Mailbag: QB change, best D, new rivalries

Good questions this week. Much appreciated on my end. If yours didn't get answered, or you were too lazy to ask it, feel free to send it my way.

Paul in Oklahoma City asked: Ubbs...who do you see taking over at QB at OSU after Weeden leaves? A lot of people think JW Walsh will but is there any chance Clint Chelf or Johnny Deaton take over instead?

David Ubben: It's pretty tough to tell early on, and we haven't had much chance to see these guys. J.W. Walsh's head was still spinning when I visited Stillwater the spring, but when the game slows down for him, we'll get a better feel of how good he could be.

It should be a pretty fun competition, but experience like Chelf got last season and probably will get this season is impossible to duplicate. Too many times people lose sight of the importance of the backup quarterback race and making sure you have a guy that's ready. Landry Jones narrowly beat out Drew Allen in 2009, and like the Sooners learned the hard way, the old adage of "You're only one play away" is a cliche that's far from meaningless.

Kevin Bright in Oklahoma City asked: David, Should the Sooners trade Westbrook? How will the loss of Murry effect the Thunder? You know he scored a bunch of touchdowns to get them to the Western Conference Finals? And speaking of the Finals why did Stoops go small and allow the Mavs all those rebounds. And do you think Scott Brooks would leave for the Ohio State job if Tressel gets handed his gold pants? I am so confused, is it August yet? Any way, no way Alabama is going to beat the Thunder next year! Sooners should be #1. Always have been, always will be. At least to me. And sometimes in the polls. You da man.

DU: Ha. I'm not sure why, but this e-mail made me laugh. I had to share. But seriously ... is it August yet?

Keyser Soze in Houston asked: Big 12 talk is always about the offense. Tell me which teams you think are going to do the most damage on the defensive side of the ball. NU is out so the conference is losing some of the little defensive credibility it had. Texas played pretty well considering they had no offense to give them a breather, but they have to replace the secondary. A&M started off pretty porous but was playing pretty impressive late in the year, unfortunately they have von miller to replace. Missouri could be pretty good and an unconfirmed rumor says tubberville can teach red raiders to spell tackle.

DU: I generally think Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Texas A&M will battle it out for the Big 12's best defense. Tech is still a year away on both sides of the ball, but if they can stick around and win 7-8 games this season, the Red Raiders could be in position for a Big 12 title run in 2012.

Those first four defenses are pretty complete, with a few minor problems. Whoever fixes them the best will come out on top. The Aggies have to figure out how to replace Michael Hodges, which I actually think will be harder to do than replacing Miller. Missouri has to make sure its new corners are as good as the coaches think they are.

Texas' secondary, as you mentioned, is really young. But there's no denying Texas' ability to pump out DBs and getting Duane Akina back was huge for the Horns. Oklahoma has some inexperience in the secondary and some questions at defensive tackle, but I doubt those two positions will drop below average at worst.

Lou in USA asked: You seem to post on the comment section more than the other bloggers. What do you think of the new format? I personally like it.

DU: I like it a lot. I think it'll make it easier for people to carry on conversations about linear topics without a lot of distraction. That's what the comments section is all about, and helping accomplish that is a good thing.

Everyone on the Internet generally hates every change at first, but they get used to it over time. I'm sure the comments section will be the same.

Matthew in Rolla asked: Hey David! I read the article about Big 12 rivalries that "should be." How about Missouri vs. Arkansas or Iowa?

DU: Missouri needs one, but it's best nonconference rivalry (Illinois) just ended. Arkansas already plays its old SWC rival, Texas A&M, and with an SEC schedule looming, doesn't need to add Missouri. The same with Iowa, who plays Iowa State every year in nonconference anyway.

In theory, those games would be great, but Iowa and Arkansas are busy with other series to add Missouri. The Tigers have a nice marquee nonconference matchup in probably Pac-12 South favorite Arizona State this year, but finding a geographic rival outside of Illinois would be a nice move in the future.

Larry Scott in Walnut Creek, Calif., asked: David, in my massive marketing deal for the 12-Pack, I used a company called Pac-12 Media Enterprises and that company is a for-profit holding company for the conference. Does creating a FOR-profit company to collect hundreds of millions of dollars for NON-profit educational institutions make you nervous?

DU: I'll just say this: yes.

Matt in Dallas: Should the conference look at each team playing a 4-4-1 "Big 12" schedule? As in 4 home games, 4 away games, and 1 neutral site? If so, which teams should play which and where should they play the games?

DU: Yeah, teams definitely need to look into doing that. It can be tough to fill the seats in games like that (see: Missouri versus Kansas and Iowa State versus Kansas State at Arrowhead last season) but playing five away games in conference seems like a rough deal for coaches.

As the league's strength fluctuates, somebody is going to get completely hammered on a road schedule one of these years, too. Could see some really good teams lose 2-4 games as a result.