2015 Pre-Preseason Big 12 Rankings: No. 6-10

2015 Pre-Preseason Big 12 Rankings: No. 6-10. The way-too-early look at the Big 12 Rankings

The Ten Pre-Preseason Big 12 Questions
Pre-Preseason Rankings: Big 12 Top 5

6. Texas
Is there enough talent in place for Charlie Strong’s second year to be better? Step One is figuring out the quarterback situation, with Tyrone Swoopes looking to keep Jerrod Heard and others on the sidelines – the position has to be better. Johnathan Gray leads a fine group of running backs, but the O line has to be far better. Fortunately, all five starters are back, but now they have to generate more of a push. Getting more out of the receiving weapons is a must, and it’ll have to happen without Jaxon Shipley and John Harris.

The defensive front was great at times, but it’s losing some key parts. End Cedric Reed is done, and DT Malcom Brown is off early to the NFL. The key parts of the linebacking corps have to be replaced with Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks gone, but super-recruit Malik Jefferson is on the way. The secondary loses Quandre Diggs and Mykkele Thompson, but there are some decent options returning – the D will be fine in time. P Michael Davidson is gone, but PK Nick Rose is back.

7. West Virginia
Skyler Howard got his work in this bowl season, and now he should be the main man going into spring football with a great array of backs to work with. All the top runners return including Rushel Shell, Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison – the Mountaineers are loaded. Star guard Quinton Spain is gone, but three starters return including both starting tackles. The problem will be in the receiving corps that loses Kevin White and Mario Alford, needing Jordan Thompson and Daikiel Shorts to start to do more.

Five of the top seven tacklers return, but star safety Karl Joseph left early. The problem will be in the pass rush losing Shaq Riddick and the top three sackers. Fortunately, most of the defensive front three is back along with most of the depth, even with the loss of Riddick. The linebacking corps gets back main tackler Nick Kwiatkoski along with KJ Dillon and Edward Muldrow on the outside, and the secondary will be one of the team’s biggest strengths – A&M game aside – with all four starters back. Groza finalist Josh Lambert is back along with P Nick O’Toole, who averaged close to 43 yards per punt.

8. Texas Tech
It all starts with a defense that has to be far, far tighter after a disastrous season. Two starters return to a line that has to get into the backfield more, but the secondary should be a big stronger with the four top starters returning. Leading tackler Pete Robertson is back in the linebacking corps, and Mitch Awe should do even more replacing Sam Eguavoen in the middle, but they have to make more impact plays.

Leading rusher DeAndre Washington is back after running for 1,103 yards and two scores, and Justin Stockton is a good backup – but Texas Tech isn’t a running team. Davis Webb will be the main man under center, but Patrick Mahomes will be given a shot to show what he can do. Leading receiver Jakeem Grant returns along with six of the top seven targets – the passing game should be more effective. RT Reshod Fortenberry is gone, but the other four starters are back up front. PK Ryan Bustin is done after hitting 10-of-14 field goals, but P Taylor Symmank is back after averaging close to 43 yards per kick.

9. Iowa State
The defense that couldn’t stop anyone gets back three starters up front, losing Cory Morrissey at right end, and the linebacking corps should be stronger with Luke Knott back leading the way. Jevohn Miller and Jared Brackens are done, but there are plenty of young options ready to step in. Leading tackler Kamari Cotton-Moya returns to a secondary that gets everyone back and only loses one backup. Can the experience translate into production? It had better.

The receiving corps that struggled so much through injures and inexperience gets back D’Vario Montgomery and Allen Lazard, but TE E.J. Bibbs will be missed. Aaron Wimberly did a little of everything as a runner and a receiver, and now it’ll be up to DeVondrick Nealy and Tyler Brown to try picking up the slack. Sam Richardson is back at quarterback with Grant Rohach waiting in the wings. P Cole Downing returns after a decent freshman season averaging 39.4 yards per try, while PK Cole Netten is back after hitting 11-of-14 field goals.

10. Kansas
New head man David Beaty will try to make Kansas into the next Texas A&M offensively, but does he have the pieces? Michael Cummings is a decent passer, but the offense only came up with 2,435 passing yards last year and it needs playmaking receivers. Leading target, TE Jimmay Mundine is gone, as is top receiver Nick Harwell. Call the receiving corps a work in progress, as is a line that loses two starters and needs to do more to pave the way for Corey Avery, De’Andre Mann and the decent young backs.

Leading tackler and heart-and-soul linebacker Ben Heeney is finished, but Jake Love is a good one to work around and Courtney Arnick has upside on the outside. Isaiah Johnson is the leader of a secondary that needs lots and lots of work losing three starters. The biggest loss might be P Trevor Pardula, who averaged 44.25 yards per punt. PK Matthew Wyman is back after hitting 9-of-15 field goals.

The Ten Pre-Preseason Big 12 Questions
Pre-Preseason Rankings: Big 12 Top 5

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