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Mailbag: Baker Mayfield, David Gibbs, LaQuan McGowan

In today's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, Sooner Nation asks for answers about its quarterback derby, Texas Tech faithful wonder if their defense can make strides, and Iowa State fans demand to know why they should renew their season tickets.

On to the 'bag:

@Jake_Trotter: Spring reports overall should be be mitigated. Winning time doesn't arrive until the fall. But I put way more stock into what happens in spring practices than what happens in spring games. The sample size of a spring game is too small. I remember Sam Bradford was awful in the 2008 spring game, and then won the Heisman later that year. Sometimes we get carried away with spring games, but ultimately it's only a small indication of what might occur in the fall.

Trotter: The three of us weighed in on this question in Thursday's roundtable. Baker Mayfield has to be considered the favorite. Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas really struggled last season. And like you mentioned, Mayfield has the most experience in the system Lincoln Riley wants to install. I think if you gave truth serum to the Sooner coaching staff, they would tell you they would like to see Mayfield win this competition. But we'll see. He hasn't won it yet.

Trotter: I don't know realistic that is. Right now, we're in the experimental phase of LaQuan McGowan playing tight end. But hey, it's not like there is a big-time established tight end coming back in the Big 12. Stranger things have happened, though few would be more fun than watching a 410-pounder dominate as a pseudo-skill position player.

Trotter: That is a big assumption. But assuming Texas Tech is better against the run and forces turnovers somewhere near the rate David Gibbs' defense did in Houston, then a record like 8-4 isn't out of the question. With Patrick Mahomes, DeAndre Washington, and Jakeem Grant, the Red Raiders have the firepower to do some damage offensively. If the defense makes a big leap, Tech could be a factor. But again, given what we've seen from the Red Raiders defensively the past couple of seasons, that is one big "if."

Trotter: 9-3 feels about right. 10-2 is not out of the realm of possibility. But neither is 7-5. Much hinges on the development of sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph. If the same trajectory he launched last season continues, then Oklahoma State could challenge Baylor and TCU for the Big 12 crown (both have to go to Stillwater this season). But if Rudolph suffers the sophomore slump that Knight and Davis Webb endured this past season, the Cowboys will labor again to get bowl eligible. There is a lot to like about this Oklahoma State team on both sides of the ball. But that's in the context of Rudolph being a difference-maker behind center.

Trotter: Offensively, Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine, Rudolph, and like nine guys from Baylor (Corey Coleman? Shock Linwood? K.D. Cannon? Seth Russell? McGowan?) stand out as preseason contenders. On defense, the early favorites would be Baylor defensive linemen Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings, Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker, and West Virginia safety Karl Joseph.

Trotter: I'm a big fan of Danzel McDaniel (and really, what K-State has coming back in the secondary as a whole). But it's extremely difficult for cornerbacks to gain traction in defensive player of the year races. Terence Newman, Aaron Ross, Prince Amukamara, and Jason Verrett are the only four to achieve the feat in the Big 12. Those four all became first-round draft picks. McDaniel, the hardest-hitting defensive back in the league after Joseph, has a good chance to be All-Big 12. But Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year seems like a long shot.

Trotter: Absolutely. Loved the first Avengers movie. As for other movies, I am way backed up. There are like 17 movies I want to rent, now available on my iPad, including "Foxcatcher," "Whiplash," and "Birdman."

Trotter: Iowa State fans are some of the best football fans in the country. Maybe the best. I'm so impressed at how you guys still show up to Jack Trice even when the team isn't very good. So renew to keep this tradition going. People, including myself, notice. And it reflects well on Iowa State.

Trotter: I only hate out of love..