Spring Football: Each Big 12 Team's No. 1 Priority

A look at the biggest question each Big 12 football team needs to answer this spring.

Baylor

With the Bears losing 8 of 9 starters on both the offensive and defensive lines, which backups will emerge to take on larger roles? Baylor will have an influx of juco talent on both sides, with 2015 and 2016 signees. - Tim Watkins, Bears Illustrated

Iowa State

Iowa State returns much of its talent from 2015 with quarterback Joel Lanning, receiver Allen Lazard and running back Mike Warren on offense and cornerback Brian Peavy, linebacker Jordan Harris and defensive tackle Demond Tucker to name a few. But the program’s big addition, new head coach Matt Campbell and Co., will make this the most interesting spring ball in some time in Ames. The are storylines aplenty, but it’ll be interesting to watch how this team reacts to new leadership that brings a new coaching style. Most of all, what schemes will Iowa State run on defense (so long, 3-4)? And what will the offense look like under the direction of a staff that says it’ll be run-heavy in a pass-heavy conference? - Alex Halsted, All Cyclones

Kansas

"Nowhere to Go But Up" should be the optimistic song of spring for the Jayhawks, who failed to win a game in 2015 and saw five assistant coaches depart the program this offseason, including three in February alone.

Kansas State

USA Today

Quarterback auditions will resume this spring under the watchful eye of Bill Snyder, whose 2015 season wasn't up to his lofty standards. Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener return to battle for the No. 1 starting spot, but most K-State fans will be eager to see how Skylar Thompson, a three-star early enrollee, performs in drills.

Oklahoma

Will OU take the next step? Following a huge turnaround season that included winning the Big 12 and making the college football playoff, will the Sooners be able to make the leap? There is a lot of talent coming back, but some of it is very unproven. Combine that with a brutal non-conference schedule, and 2016 will be no picnic for the Sooners. Answering questions at wide receiver and linebacker in the spring will be crucial for success in the fall. - Bob Pryzbylo, Sooners Illustrated

Oklahoma State

There are 18 starters returning for Oklahoma State off of a 10-3 Sugar Bowl team in 2015, but the run game was putrid last season. With quarterback Mason Rudolph returning, it is important that the offensive line gels, the running backs improve and the run offense helps balance Rudolph's passing. Chris Carson is back at running back, as is Rennie Childs, but if neither show improvement, then the June arrival of senior transfer Barry J. Sanders from Stanford will be that much more anticipated. The offensive line should get a boost from J.C. All-American tackle Larry Williams, who is on campus for the spring, and some younger offensive linemen that should be ready to provide much-needed competition within that position group. - Robert Allen, Go Pokes

Texas

Surprise! Not really. Yet again the biggest storyline going into the spring for the Longhorns is the QB position. Jerrod Heard, who started most of last season, will have to hold off Tyrone Swoopes, redshirt freshmen Kai Locksley and Matthew Merrick, as well as four-star early enrollee Shane Buechele. Buckle up. - Horns Digest

TCU

Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill finally gets his opportunity to show what he learned after a year as a scout-team quarterback watching now-departed starter Trevone Boykin light up the Big 12. "Kenny's done an unbelievable job," coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Feb. 23. - Horned Frogs Insider

Texas Tech

Texas Tech cleaned house after the 2015 season, so there will be a lot of new faces for spring ball. Key figures return for the Red Raiders, as fourth-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, standout quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive coordinator David Gibbs will all be back, but almost every other aspect of the program will be different. The Red Raiders gutted its defensive coaching staff and lost three offensive assistants to promotions at other schools. Even the strength-and-conditioning coach and SID are new. Tech also graduated an All-Big 12 running back, its all-time leading receiver and three time All-Big 12 left tackle among others, so finding replacements for these stalwarts won't be easy. - Jarret Johnson, Raider Power

West Virginia

West Virginia must rebuild a defensive unit that was hit hard by graduation and an unexpected early departure for the NFL Draft. The Mountaineers lost all three starting linebackers, both of their strong safeties, both cornerbacks and a stalwart defensive lineman. There is some young and developing talent available, but the search will be on not only for new starters, but also for leaders as well as backups that can perform in the heat of the offensive cauldron that is the Big 12 Conference. - Kevin Kinder, Blue Gold News

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