Following two mini-scrimmages in the last week, it’s clear where the major question is going to be for Oklahoma – offensive line.
The talent is certainly there for the Sooners and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, but the chemistry and production might take a while.
OU is replacing Ty Darlington at center with Jonathan Alvarez, but what might end up being the most intriguing subplot to the quintet is what’s happening with sophomore offensive lineman Dru Samia.
After starting the last half of the season at right tackle as a true freshman, all signs point toward Samia moving inside to right guard to open the door for redshirt freshman Bobby Evans to take over at right tackle.
Evans was a Scout 100 prospect for the 2015 class but tore his ACL midway through his senior season at Allen (Texas) High. Now healthy, he’s starting to make that impact OU fans have been hoping for.
If things go the way Bedenbaugh hopes, you could be looking at Evans and Samia on the right side with Alvarez at center, redshirt freshman Cody Ford at left guard and the half man/half monster Orlando Brown at left tackle.
On paper? The group should gel quickly and dominate. But you simply never know.
The week was a huge one for OU on the recruiting trail with the Sooners landing three commits in a four-day period.
It started with 2018 Newbury Park (Calif.) quarterback Cameron Rising, ranked No. 48 in the Scout 100. Continued by flipping Shawnee (Okla.) High Scout 300 center Creed Humphrey from Texas A&M to OU on Monday and concluded with landing Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Elkins high three-star outside linebacker Kenneth Murray.
OU currently has 13 of its 18 members in SoonerSquad17 ranked in the Scout 300 and all three for the 2018 class are ranked in the top 200, according to Scout.
Read more at Bears Illustrated www.scout.com/college/baylor
Saturday morning, the Bears had their first official scrimmage of the fall camp. With what Jim Grobe described as a "sluggish" offensive performance, the Bears offense did very little outside of the first drive and the last play of the 89-play scrimmage. The first team Baylor offense opened up the 10th practice for the Bears with a 35-yard touchdown run by JaMycal Hasty, but the defense tightened up to hold the offense to just 3.3 yards per rush the rest of the way.
"Besides a few explosive plays, as a defense I felt like we looked really good. We were able to force a few turnovers, which is very big, getting the ball back in our offense's hands. Today was a good day for the defense, "junior nickel back Travon Blanchard said.
The second team offense fared a bit better, led by true freshman quarterback Zach Smith who was 12-of-21 for 117 yards and one touchdown with one interception, a tremendous play by fellow true freshman Grayland Arnold.
Other top performers were Chris Platt (2 catches for 86 yards and 1 touchdown), Jared Atkinson (5 catches for 81 yards and 1 touchdown), Davion Hall (6 tackles and 1 interception), Greg Roberts (2 sacks and 1 tackle) and Jordan Williams (4 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 forced fumble).
Baylor will resume practice Monday as they resume preparations for the September 2nd season opener against Northwestern State.
Iowa State had an injury setback when freshman quarterback Zeb Noland, who had enrolled in January 2016 and was listed second on the depth chart, tore an ACL and was lost for the season. That elevated transfer Jacob Park to the backup position behind starter Joel Lanning, and continued a trend of issues at the critical position for the Cyclones. Consistent quarterback play has been a struggle for Iowa State, and the competition that Noland was providing held some hope for improvement from everyone under center. Whether Park, a former South Carolina Mr. Football, will be able to continue to provide that push that remains to be seen.
Despite the reduced depth, ISU won't back away from putting the ball in Lanning's hands on running plays. In an attempt to keep all of the defense's focus off running back Mike Warren, Lanning will take his shots in the running game. If he takes advantage of the attention that will accrue to Warren, who is coming off a 1,300-yard season that vaulted him to Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors, the Cyclones could have a surprisingly dangerous running attack.
All of that is predicated, however, on the rebuilding of an offensive line that has just one settled position and player – tackle Jake Campos – set for the start of the season. Head coach Matt Campbell's closed practices prevent much in the way of first hand looks at the competition, but he does admit that the piecing together of a dependable starting five, to say nothing of depth, is a major concern.
On the opposite side, a very interesting battle is shaping up along the defensive front, where ISU has a number of players with experience. The Cyclones will use more four-man fronts this fall, and will build around Demond Tucker on the inside, and have players such as J.D. Waggoner, Mitchell Meyers, Gabe Luna, Vernell Trent and Jhaustin Thomas competing to make their marks.
Read more at Phog www.scout.com/college/kansas
Kansas head coach David Beaty has not named a starting quarterback and he says the competition is still open to red-shirt junior Montell Cozart, who did attend the Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas, and sophomore Ryan Willis. Beaty had hoped to have an answer to the quarterback question heading into next week’s practices. As of Friday there was no clear cut leader according to the head coach.
“Those two guys, Montell and Ryan, have both had really good days. Really good days,” Beaty repeated. “It’s been interesting to see guys kind of fall behind and then a guy fight back and start taking back over.”
A huge concern on the defensive side of the ball is that after being injured early during the non contact portion of the practice schedule, defensive end Dorance Armstrong, Jr., is still missing practices. Beaty and the KU medical staff are taking a cautious approach with the 6-4, 240 pound defensive end that is projected to be a difference maker on the defensive line for the Jayhawks. Last season Armstrong, Jr., started five games but played in all 12 contests and had 23 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. In the meantime, senior linebacker Cameron Rosser has moved to defensive end according to defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.
The Jayhawks would have to be rated a long-shot at best, but recently announced transfer sophomore 5-star wide receiver Tyron Johnson from LSU was coached in high school at Warren Eaton High School by current KU running backs coach Tony Hull and Kansas was hoping to make a pitch for the talented receiver that is looking for a wide open offense that throws the ball more.
Kansas opens the season against Rhode Island at home in a very important season tone setting game.
Kansas State fans poured into Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday afternoon for Fan Appreciation Day and a rare look inside one of head coach Bill Snyder’s preseason practices. The last hour of the practice was open before fans and players mingles for autographs, conversation, and picture taking. Snyder did address the crowd and reminded them of their contributions and that the family in the stadium name was for them. For onlookers it was a chance to see who is lining up where for the Wildcats.
On an offensive line that saw Cody Whitehair depart and he is now starting at left guard for the Chicago Bears and Boston Stiverson is in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, returning center Dalton Risner is playing at right tackle. Reid Navjar is back at his old position of center, Scott Frantz is playing left tackle. The guards are Manhattan native Terrale Johnson on the right side and Tyler Mitchell and Bryce Fitzner alternating at the left guard.
Snyder had said, even though he took spring standout Jesse Ertz to Dallas for Big 12 Football Media Days, that the position was a three-way competition and practice on Saturday bore that out as Ertz, Joe Hubener, and Alex Delton all shared equal reps at the position.
On the defensive line where last year’s standout performer Travis Britz is gone, Matt Seiwert is playing that tackle position inside along with Craig Settles next to him. The defensive ends are Tanner Wood and Reggie Walker. The secondary showed preseason All-Big 12 performer Dante Barnett at safety along with Kendall Adams. The corners with the first group defensively were returning starter Duke Shelley and junior college transfer D.J. Reed who is battling graduate senior transfer from Cal-Berkeley Cedric Dozier.
K-State co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel is the former head coach at the University of Houston, but he told the Wichita Eagle he could see how any school in the Big 12 could want Houston the conference. Dimel cited that with its’ proximity that Houston would be a recruiting monster if given Big 12 standing. Dimel was not alone as Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy touted the same message later in the week in a story that was in the Tulsa World.
Remember, Kansas State opens on Friday, Sept 2, in a game of national relevance and on national television at Stanford.
Read more at Go Pokes www.scout.com/college/oklahoma-state
On Saturday Oklahoma State went through their first scrimmage of the fall and head coach Mike Gundy sincerely liked what he saw in the 116-play scrimmage held outside the Sherman Smith Training Center and in a time frame that matches up with the kickoff time of two of Oklahoma State’s first three games. There were several players held out or that had limited action in the scrimmage. The defense scored two touchdowns on interceptions, but the offense, after an admitted slow start came on with an explosive running attack that saw several back rattle off big plays including freshman Justice Hill and transfer Barry J. Sanders. Mason Rudolph played well at quarterback and navigated several impressive drives including a long touchdown pass to James Washington before Washington’s day was over.
"I really liked our scrimmage, we had 116 plays," Gundy started. "The offense started a little slow and the defense was able to rally and scored off of a turnover. The offense was able to come back and run the ball effectively, which opens up play action (passing). Mason (Rudolph) played good and we had a few wide outs that made plays. We had some young wideouts that played with the varsity, the first team I should say, and give them some quality work. We were able to make some headway running the ball and I thought the offensive line played good. Without watching tape, I don't think they played great but they were able to open some holes so we could turn the corner at times. That was good."
The Cowboys will now settle into a more regular season routine as camp ends with the start of classes at Oklahoma State on Monday. As practice begins again on Tuesday, Gundy has said he plans to have a back-up quarterback chosen, likely sophomore Taylor Cornelius. He also expects to have a better read on which freshmen have a chance to play this season and the list of those that look like they could include running back Justice Hill, wide receiver Dillon Stoner, wide receiver Obi Obialo, wide receiver Tyrell Alexander, star linebacker Calvin Bundage, and cornerback Madre Harper.
“We worked our young kids, the true freshmen and the threes, overall they got 32 plays, which was excellent,” Gundy added. “It was awesome for us that we are back into a system where we have enough threes to get quality work. We haven't been able to do that in a couple of years. I'm excited about that."
The recruiting front has been fairly quiet over the week as high school players are busy with their preseason practices starting across the states of Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma received a commitment from California 2018 quarterback prospect Cameron Rising. Oklahoma State had also seen Rising on an unofficial visit this July. With Rising committed that has increased the fascination with in-state 2018 quarterback standout Casey Thompson of Southmoore.
A player that would factor more rapidly than a 2018 prospect is former five-star receiver prospect Tyron Johnson, who announced he will transfer from LSU. Oklahoma State has been in contact with him and is hopeful but Big 12 rivals Texas Tech and Oklahoma are also in on Johnson and his former high school coach is now on staff at Kansas.
Read more at Horns Digest www.scout.com/college/texas
The first week of camp in Austin is done, and it was a bit of a mixed bag.
After saying at Big 12 Football Media Days he wanted to name a starting quarterback early in camp, Charlie Strong said after Saturday's scrimmage there is no timetable to name a starter between senior Tyrone Swoopes and freshman Shane Buechele.
"We don't want Notre Dame to know," Strong said, laughing.
Strong emphasized both QBs will play against Notre Dame.
"They'll both get a chance," he said.
Meanwhile, the injury list added another name this week in starting freshman center Zach Shackelford (ankle). Strong thinks Shackelford will be ready for Notre Dame.
Texas' top two running backs - D'Onta Foreman (ankle) and Chris Warren III (hamstring) - and WR Lorenzo Joe (hamstring) did not scrimmage on Saturday.
Foreman and Warren are day-to-day and should be back in plenty of time for Notre Dame on Sept. 4.
RB Kirk Johnson, the older brother of freshman WR Collin Johnson, has made a solid impression on the coaches in the absence of Foreman and Warren.
"If I want to just watch a player and see how a guy should work, it's Kirk Johnson," Strong said. "Because everything with him is full speed."
Former QB Jerrod Heard had a catch-and-run touchdown in Saturday's scrimmage and continues to make progress as a full-time receiver.
"Oh yeah, Jerrod can help us against Notre Dame," Strong said. "His attitude in this position change has been unbelievable."
After moving Kent Perkins from RT to RG at the start of camp, Tristan Nickelson, a 6-9, 322-pound junior has held off freshmen Patrick Hudson and Denzel Okafor thus far at RT.
On defense, sophomore safety DeShon Elliott has been getting reps with the first-team defense ahead of Jason Hall.
Read more at Horned Frogs Insider www.scout.com/college/tcu
With temps over 100 degrees the entire week, TCU head coach Gary Patterson wasn’t happy with his team on Thursday when talking with reporters.
“I can tell you we are not very good on offense. And we don’t know how to fight through heat,” said Patterson. “The first team that I have had in ten years that doesn’t know how to do that. We have had some kids banged up. The bottom line is, we aren’t very good right now, either side of the ball.”
“If I see something that is really good, I will tell you. But to be honest with you, it’s not very good.”
Patterson indicated the coaching staff has brought the players into the indoor practice facility more than any other year because the players haven’t been able to handle the temps.
“I guess we are reading your papers,” said Patterson. The Frogs are No. 14 in the recent USA Today Coaches Poll.
Speaking of Patterson, TCU extended the longtime head coach earlier in the week. The Frogs are 23-3 the last two seasons and have finished both years ranked inside the final top 10. Since 2009, TCU has finished inside the top 10 to end the season five times.
Patterson’s new deal pushes him through the 2022 season. Entering his 16th season at the helm in Fort Worth, Patterson is 143-47 all-time, finishing with 10+ wins in a season 10 times.
“I don’t do this for money,” said Patterson. “For me it’s about job security for my staff. It’s about showing recruits TCU is committed for the long haul and what we want to get accomplished.”
Read more at Raider Power www.scout.com/college/texas-tech
Texas Tech opened fall camp last week and the biggest development is how the defense is performing so far. The Red Raiders have 18 new faces on that side of the ball and they have brought a completely different attitude to the team.
The biggest change comes up front where Tech will start two five-star defensive tackles in sophomore Breiden Fehoko and Michigan transfer Ondre Pipkins, for the first time in forever. Throw in Notre Dame transfer Kolin Hill, who has been as ornery on the field this camp as he is polite off it, and Gary Moore, who Kliff Kingsbury describes as maybe the best athlete on the team, coming off the edges and the Red Raiders might field its best defensive line in over a decade.
Throw in freshmen such as 2015 AP first-team all-state defensive end Houston Miller, who made news by sleeping up at the Football Facility last week, and 330-pound defensive tackle Joe Wallace, who has squared off with anyone who has looked at him wrong, and there is hope for Tech fans where there has been very little in recent history.
Injury Worth Monitoring
Four-star junior college transfer Derrick Willies, who is expected to start at split end for Tech this season, missed the first week with what head coach Kliff Kingsbury described as a busted hand. Kingsbury added Willies was out running routes and conditioning on his own, and is expected to return to practice early this upcoming week.
Flicka D Wrist
Patrick Mahomes is one of the more exciting players in the nation and anybody associated with the team witnesses him perform remarkable physical feats on a regular basis. The first week of camp was no different as Kingsbury tweeted a video of his righty QB firing a 50-yard laser for a TD while rolling to his left during a scrimmage portion of practice.
Read more at Blue Gold News www.scout.com/college/west-virginia
West Virginia held its first big scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday, which served as the precursor to its move into a more regular week of practices as classes get underway on campus. The Mountaineers' new number one priority is finding a replacement for all-Big 12 safety Dravon Askew-Henry, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and is lost for the season. The initial stages of that search were something of a cattle call, as the Mountaineers auditioned a number of different players for the position, and cycled just about all of its top eight safeties through multiple positions in its three-safety alignment.
The Mountaineers have two different paths available to them in replacing Askew-Henry. They could promote junior college transfer Toyous Avery, who has been running as the second free safety, into the spot, or they could move Jeremy Tyler, who began as a free safety but has been playing bandit safety for much of the fall, back-to-free. The latter option would result in more shuffling of the depth chart, but for now all options are open as West Virginia tries to recover from a massive blow to its defense.
The immediate results of that injury weren't negative, though, as the defense held the upper hand through much of the day's work. Both sides have had success during the fall, but during the scrimmage it was the defense that imposed its will.
“We just came out with a little fire behind us,” linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton said. “We wanted to make sure every play we were out there, that we imposed our will. The test will be now if we can do it the next day and every day after that.”
WVU's defense forced six turnovers during the 120-plus play scrimmage session, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
While that battle is the biggest one remaining, WVU also has a right tackle contest between Marcell Lazard and Colton McKivitz and a guard battle with Kyle Bosch and Tony Matteo to settle, but those are actually items of strength, not weakness. Any two of those four players can be solid members of what could be one of the best lines in the Big 12, and the duo that finishes second will provide quality depth for the bumps and bruises that occur over the course of the season.