There's a ton going on around the Big 12 as opening weekend draws closer by the day. By the end of the week, most teams' will have begun game week preperations and fall camp will officially have come to a close. Today, here's a peek at what's happening at Kansas State, Colorado, and Texas Tech.
- Kansas State - The Wildcats are looking for ways to get some heat on the QB and no word yet on who will be starting at quarterback.
- Colorado - In a surprise announcement, Colorado says it is planning on staying in the Big 12 next season.
- Texas Tech - Tommy Tuberville explains his decision to go with Taylor Potts at QB and the Air Raid offense continues to evolve into something different.
Kansas State Update
Kansas State finished a respectable fifth in the Big 12 in total defense last season giving up 339.9 yards per game, a big improvement from 2008. Despite the gains made in Bill Snyder’s return to Manhattan, the Wildcats know they need to be even better in 2010.
One area that has been focused on in fall camp is increasing the sack total from last year. K-State recorded only 20 sacks in 2009, good for 80th nationally and 10th in the Big 12. "It's one thing we've addressed," defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements said. "We need to get more production as far as the big plays — the sacks, the tackles for loss, the harassments of the quarterback. I think we have some individuals that are capable."
Personnel wise, they should be in good shape for improving the sack total. They return defensive end Antonio Felder who hopes to improve on his three sacks from last year. They also get Brandon Harold back after missing all but one game last year with a knee injury. Harold was a freshman All-American in 2008 and should provide a big boost to the Wildcat defense. They also return junior Kadero Terrell who also missed last season because of a leg injury. They will use him as a specialized rusher on passing downs coming off the edge. If Kansas State does increase their presence in opponents’ backfields, it will undoubtedly increase their defense play overall.
Still no word on who will open the season against UCLA at quarterback. Carson Coffman appears to be the man for the job from what little information has been gathered by observers. This is from the Kansas City Star after Saturday’s practice which was open to the public.
All three rotated in and out of drills with equal frequency. Coffman did throw two 35-yard touchdown passes to Tramaine Thompson during seven-on-seven drills. Lamur did nothing flashy and Klein struggled to complete his throws.
In some surprising news from Boulder this afternoon, Colorado is planning on going forward as if they will be in the Big 12 next season. It had been widely speculated that Colorado would leave after this season, joining Nebraska and leaving the Big 12 with ten teams next year. Colorado gave two years notice to the Big 12 which would in turn reduce the exit penalty the Buffaloes would be required to pay. Despite the two year notice, the Big 12 was still seeking to receive the 80% “withholding” fee if they left after this year instead of the 50% fee the Buffs would pay with two years notice.
Since the two parties haven’t been able to reach an agreement, Colorado has said fine, we’ll stay in the Big 12. "That is our plan and that is what we are working on," athletic director Mike Bohn said.
This to me seems like some fancy maneuvering on Colorado’s part. It would be easier on both parties if the Buffs left after this year. I can’t believe that won’t be the end result, but who knows. The way this whole fiasco played out over the summer, anything is possible.
Texas Tech Update
The announcement came over the weekend that Taylor Potts would start at quarterback, beating out senior Steven Sheffield. On Monday, Tommy Tuberville explained the thought process involved in selecting Potts. “This wasn’t rocket science,” he said. “It was just looking at two guys that are pretty much about the same, but looking at what we’re doing in the first game on offense and what we want to get out of this first game, we just felt like Taylor had a better grasp in terms of consistency.”
This seems like a decision the Texas Tech is going to stick with, although playing Sheffield at some point isn’t completely out of the question either. “I want the players to know that, ‘Hey, Taylor’s the guy we’re going to put out there. He’s the guy we’re going into the first game with,’” Tuberville said. “This is not going to be a short string. But there’s certain situations in the game that we might put Steven in that he might be better at, depending on what the defense is doing. It’s good to have two experienced quarterbacks.”
As far as practice, Tech continues to work on the running game while having the quarterback under center more this season (if they have the QB under center once, that will be more than last season). “Quarterback under center, we’ve got to be able to do that,” Tuberville said. “We concentrated a lot Saturday (on) play-action, all the little things off of that. We’ve got to be a more diverse team going into the first game and give people more problems other than just lining up and slinging it.”
I can’t wait for Texas Tech’s opener against SMU. Everyone will finally get some real insight as to how drastically different Tech is going to look now that the Pirate has moved to the TV booth. Of all the opening weekend games in the Big 12, this is the one you won’t want to miss. Not only will Tech’s new offense be on display, but the Red Raider defense will be under the gun with June Jones’ offense at SMU giving them a huge challenge right out of the gate.