Yes, it's early. No, I don't care. Spring ball is around the corner and I'm in withdrawal like Charlie Sheen at the Betty Ford Clinic. So, after the jump, I'm going to take a stab at what 2012 will look like and why just for fun. I'd love to hear your thoughts and your predictions as well.
Have faith my friends. Not because we are world beaters in 2012 but because the Big 12 will be down a bit. Returning 7 starters on D should be huge for us. Replacing Acho and Robinson will be the hardest part but I think Edmond and Cobbs will step in nicely. Santos could be a blessing in disguise as well. If Edmond still has conditioning issues, Santos could possibly step in for a few plays to allow for breathers. I think Phillips will slide into the FS spot. However, in Nickel, look for Phillips to move to nickel and Evans or Thompson to step in at FS. Overall, I think D will be the same, if not better, compared to last season. DL will be as solid as it has been in a long time. MB2 will crack the 2 deep and add depth into our DT rotation. JJ and Okafor will hold down DE again this year. I'm curious to see if Shiro and Ridgeway crack the 2 deep. Certainly a possibility.
O is another story. Hawkins is supposedly filling in nicely at OT. Good news indeed because this allows for an OL of Hawkins, Hopkins, Espy, Walters, and Cochran. Good core personel in natural positions. RB is a no brainer. Best stable of RBs in the country. JG will likely get wildcat snaps along with Overstreet. Personally, I think McFarland will have a big year at TE. He was impressing the staff prior to getting redshirted. We need him to have a good year. Grant will hopefully elevate his blocking skills. At WR, Ship will be 100% and Harris is back. Good news indeed. Harris is an elite blocker on the outside and has been working overtime with Ash. Davis will be the biggest question mark and I hope he gets it together. Goodwin will be our outside speed demon as usual. Onyegbule will be interesting. Great size but saw limited action. Curious to watch him at the spring game. I think Ash will be much improved. We saw a flash of the game manager he can be in the bowl game. However, he is working with a QB coach and will have a full spring under his belt with starter reps. I think we will all be surprised by his progress.
We have the potential to win the Big 12. No question. I think if we get past the nightmare stretch of WVU, OSU, and OU, then we will be just fine. If we stay healthy, KSU is winnable. I HATE the timing of the KSU game and I'm still trying to figure out who Snyder paid off to get that positioning. However, I think we have a great shot at winning the conference this year.
Despite popular mass media belief, I think OU will be down this year. Landry under pressure is not superman. He has a tendency to make mistakes. They lose their starting LT Stephenson. Both bakcup OTs will be redshirt sophmores with little experience. If anything, Williams will slide from backup RT to starting LT but I still see this as a weakness in their line. Other than that, their OL returns 4 veteran starters. Strongest part of their team for next season. Losing Broyles will hurt. Stills will have to step it up to fill those shoes. Reynolds has game but is inconsistent. Whaley could be interesting to watch. I think if he faces a stout D, his yardage decreases sharply. Overall, I think their passing game loses some of its flash this season.
Defense takes a big hit. Losing Alexander, Lewis, and Fleming will make or break their D. Mainly because those 3 were key for their D. Their run D should be down next season. Their secondary is suspect until proven otherwise . Overall, I think their D is worse next season. I know everyone thinks Mike Stoops is a defensive guru but he doesn't exactly walk into the perfect situation either. Plus, he will likely need a year to catch up with Big 12 offenses.
OU has a shot to win it but I think it's a stretch. A lot will depend on whether their passing game picks up and whether their D can solidify quickly.
Offense will be down. Replacing the famous Weeden-Blackmon duo will be next to impossible in one season. They also lose WR Cooper. Adcock and Martinez from their OL also graduated. That's a lot to compensate for on offense next season. However, they return RB Randle who is a key component of their offense. Plus, they now have Herschel Sims to play with. Should be fun to watch the Abilene native play. If their passing game struggles, which I think it will, they will be average on offense next season.
On D, they lose both DEs. That's never a good scenario. Both were very experienced too. That will be hard to replace that kind of experience in one season. They also lose starting S Markelle Martin. However, they return most of that nasty secondary and their full LB corp. I think their D will be close to what we saw last season.
I don't think OSU contends next season but I wouldn't sleep on them pulling an upset or two on the back of their D.
Doege is back and more experienced. This guy can throw the ball around. Give him time and he makes plays. Ask OU about him. What makes it worse is their WR corp will be all experienced seniors except one. Torres and Moore are both back. However, they lose 3 starters on OL. Their O success will be based on how their OL comes together.
On D, they lose Langley (NT) and that's it. That's 10 returning starters. I wish we were so lucky. I wonder if Starts will get a start. No pun intended (ok a little). However, their D leaves much to be desired. Their run D will likely be subpar again and their secondary isn't exactly mind blowing. Their D will be their thron in the side again next season.
Don't think they contend next season.
On O, they lose A LOT. You just don't replace RG3 overnight. Sure as hell don't do it with Petty. Petty can't move like RG3 at all. They also lose RB Ganaway and WR Wright. Those 3 leaving essentially leaves their O back to average. They also lose 2 starters on OL. Doesn't look pretty for Baylor O next season. I don't think Seastrunk will be their savior.
On D, they lose 3 starters, including both DTs. Losing Baptiste will hurt because he was solid at DT. Should be interesting to see how Dixon progresses next season at LB. Remember Hicks and Holl? That would be their 2 mediocre safeties. Yeah, they will still be their and we better take advantage of that too. Their D will be down next season, no question.
Not a contender...at all.
On O, they lose 2 OL and their starting TE. However, they return QB Pachall. Good QB, especially with time. Wesley is back at RB and I'm interested to see what happens with him. They lose a lot of depth at WR, including starter Hicks. That will be a serious weakpoint I think. They need guys to step up at WR to keep their O humming.
On D, it doesn't look good now. Losing Yendrey and Brock is a killer for them. They also lose Broughton. This leaves 2 starters on DL and 1 at LB. Their front 7 will be suspect until proven otherwise. They also lose most of their starting secondary. I think their D will be down. However, Patterson has a gift for building D out of nothing.
I don't think TCU contends this year. Maybe 2013 though.
Welcome back Mr. Klein. I hope we pound you again. In all seriousness though, that guy can take a beating and keep coming after you. They also return both RBs. I think their running game will be a force to deal with. However, they lose 3 starters on OL. They also lose Sheldon Smith at WR. Tannahill is back at TE though. If they can solidify their OL, they could be right back at it again.
On D, they lose 5 starters. 2 DL, 1 LB, and 2 DB. That's an even spread and it should be interesting to see how they compensate. They do return Nigel Malone though. Breakout year? Possibly and he is fun to watch. I think their D will be down this year. However, the wizard is the wizard.
If their O gets humming and controls the clock, they have a real shot at competing for the title.
On O, they only lose 3 starters. Hatch, Biere, and Patterson. Webb or Christ at QB? Your guess is as good as mine. Honestly, their O will be very different with Weiss up there. Should be interesting.
On D, they lose 3 starters as well. Dorsey will be the biggest loss. Once again, I think their D will be very weak against the run and mediocre against the pass. Could be a rough year again for Kansas.
Not even close to contending unless Weiss made a deal with Satan.
On O, it should be interesting to see how they develop. Barnett showed he has some moxy and can battle at QB. I expect him to be much better. He is also mobile and uses his feet to make plays. He is dangerous and shouldn't be underestimated. He will also have a full offseason as the starter. At RB, Johnson and Woody will be back. However, they lose 2 starting WR and 2 starting OL. If they can fill those voids, their offense will be above average. If Barnett shows serious development, look out.
On D, they lose 4 starters. Thank the Lord CB Leonard Johnson is gone. They lose 2 starters on DL and in the secondary. Lucky for them, they return all 3 starting LBs. Knott and Klein will be terrorizing people in 2012. This will be the core of their D. I think they will be stout against the run but weaker against the pass since they lost Johnson.
ISU is a darkhorse for me. You just never know with them. If Barnett comes in hot, could make things interesting. I'd say a mild contender with a small margin for error.
On O, scary. Very scary. The drunken scientist (Holgo) just has a way to mind f@#& you when you play him. Fundamentals will be key against this offense. They only lose 3 starters. Key returners are Geno Smith at QB and Roberts/Johnson at RB. Plus Tavon Austin is back at WR. Let's just say WVU will be dangerous on offense. They honestly scare me the most.
On D, they lose 5 starters. 2 of those lost are on DL which is huge because they usually run a 3-4 or modified system thereof. They also lose Tandy and Smith from their secondary. If anything, their D will be their weakspot in 2012. We will likely run a mutliple formation offense to offset their 3-4 look and them playing tight on our run. We will need to beat them through the air.
WVU has a real shot at the title. No, their D isn't amazing, but their O can burn you and do it quickly.
I think it's between UT, OU, KSU, and WVU. If we come together and Ash really progresses, I think we can take the Big 12 next season. If not, any one of these 4 has a shot. Should be an interesting year my friends.