of beating TCU.We need to come out of non-conference at the very worst 3-1, but we definitely feel like we can be 4-0, Morriss said. Well see what happens from there.