Big 12 Football: 5 Most Interesting Remaining Spring Games of 2014
We're in the heart of spring ball in the Big 12, and teams are trying to gear up for what is sure to be another wild race to win the conference in 2014.
Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU have already had their spring games, which leaves seven teams remaining. April 12 and 19 will see six squads kick off, while Kansas State completes the Big 12's slate of spring games on April 26.
The rest of the Big 12 spring games will give fans updates on quarterback battles and how players are adjusting to position changes as well as coaching staff changes.
With that, let's check out the five most interesting spring games left in the Big 12.
Date: Saturday, April 12
West Virginia's spring game on April 12 will give fans their first good look at the ongoing quarterback battle in Morgantown.
After Geno Smith's departure from the Mountaineers, Dana Holgorsen and Co. struggled to replace him in 2013.
The spring may not provide many answers to the problems at quarterback either, as Clint Trickett missed spring workouts as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, per Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
That leaves Paul Millard, who split starts with Trickett last season, to battle it out with Skyler Howard, a JUCO transfer, and Logan Moore, a walk-on who played wide receiver last year.
Howard seems to be the most promising candidate as both Trickett and Millard struggled last season. But you never know with JUCO guys.
The spring game will at least give WVU fans a glimpse of how Howard looks playing against Big 12 competition.
Date: Saturday, April 12
Like West Virginia, the Iowa State Cyclones' spring game will also give fans a first glimpse at the squad's ongoing quarterback battle.
Currently, Grant Rohach, Sam Richardson—who split starts last year—and Joel Lanning are the three remaining candidates for the job, according to Ryan Young of the Iowa State Daily.
Fans in Ames will also get a first peek of new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino's offense at the spring game. The Cyclones have struggled to put up points in a league known for its high scoring, so head coach Paul Rhoads is putting all his marbles into Mangino's basket this season.
After a dismal three-win season last year, Rhoads may be approaching a do-or-die campaign at Iowa State. The spring game will give everyone a chance to see how far he has progressed this new group and whether or not the Cyclones can compete in the Big 12.
Date: Saturday, April 26
The Kansas State Wildcats, fresh off a win in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl over Michigan, are looking to get back in the hunt for the Big 12 title in 2014. With weapons like Tyler Lockett at wideout and Jake Waters at quarterback, it's hard not to imagine this squad causing some headaches in the fall.
Perhaps the biggest storyline for K-State this spring, though, and one that fans will finally get to see at the spring game, is what the Wildcats are going to do with backup quarterback Daniel Sams.
Sams, who split snaps with Waters last season but slowly saw his playing time dwindle, is trying a position change. At a recent press conference, head coach Bill Snyder announced that Sams is trying his luck at wide receiver.
That means come April 26, fans will get to see what the former gunslinger has up his sleeve at wideout.
Date: Saturday, April 12
The Sooners are poised to be the favorite to win the Big 12 crown this fall. But that comes with the territory of being one of college football's most storied programs, especially when it's fresh off a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
One of the biggest storylines is Blake Bell's switch to tight end after effectively losing his job to Trevor Knight, who toasted the Alabama defense in the Sugar Bowl.
Unfortunately, fans won't get to see Bell in his new position in the spring game. Eric Bailey of Tulsa World reported that Bell will miss the rest of spring ball with a knee injury, although he will not need surgery.
With Bell off the quarterback depth chart, the battle to be Knight's backup is a heated one. A fan favorite in Norman to take that role is Cody Thomas, a two-sport athlete who also plays baseball. For Thomas, the spring game falls in the middle of the baseball team's three-game weekend series with Texas.
So the Sooners faithful will have two opportunities to see Thomas play two different sports in the same day. If that's not impressive for a student-athlete, then what is?
Date: Saturday, April 19
What can beat the public on-field debut of the Charlie Strong era?
Nothing. That's what I thought, and that's what makes Texas' spring game the most intriguing one left in the Big 12.
There are plenty of question marks in Austin that need to be answered, but probably the biggest is whether or not David Ash is ready to make his return after missing most of last season with a concussion.
Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle reported that Strong has been impressed with Ash's progression so far.
But Ash has been inconsistent for most of his career with the Longhorns. And with Tyrone Swoopes and possibly USC transfer Max Wittek being in the mix, it's unclear how much job security Ash has in Austin.
We'll find out at the spring game.