Mailbag: WVU gauge, Texas '13, TCU/Tech

Thanks for all the email this week. You can reach me here if you've got more to say.

Let's get to your emails!

Blake K. in Austin, Texas, writes: Okay I agree with your power rankings by having the Horns 5th but you really think they aren't the team to buy into for next year? Believe me the players are totally behind Applewhite and his implementing of tempo and toughness. Plus if Ash is the concern, consider his improvement this year from last year and then add the fact that his position coach is now Applewhite. He showed his potential with the up tempo against Ore State and can now develop into the Big12's best.

David Ubben: I definitely think Texas has huge upside, and a great shot to get through the Big 12 schedule for a BCS bid. For now, though, it's mostly just upside. I totally disagree with folks who want to put Texas in the top 15, but I'd probably have 'em around No. 20. We'll see how Applewhite develops his quarterbacks compared to Harsin. I don't know that I'm convinced that there's going to be a huge difference, but I do buy that we could see David Ash make another jump like we saw from 2011 to 2012. If that happens, Texas will definitely be a contender, but seeing the games they lost this year and the fashion in which they lost them (Blown out by Oklahoma, getting outphysical-ed by TCU, nearly losing to KU) doesn't make me very convinced that this team should start in the top 15. It's not very hard to believe Texas could play its way back into the top 10 or better next year, though. The defense has the personnel to be great, and we saw them do it in 2011. This year looked more likely to be an anomaly than the beginning of the new status quo.

Jay in Midland, Texas, writes: David, man it is hard to get any love from you for Texas Tech! You placed TT behind TCU in the post season power rankings? Tech shared the same conference record, beat them at Amen Carter, Tech ended the season with a better overall record and a bowl win.. Yet you see it fit to place TCU at number 5? Although I definitely agree with your top 3, I still have to say... Come on man!

DU: Let's rehash Texas Tech's finish the final six games of the season: It lost four games and needed overtime at home to beat a team that went 1-11 and 0-9 in Big 12 play. It won its bowl game, but did so against a terrible Big Ten team as a double-digit underdog, and only won when it picked off a pass on a prospective game-winning drive.

TCU had to play four consecutive ranked teams to end the regular season, and managed wins over two of them. Its two losses were to the co-Big 12 champions, including a loss on the final play to Oklahoma. If the Frogs' offense had been better, it would have been in the mix of both of those games. It dominated Michigan State for three quarters before coughing up a game it absolutely should have won.

The gap between the two isn't enormous, but there's no doubt in my mind that TCU would beat Texas Tech right now.

Rob Johnson in Scott Depot, W.Va., writes: Thanks for the coverage this year..the positive and the negative as both were deserved. My question would be: " Could you gauge the overall response of the Big 12 fan that attended the games in Morgantown and what their honest opinion of the setting and atmosphere were there in comparison to others in the Big 12? Also, how do they think they were received by Mountainer fans?" I think the negative image we have had in the past was not so deserved. Thanks.

DU: I heard only good things from the fans who wrote me, and I loved the atmosphere for the Kansas State game, the only time I went out to Morgantown this year. The game wasn't real conducive to a great atmosphere once the game started, but it was a fun day and a whole lot of buzz beforehand. I saw the atmosphere in the Oklahoma and Baylor games and both were spectacular.

We'll see plenty more great atmospheres in the year to come, but West Virginia definitely proved it belonged in the Big 12 when it came to providing big-game atmospheres.

Derrick in Fairlawn, Ohio, writes: Dave, I noticed in your chat that you said that you thought WVU was a 10-win team this past year, but you ended up being wrong, and that WVU was never that good to begin with.Now, I know a win is a win, even by the smallest of victories... and good teams "find ways to win". But, when I look at the WVU/TCU game, and the WVU/Oklahoma game, I see two games that WVU should have won. I feel like WVU played better, but handed victories over via 3-4 routine plays that had no business going bust (ahem, Bitancurt, for example, ahem).If WVU was a 9-3 team ending the season, which in all fairness they probably should have been based on 98% of the TCU/Oklahoma games, the whole season is much rosier. They were a stones throw away from that.

DU: I don't know that it's fair to say they were games West Virginia should have won, but of those two, clearly TCU is the game you could say that about. Oklahoma was basically a toss-up, but when you give up 50 points in a game, you can't complain if you lose. West Virginia did that a lot this year. The TCU game, considering that late 10-point lead, should have been a win, but when you look at where this team began the season and rose to a top five ranking ... that's simply being far, far overrated. West Virginia's probably not far off from being a Top 25 team who slightly underachieved, but more than anything, they just weren't very good outside of the Geno Smith/Tavon Austin/Stedman Bailey trio.

bitcruncher in Knoxville, Tenn., writes: What's your opinion of Geno Smith bypassing the Senior Bowl?

DU: He's got a great shot to be the first quarterback taken, and doesn't have a ton to prove. His game tape this year does a whole lot of talking. There aren't many quarterbacks this year who threw 42 touchdowns and six picks. If he goes out to the Senior Bowl, it's far more likely that he could have a bad week and introduce a whole new set of questions. If he has a good week, he mostly just confirms what scouts already knew. There's far more to lose than their is to gain, and I'm sure that's what his agent is telling him, too.

Skipping the Senior Bowl is a good call for quarterbacks who have good chances to go in the top 10. History tells us that.