Teams across the Big 12 will be counting on players with plenty to prove this fall.
In this summer series, we're taking a look at Big 12 players in the spotlight heading into 2015, including a closer look at three plays they made in 2014 that give their team reason for hope or cause for concern.
Reasons for hope
Scenario: Third-and-2 at Baylor’s 45-yard line with Tech trailing 7-0 with 13:44 left in the second quarter.
What happened: With the Red Raiders in a four-receiver formation and running back DeAndre Washington alongside him, Mahomes took ran a quarterback option right, gaining eight yards to pick up an easy first down. A few plays later, Mahomes found Grant for a touchdown to tie the game.
Reason for hope: Mahomes’ running ability can create all kinds of problems for defenses who have to worry about the Red Raiders’ explosive passing game, yet also account for a regular option play with the sophomore. The key here is Mahomes continuing to make teams pay with his arm. If he does, defenses could be left searching for answers and ways to defend the entire field.
Scenario: Second-and-7 at Iowa State’s 32-yard line with the score tied at 14 with 5:56 remaining in the second quarter.
What happened: Mahomes recognized a blitz at the snap and lofted a perfect pass along the sideline to Dylan Cantrell for a 25-yard gain. It was a terrific throw on the outside shoulder of Cantrell in a place where the Tech receiver would either catch it or have it sail harmlessly out of bounds. Despite six pass-rushers, no Cyclone got near Mahomes before he threw.
Reason for hope: If Mahomes makes quick, good decisions and accurate throws he will be a handful to deal with.
Reasons for concern
Scenario: First-and-10 at Texas Tech’s 10-yard line with Baylor leading 28-17 with 13 minutes left in the third quarter.
What happened: Mahomes made a horrible throw. The Bears only rushed three and he had no pressure in the pocket, yet he tried to force the ball into zone coverage to Ian Sadler and was intercepted by Baylor's Travon Blanchard. It was a small window, but a good throw might have worked.
Reason for concern: This interception probably won’t happen again as it was mainly inexperience as Mahomes tried to throw over Blanchard instead of between the two Baylor defenders. It was a poor decision and bad throw that he should learn from.
In the spotlight: West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard
In the spotlight: Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph
In the spotlight: Baylor quarterback Seth Russell