Tag:Brandon Weeden
Posted on: September 9, 2011 2:08 pm
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PODCAST: McMurphy talks OK St., Week 2

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're a devoted CBSSports.com college football reader (and why wouldn't you be?) , you've already devoured senior writer Brett McMurphy's post-game report on last night's Brandon Weeden turkey-carving of Arizona, his news on Oklahoma State's plans for the Big 12, and the Week 2 picks he's hoping add more BrettBucks to his bankroll.

But if you're like us, and even that's not enough Brett McMurphy, you'll also want to listen to this edition of the College Football Podcast, in which our Adam Aizer sits down with McMurphy to discuss the Cowboys' national title chances, the electric Justin Blackmon, and the Week 2 action to come. Listen below, download the mp3, open our popout player for continued browsing, and subscribe to the CFB Podcast on iTunes if you want more of the same.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 11:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma State 37 Arizona 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WON. The Cowboys jumped out to an early lead in this game thanks to a virtuoso performance from Brandon Weeden, and never really broke much of a sweat as the Cowboys performed an encore of January's Alamo Bowl. Weeden finished the game with an Oklahoma State school record 42 completions. Those completions resulted in 397 yards passing and two touchdowns. It should also be noted that even though the Oklahoma State defense gave up yardage, it kept the Wildcats off the board for the most part, allowing 14 second half points that never really put the outcome in jeopardy.

WHY OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Domination and balance on offense. Yes, the Cowboys offense threw for neary 400 yards, but it also rushed for 197 with running back Joseph Randle having a huge game. Randle finished the day with 15 carries for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing, and he also had 9 receptions for 99 yards. Oh, and then there's that Justin Blackmon guy. Just another ho-hum 12 catch, 128 yard and 2 touchdown performance for the best wide receiver in college football.

WHEN OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Watching the game, you never really got the feeling that Arizona was going to pull out the victory as the Cowboys jumped out to a 21-0 lead. Still, after an Arizona touchdown cut it to 21-7 in the third quarter, the Oklahoma State offense stalled for a bit and let the Wildcats hang around. That is until Weeden and Blackmon connected for their second score of the night to make it 27-7.

WHAT OKLAHOMA STATE WON. It's first Pac-16 conference victory? No, seriously, OSU won the sleepless nights of defensive coordinators around the Big 12. Through two games the Cowboys offense has amassed 1,260 yards of offense and 98 points. In fact, the only thing that has slowed the offense down has been the offense itself. Whether it was the 3 turnovers last week or the 10 penalties on Thursday night. If this is what the Oklahoma State offense is capable of when it's shooting itself in the foot from time to time, what is this unit going to do when it plays a mistake-free game?

WHAT ARIZONA LOST. A chance at revenge against the Cowboys. The Wildcats were still a bit sore from the 36-10 loss agianst OSU in the Alamo Bowl last season, particularly a bit of showboating by Justin Blackmon on a long touchdown. Well, Arizona didn't play with much of a chip on its shoulder on Thursday night, and now it has to face Stanford, Oregon and USC in its next three games. This is not a formula for a successful season.

THAT WAS CRAZY. During the second quarter Weeden launched a deep ball to Blackmon who had three defenders on him over the middle. Blackmon also had the three defenders beat, but when the ball fell into his hands, Blackmon dropped it. Which is something I don't think I've ever seen before.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 2


Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

It is clear that this is a fight that will not be won easily, as both Woman and Machine dealt me a crushing blow in the first week of the season. Fear not, my fellow containers of the Y chromosome, for a war is not lost in the first battle, and we have many more to fight. So let's get to the senseless slaughter, shall we?

Oklahoma State (-14 1/2) vs. Arizona - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - This one could wind up being quite the barnburner much along the lines of the Baylor/TCU game we saw on Friday night. It's two good offenses facing off against each other, and it may come down to which defense can make a stop when it has to. Even though I'd give the edge on defense to Arizona, the fact that this game is being played in Stillwater makes me lean toward the Cowboys, but at the same time Oklahoma State's defense makes me think this one could be a lot closer than the spread indicates. Of course, it's hard to forget Oklahoma State beating Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. Screw it, I'm riding with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "Remember the Alamo Bowl." Pick: Oklahoma State

Machine - The Machine sees a lot more defense in this one than I'd expect, and Brandon Weeden struggles against Mike Stoops' defense, throwing for only 245 yards and 1 touchdown. OSU wins 27-14, but the Cats cover. Pick: Arizona

Arizona State (-7 1/2) vs. Missouri - Friday, 10:30pm

Man - I really don't have a lot of faith in the Missouri offense after last week's performance, but it's hard to get a decent read on Arizona State based on one game against UC-Davis. While I still believe in the Missouri defense, I think being on the road will catch up to them in the second half and the Sun Devils pull this one off. Pick: Arizona State

Woman - "This is Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather.  This is your football team on Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. Any questions?" Pick: Arizona State

Machine - The Machine is fearful of James Franklin's inability to throw passes over 7 yards as well, but it does not think that will keep the Tigers from putting up points and the defense from smothering ASU. Missouri 24-10. Pick: Missouri

Wisconsin (-21 1/2) vs. Oregon State - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Bret Bielema let me down last week. After Wisconsin buried UNLV early on Thursday night he decided to call off the dogs and not pursue 100 points. That being said, Oregon State lost at home to Sacramento State. I don't care how kind and cuddly this new version of Bret Bielema has become, nor how large the spread, I am not picking a team that loses at home to Sacramento State. Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "On one hand, Russell Wilson magic and a monster Badger homefield advantage.  On the other hand, a hammy-challenged Beaver rusher and a secondary that might as well be wearing Louboutin athletic shoes.  Wait, that's the same hand.  Wisconsin wins easily but throttles back, so doesn't quite cover." Pick: Oregon State

Machine - ALERT! ALERT! THE MACHINE HAS BEEN COMPROMISED! IT IS ON DRUGS! IT HAS OREGON STATE WINNING THIS GAME 16-0! Pick: Oregon State

Auburn vs. Mississippi State (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pm

Man: We saw how tough life could be for Auburn this season without Cam Newton when the Tigers barely had the power to squeak by Utah State at home last weekend, and Mississippi State is a much tougher foe than the Aggies were. That being said, a spread this large for a team on the road in the SEC seems rather ominous, so while I wouldn't be shocked if Auburn loses, it's going to be another close game. Pick: Auburn

Woman - "Pay no attention to the neutered Tiger behind the curtain. Mississippi State wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Auburn

Machine - According to The Machine, Auburn will once again find itself in a whole during the fourth quarter this week, but unlike last Saturday, this hole will be too deep to climb out of. Mississippi State wins 35-21. Pick: Mississippi State

Penn State vs. Alabama (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - An SEC team makes a rare appearance in a Big Ten stadium this week, and I have a feeling that the Tide won't be the most polite visitors the conference has seen. I know that there are still some questions on offense for Alabama, but I just don't see Penn State's offense being able to do much against that Alabama defense. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "Do you ever wonder if Joe Paterno is actually comatose lying in a hospital bed at some nursing home called Happy Valley and we're all just figments of his imagination? No? Uh, me either... Regardless, good D versus great D means JoePa's gonna have bad dreams." Pick: Alabama

Machine - The Machine sees Robert Bolden enjoying his date against Alabama a lot more this season, but unfortunately a late 40-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson makes it a Not-So-Happy Valley. Alabama just gets by 24-23. Pick: Penn State

Duke vs. Stanford (-21 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Let me make this clear: There is nothing I enjoy less than picking against a home team that is a 21 1/2-point underdog. That being said, one of these teams has Andrew Luck and the other one lost to Richmond last week. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Crimson last year, now Cardinal? Red looks terrible on Duke. Coincidentally, reverse the spread and it would equal the mean IQ point differential in respective student bodies." Pick: Stanford

Machine - The Machine does not experience human emotions, but it is torn on this game. Does The Machine go with the kids who designed it, or the kids who begged mommy and daddy to buy it for them? Stanford wins 34-31. Pick: Duke

Georgia vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 4:30pm

Man - This is an incredibly important game for so early in the season as it could play a large role in who wins the SEC East. It also features yet another home underdog, but to be honest, I'm not all that concerned this time around. What I am concerned about is the fact I have so much faith in a team that features Stephen Garcia as its quarterback. Pick: South Carolina

Woman - "I'm assuming Mark Richt's players want him to get out of Sanford Stadium alive." Pick: Georgia

Machine - Stephen Garcia not only starts for the Gamecocks, but he plays so unbelievably well that Steve Spurrier doesn't even think about pulling him. Garcia throws for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns as Mark Richt's seat grows even hotter. South Carolina wins 28-21. Pick: South Carolina

Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Fresno State - Saturday, 7pm

Man - While I have no doubts about the fact that the Nebraska defense is going to make life hell on the Fresno State offense, I'm just not ready to give the Cornhusker offense enough credit in this one. Until Taylor Martinez can show me he can have consistently good games, a spread like this is just too large to bet against. Pick: Fresno State

Woman - "Quick question: Can Bo Pelini find out where I live? He can?" Pick: Nebraska

Machine - Much like The Woman, The Machine fears Bo Pelini smashing it into a million pieces. Nebraska wins easily, 48-17. Pick: Nebraska

USC (-9 1/2) vs. Utah - Saturday, 7:30pm

Man - We all saw how much trouble that USC had with Minnesota last week, and I have a hard time believing that Utah is any weaker than the Golden Gophers. Plus at some point Lane Kiffin is going to blow USC's chances of covering by going for two and failing, and I don't want to have to rely on one of Kiffin's dumb decisions paying off to get me a win. Pick: Utah

Woman - "I'll take the points over boneheaded Lane Kiffin, even if the Song Girls try to lure the Utes into the rocks." Pick: Utah

Machine - The Machine's pick does not disappoint me this week, though I was saddened to see that USC kicked two field goals rather than failing on a two-point conversion. Utah wins 21-6. Pick: Utah

Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - You know, Notre Dame's offense actually had a great game against South Florida last week if you could somehow erase the five turnovers, and the idea of that same offense facing a Michigan defense that can't be totally over 2010 causes me to lean towards picking the Irish here. That being said, the first ever night game at the Big House is bound to give the Wolverines a pretty nice boost, and I think this game is going to be pretty darn close. I'm not sure who wins, but I have to take the home team and the points here. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "After last week, Notre Dame has officially become the Chicago Cubs of college football." Pick:Michigan

Machine - The Machine nailed Notre Dame's loss last week, but it seems its faith in the school has been restored a bit. Or at least it believes in the healing powers of Tommy Rees as the new Irish starter throws for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Irish cruise to a 46-29 win. Pick: Notre Dame

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Machine 11-4 (11-4)
1. Woman 11-4 (11-4)
3. Man 8-7 (8-7)
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:27 am
 

Arizona WR Juron Criner (illness) out for OSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Thursday's primetime rematch of the 2010 Alamo Bowl will be missing one of the marquee attractions with Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner missing the game due to a medical condition.

Criner, arguably the most important target for quarterback Nick Foles, had hoped to play against the Cowboys but his undisclosed condition kept him from traveling with the team to Stillwater, according to The Arizona Republic.

Foles connected with Criner 6 times in the Wildcats' opener against Northern Arizona for 151 yards and a touchdown. There are plenty of talented receivers on the Arizona roster, but few provide the home-run threat that Criner does on the field.

"Our offense, as you can see from a week ago, is not just one player," head coach Mike Stoops said earlier this week. "Juron has a big play knack, but we have other players that can make plays."

Someone will need to step up and make plays if the Wildcats expect to hang with the high-powered Cowboys in Stillwater. Oklahoma State showed little has changed in their production since the departure of Dana Holgorsen, putting up 61 points and 666 yards of total offense against Louisiana-Lafayette in their season opener. Quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 24 of 29 passes for 388 yards for three touchdowns for the Pokes, but he also tossed three interceptions - two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Foles still has plenty of weapons to hang with Weeden if Thursday turns into a shootout, and the 6-foot-5 senior showcased them against Northern Arizona. Six different receivers had at least four receptions, and Foles' five touchdown passes were spread to five different teammates. He'll need every single one of those receivers to step up on Thursday if the Wildcats want to exact revenge on the Cowboys for the 36-10 loss suffered nearly nine months ago in the bowl game.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 7:35 pm
 

Big 12 Poll Reactions, Week 1

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that actual games have been played, the polls actually carry some kind of weight. Sure, the majority of schools in the country played lightweights this week, but at least we got to see them on a field actually playing football. It's a lot easier to judge the strength of a team that way -- and much more accurate -- than staring at a depth chart.

So let's take a look at where the teams of the Big 12 landed on the latest AP poll.

1. Oklahoma - Shocking update here. The team that started the year on the top of the poll went out, won a game rather easily, and stayed on top of the poll. Not that the Sooners don't deserve to be here, mind you. They went out and did exactly what you expect a team of this caliber to do against an inferior opponent on Saturday night. The offense did churn out 663 yards and 47 points after all, so it's rather hard to say that Oklahoma doesn't deserve this ranking. That being said, in a perfect world where preconceived notions didn't exist, you could argue that LSU deserves to be on top considering it demolished a fellow top five opponent on Saturday.

7. Texas A&M - It seems the voters were just as impressed as I was with the Aggies on Sunday night in their 46-14 win over SMU, as Texas A&M jumps up a spot from No. 8 to No. 7. I'll admit I had some doubts about Texas A&M being ranked so high coming into the season, but if Ryan Tannehill continues to play like he did against SMU all season, and that Aggies defense keeps on terrorizing quarterbacks, they'll be up here for a while.

9. Oklahoma State - The voters still think you're good, Oklahoma State. Even if you wore what might be the worst uniform combination of the hundred or so different ones you now have. It's just the voters weren't impressed enough with your win over Louisiana-Lafayette to justify moving you further up in the polls, and that's the right call in my opinion. Yes, the offense exploded for 61 points, but it does have to be somewhat concerning that you allowed 24 points to a Sun Belt school, doesn't it? How about the fact that Brandon Weeden managed to throw three interceptions against a Sun Belt defense as well? That won't fly against bigger opponents, and the Cowboys get a bigger test this week against Arizona.

20. Baylor - Hello, Baylor! While I've loved you for a few years now thanks to the turbo boosters located on Robert Griffin's shoulder and feet, it seems the rest of the world was introduced to your special brand of roller coaster football on Friday night. Will you be able to keep edging out 50-48 victories through the entire year? Probably not, but a victory over TCU is still something to be proud of, and this spot in the polls is well-deserved. Even if it does turn out to be short-lived.

21. Missouri - I thoroughly enjoyed having college football back last week, and the five straight days of games at my disposal, but there were a few hours on Saturday morning I didn't enjoy quite as much as the rest. Yes, Missouri won, but it was not a pretty victory. Nor did it come cheap as the Tigers not only lost two defensive starters, but a running back as well. The pollsters may have enough faith in you to allow you to stay at 21 this week, Mizzou, but personally I don't think you deserve this spot just yet. I had high hopes coming into the season, so it's up to you to restore my faith, James Franklin.

24. Texas - I'm sorry, Longhorns, but I didn't get to see your game on Saturday night because I'm part of the 98% of the country that doesn't get the Longhorn Network. So because of that fact, it'd be incredibly unfair of me to judge whether or not you belong in this spot just yet. That being said, you are Texas, and you won a game easily against Rice, so this is where you find yourself. Congratulations, you're behind Baylor.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:12 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Ok State 61 Louisiana-Lafayette 34

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WON. And it won rather easily. Things got off to a slow start but the Cowboys offense picked things up in the second quarter and went into the half with a 34-10 lead and never really looked bad. The Oklahoma State offense finished with 666 total yards in the game, with Brandon Weeden throwing for 388 yards and 3 touchdowns. Weeden threw 3 interceptions as well -- two of them were pick sixes -- which kept the Cajuns from getting completely destroyed. Justin Blackmon had one of his typical 8 receptions for 144 yards performances, though he never saw the end zone. Tracy Moore had 7 catches for 112 yards and a score, while Joseph Randle stepped into Kendall Hunter's old role, finishing with 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

WHY OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Just too much firepower on offense for Louisiana-Lafayette to handle. When a team has so many weapons on offense it's near impossible to stop them, and the Cajuns just couldn't. The defense played a lot better than the score suggests as well, as 14 of Louisiana's points came on interception returns. 

WHEN OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Louisiana-Lafayette hung tough for a quarter, but once Josh Cooper caught a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-3 halfway through the second quarter, you knew this one was done.

WHAT OKLAHOMA STATE WON. A game it was supposed to, and nothing much more really. Though I suppose you can argue that the offensive performance by the Cowboys justifies the team being ranked in the top ten to start the season.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Last season Brandon Weeden threw 1 interception for every 39 pass attempts. On Saturday night he threw 3 in 39 pass attempts. 
Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:10 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Landry Jones, Junior, Oklahoma

This is the rather obvious choice, as while there are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12, there's only one who plays for the team many see as a favorite to win the national title, and one whose name comes up in the Heisman Trophy discussion. That would be Landry Jones, and he deserves the hype. In his first two seasons with the Sooners, Jones has thrown for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. 

Also watch for: Though he didn't claim the starting job until half the season had passed, Ryan Tannehill was a big part of Texas A&M's strong finish in 2010. There's also the supremely talented Robert Griffin III at Baylor, and you can't forget about Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State.

RUNNING BACK

Cyrus Gray, Senior, Texas A&M

While the Aggies deployed a two-headed monster at running back last season, Cyrus Gray was the most productive of the bunch. Gray rushed for 1,133 yards in 2010 and had 12 touchdowns. I wouldn't count on seeing Gray's production drop off at all as he enters his final season in College Station.

Roy Finch, Sophomore, Oklahoma

Finch didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but now that DeMarco Murray has moved on, the speedy back is going to see a lot of action this season, and in an offense as potent as Oklahoma's, that means we're likely to see some big numbers from the little man.

Also watch for: Christine Michael was part of Texas A&M's dynamic duo with Cyrus Gray last season, and he's going to have a big role in 2011 as well. There's also Eric Stephens at Texas Tech who could open some eyes with Tommy Tuberville implementing a more balanced attack and five returning starters on the offensive line. There's also Bryce Brown at Kansas State, and if Brown can live up to all the hype he had coming out of high school, then he may end up being the best back in the entire conference. Texas will be hoping that Malcolm Brown can be the feature back it's been looking for as well.

WIDE RECEIVER

Justin Blackmon, Junior, Oklahoma State

It's going to be hard for Justin Blackmon to match his 2010 numbers in 2011, but the fact is that his production was so insane last year, that he won't have to. Take away 500 yards and 5 touchdowns from his total last year and Blackmon still finishes with 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, however, is if he surpasses last year's numbers, nobody will be all that surprised either.

Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Broyles could have left for the NFL last year, but he decided to return for another season in Norman and Landry Jones couldn't be happier about it. Broyles is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least 14 touchdowns, and a third straight year with those numbers is likely on its way.

Also watch for: The Big 12 is not hurting for strong wide receivers. While Broyles and Blackmon will get the most attention, Kenny Stills and Josh Cooper are excellent second options for their respective squads. Then there's Kendall Wright at Baylor, Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller at Texas A&M, T.J. Moe at Missouri, and don't forget about Mike Davis at Texas.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Senior, Missouri

Egnew is listed as a tight end, but realistically, he plays more like a wide receiver. Egnew caught 90 passes for 762 yards last year with five touchdowns, and he should see plenty of balls coming his way again this year as James Franklin looks to fill Blaine Gabbert's shoes.

Also watch for: While wide receiver catch most of the balls in the Big 12, there are some solid tight ends. Keep an eye on Oklahoma's James Hanna, Nehemiah Nicks with Texas A&M and Tim Biere at Kansas.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Ben Habern, Junior, Oklahoma

After redshirting in 2008, Habern has started 24 games at center for the Sooners over the last two seasons. He led Oklahoma with 123 knockdowns in 2010, including 16 against Colorado and was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team last season.

Guard, Lonnie Edwards, Senior, Texas Tech

Edwards is a key part of the Texas Tech offensive line that returns every starter this season. He'll play an even larger role this season as Texas Tech will likely run more than we've seen in the past. The 6-foot-4 320 pounder has started 23 games in Lubbock and was an All-Big 12 second team selection in 2010.

Guard, Lane Taylor, Junior, Oklahoma State

Taylor is the most experience member of the Oklahoma State offensive line, as he was the only returning starter in 2010. He's made 24 consecutive starts for the Cowboys, and aside from keeping Brandon Weeden off his back, Taylor was an first team academic Big 12 selection as well.

Tackle, Levy Adcock, Senior, Oklahoma State

They don't come much bigger than Adcock, and the 6-foot-6 322-pound tackle used his size awfully well in 2010. Adcock was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and the AP last season (a unanimous selection by the AP) after winning the starting job in August last year and never letting it go.

Tackle, Kelechi Osemele, Senior, Iowa State

Oh wait, they do come bigger than Adcock. Osemele checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds. Osemele got his start playing both guard and tackle in 2008 but moved to left tackle full time in 2009 and hasn't moved since, starting 30 straight games. This will be a name you hear called early in the NFL draft next spring.

Also watch for: Offensive lineman may spend most of their time living in anonymity and working as a unit, but Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma State's Grant Garner are a couple other names you should get familiar with. Missouri's Elvis Fisher definitely would have made the list if not for his season-ending knee injury.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Frank Alexander, Senior, Oklahoma

Alexander only started in nine games for the Sooners last season, but still managed to finish second on the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (7). In other words, he spends a lot of his time in backfields disrupting plays before they even get a chance to start.

DE Brad Madison, Junior, Missouri

Madison had a break out season in 2010 and proved to be one of the top playmakers on Missouri's defensive line. Madison ended the season leading the Tigers defense in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11).  He was named to the All-Big 12 second team for his efforts, and now that he'll be replacing Aldon Smith his name is one that many opposing quarterbacks will have drilled into their brains as they prepare to face Missouri.

DT Kheeston Randall, Senior, Texas

An anchor on the defensive line for the Longhorns, Randall was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 last season. This year I believe he'll be moving up the ladder and having an even bigger impact.  Randall finished second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in 2010, and also had a big impact on special teams, blocking two kicks.

DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, Senior, Texas A&M

In Texas A&M's 3-4 defense, Jerod-Eddie sees a lot of time at defensive end, but he's a defensive tackle in purpose. Think of Marcell Dareus at Alabama last season.  While Jerod-Eddie doesn't spend a lot of time in the backfield blowing up plays, he uses his size and strength to stuff the run at the point of attack and allow Aggie linebackers to flow freely to the ball.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis only started the final four games for the Sooners last season, but he was incredibly productive in those four games. Starting all season could see him put up some ridiculous numbers. Jacqueis Smith of Missouri combines with Madison to give the Tigers a big push on the edges.

LINEBACKERS

Jake Knott, Junior, Iowa State

There weren't many plays run against the Iowa State defense last season in which Jake Knott wasn't in on the tackle. He led the conference with 130 tackles last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection because of it. He'll be bringing that same nose for the football back to the Iowa State defense this season, and though he broke his arm in spring camp, he should be good to go when the season starts.

Garrick Williams, Senior, Texas A&M

Williams tallied 112 tackles in 2010, and now that Michael Hodges and Von Miller are no longer in College Station, he'll be playing an even larger role in 2011. I'm not sure Williams will be able to completely fill Von Miller's shoes in the Aggie defense, but he may end up being just as important to the defense as Miller was.

Keenan Robinson, Senior, Texas

Robinson was all over the place for the Longhorns in 2010. He finished the season with 113 tackles, 2 for a loss, and also had 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Oh, and he's also a standout on special teams. He is literally all over the field on defense, and he's poised for another big season in 2011.

Also watch for: It was hard to pick just three linebackers in this conference, as there are plenty of other good options. Names like A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Sean Porter (Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) and Huldon Tharp (Kansas) are some of those options. Also, if it weren't for an injury that is going to keep him out for eight weeks, Oklahoma's Travis Lewis would have been an easy selection to the team. However, due to that injury, Lewis' replacement Corey Nelson is another name to watch out for.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Jamell Fleming, Senior, Oklahoma

Big 12 quarterbacks will test Jamell Fleming at their own risk in 2011. In his first full season as a starter last year Fleming had 5 interceptions, and proved himself quite the playmaker in the Oklahoma secondary. He's also not afraid to create some contact, tallying 71 tackles with 8.5 for a loss.  He's a very good player in what may be the best secondary the Big 12 has.

CB Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

Judie finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season behind Fleming with 4.  He also broke up 4 passes and made 57 tackles for the Aggies. His impact is also felt on special teams, as he proved to be one of the most explosive kick returners in the conference last season, averaging over 30 yards a return with 2 touchdowns.

S Markelle Martin, Senior, Oklahoma State

This is not a man that wide receivers want to have a rendevous with over the middle of the football field, as Martin can bring the wood with the best of them.  What makes Martin more dangerous, though, is that he improved his coverage skills in 2010 and picked off three passes. He's the type of safety that can separate you from the ball physically, or just take it away from you in the air.

S Tony Jefferson, Sophomore, Oklahoma

2010 may have been Jefferson's first season of college ball, but you couldn't tell by watching him play. The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year started 9 games for the Sooners in 2010 and finished the season with 65 tackles (7 for a loss) with 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. I expect those numbers to improve in 2011 as this kid is only beginning to tap into his potential.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst could have been on my first team and given the Sooners secondary three of the four spots, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he's somebody quarterbacks should test too often. Keep your eyes on Blake Gideon (Texas), Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) and Prince Kent (Baylor) too.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Grant Ressel, Senior, Missouri

P Quinn Sharp, Junior, Oklahoma State

KR Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

PR Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The preseason coaches poll was released on Thursday morning, and while I'm not a big fan of polls in the preseason, at the moment I'm thrilled to see them. It's just a reminder of how close we are to the beginning of the season and now fans across the country finally have a reason to put a chip on their shoulder -- "My school gets no respect!" -- or feel an unearned sense of entitlement.

After persusing the poll, it's obvious that the Big 12 should puff its chest out a little bit. The last year has been filled with news of the conference losing teams, and even the last few weeks have stoked the fires of schools feeling like they're getting the short end of the stick in the Big 12 when compared to Texas, but the Big 12 has something that no other conference in the land can claim right now.

Three teams ranked in the top ten.

Let's take a look at who is ranked, who isn't, and whether or not they're in the right place.

#1 Oklahoma - I don't think it's shocking at all to find Oklahoma opening the season on top of the poll, as many predicted this is what would happen, and there's a good reason for it. Oklahoma finished 2010 ranked sixth, and unlike the five teams that were ranked ahead of them at the time, all the major players are back in Norman. Landry Jones will be getting a lot of Heisman hype as the offense should continue to put up a lot of points, and the Sooners defense should be one of the best units in the land. The real question here is whether or not Oklahoma can stay atop the polls. The preseason #1 doesn't have the greatest track record, and the Sooners have a tough schedule that includes road games against #5 Florida State and #8 Oklahoma State. Home dates against #9 Texas A&M, #21 Missouri and the annual battle with #24 Texas won't be a cakewalk either.

#8 Oklahoma State -  A top ten spot is well-deserved for the Cowboys based on what they did in 2010. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon lit the air on fire last season as Oklahoma State finished second in the nation in passing yards per game and third in points per game. Both of those gentlemen are back, so the offense will be fine. What will really determine whether or not the Cowboys are deserving of this ranking and will finish the year in the top 10 is the defense. Offense alone can get you into the top ten, but you need a strong defense to stay there. We'll find out soon enough when Oklahoma State plays an early game against Arizona, and considering that the Cowboys play #9 Texas A&M, #24 Texas and Missouri all on the road this season, holding on to this spot or moving up is not going to be easy.

#9 Texas A&M - Based on how things finished for the Aggies last season, I get the hype. I truly do. Still, that doesn't mean I'm fully convinced the Aggies are a top ten team in 2011. Ryan Tannehill was a revelation for the Aggies after taking over for Jerrod Johnson, but will he be able to match his performance again now that teams will be ready for him? Can the defense replace Von Miller without a drop off? Those are pretty big questions to answer, and when you throw in a game against #14 Arkansas to go with the conference slate, and it's not insane to think this is a team that finishes the year closer to the 15-20 range than the top ten.

#21 Missouri - Missouri loses a bit from its 2010 squad on both sides of the ball, but this placing feels right. It won't be easy to replace Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, but nobody thought it would be easy to replace Chase Daniel either, and Gary Pinkel has proven that he knows how to find quarterbacks. Can James Franklin be that guy? We'll find out early when he Tigers go on the road to face Arizona State on the second Saturday of the season, but if the defense that allowed only 16.1 points per game last season can put up an encore performance, that would be a big help. I would be worried about road games against #1 Oklahoma and #9 Texas A&M though.

#24 Texas - You're going to hear a lot of folks saying that this is a reputation spot for Texas and nothing else. Those saying it will be correct, too, because there's no way you can say that Texas earned this spot with its play last season. That being said, I think it's entirely possible that when the dust settles on 2011, Texas will be ranked higher than this. Hell, the Longhorns may be the second-highest ranked team in the conference. I'm of the opinion that 2010 was an aberration and I don't think the offense can be as detrimental in 2011 as it was in 2010. Plus this is still a fantastic defense, and one that will keep Texas in every game, so if the Longhorns can win 8 or 9 games that reputation that got them to #24 in the preseason poll will only help push them up further as the year goes on.
 
 
 
 
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