In today's mailbag we chat about the Big 12's best running back groups, best facilities and Oklahoma's chances of a unbeaten season in 2016. To submit questions for next week's mailbag, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @bchatmon.
@BChatmon for mailbag - ESPN ranked top 2 facilities in each conf today how would you rank remainder of Big 12 after OU and UT?— Andrew Norman (@janorman74) March 14, 2016
Brandon Chatmon: It's hard to say, because things are moving so fast facilities-wise around the Big 12 and college football in general. Frankly, I doubt I'd have Oklahoma and Texas as the top two in the Big 12 to begin with, and several other schools are showing strong commitment to facilities with more than half the conference improving or having recently improved their facilities. To be clear, I've only gotten a complete, first-hand tour of Oklahoma State and West Virginia's facilities in recent years, so it's hard to say who has the best, since these things change on a yearly basis it seems. But I'd feel good saying I don't think any Big 12 has such a major disadvantage when it comes to facilities that it completely handicaps the program.
@BChatmon with Galloway gone, how screwed is the WVU offense?— c Dubya (@cDubya242) March 15, 2016
Chatmon: Losing receivers coach Lonnie Galloway to Louisville in the midst of spring football is not the ideal situation by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not expecting the offense to fall apart, either. After all, West Virginia didn't have a 1,000-yard receiver in 2015. Galloway did leave behind some ultra talented receivers, however, so to lose their position coach just as they were beginning to really develop could be a factor this fall. But I'd still expect West Virginia's receiving corps to be much improved in 2016.
@BChatmon do you agree that Baylor has the best group of RB in the Big 12? How about the nation? Thoughts on Williams and Hasty?— Ryan Daugherty (@rynodaugherty) March 15, 2016
Chatmon: There might be some people in Norman, Oklahoma who would beg to differ. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are both exceptional running backs with NFL futures. Baylor, led by Shock Linwood, has a strong, productive group of its own though, especially if Johnny Jefferson continues to play like he did in the Russell Athletic Bowl win against North Carolina. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what Ja'Mychal Hasty brings to the offense. But Oklahoma has the Big 12's best group of running backs with Baylor right behind the Sooners in my rankings.
Chatmon: There is definitely a chance, but it won't happen if the Sooners aren't better in every single respect in 2016. I've singled out the offensive line at times as the culprit in the losses to Texas and Clemson, but it's not like the rest of the team was dominating every other battle in those defeats. An improved offensive line will be critical, replacing Sterling Shepard won't be easy and the defense has some holes to fill. But, Oklahoma still has Baker Mayfield and Perine to spark the offense, which makes it a definite candidate to go unbeaten despite a brutal schedule that includes Houston, Ohio State and the rest of the Big 12.
@BChatmon OSU returns 3 of the league's top 5 tacklers, we lose some star power, but as a whole I think the D will be better. Am I crazy?— christian (@cbake44) March 15, 2016
Chatmon: I'm not going to call you crazy, but I have some, um, reservations. Anytime you subtract a potential NFL first-round draft pick (Emmanuel Ogbah) from a defense, it's hard to expect that defense to be better the following season. I like the young talent that will step in to try to fill that spot, but you're still talking about replacing a guy who had 24 sacks over the past two seasons. That's not even taking into account Jimmy Bean or Kevin Peterson's departure. Oklahoma State finished fifth in the Big 12 at 1.97 points per drive, and I'd expect a similar finish in 2016. There is talent on Oklahoma State's defense, but some guys could prove to be impossible to replace with ease.