Big 12 Football: Post-Spring Practice Power Rankings
The Big 12 is an interesting conference because you aren't quite sure what you are going to get. All 10 teams have major concerns heading into the season, and it is the only major conference where pretty much anything can happen.
From Kansas State winning a conference title to Baylor making a run, nothing should be considered impossible.
Now that spring ball is over with, teams are heading back to the drawing board for the next couple of months. Practices taught us a few things, but majority of it played out the way you would have expected.
Here are the Big 12 power rankings with spring practice in the books.
Kansas won one game last season and has lost 21 straight in conference play. There is truly nowhere to go but up for the Jayhawks and head coach Charlie Weis, who is on one of the hottest seats in the country.
Yes, even basketball programs have standards on the gridiron.
Kansas, however, does have a few things going for it such as a veteran quarterback in Jake Heaps, who transferred from BYU. The defense should also improve with six starters returning, which includes a strong linebacker core that had performed well during the spring.
This team has potential to climb out of the Big 12 cellar; it all comes down to how much of a difference maker Heaps can become. But until progress is actually made when the games count, Kansas has to be considered the worst team in the conference.
9. Iowa State
Iowa State should be a lot better off with nine starters returning offensively, but the defense has a bunch of question marks. Without linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, production is not only an issue but the lack of leadership is concerning.
What the school does have going for it is a terrific offensive line with three starters returning, and a deep backfield that stood out during the spring. There is also hope that quarterback Sam Richardson can learn from his playing time as a freshman and begin to take that next step.
Besides an offense that has potential, the Cyclones are a team that has a lot of questions to answer during fall camp. We have seen over the years that this is a team full of surprises but in order to really turn the corner, players must step up defensively.
8. Texas Tech
Texas Tech is a dark horse heading into the season. You have to love the direction this team is heading, but there is just something holding you back from moving them up the totem pole.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is a rising coach with a ton of potential, but this is still his first year on the job. There remains a strong quarterback competition between Michael Brewer and Davis Webb, and whoever wins the job will have big shoes to fill in replacing Seth Doege.
The thing to absolutely love about this team is that eight starters are returning from the second-best defense in the Big 12. A feisty and aggressive group, the Texas Tech defense won the spring game and forced three turnovers in the process.
You should pay close attention to the Red Raiders throughout the year, but a combination of questions and depth of the Big 12 doesn't allow you to move them up any farther.
7. Kansas State
While Kansas State returns the fewest starters in the Big 12 (eight), don't be surprised if it continues to push others in conference play.
JUCO transfer quarterback Jake Waters looked great in the spring game, completing 16 of 22 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. If this is any indication of things to come, it looks like Collin Klein won't be missed after all.
There is a ton of work defensively, but defensive line candidates Travis Britz and Demonte Hood have stepped up and should help remove some of those worries.
Don't expect to see many familiar faces this year, but head coach Bill Snyder is used to having the odds stacked against him. Kansas State has been the overachieving team the past two seasons and the trend could continue.
6. West Virginia
There was no other team in the conference that improved as much as West Virginia. No, spring practice had little to do with it. But landing Florida State transfer quarterback Clint Trickett made all of the difference.
He didn't play much for the Seminoles, but Trickett is somebody you can plug and play right now while Paul Millard and Ford Childress continue to battle for positioning.
West Virginia was all offense last season, and that trend will likely continue under head coach Dana Holgorsen. There are only six starters returning defensively and only three of them are part of the front seven.
Building the offense and suffering on defense may not be the right approach to take, but at least the Mountaineers have a decent quarterback heading into fall camp. That couldn't have been said a couple of months ago, which is good enough reason to move them up a couple of spots post spring.
Is this the year Baylor competes for a Big 12 title? If so, that defense better make great strides.
Offensively, the Bears are ready to do damage. After leading the conference in yards per game last season (572), that production will likely continue. Running back Lache Seastrunk returns for his junior season after rushing for more than 1,000 yards.
At quarterback, Bryce Petty looked terrific in the spring game, completing 13 of 15 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
The question now brings us back to the defense, as it finished dead last in the Big 12. There are seven starters returning, which should mean better performances are in store, but allowing more than 500 yards eight times last season is a bit troubling.
Baylor has the firepower but will need its defense to come together in order to be taken seriously.
Oklahoma is in a similar boat as Baylor, but there are far less excuses for the Sooners. With the talent that comes in and out of Norman, there is no reason to allow 400 yards a game defensively.
The good news is that the Sooners will be just fine at quarterback, as Blake Bell and Kendall Thompson were clicking during the spring game. Roy Finch showed some of his big-play ability and wide receiver Trey Metoyer continues to show his limitless potential.
The offense will continue to be explosive despite losing some key guys. However, those questions continue to linger defensively. Replacing seven starters, including majority of the secondary, guys such as Cortez Johnson, Trey Franks and Julian Wilson will need to answer the bell.
As usual, the talent is there for Oklahoma to be special; it is now a matter of getting out there and doing it.
It isn't often when a team looks exactly the same as it did a year ago, but that is the way it looks for TCU.
With nine starters returning defensively, you can pretty much book the Horned Frogs having the best defense in the conference for the second straight year. As for quarterback, well, that's a separate issue.
Casey Pachall has returned to the team after all of the hoopla that went on last year, but whether he is the starting quarterback is a different question. When and if he earns that spot, it will also be interesting to see if he can even return to form.
Despite it being their first season in the Big 12 and controversy surrounding the team, the Horned Frogs still managed to win seven games. The fate of this team will lie in the hands of the quarterback.
If questions are answered during fall camp, there is a good chance you will see this program appear in a BCS bowl.
2. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State won eight games last year and has enough talent to compete for another Big 12 title with 14 starters returning. However, there are a couple of issues everybody should have with this team.
One of those concerns is that there are new offensive and defensive coordinators. While the promotion of Glenn Spencer to defensive coordinator shouldn't be a big deal as he was the linebackers coach, offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich is a completely new face.
There is also that question about a defense that allowed 421 yards a game. Head coach Mike Gundy also has no idea who his starting quarterback is going to be.
While this may sound like a lot of concerns, the Cowboys still return a boatload of experienced players and should continue to have one of the most explosive offenses in the land. The defense must improve under new management, but that is just about the only thing holding this team back.
After the struggles Texas has had, it would be too easy to knock the squad down a few notches. But the Longhorns appear on paper to be the most talented team in the Big 12. At this point in the offseason, paper is really all you can look at. Sure, spring games and practices mean a little bit, but too much stock shouldn't be thrown in that direction.
Texas has the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12 in David Ash. The running back depth is overflowing with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown. The wide receivers are also experienced with Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis returning.
Defensively is what cost this team last season, but do you really expect a repeat of last season? With nine starters returning, solid depth at linebacker and gettingback on the line, Texas defense should look a lot like it has in the past.
Many would be hesitant to put Texas this high, but this is the most balanced team in the Big 12 heading into the regular season.
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