Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer 247d

Big 12 mailbag: Spike Dykes, Lincoln Riley, quarterbacks

In today’s Big 12 mailbag, we discuss Spike Dykes, Lincoln Riley, Kenny Hill, Alex Delton and much more.

Olson: How could anybody not laugh upon hearing: “Oh, we played about like three tons of buzzard puke.” That’s classic. Spike Dykes absolutely will be missed. I wish I could have gotten to know him more before he passed. Another line of his that is applicable for coaches throughout college football was one I saw posted in Texas Tech’s staff meeting room when I visited a few years ago: “If you have to talk a kid into coming here, you’ll have to talk that kid into playing hard.” I think that’s so wise and holds true no matter where you’re recruiting.

Olson: Lincoln Riley is ready to be a head coach, and I honestly was disappointed that Houston did not take him more seriously for its vacancy this offseason. However, I wouldn’t say Baker Mayfield graduating should be an impetus to move on. Look at the stockpile of quarterbacks Riley has assembled in Norman. He’s got Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall and Chris Robison on campus, plus a commitment from Cameron Rising, the No. 2 QB recruit in California. They’re loaded for the future.

Olson: I’m not calling this a bold prediction, just an observation: When I look at West Virginia’s schedule, I don’t think a 7-0 start is impossible. That would require some tough wins away from home against Virginia Tech and TCU, and Baylor will give the Mountaineers a good fight in Waco. But am I crazy for thinking they have a path to a big start like that? You saw how much momentum that team gained over the course of its hot start to 2016.

Olson: Yes, this is K-State’s best team since 2012. To me, that’s a completely reasonable expectation. As for Oklahoma State’s offense, I would not underestimate the run game. The Pokes figured that out as the year went on in 2016, and Justice Hill provided the spark they needed. He’s only a sophomore. Their running backs averaged 5.8 yards per carry in conference play. As great as their receivers are, I don’t think they’re going to be unbalanced offensively and go all-in on their air attack.

Olson: I look at Jesse Ertz being sidelined this spring following shoulder surgery as a terrific opportunity for Alex Delton to prove himself. Those No. 1 reps are valuable, as is the chance to show off his leadership skills and gain a lot of confidence. No Big 12 quarterback took more hits last year than Ertz, and running the ball 15 times a game can take a toll on the body. So investing some time this spring in refining Delton’s game and building him up could be hugely helpful this fall and long term.

Olson: You know what’s funny, I used to say you need two quarterbacks to get through a season. Keeping your starter healthy for 12-plus games isn’t easy. But seven Big 12 teams were able to get 12 or 13 starts out of their No. 1 QB last season, which is extremely fortunate. To answer your question, I do find it interesting that Shawn Robinson is No. 2 on TCU’s post-spring depth chart ahead of some older backups. I think TCU’s staff will stick with Hill as long as they can, but I have my doubts now about whether Robinson ends up redshirting.

Olson: If we’re talking about the Black’s BBQ out in Lockhart, Texas, then I’ll take Black’s. Really like that spot. I’m a bit particular when it comes to what I order at Rudy’s: turkey, creamed corn, new potatoes and, of course, the wonderful peppery sauce. The rest is mostly just OK.

Olson: I’m sorry, but I haven’t been single since 2009, so I have no idea how the cool kids do that these days. I assume they use Snapchat, which is an app I still don’t totally know how to use. Man, I guess I’m getting old. Well, anyway, best of luck!

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