Bevo's Daily Roundup - August 14, 2009

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21 days until the Louisiana-Monroe game

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The Horns have good leaders who teach accountability and team chemistry to their teammates by example. The one who stands out, of course, is Colt McCoy.

As far as offseasons go, this one has started off with us talking about football. How refreshing for Brown and staff that there has been little off-the-field drama surrounding this team. If Sergio Kindle's texting-while-driving accident is the worst thing that happens to this team, Brown can hold off on ordering that case of Grecian Formula.

Whatever the cause, the talk has all been between the lines and some credit has to go to Brown. But we also must give props to quarterback Colt McCoy, whose Golden Rule approach to football and life in general has trickled down to teammates who are more than willing to follow his steady example.

Modest as usual, McCoy considers the Heisman a team award.

"The Heisman is the ultimate team award," McCoy says in his usual modest tone. "If the team is doing well, that means I’m playing pretty well too."

ESPN's Ivan Maisel profiles the bonds all three Heisman candidates share.

It is not just their talent that links them. Every Heisman finalist is talented. And as unusual as it is that all three returned to campus this fall, that's not the reason that Bradford, McCoy and Tebow already have signed this sport with an indelible Sharpie.

What sets these three young men apart are qualities such as character and leadership, maturity and -- in a time when people feel a stop at the dry cleaner must be tweeted -- humility.

"They're both awesome players, awesome guys," McCoy said. "They both stand for a lot of good things that I feel this world needs to see."

The Big 12 is all about the Horns and the Sooners.

McCoy will be featured in the August 24th issue of ESPN The Magazine.

 

 

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Aggie Sports has practice notes. The quarterback battle is going on between Ryan Tannehill and Jerrod Johnson.

Teacher Tannehill: Tannehill is working mostly with the younger players, because of his knowledge of the offense, Sherman said.

Tannehill will get his chance to work with the older players soon, but Sherman joked that the younger guys are sure catching the ball for Tannehill, "So, he may be working the guys he's going to be playing with."

Tannehill, who didn't have any contact in spring while recovering from a torn labrum, seemed to have his best practice Wednesday.

"He's working with the second [and third] group, so sometimes those guys didn't do the right thing all the time," Sherman said. "Overall, I thought he did well."

That wasn't the case with starting quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

"I thought Jerrod needed to do better today," Sherman said. "I didn't think he had a great day."

Same story, second year. Things haven't changed much for the Aggies.

 

 

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Oklahoma State

Terrific tandems. Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant are No. 1 on the list.

Skills: Bryant slides into the Percy Harvin/Jeremy Maclin role as the nation's top playmaker on the perimeter. Robinson, lost amid the Big 12's quarterback bonanza, throws and runs well, and has as many weapons as any quarterback in the country.
 
Chemistry: The on-field synergy is superb; Robinson found Bryant nine times in the first half of the Holiday Bowl against Oregon before the receiver left with an injury.

The Cowboys overall success will depend on the defense.

Oklahoma State returns six defensive starters from last season.

The first priority is generating more of a pass rush. Oklahoma State ranked last in the Big 12 in sacks in 2008.

If nothing else, the group is motivated to prove it won't be the Cowboys' weakest link.

Zac Robinson is still missing practice because of an injury.

MIke Gundy wants some luck.

Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy knows that. And he believes a healthy dose of good fortune will help his team in its quest for its first South Division title and first BCS bowl appearance.

All of those goals appeared to be pipe dreams when Gundy arrived three seasons ago.

His team is making steps to get to the level where it can be competitive every season.

"I've never strayed away from saying you need a few breaks and you need to get a few breaks at times," Gundy said. "If you look at the teams that have not been in the top five and then won it all, they were all extremely lucky."

 

Oklahoma

The Sooners scrimmaged and the offense got the best of the defense. The best blocker? The tight end tuned center.

"I can admit it," said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. "They teach us to admit our faults, be a man about it, and they got us in the end. But that just helps us."

McCoy said one of the big reasons for the offense's success was the play of the offensive line, specifically the play of Brian Simmons, who spends most of practice trying to block the All-American.

One of the open receiver slots is Adron Tennell's job to lose. Tennell has emerged as one of the go-to guys for Bradford.

"Yeah, I think he is playing a lot more aggressive now," Bradford said. "He goes after the ball probably with more confidence than he has in years past. That could be because he has been here longer and he does feel more comfortable in our offense. But I think knowing that he has a chance to be one of our top targets probably adds to that."

OU has a tight end. Jermaine Gresham is a really good one.

"He’s a big monster," coach Bob Stoops said. "He’s talented, he’s competitive, he’s got great hands, he’s a great athlete.

"The size, it’s just not natural to have a guy that big and strong to move and be as graceful as he is."

Gresham’s top performance of 2008, however, came in a shootout at Oklahoma State. He took over the game in the second quarter, which allowed the Sooners to keep pace early with OSU’s offense. Then in the third quarter, his 73-yard deflected touchdown catch put OU ahead by double-digits and returned control of the game to the Sooners.

Freshman linebacker Tom Wort may be an immediate contributor for the Sooners.

"He's probably the best freshman linebacker I've seen since I've been here," senior middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds said. 

Wort's instincts have melded quickly into the Sooners' defensive philosophy.

"He's picking up the defense quickly and he's not afraid to hit," Reynolds said. "Some guys come in here intimidated by the big offensive line compared to high school. But not Wort. He just goes at it full-speed every day."

 

 

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Nebraska AD Tom Osbourne does not like the South hogging all the conference championship events.

If the Big 12 football championship game is eventually situated permanently in Dallas — which seems a distinct possibility — Osborne feels the men’s and women’s league basketball tournaments ought to remain in a Big 12 North Division region, for instance Kansas City, Mo., and/or Omaha.

"I think you have to look at the total package," the Nebraska athletic director said. "If there’s a majority that wants to put the football game in Dallas, then I think we’d have to be pretty insistent that the basketball tournament remain in Kansas City permanently. And if they want to move the basketball tournament around, then I’d certainly want to have the Qwest Center considered."

Who are the hardest hitters in the conference?

In this conference defensive units have a hard time just keeping up with the high powered offenses. It wasn't always like it is now.

"I think it's more the spread offenses and the great quarterbacks," Young said. "Look at the quarterbacks in the Big 12. If you miss a tackle in the open field now, it could be an 80-yard gain, instead of an 8-yard gain like it used to be."

Two decades ago, most of the country's best teams were more apt to run the football and win games with their defenses and kicking games. In 1978, NCAA Division I-A teams ran the ball an average of 50.9 times for 192.6 yards per game. Teams threw the ball only 21.2 times per game for 138.9 yards.

Now, teams are throwing the football more and more. Last season, NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams ran the ball an average of 36.7 times and threw 31 times.

"You used to be able to win a ballgame with a 3-0 score," said former Portland State offensive coordinator Darrel "Mouse" Davis, who is credited with revolutionizing the run-and-shoot offense in college football. "If you have a 3-0 game now, it's just two really bad teams."


The North

Sporting News asks if Nebraska is really back?

Nebraska's quarterback situation just got worse.

Redshirt freshman Kody Spano is out again. Spano, who tore his ACL in the spring and spent all summer furiously rehabbing to recover in time for fall camp, did it again to same knee, and has been lost for the rest of the season, head coach Bo Pelini confirmed Wednesday.

Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson is perfect for the Cyclone's new no-huddle offense.

"He catches the ball well, has great vision, has great toughness, can make people miss and can run away from people," Rhoads said. "We give him space, and he is going to be dangerous."

The lofty expectations are fine with Robinson, since he’s thinking the same thing himself.

"That is what you want," Robinson said. "That’s what you want to do as a player, work to get to that point."

Missouri recognizes the importance of the offensive line. The Tigers now have two o-line coaches.

Henson says that with many teams, the line coach will watch one half of the line while a graduate assistant surveys the other and fills in the coach afterward. But this year there are always two sets of eyes on the group, and it allows the players to be coached constantly.

"It's a great thing," Henson said. "They get coached on every play. We get to critique every single thing they do. If you're one guy standing there, maybe you didn't see the front side of a play, or the back side of a play. You know now that those things are getting coached, and getting seen."

Kansas tight end Tanner Hawkinson has switched positions three times and has finally found a home at left tackle.

Since arriving at KU last year, the McPherson native has switched positions three times, all before ever taking a regular-season snap. He came in as a tight end before shifting to defensive end, and now Hawkinson is expected to protect quarterback Todd Reesing's blindside as Kansas' starting left tackle.

The biggest thing to change with the new position has been Hawkinson's body. After moving to the offensive line in the spring, Hawkinson has been shoveling down food.


The South

Can one player turn a program around? Art Briles seems to think so.

Robert Griffin might be the closest thing to a one-man team as there is in college football this season. Baylor's sophomore quarterback holds the team's fortunes in his hands and his equally dangerous legs.

This is the guy protecting Griffin's blind side.

There's the conclusion that everyone seems to agree on at the moment.

"He doesn't know the rules of the game," says Jason Smith, the All-American who Watkins is replacing.

"He's still learning," says his coach, Art Briles.

A scant two years of organized football (in junior college) in an adopted country has brought Watkins to Baylor for this moment: As the starter at a position most recently inhabited by the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft.

"I didn't even realize the importance of the position," Watkins said. "It's cupcakes and brownies to me."

Mike Leach does not discuss injuries. Period. When asked about Baron Batch:

Batch appeared to be favoring his forearm or elbow.

Later Wednesday, Leach adopted his see-no-evil, speak-no-evil mode when asked about Batch’s injury.

"To my knowledge, he doesn’t have one," Leach said.

Raider quarterback Taylor Potts is better prepared than his predecessors.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has a new gunslinger at quarterback, one he says is better prepared in his first year than the other five who wound up leading the nation in passing.

Potts, a 6-5, 215-pound junior, impressed Leach with his swagger even before stepping on campus.

"He had that whole John Wayne quality," Leach said. "The ultimate dust and tumbleweeds coming from Abilene, quiet kind of guy. Even now he kind of is."

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