It’s time for another twitter-bag! I took questions from Twitter users about this upcoming Big 12 season. I’m currently in the midst of a deep dive into about 25% of the college football world as I writeup previews for the 2017 Football Outsiders Almanac.
It’s a publication with more NFL data and info then you could ever imagine in your most wonderful, fantasy-prepping dreams. Here’s last year’s:
In addition to an absurd wealth of NFL stats and info with all of Aaron Schatz and co’s amazing statistics and analysis, it also has an extensive college section with stats from Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly and then additional analysis and insights from Chad Peltier and yours truly.
Anyways, I’ve been ruminating deeply on the coming season and have lots of random thoughts on college football at large and the Big 12 in particular. Let’s try and get some of that out…
We did this last summer so let’s go again. Who are your top 5 Big 12 corners?
— Cord Samuels (@cordsamuels) June 12, 2017
I’d be curious to see how I answered this last year but I can’t seem to find my answer. I don’t know if this early ranking will hold up after the season gets going but I’ll throw it out there anyways:
- Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma
- Kris Boyd, Texas
- Ranthony Texada, TCU
- Duke Shelley, Kansas State
- Holton Hill, Texas
Thomas is a really good player and the Sooners are truly set up for an easier time in year one post-Bob with him returning to lock down a sideline. In addition to his deep coverage abilities, first put on display when he locked down Corey Coleman in OU’s big win over Baylor in 2015, he’s also a solid tackler and blitzer. Kris Boyd is the most talented guy on this list and he’s basically in a contract year trying to finally put it all together so he can head out to the NFL.
Texada had a rough start last year and then healed up (I guess) and started shutting things down, TCU’s in really good shape with him back for another year and then Julius Lewis and Jeff Gladney opposite him. The accolades tend to go to DJ Reed at Kansas State but that dude got thrown at a lot for a reason and Shelley is actually the better player. Or he was last year at least, K-State is in good shape getting them both back.
Whoever wins the starting job opposite Kris Boyd, Holton Hill or Davante Davis, is also going to be playing for a contract. Texas has been absurdly loaded at corner since these three guys came to campus and it’s not a terrible bet that they finally realize their potential in year three.
I don’t know who will be the main guy at West Virginia but it’s probably not a good idea to count that guy out.
Who leaves their respective school first? Herman or Riley?
— Coach Elliott (@Coach_AElliott) June 12, 2017
The odds are heavily in Herman’s favor given his superior track record and experience as a head coach. Riley is facing the unenviable task of figuring out this whole head coaching thing while replacing Bob Stoops and matching the “10 wins and a conference title” expectations.
If Herman wins eight games in year one, it’s a success. If Riley wins eight games in year one, he’s already losing some support because that’s yielding ground.
Now I tend to think that both will probably be around for a while. The Sooners have a nice track record of picking out young head coaches and setting them up for long term success. Bud Wilkinson got going at 31, Barry Switzer at 36, Bob Stoops at 38, it makes sense to hire young guys for a job like this but most schools are too risk-averse to attempt it.
The higher chances of Riley flaming out make Herman the favorite to outlast him but if they are both successful, which I think is probable, then things start to tilt in Riley’s favor simply because while Herman isn’t old either (42) he’s about a decade older than Lincoln.
Does Stoops stepping down change your prediction for the Sooners in 2017?, 2018-2019?, or even beyond if you’re down to attempt that one
— MK (@yellmk) June 12, 2017
I do think this makes another Sooner conference championship less likely. I was already leaning against the Sooners repeating, although I figured “the field” was a more appropriate alternative than a particular team. The Cowboys are in good shape to compete but you gotta give Oklahoma better odds, ditto Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia are dark horses who’s chances decrease the odds of OU winning the league but neither of them are close to a front-running bet.
Anyways, the Sooners are facing a tough slate and doing so with a first-year head coach is tricky. He’ll be trying to balance all of his new responsibilities with play-calling and almost certainly leaning on Mike Stoops to run the defense and get that side of the ball sorted out.
That’s where my biggest questions are since I don’t trust Mike Stoops at all and have a suspicion that things might come apart on defense without Bob Stoops around. The switch back to the 4-3 probably helps a great deal since “cautious Mike” has coached that defense for decades and done so in the modern Big 12 but…there’s potential for breakdown here.
Beyond 2017 I don’t really know what to make of the Lincoln Riley era because most of my questions revolve around how he deals with the defense, particularly if and when Mike Stoops fails him. Everything else he seems smart enough to figure out with time, if he doesn’t already have a strong plan and vision for now.
Jacob Park will be the ______ best QB by season’s end
— Garrett Kroeger (@GKroegs) June 13, 2017
That’s a really good question. In 2016 Jacob Park was “a system QB without a system” to quote the great Scipio Tex regarding Garrett Gilbert back in the day. He’s mobile enough, has a strong arm and can hit some throws down the field, and reads things okay. If you set him up in the kind of “spread to run” system that they are trying to build in Iowa State he’d be pretty dang effective but they aren’t really there yet.
I don’t think he’ll finish higher than Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, Jesse Ertz, Will Grier, or Shane Buechele next season. He’s in contention with Nic Shimonek, Kenny Hill, Zach Smith, and Anu Solomon at the next tier and it’s possible he could finish at the top of that heap. I’m guessing he loses to Shimonek but perhaps beats out the other guys. So that’d put him seventh.
Iowa State wants to win games with physical, effective play in the trenches on both sides of the ball, that’s Matt Campbell’s vision for this program. It’s a good vision for Iowa State, they could get there and they’ll probably be much closer next year thanks to the JUCO DL they’re bringing in, but that’s a long-term vision.
Does Shawn Robinson start game one?
— John Parker (@JParker_10) June 13, 2017
I’ve been very suspicious about TCU playing Shawn Robinson in year one since they signed him and Meacham left for Kansas. Gary Patterson’s frequent “let’s hit the brakes” comments strike me as being in the “he doth protest too much” vein, more like he’s trying to protect his young QB from pressure rather than truly denying that Robinson could play a major role next season.
As for when he’d actually be given the reins…the Frogs open with Jackson State. That’s basically a preseason/exhibition game as best I can tell, it doesn’t seem that Jackson State is the same kind of team as the South Dakota State Jackrabbits who brought a pair of potential NFL targets into Ft. Worth last year.
But then they have to travel to Fayetteville, AR which is a tough draw for a freshman QB. I also think Kenny Hill has been good enough here and there that they’ll probably want to give him a shot before handing the season over to a true freshman. On Oct. 21 the Frogs play Kansas after enduring a stretch of @OSU, West Virginia, and @K-State. If Kenny Hill isn’t the man then it’ll probably be established in that stretch and the Frogs may decide they might as well get Robinson going against Kansas and Iowa State before finishing with Texas, @OU, @Tech, and then Baylor.
Should a full season of Alex Barnes frighten the league or should expectations for him be tempered a bit?
— Ben Basore (@cliffbasore) June 13, 2017
I think it’s actually the return of Byron Pringle and the addition of Carlos Strickland, creating the WR tandem I’m dubbing “strychnine” that could make the Wildcats truly terrifying next year, although Barnes is a likely beneficiary.
When asked for specifics, Basore suggested 1600 rushing yards and 15 TDs for Barnes as the sort of expectations that are floating around the #EMAW inter webs. That seems too high considering that strychnine, Dominique Heath, Ertz, and then fellow RBs Justin Silmon and Dalvin Warmack are likely to get in on the action next season. Ertz ran for 1k yards himself last year, after all.
All that said, I think Barnes is a really good back who’s going to be an absolute load next season. He should be super efficient with the carries he gets and I could see him breaking 1k yards. This K-State offense is absurdly loaded, pending how healthy and effective Ertz is in the passing game next season this might even be the best offense in the league.
Who did Kansas beat in football on November 19, 2016 by the score of 24-21?
— Colin (@clnbrns) June 12, 2017
Everyone loves hanging this over Texas fans’ head but the reality of the situation is that this game was a sweet relief to some of us. It was like successful chemo, guaranteeing the end of the flailing Charlie Strong era and ushering in the Tom Herman era. I think most people realize that Herman is probably going to marshall Texas’ vast resources into a juggernaut and are thus eager to take their shots over the Kansas loss while they can.
I just don’t think it’s really landing as a barb though, at least not for me. Most Texas fans realize that as humiliating a defeat as that was it was almost certainly for the best and probably prevented similar agonies in the future.