Well, since there isn’t a whole lot to talk about dealing with Iowa State, I’ll summarize what is going on with the other Big 12 football teams as they being or wrap up Spring Football. Today, I’ll break down the two schools from Oklahoma and new member, TCU.
Oklahoma enters the Spring as the favorites to win the Big 12. Quarterback Landry Jones returns for his fifth year in Norman. The job is secured for Jones, but there is a battle for the backup between Blake “The Belldozer” Bell and junior Drew Allen. The Sooners currently have a lot of depth at running back. The Sooners will have to replace Ryan Broyles, the all time leader in catches in the FBS. Look for Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds (who has been cleared to participate) to step it up this Spring and next season.
Head coach Bob Stoops brought in his brother, Mike Stoops, to run the defense. Mike Stoops was fired from Arizona last year. Oklahoma’s defense will be talented, but they still have some work to do. Mike Stoops will have to replace two great defensive ends in Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis. Also, he’ll have to address a lot of question marks in the secondary and help move talented Tony Jefferson from hybrid linebacker to safety.
The defending Big 12 Champion will have to fill the void left by some great players. It is still unkown who is going to replace QB Brandon Weeden yet. The candidates battling over the job right now are junior Clint Chelf, sophomore J.W. Walsh, and freshman Wes Lunt. Right now, Clint Chelf has the advantage due to his experience in Gundy’s system. Justin Blackmon left a big void that needs to be somewhat filled by OSU and it doesn’t help that WR Michael Harrison was dismissed from the team in February. A bright spot for the Pokes will be the running backs this Spring. OSU will return the deadly duo of Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith.
Defensive Coordinator Bill Young will bring back eight of his eleven starters from last year. The problem is that two of those players (Markelle Martin and Jamie Blatnick) were two first team all-Big 12 performers. Lavocheya Cooper is Martin’s likely replacement at safety and there are around four players trying to replace Blatnick and Richetti Jones on the d-line for the Pokes.
Like West Virginia, TCU enters the Big 12 with a realistic chance of winning the Big 12 (although, probably not as good as WVU’s chances). Gary Patterson’s program was hit hard when four of their players were kicked off the team after a drug bust on campus. Linebacker Tanner Brock, an All-American according to some sources, and D.J. Yendrey, an honorable mention all-Mountain West for the past two years, were two of the four players kicked off the team. I’ll give credit to Gary Patterson, since that day, he has handled the situation pretty well.
Casey Pachall is a QB that Big 12 fans should be aware of. He has a great chance of throwing for over 3000 yards next year. TCU also has some great players in the receiving core this Spring (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson, and Brandon Carter). For the most part, the offensive line is set, but there are several battles going on this Spring for the second string.
In the back end of the defense, there are also a couple battles going on. Patterson has a couple young linebackers that will be fighting for a spot.