On Wednesday, we started our discussion on the Big 12 and that discussion continues today and tomorrow. TSS Associate Editor Terry Johnson joins staff writer Kevin Causey and special rotating guests in our weekly roundtable discussing all things college football.
On Wednesday we talked about players to watch in the Big 12. Today we talk more Big 12 football as we are joined by Allen Kenney of Blatant Homerism, Seth Jungman of Staking the Plains and Chris Ross of the Big 12 centric site Land Grant Gauntlet.
Question: Which team will be the most improved in the Big 12?
On Twitter @BlatantHomerism
The tricky thing about answering this question is that I don’t see much changing in the Big 12 this year. I do expect the Sooners to be a game or two better than they were a season ago, though, so I guess that’s my pick.
The fact that OU didn’t live up to the hype in 2014 has swung the pendulum of public opinion too far the other way now. Bob Stoops hired whiz kid Lincoln Riley to run the offense in the offseason and upgraded the talent level at receiver, a serious hole in last year’s roster. Additionally, experience abounds in the defense, especially in a secondary that suffered through some major growing pains.
OU isn’t a national championship-type team, but the Sooners do have the horses to compete for the Big 12 crown.
On Twitter @ChrisRossSports
Hands down it has to be Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were hard to watch through the middle of last season. The patchwork offensive line couldn’t hold up to a stiff breeze, and Daxx Garman was about as mobile as a tree stump.
Rudolph brings the swagger back to the Pokes offense, and nearly every issue from last season has been addressed. 2014 was an anomaly, look for the Pokes to return as a contender in 2015.
I also expect Tech to be improved. They have their work cut out as things will be tough early on, but if they can rebound through the middle of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in that mid-tier when it’s all said and done.
On Twitter @SethC_J
The easy answer for me would be Texas Tech as the Red Raiders are the one team that had a losing record in 2014 that I expect to have a winning record in 2015, but I’ll take Oklahoma State. The Cowboys can look forward to a pretty stable quarterback position with Mason Rudloph who helped beat a very good Oklahoma team to gain bowl eligibility, and then beat Washington. I actually think the OSU defense is going to be a big surprise, and it’s the reason I’m picking them over Texas Tech, as they’ve been consistently good for a number of years and DE Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Ryan Simmons, LB Seth Jacobs and CB Kevin Peterson are all conference sort of players on defense. The Cowboys are going to be dangerous if the offense can be somewhat reliable and I think that Rudolph is more than reliable.
On Twitter @CFBZ
After finishing 6-7 in 2014, my answer is the Texas Longhorns. I think the Longhorns will still be a hot mess on offense. But, as a Georgia fan, I have a lot of respect for Charlie Strong and what he can do for a defense. Texas had one of the better statistical defenses in the Big 12 in 2014 and I think they take a bigger step forward in 2015. They have one of the top units in the league in terms of their defensive line, linebackers and defensive backfield. The offense will be improved but it’s no telling how much (and I still expect the offense to be very inconsistent).
While the offense finds it’s way, the defense will win the day for the Longhorns more often then it did in 2014 and that will translate in the win column for the Longhorns. They won’t be contending for the Big 12 Championship, but they also won’t lose five games by 20 or more points.
On Twitter @SectionTPJ
Texas Tech will be the most improved team in the conference this year.
Make no mistake about it: the Red Raiders are loaded with talent on offense. Regardless of whether it’s Pat Mahomes or Davis Webb under center, Tech’s Air Raid attack should have no trouble moving the ball through the air with six of its top seven targets from last season returning. The Red Raiders will also have plenty of success on the ground, with DeAndre Washington (1,103 yards) running behind a veteran line (103 career starts).
While the offense will capture all of the headlines, it’s the defense that will transform Texas Tech from a 4-8 squad into a bowl team. New DC David Gibbs arrives from Houston, where he led a stellar Cougar D that ranked in the Top 20 nationally in scoring defense (15th), total defense (20th), and plays of 20 yards or longer (1st) last season. While the Red Raiders won’t match those numbers this year, they will be much better under Gibbs’ leadership.