Mailbag: Best WRs, new stats, paid players

Thanks for all the questions. Didn't get yours answered? My mailbag is always open.

Paul in Austin wrote: Hey David. Question today about recievers. It seems to me that Ryan Broyles' stats were hyper-inflated due to the bubble screens that OU runs. I may be biased (well, I am) but if you take the stats away and base it on pure ability here's my recievers list: 1. Blackmon 2. Fuller 3. Broyles 4. Wright Thoughts?

David Ubben: Nope. You're off base, Paul. Yes, Broyles' reception totals are inflated to some degree, but I still think he's the best receiver in the Big 12 -- and probably the country -- in terms of his ability to get open, as well as his talent for eating up yardage after the catch.

Blackmon isn't far behind in the "get open" category, but his ability to go up and get jump balls, along with his consistency, give him the edge over Broyles.

Fuller is a good receiver, definitely the third best in the Big 12, but he's not nearly as good at getting open or making plays after the catch. He's better than both Broyles and Blackmon at getting jump balls, but the other two do just about everything better.

As well as Fuller did against LSU's Patrick Peterson in the Cotton Bowl, his production took a huge dip late last season, which we didn't see from Blackmon or Broyles.

I'll rank the Big 12's receivers before the season, but Baylor's Kendall Wright will be challenged pretty closely for that fourth spot by T.J. Moe and Kenny Stills.

CowboyKS in Kansas asked: DU, With arguably the 2 best pass rushers in the country NFL bound (Smith@Mizzu, Miller@A&M), do you predict the great passers of the Big 12 having even bigger years in conference play?

DU: No, I think it'll be a slightly above average year, and not because of pass-rushers. More than anything, it'll be secondaries. The Big 12 is pretty deep at receiver, but there are exactly zero elite corners in the league without Nebraska and Jamell Fleming.

This isn't like 2008 when the league had eight or nine crazy-good quarterbacks. Brandon Weeden, Landry Jones, Ryan Tannehill and Robert Griffin III are pretty clearly the elite class. James Franklin at Missouri should have a good year, but he's not going to get anywhere near 4,000 yards. I'd expect him to just barely clear 3,000. Seth Doege could cause problems for opposing defenses. Texas is a bit of a wild card.

It'll be a good year for offenses, but don't plan on seeing a ton of 51-48 games.

Jake in College Station, Texas, asked: Hey David,How do you feel about the Big 12 throwing around the idea of increasing player's stipends and other forms of payment? Is getting a free education not enough? None of the other students are getting that kind of assistance.

DU: I like the idea of giving players more money, but it's going to take some finagling to come up with the money. Do school's finance it? Do they use the new television money? Does the NCAA foot the bill? We're still a long way from this becoming a reality.

But as much as people like to play the "What, getting a free education isn't enough?" card, let me answer that for you: In a lot of cases, no. It's not. Players can get by. Athletic cafeterias usually have top-notch food, especially at major programs, and scholarships can cover housing, but the majority of these players are broke, just like the rest of their classmates.

You've heard it before, but revenue-producing sports do a lot of revenue producing. Not everybody taking money is Reggie Bush. In a lot of cases, it's for basic needs, like making a parent's house payment or some extra spending money. If everyone can get together and agree on a way to slide these guys a few thousand dollars more per semester without coming at a huge cost to other sports, the universities or the programs themselves (and that might be difficult), I don't see any problem with it.

Sam in Oklahoma City asked: In the upcoming season, my beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys have a lot of potential on offense. I realize that the defense is suspect, but a quick observation and question. Lou Holtz made an interesting observation last year. He stated that the defensive stats were skewed against the defence. His reasoning was that with the points OSU put up, offenses had to throw a lot more against them to keep up. Could I have your thoughts on the subject.

DU: Yeah, there's some truth to that. The raw numbers (yardage, points per game) don't really tell the whole story, especially with teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who have a ton of possessions. Generally, the concept of math escapes me, so I'm not overtly attracted to sabermetrics for football, but most of the numbers make sense if you can wrap your head around them.

One pretty simple one is offensive and defensive efficiency, which I came across on Berry Tramel's blog for The Oklahoman this past season. I'm sure I'll get emails from statheads about how someone else came up with it first, but I don't have time for a history lesson on advanced statistics.

Anyway, he put together the numbers for every team in the Big 12 and a few others that's pretty simple: What percentage of your opponents' possessions end in points?

On those numbers, Oklahoma State actually looked pretty good.

Andrew Millar in Houston, Texas, asked: David,It nearly broke my heart to watch Jerrod Johnson throughout the first half of this season in comparison to last season. I'm also saddened he went undrafted, but I'm not really surprised. The UFL will be good for him, but do you ever see him getting out of the UFL and into the big leagues? And if so, in any sort of meaningful fashion?

DU: Yeah, that was tough to watch at times last year. He wasn't even close to the same player. I'm excited to see him if he finally returns to form from his junior year. If that happens, I definitely could see him in the NFL very soon. He's clearly got the size and the arm strength.

My guess is he'll have to shorten his release -- it's elongated because his arms are so long -- and he'll undergo some other tweaks to his mechanics, but if he can show some potential next year, he'll get a shot. Any coach would love to have him in the locker room. He'll learn fast and Mike Sherman can vouch for him.

Kareem in Los Angeles asked: Hey Dubs, you got a statue?

DU: Actually, at one time, I briefly did. He lived on my desk. My freshman year of college, a friend of mine went on vacation and came across a figurine a little bigger than a Coke can that looked exactly like me playing a guitar. Obviously, my friend had to bring him back. He was awesome, and his name was Little Davie Ubbs.

Unfortunately, when I was moving out of my college apartment, he fell off the top shelf of my desk and hit his head on my desk on the way down, shattering himself and his guitar.

Kevbot in Norman, Okla., asked: What are the chances there is a three-way tie between OU, OSU, and A&M with each team having a road loss? Who do you think would get the nod to the Fiesta Bowl or the National Championship (wishful thinking of course)?

DU: I asked a Big 12 official a couple weeks back about the tiebreaker rules, and though it's not official yet, the league sounds like it intends to keep the spirit of the previous tiebreaker rules. So, expect the BCS to come into play if the teams all split their head-to-head matchups.

In that case, No. 1 would go to the top bowl as the Big 12 champ, and the remaining bowls, be it BCS or otherwise, could pick between the other two.