In today’s mailbag, we discuss West Virginia quarterbacks, Texas Tech run defense and Baylor vs. SEC scheduling.
To the ‘bag:
Matt in Dallas writes: Considering how bad Texas Tech's D-line and overall rush defense was for a better part of last season, do you think that there's a chance that the Red Raiders get exposed early in the season by Arkansas' run game?
Trotter: The Hogs could get 200 yards on the ground. But they could also give up 500 through the air. I like Tech in this game against that Arkansas pass defense, which allowed opposing SEC QBs to complete 70.3 percent of their passes last year. Only the Air Force Academy had a worse completion percentage defense in its conference last season.
Cliff W. in Madison, W. Va., writes: I know William Crest doesn't arrive in Morgantown until June, but say he comes on campus and looks impressive, do the coaches actually start a true freshman against the likes of Alabama on opening day? Would a bad game hurt him the rest of the season? I'm all for playing the best man for the job but it's Bama!
Trotter: I agree. I think if Crest winds up starting, it will come eventually, rather than right away. Starting Crest against Alabama could be detrimental to his future confidence.
Ben in Chicago writes: So with WVU's QB situation probably not solved until after the spring, is there any hope that one of these young men will know the offense better then the three QBs used last year did?
Trotter: Well, Clint Trickett and Paul Millard will surely know the offense better, since they’ll have another year of experience in it. Skyler Howard could theoretically grasp it quicker, but who knows at this point if he will?
Joe in Waco, Texas, writes: Jake, do you ever see a five-star, big-time QB wanting to come to Baylor? Most of those guys want to play immediately and Art Briles has a system where he would like for you to come watch for a couple of years to learn, and then be very successful. They would probably love to play at Baylor, but do they have the patience to wait for their turn? Most five-star recruits expect to play very quickly.
Trotter: How could a big-time QB not want to give Baylor a hard look? The Bears have featured one of the best offenses in college football dating back to the beginning of the RG III days. Sure, a QB might not get to play as a true freshman. But isn’t that usually the case at other programs with high-powered offenses?
Steve in Dallas writes: While there is understandable criticism going toward Baylor about weak nonconference scheduling, why is there so much pressure on Big 12 schools to schedule other major conference foes? Each Big 12 school currently plays nine major conference opponents (all in conference), while the other conferences only play eight. If the SEC can get three cream puffs in a year without criticism, why can't the Big 12?
Jon D. in Davis, Calif., writes: If anyone needs examples of scheduling creampuffs, just look at the SEC's lineup year after year. Alabama's is just embarrassing -- again.
Trotter: You guys are right about one thing. Alabama does usually schedule three cream puffs annually. But here’s who else Alabama has scheduled out of conference the last five years: Virginia Tech, Michigan, Penn State and Clemson. If Baylor had any of those four teams on its nonconference schedule, nobody would care about the rest of it (while I’m at it, here is a sample of who the SEC has scheduled in the nonconference for 2014: Oklahoma, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, UCF, Boise State, Kansas State, West Virginia and Wisconsin).
This isn’t necessarily about who the Bears have scheduled. It’s about who they haven’t. Yes, the argument about nine conference games holds some water. But when it comes to a College Football Playoff committee, Baylor, with its current scheduling, is going to struggle for inclusion against a second SEC team with the same record, that played an SEC conference schedule, that also played Clemson or Florida State or Wisconsin out of conference to boot. That’s just the reality. That’s why Oklahoma has a home-and-home with Ohio State coming up. That’s why Texas added UCLA and Notre Dame to its schedules. Sure, by going undefeated, Baylor can still get into the College Football Playoff going forward. But given the way its nonconference schedules are currently constructed, one regular-season loss will likely be one too many.