No Rush To Judgment
DALLAS -- Oklahoma brings back quarterback Landry Jones, who threw for more than 4,700 yards with 38 touchdowns last season.
The Sooners also bring back receiver Ryan Broyles, who had more than 1,600 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns in 2010.
The record-setting duo's return is a big reason Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls heading into the 2011 season.
But if the Sooners are going to meet those lofty expectations, they'll have to find a replacement -- or replacements -- for departed tailback DeMarco Murray.
Murray, a third-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in April's NFL draft, ran 282 times for 1,214 yards with 15 touchdowns at OU last season, while catching 71 passes for 594 yards with five scores.
"DeMarco [was] a fifth-year senior, a big, strong guy who could do so much," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "You don't replace him. We have to really replace him by committee, but that's OK."
The Sooners, defending Big 12 champions, will start looking for Murray's replacements when they open preseason camp early next month.
"We snapped the ball more than anybody in the country last year," Stoops said. "There's a lot of snaps there."
Sophomore Brennan Clay, who ran for 127 yards last season, emerged as the No. 1 returning option during spring practice. But freshman Brandon Williams, who was ranked the No. 5 running back prospect in the country by ESPN Recruiting, also looked good after enrolling at OU this spring.
Williams ran for 2,438 yards with 33 touchdowns as a senior at Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, last season.
"I don't see any of these guys having the physical presence at this point and maturity to play 45 or 50 snaps like DeMarco did," Stoops said. "So we'll divide it up. But if there's a guy in there that's hot, we'll keep him in there until he needs a break."
During the 2008 season, when the Sooners lost to Florida 24-14 in the BCS National Championship Game, Murray and Chris Brown both ran for more than 1,000 yards while sharing carries.
"I think it will benefit all of them being able to divide it up some," Stoops said. "It doesn't have to be an issue. If the guys up front do their job, they'll get through the hole and make something happen. I feel good about it."
Snyder Weighs In On Rules Change
DALLAS -- Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson opened up a presentation on Monday morning with one of the most infamous plays of the college football season in 2010: The Bronx Salute. Adrian Hilburn's salute to a group of Kansas State fans that had traveled from the Little Apple to the Big Apple drew a flag, leaving the Wildcats 18 yards from a 36-all tie instead of 3, and an eventual loss.
Wildcats coach Bill Snyder, however, isn't complaining, though the example has been used as an incorrect interpretation of the new celebration rules preparing to hit college football this fall.
"There was an awful lot of media attention paid to it, talk shows, etc., etc., across the nation. So that perhaps had some impact on [the change]," Snyder said. "But it certainly wasn't anything that I said or -- it happened. And what do we say? It is what it is or it was what it was."
The new rule allows for points to be taken off the board for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the field of play, and though Anderson and his officiating brethren insist they'll be erring on the conservative side -- both in the scope and location of the celebrations -- Snyder is asking for just one thing: consistency.
"When you get outside of the conference, play with officials that come from a different conference, you're not sure if you'll have the same continuity," Snyder said. "The best way for it not to be an issue is to make sure that your youngsters don't do anything that would threaten the letter of the rule itself."
How to do that? What else? Discipline, Snyder says, a trait his teams over the years have ultimately become known for.
"It's hard sometimes because every football coach in the country will tell you -- and you would feel the same way -- that if you were coaching that you would want young people to be passionate about the game and play with great spirit and emotion because it is that kind of a game. And when you do that, you know, sometimes you just show your joy, and it's strictly that," Snyder said. "It's not trying to demean anyone. It's just joy of accomplishing something on the field. And to get penalized, really it's kind of a hard thing for young guys."
Tuberville Emphasizes Depth, Speed on D
DALLAS -- After navigating his way through his first season in the Big 12 in 2010, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville knows what the Red Raiders will have to do to be better.
"It's all about depth and speed on defense," Tuberville said. "You don't really have to worry about size. You worry about quickness and speed. I've always believed in that anyway. That's the type of defense I've been around."
Tuberville's first Texas Tech defense was one of the worst in his long coaching career. A former defensive coordinator at Miami and head coach at Ole Miss and Auburn, Tuberville built his best teams around stingy defenses.
But largely because of injuries and suspensions, the Red Raiders were woefully inept on defense in 2010. Texas Tech finished No. 118 nationally in pass defense (293.8 yards per game), 114th in total defense (456.3 yards) and 93rd in scoring defense (30.9 points).
The Red Raiders never had a full complement of players on defense in 2010. Senior cornerback LaRon Moore missed the first four games because of a broken leg; junior defensive end Scott Smith was suspended for the season after four games; and end Aundrey Barr missed the final nine games with a knee injury.
Tuberville hopes the addition of former TCU defensive backs coach Chad Glasgow, who is installing the Horned Frogs' vaunted 4-2-5 scheme as the Red Raiders' new defensive coordinator, will help shore up some of Tech's defensive problems.
"With the type of players that you play against and the formations [you face in the Big 12], you have to run a lot of nickel defenses," Tuberville said. "You play Oklahoma, you play Texas A&M last year, they just run you down. It kind of reminds me of defenses I've been part of when we've had good success. That's how you win championships; it's not with anything else other than the speed on defense."
What A Difference A Play Makes
DALLAS -- One play could have changed the entire Big 12 landscape in 2010. Iowa State took a Taylor Martinez-less Nebraska team into overtime and scored what looked like a game-tying touchdown & until the Cyclones faked the extra point.
Reserve punter Daniel Kuehl had a wide-open Collin Franklin, the Cyclones' leading receiver, in the back of the end zone, but short-armed the pass on a wind-swept November day in Ames, allowing Nebraska's Eric Hagg to come down with a game-clinching interception.
"It's a call that I relive and a play I relive every week," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "There's not a week that goes by that I don't think about the play and what it could have created for our football team and our football program."
And not just for the Cyclones, who would have been bowl-eligible with the win. It also would have put Iowa State in the Big 12 North Division drivers' seat and sent Nebraska to the Big Ten without so much as a share of the Big 12 North title. Instead, Missouri would have represented the conference against Oklahoma.
Rhoads, though, has repeatedly emphasized he'd do it all over again.
"And as the game went along, it was a play I studied and certainly was there," he said. "That's the name of the game, when it's a play like that, the final play of a game or the first play of the game, you have to execute to be successful."
Iowa State was playing with a limping quarterback, a limping top receiver and a center in Ben Lamaak who left the game twice with an injury. One play was the best way to decide it.
The Cyclones lost a game on that day, but Rhoads, perhaps the Big 12's most underrated coach, earned a whole new legion of fans with the gutsy call gone wrong.
"The fallout was positive," Rhoads said. "If anything, from players to fans to most people I talked to they thought it was a right call -- gutsy call, but the right call -- and would have given us an opportunity to really springboard our program, I feel."
Kansas State: Arthur Brown
Kansas: Steven Johnson
One Good Thing
Iowa State: Iowa State had one of the nation's toughest schedules in 2010, and that won't change in 2011 with 11 of the Cyclones' 12 games coming against BCS teams. That included nonconference games against in-state rival Iowa and reigning Big East champ UConn. That schedule will lighten up in the future, though, a welcome sign for the ISU faithful.
"My wife likes our job, and I sort of do, too," Cyclones head coach Paul Rhoads said. "A change is in place in 2012 and beyond to get away from that challenging of a schedule."
Kansas: The 2010 season was a long one in Lawrence, but the early steps to a more promising future may begin in fall camp, thanks to increased competition. That stemmed from a calculated move by Turner Gill to redshirt 15-16 freshmen, which he thought would benefit the program in the long term, even while his program suffered through a trying 3-9 season. This year, he'll add 25-26 more freshmen to the program.
"This year we got competition. That's what we didn't have last year at positions," he said. "When you've got competition at just about every position, you're going to improve your play of your football team."
Kansas State: The Wildcats are 5-2 against Texas in Big 12 play, including wins in the past three meetings. In the new Big 12, the two teams will play every season, but coach Bill Snyder balked at the idea of looking forward to seeing the Longhorns every season.
"We've just been fortunate, fortunate that our players play extremely hard. Fortunate that things just kind of fell into place in several of those ball games that we've played with the University of Texas," he said. "I assure you that we don't have anybody's number. I just hope we can compete this year with them."
Oklahoma: It's been over two months since Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box's death, and though the initial shock and grief is over, he'll still be felt in the Sooners program for the 2011 season and beyond.
"I don't know how I [got through] it, to be honest with you. And I think the players, more than anything, really, I think, leaned on each other, us as coaches leaned on them," Stoops said. "There's no words that truly can describe how you hurt and how the players hurt. Austin was a great, great spirit in the locker room. He was a friend to everybody, and he's one of those special characters, a young person that everybody loved to see."
Texas Tech: Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville received a reprimand from the Big 12 last summer for saying "We have a 10-team league right now, but I just don't know how long that's gonna last, to be honest with you."
That was a radio interview, but this time around at Big 12 media days, Tuberville stuck to the Big 12 script.
"I said a few things last year. And, of course, I believe that," he said. "I don't know what the future is, but I don't think there's any doubt we can sustain with 10 teams and we can make the best out of it and even become a stronger conference maybe than what it was."
Tuberville, though, left with one last quip.
"That's a political answer, right? I worked on that," he said.
Texas Tech: Seth Doege
Tracking Big 12 media days
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