Thanks for all the questions during the week of media days. It was a busy one, helped by you guys. Short day today, so have a great weekend.
Robert in Salt Lake City: With Scott being aggressive, and implying there is future expansion, on the horizon for the PAC-12, any chance that A&M takes our disgruntled selves and goes there instead of the SEC? Could the original PAC-16 notion from last summer come to pass without Texas?
David Ubben: It's possible, I suppose. Obviously, the SEC is a good fit, and on their end, I'm sure would love to have the Aggies as an addition. However, Mike Slive has kept pretty quiet and you never know what they'll do. If not, I could see the Pac-16 being an option. That said, I still feel pretty confident that this latest dustup in the Big 12 is mostly just a speed bump and once it's settled, the Big 12 will remain at 10 teams for quite awhile, well through the next TV contract. Fans aside, I think each school's decision-makers did their due diligence last summer to really decide what conference suited its university's needs best. The 10 teams all came to the conclusion that it was the Big 12. Not that much has changed.
And, for the 500th time on this blog, my mailbag tells me I need to reiterate that my employment is not contingent on the existence of the Big 12.
Connor in Beaumont, Texas, asked: Ok, here's the dealio. Of course everyone knows about the Longhorn fiasco from last season. I figured i would ask an unbiased expert about a possible theory I have created. Could their offensive lack of production be attributed fully on the offensive line? After the failure of the "Power run-game offense for which they spent most of the pre-season and spring preparing, they seemed to abandon that and revisit the spread which did not function either. Is this a plausible or even a likely cause?
DU: Well, that's hardly a stretch for a theory. Honestly, I think it's the biggest reason. Texas doesn't have skill position guys that make you say "Wow!", but the Longhorns have some athletes. When Garrett Gilbert has had time, he's looked OK. The running backs aren't great, but they got no help last season. I really do believe the O-line was the biggest problem for the offense last year, with Gilbert's decision-making a very close second.
So, to your theory, I'm buying. It's amazing how much better an offense can look behind a good offensive line. If Stacy Searels gets those guys going this year, guys like Gilbert, Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Davis are going to look a whole lot better.
William in De La Playa, Calif., asked: Hi David, One of the most impressive things about DeMarco Murray was his ability to catch swing passes in the flats, and gain tough inside yardage behind an offensive line whose ability to drive block was mediocre. From what you've seen, is there anyone among OU's new crop of backs that has good enough hands to keep the swing pass option viable for next season?
DU: We haven't gotten a chance to see a lot of the young backs at Oklahoma, but my understanding is the best guy in OU's backfield for that part of the job was Brennan Clay. His injury last seaon against Florida State happened on a swing pass. If I'm guessing, I bet Clay leads the team in receptions among running backs.
With Oklahoma though, get ready to see that Diamond, or "Backs" formation plenty next season. The same is true at Oklahoma State. They have so many running backs that can contribute, you've got to find a way to get them on the field. That's a great way to handle them along with fullback Trey Millard. Stoops loves Millard and he should become a quiet star in this league, if only because of the position he plays. He was one of the league's most impressive freshmen last season.
Brandon in Austin, Texas asked: I'm hoping to see Jackson Jeffcoat make the top 25 players list. Doesn't necessarily have the stats to compare to some of the other DL players that will make it (only a sophomore and the ankle injury last season), but his freak athleticism and superior technique made him a powerful weapon last season. Despite Okafor's dominating performance in the spring game, I think Jeffcoat improves on his early season performance from last year and becomes the next big sack machine for Texas.
DU: Well, I'll go ahead and burst your bubble on this one. Jeffcoat's not making it. That said, he may have a great shot at making the postseason list. I loved what he did early in the 2010 season, especially against Texas Tech, but you can't put him on the list when you look at his entire freshman year.
That said, he's got some of the best raw skills of any pass rusher in the league. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he competed with Brad Madison for the league lead in sacks, and even cracked the All-Big 12 first-team by the season's end. I'm not really sold on Ronnell Lewis as a reliable defensive end on that team, and there's really not a lot of great pass rushers in the Big 12 this season.
The door's wide open for Jeffcoat to become a star opposite Alex Okafor for the Longhorns. He's got it all. Great size, great speed, great technique, he's smart and every indication from their staff is he's extremely coachable. It helps having a dad like Jim Jeffcoat, a 15-year pro with Dallas and San Francisco who now coaches the defensive line at San Jose State.
Nicholas in Houston asked: Why wasn't Dan Bailey on your March postseason Big 12's best 25 list?
DU: Don't let a Nebraska fan hear you. When Alex Henery wasn't being awesome at punting and kicking 80-yard field goals, he was saving the lives of countless small children across the world.
The uproar about Bailey winning the Groza Award over all-everything Henery aside, my policy is I don't put special teams players on my top 25. I understand their profound impact on games, but I simply don't believe they're on the field for enough plays to be designated as one of the top 25 players in the league. Sorry. Not all of us bloggers agree, but nobody's changing my mind on that.
Husker Nation in Everywhere asked: Dave, is it too early to say we told you so?
Zachary Krider in Leonard, Texas, asked: What teams do you see getting upset early on and what games?
DU: All the top teams in the Big 12 better show up in these games against good teams very capable of beating them. Obviously, the Oklahoma-Florida State game will get a lot of attention, but a bad outing for Oklahoma State against Arizona could quickly turn into a loss.
The same is true for Texas A&M against SMU in its opener. And Missouri surely grasps the difficulty of its trip to Tempe to play Arizona State in a Friday night game. Every single one of those games could be an upset and derail big seasons before they even get rolling into October.
James C in College Station asked: Better nickname, C-Mike the Motorbike or Cyrus the Virus?
DU: I gotta go with C-Mike, if only for its versatility. You've got C-Mike the Motorbike, but want the long version? Well, obviously, there's C-Michael the Motorcycle. Can't beat that. Best backs in Beebe's Dozen, right?