DALLAS – Oklahoma wasn’t the only team on display during the Big 12 Media Days.
Every coach in the Big 12 took a turn at the podium – five on Monday and five on Tuesday. This time of year, everyone is always optimistic for the season to come. Each coach had a different message, though.
Here’s a quick recap from each:
No rest for the Horned Frogs
From 4-8 to 12-1 and the league favorite heading into the 2015 season, TCU has made quite a jump in less than a year – and so has starting quarterback Trevone Boykin, who went from a candidate for a position change to the potential favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
“The bottom line is I've been in this business too long to get caught up in it. . . . Everything that we've been able to accomplish at TCU in the last 18 years, it's all great and fine, but it's kind of like winning any awards. You can put them all in the closet because it doesn't mean anything to anybody anymore when we play Minnesota. Right now we've been moving forward.”
Learning the ropes in Waco
The Baylor Bears have gone through quarterbacks and seemingly never missed a beat – RGIII, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty. Now, it’s time for Seth Russell to make his mark in the Bears’ high-powered offense. Baylor coach Art Briles is still getting to know his new signal caller.
“Quite honestly, I felt like I knew Bryce just a little bit better, what his abilities were, how his mind worked, and I thought how he would perform. With Seth, it's still kind of a process to where we're trying to fill out exactly how to coach him, what motivated him, what his strengths are, and make sure that we give him opportunities to be successful. . . . The thing that we've got to do is make sure that he doesn't feel like he's got too much pressure on himself to perform at an extremely high level because, with nine back on defense and some pretty good people around him offensively, just got to be good. You don't have to be great. You've just got to be predictable.”
Oklahoma State is Rudolph’s to guide
Cowboys’ coach Mike Gundy saw enough at the end of last season, which concluded with a Bedlam victory and big bowl game win, that he felt comfortable handing the reigns over to sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph full-time – even with redshirt senior J.W. Walsh on the roster.
“We felt like it was best for our football team to name him the starter. His ability to lead, the toughness. Obviously, we had success at the latter part of the season with him. . . . We just felt like it was best for Mason to understand that he needs to be the leader on our offense, and the players need to start rallying around him as their quarterback.
The Texas QB Quandry
Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was far from perfect last season, and as a result, he left the job wide open. Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard watched from the sideline last season, and now, he has a chance to take the job away from Swoopes – a junior.
“Well, they both are going to get that shot. It's not so much as what (Heard has) got to do. It's still a learning process for him, and Jerrod is coming along good, and both of them are there this summer. Haven't had a chance to watch them really look out because we can't. When we get into fall camp, we'll see just where he is and how much more he needs to learn.”
Keeping the Cyclones on the ground
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads knows the importance of a strong run game and said Tuesday that his team’s run defense has been “porous.” He pointed to the addition of junior college transfers to help the defensive line. Getting back to a successful run offense will make a difference, too.
“It goes hand in hand with what you're doing up front and your ability to block people and your ability to open up holes. But then the backfield takes a large chunk of that responsibility. Not only do they got to run through holes, they've got to make folks miss at times. And it's one of the things that we haven't done a good enough job of accomplishing since Alexander Robinson was rushing for 1,000 yards back in 2009.”
A new Jayhawk at the helm
New Kansas coach David Beaty stood at the podium and expressed the desire for high expectations and standards for the Jayhawks. He used a couple of Big 12 coaches as an example.
“Art Briles, former Texas high school football coach, one of my coaching heroes coming up, I watched that guy win a bunch of state championships right over there at the old Texas Stadium. Phenomenal. Been successful wherever he's been. Gary Patterson, one of the finest defensive minds in the country, one of the best head coaches in the country, cares truly about kids. . . .
I'm excited about the opportunity moving forward, and obviously we want to be able to re-create that type of success at our place.
Mountaineers look to replace pass catchers
While West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen wasn’t against the run game being a bigger part of the WVU offense, he expressed a desire to still throw the ball “a good bit.” He’ll have to replace Mario Alford and Kevin White, a pair that caught 21 of 26 touchdown passes last year and combined for more than 200 catches and almost 2,500 yards.
“No one knew who those guys were a year ago. We weren't really talking about those guys a year ago. We're going to coach up the guys we've got. We're in a much better place than we were two years ago when we lost 99 percent of our receiving production.”
Limiting mistakes in Lubbock
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said he has a luxury this year that his hasn’t had before with the Red Raiders. He has two quarterbacks capable of starting. He still doesn’t know whether Patrick Mahomes or Davis Webb will start, and he’s hoping to make that decision early – relying on each player’s ability to not mess up.
“I think more than anything it's eliminating negative plays. We've been historically bad the last two years at that position with turnovers. I think the last two years we've had 20-plus just in our position at quarterback. So whichever guy can protect the football the best and continue to take shots, take chances but protect the ball is going to be our guy.”
Kansas State has plenty of quarterbacks
There are seven quarterbacks listed on the Wildcats’ roster, and long-time coach Bill Snyder said that as many as four could be in competition for the starting job. There’s also the chance that more than one plays significant time – at the same time.
“You know, it’s possible. We've done it. When you have two, it's not my favorite thing to do. . . . But if you’ve followed our program, you've seen us play two quarterbacks on the field at the same time. So we have a lot of things that we can do in that respect. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is I concur with what most people would say, you're better served to have one than two. You can define that a lot of different ways. I'm pleased that we have four, but we do have to have a number one out of those four.”