Where Each Big 12 Football Team Stands After Spring Season

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2013

Where Each Big 12 Football Team Stands After Spring Season

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    Every Big 12 team has moved on from its spring season and is gearing up for summer workouts. 

    There are plenty of headlines surrounding the Big 12 schools, including notable quarterback battles at Oklahoma and Kansas State, the co-champions of the league last year. 

    As each school finishes up its finals and heads into the summer, here's where each Big 12 team stands. 

Baylor Bears

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    Last season, the Baylor Bears ended as one of the hottest teams in the country. The Bears won five of their last six games including a shocking 52-24 upset over then-No. 1 Kansas State on Nov. 17. 

    Now the Bears are looking to carry that momentum into the fall as they have their eyes set on contending for the Big 12 title. 

    The biggest returner for the Bears is undoubtedly running back Lache Seastrunk. It was his performance late in the year that turned Baylor around. He'll likely be the focal point of the offense in 2013. 

    The question mark hovering over the Bears is the QB battle between Bryce Petty and Seth Russell. 

    Petty started the spring game as the No. 1 option to replace Nick Florence. Whoever ends up replacing him will have big shoes to fill, as Florence led the country in passing last year. 

    There's plenty to be excited about in Waco, Texas, with a lot of returners on both sides of the ball for the Bears. Baylor's defense was awful last year and needs a lot of work, but the Bears are still looking like one of the Big 12's most dangerous teams heading into the summer. 

Iowa State Cyclones

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    Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads is raising the bar on his expectations for next season. 

    According to the Des Moines Register, Rhoads is "unsatisfied" with only one bowl victory under his belt and he wants his team to finish in the top half of the Big 12 standings. 

    If Rhoads and the Cyclones want to accomplish that, new QB Sam Richardson will have to finally solve the Cyclones' woes at that position. Richardson looked decent in the spring game, throwing for 156 yards for two scores on 9-of-12 passing. 

    Defensively, the Cyclones have to replace linebackers AJ Klein and Jake Knott. Still, tough defense is Rhoads' specialty and the team still has enough returners to make the transition smooth. 

Kansas Jayhawks

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    Charlie Weis had only one win in his first season as the head coach in Lawrence, and even that game was against an FCS team. 

    However, there are some positive trends for the Jayhawks heading into the summer. 

    For starters, the new QB in town, Jake Heaps, looked great in the team's spring game. He completed 20 of his 28 passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns. 

    The Jayhawks have struggled mightily at QB over the past few years, so it's certainly encouraging to see the new signal-caller have a quality performance in the spring. 

    Running back James Sims is also returning in Lawrence. He was one of the conference's best running backs last season and should help give Kansas a balanced attack offensively. 

    The Jayhawks have also struggled defensively for the past few years. Some guys that could turn things around though in 2013 are LB Ben Heeney and tackle Jordan Tavai. Both guys played well in the spring game, recording five and six tackles respectively. 

Kansas State Wildcats

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    The headlines in Manhattan, Kan. all revolve around the QB battle to replace Collin Klein. 

    The two contenders are redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams, who played sparingly last season, and junior college transfer Jake Waters, who broke nearly every one of Cam Newton's records at the JUCO level last year. 

    In the spring game, the race looked even between the two. Waters was 14-of-18 for 249 yards and three touchdowns, while Sams went 18-of-28 for 391 yards and four scores. Sams also added one touchdown on the ground. 

    Sams is more accustomed to head coach Bill Snyder's system, as he's been around the team for two years, a year-and-a-half longer than Waters. But Waters was one of the nation's best junior college players last year, and he'll certainly be in the running. 

    Defensively, the Wildcats lost nearly their entire defensive line last year along with LB Arthur Brown. That's the biggest question mark surrounding this team. 

    Snyder is one of the best coaches in the country, though, and the Wildcats have plenty of talent coming back, including RB John Hubert, WR Tyler Lockett and safety Ty Zimmerman. Expect the Wildcats to be one of the top teams in the league in 2013. 

Oklahoma Sooners

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    Blake Bell appears to be leading the QB race to replace Landry Jones in Norman, Okla., but there are still some quality candidates behind him. 

    In addition to Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight are also competing for the starting job. Bell seemed to have an edge in the spring game, with Thompson close behind him.

    According to Sports Illustrated, the job is Bell's to lose this fall. This is especially true after Thompson was arrested on May 10 for public intoxication, according to Jake Trotter of ESPN. 

    Defensively, there aren't too many questions surrounding the Sooners. There are a lot of returners on that side of the ball, so there isn't much to worry about. 

    Probably the biggest addition to the defense will be new safety Trey Franks. The former wide receiver was suspended all of last year, but played well in the spring game by making seven tackles and breaking up a pair of passes. 

    The Sooners are always a contender with Bob Stoops at the helm, so expect nothing less come this fall. 

Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    With the transfer of QB Wes Lunt, it now appears that Clint Chelf's hold on the starting job may be even tighter. 

    Chelf was the top QB in spring camp, and started the Cowboys' spring game with the Orange (first) team. 

    In the team's spring game, Chelf led his team to a 17-7 win with 204 yards passing and a touchdown with no interceptions. 

    The biggest question mark on offense for the Cowboys will be replacing RB Joseph Randle. Jeremy Smith is expected to be the main guy, according to ESPN's David Ubben.

    Smith was unimpressive at the spring game with two yards on six carries. But the team has the whole summer to figure out a system with the right quarterback and the right ball-carrier. 

    Cornerback Justin Gilbert will be the anchor for the Cowboys' defense. He had two picks in the spring game and gave headaches to the guys competing for the starting QB job. 

    If head coach Mike Gundy can find the right signal-caller, then the Cowboys could be among the top Big 12 teams next year. 

TCU Horned Frogs

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    The biggest storyline by far for the Horned Frogs is QB Casey Pachall. After leaving the team following a DWI last season, Pachall will get another chance from head coach Gary Patterson in 2013. 

    TCU is looking like a possible Big 12 title contender, and its hopes will rest with Pachall. He is one of the league's best quarterbacks but he must stay out of trouble long enough to give the Horned Frogs a chance. 

    The Horned Frogs lost two crucial pieces of their offensive line from last season in guard Blaize Foltz and center James Fry. Replacing those guys is a priority.

    Defensively, the Horned Frogs have a lot of returners and should be one of the stingiest groups in the league. 

    While this team didn't finish where it wanted to last season, TCU is looking like one of the better teams in the conference heading into the summer. 

Texas Longhorns

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    Coming off yet another mediocre season in 2012, the Longhorns are looking to put themselves back into the national spotlight in 2013. 

    As of now, the biggest storyline for this team is the QB battle. Right now, that's led by David Ash, according to ESPN's Carter Strickland. Ash threw for two touchdowns in the Longhorns' spring game. 

    The Longhorns have nine players returning on defense, so that unit could be one of the toughest come this fall. 

    The biggest question mark will be replacing safety Kenny Vaccaro. Adrian Phillips is expected to be the guy up to the task, but it's tough to replace a first-round draft pick. 

    Texas has plenty of talent on its team, just like any other year. However, it will be up to head coach Mack Brown to finally put the Longhorns back into contention this season. Otherwise, his job could be on the line. 

Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    As new coach Kliff Kingsbury begins his tenure at Texas Tech as the only new head coach in the conference, the Red Raiders have some positive trends heading into the summer. 

    Kingsbury's biggest task this offseason is replacing QB Seth Doege. If the spring game was any indicator, it appears that Michael Brewer is leading the race between himself, Derek Edwards and Davis Webb. Brewer threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns in the game. 

    The defensive side of the ball could stand to improve from its 2012 showing, however, and Kingsbury has been impressed by that unit in the spring. 

    The Red Raiders return one of the league's best wide receivers in Eric Ward, so whoever wins the QB battle will have a quality target to rely on during the season. 

    As one of the best passing teams over the last few seasons in all of college football, the Red Raiders have a high ceiling. However, they'll have to fix their minus-13 turnover margin last season if they want to compete in the Big 12. 

West Virginia Moutaineers

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    The best quarterback to leave the league last season was undoubtedly Geno Smith, so replacing him will be no easy task in Morgantown, W. Va. 

    Paul Millard took snaps with the first team in the Mountaineers' spring game and threw for three touchdowns with 185 passing yards. However, Ford Childress also looked good with 169 yards and a score. 

    The race appears dead even between Millard and Childress. It's important for head coach Dana Holgorsen to pick the right candidate, and his air raid style of offense relies on having a quality gunslinger. 

    As good as West Virginia's offense was last year, its defense was equally as bad if not worse. 

    It appears though that the defense may be trending upward as the summer approaches. The defense beat the offense in the spring game, and defensive lineman Kyle Rose had two sacks. 

    There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Mountaineers this offseason. If Geno Smith's replacement can fit into Holgorsen's scheme effectively, the Mountaineers could be a dangerous team. 

    However, if the offense takes a few steps back from last year without Smith and the defense doesn't improve enough, it could be a long season for West Virginia.