Big 12 Conference weekly coaches’ press conference
By KEVIN LONNQUIST
Big 12 Insider
Every week, the Big 12 coaches hold a conference call with the media. Rattle and Hum Sports points out some of the issues that made the most news. All rankings are BCS.
In spite of an inconsistent performance that led to David Ash being benched in the second half at Kansas, Texas coach Mack Brown said Ash would start Saturday’s game at Texas Tech. But make no mistake, backup Case McCoy, who led the game-winning touchdown drive, will be on red alert. “It was a decision that was made [Sunday],’’ Brown said about staying with Ash. “And now you’ve got Case in a great position to come in when things aren’t going well.’’ Ash was ineffective in that game, going 8-for-16 with two interceptions. McCoy was 5-of-7 with a TD, a 1-yard strike to D.J. Grant with 12 seconds to play… Texas (6-2, 3-2) has won three of its six games (all Big 12 games) by a touchdown or less. It defeated Oklahoma State, 41-36, defeated Baylor, 56-50, and defeated Kansas, 21-17.
Kansas’ Charlie Weis knows that this offense will be centered on his running game with the return of James Sims. Since returning from a three-game suspension, Sims has averaged 124 yards per game and rushed for 622 for the season. “He’s been good in every single game we’ve played,’’ Weis said. “He’s done a nice job. He’s a workhorse.’’ While a lot of hype was centered on quarterback Dayne Crist’s transfer from Notre Dame, Weis said he wanted to take advantage of his one position of depth. “With Sims and Tony Pierson (437 yards), the one position on our team where have some talent and depth was running back. We’re playing to that strength.’’… Kansas (1-7, 0-5) has lost 18 consecutive games to BCS opponents.
Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1) has now lost twice at home this season to ranked teams. The question is whether this team can win against big programs outside the Big 12. The Sooners are out of the national title hunt this year after falling to Notre Dame, 30-13, at Owen Field this past Saturday. In fact, the Sooners have lost three of their last seven home games. “Yeah it’s very odd, no one likes losing at home,’’ center Gabe Ikard said. “There are really no positives out of it other than the teams we lost to are [No.] two and [No.] three in the country. That’s about all you can see as positive and no one else has beat them. But yeah, it’s very disappointing to lose at home. Especially twice in one year, that’s just unheard of around here for the last decade or so.”…safety Tony Jefferson is now a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. The award is given to the nation’s top defensive back.
Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1) travels to Manhattan, KS. Saturday where the roles are reversed. The Cowboys beat Kansas State, 52-45, last year as they were heading toward the Fiesta Bowl. OSU had BCS title aspirations before the computers denied them. Now, Kansas State is in the same position. But Mike Gundy admits that winning conference championships don’t carry the emphasis that they used to have. “Until you win a conference championship, you can’t win the whole thing first,’’ Gundy said… As for quarterback Wes Lunt’s return, Gundy said. “He did fine, but nothing that was worth bragging about,’’ Gundy said. “There’ll be some growing pains. But we’re not asking him to do too much.’’ Lunt threw for 324 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Kansas State’s program, ranked No. 2 in the latest BCS poll and 8-0 and 5-0 in the Big 12, has always relied on a heavy infusion of junior college transfers. However, coach Bill Snyder said he doesn’t try to differentiate between them or his high school recruits. “You just want quality people who fit into your program’’ Snyder said. “They are people that you want to be capable meeting the demands of the program… I don’t worry about numbers like that. They’re young guys, and we don’t differentiate.’’ Kansas State has 28 junior college transfers on its roster.
With “Frankenstorm” moving along the East Coast and expected to make landfall on late Monday/early Tuesday, the intense weather will hit West Virginia. But for the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2), coach Dana Hologorsen said it should be leaving the area by Friday before TCU comes to Morgantown on Saturday. “It’s going to affect our preparation in terms of the outside work,’’ Holgorsen said. “But we’ve got a lot of kids from New Jersey and Maryland and are monitoring their families. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with them.’’… Saturday’s game against the Horned Frogs is the first meeting between the Big 12’s newest members. “Everybody is new to us,’’ Holgorsen said. “It’s not as big of deal. From a recruiting exposure standpoint, it makes us better from the expectations. The longer we’re in the Big 12, the better it will make us.’’
Texas Tech wide receiver Jace Amaro (injured rib) is still considered day-to-day as the Red Raiders (6-2, 3-2) prepare for Texas Saturday in Lubbock. Amaro suffered the injury against West Virginia and has missed the last two games against TCU and Kansas State. “He’s getting pretty close,’’ coach Tommy Tuberville said. “Losing him has hurt our depth.’’. Amaro leads all Tech receivers with 17.1 yards per reception. Tuberville has talked about turnovers really hurting his team. In the Red Raiders’ two losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State, they have turned it over six times and have only one take away.
During its four-game losing streak, Baylor (3-4, 0-4) has committed 13 turnovers. One of the most costly was the opening drive of the game against Iowa State when quarterback Nick Florence fumbled at the 1-yard line as he was trying to reach across the goal line. Iowa State recovered for a touchback. “If I knew the answer, we’d certainly stop it,’’ coach Art Briles said. “It was a situation where he was trying to extend a play.’’… On the flipside, wide receiver Terrance Williams is having an All-American type of season. He has 60 receptions for 1,203 yards, nine touchdowns and is averaging 20.1 yards per catch. “It’s not in the production but how he prepares,’’ Briles said. “He’s a great team leader.’’
Iowa State wide receiver Josh Lenz (quad) is expected to be in uniform for the Cyclones (5-2, 2-3) Saturday when they play Oklahoma in Ames. Coach Paul Rhoads said that they ran Lenz through warmups before the Baylor game and decided to hold him out. “In our last play in program, we went vertical with him, and he couldn’t go get it,’’ Rhoads said. “We decided that we’re going to hold him out and have him for the last four games.’’ While Lenz is a worker bee, health has been his problem since he’s been on campus… Coming off a career game in which he threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns, senior quarterback Steele Jantz will start against the Sooners. “He’s 4-1 as a starter,’’ Rhoads said. “He just wasn’t doing some things that were effective enough at the time [when Jared Barnett started]. But 4-1 is pretty dang good.’’
The rigors of the Big 12 season may be catching up with TCU (5-3, 2-3). With the loss of 21 players since February, depth has been exhausted. Injuries are mounting. Quarterback Trevone Boykin left Saturday’s game in the late stages with an undisclosed injury. Defensive end Stansly Maponga didn’t play because of his foot injury. Again, he is on a week-to-week basis. The status of offensive lineman Blaize Foltz (ankle) and running back Matthew Tucker (likely ankle) should be known later in the week… When the Horned Frogs lost at Oklahoma State, they lost consecutive games for the first time since 2007 when they lost to Texas and Air Force… TCU meets West Virginia for the first time since 1984 when the teams squared off in the Bluebonnet Bowl. That was when the Horned Frogs went 8-4 and the late Jim Wacker coined the phrase, “Unbeleeeeeevable.’’
- Big 12 Coaches’ Corner Week 5 – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)