In this week's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we break down who has the deepest receiving corps in the Big 12, who has the best defense and who might emerge in the quarterback derbies in Austin, Texas, and Manhattan, Kansas.
Can the Big 12 make it three-for-three tonight in the Sweet 16?
On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter best defense in the Big XII next year?— Corey Muller (@MullerCorey) March 25, 2016
Trotter: Despite losing some key pieces, I'd probably give the early nod to Oklahoma. That secondary is going to be elite again, and Charles Walker is a beast up front. That said, Texas, Kansas State and TCU aren't far behind. The Longhorns are loaded with young talent, notably Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year contender Malik Jefferson. The Wildcats have difference-makers at every level of their defense in Will Geary, Elijah Lee and Dante Barnett. And TCU will have four starters that suffered season-ending injuries last season joining a young crop that surged late after being thrown into the fire because of those injuries. Any of those four teams could wind up with the league's top defense, and I wouldn't be surprised.
@Jake_Trotter does Oklahoma State still have the deepest receiving corp in the Big 12? If not, then who?— Brian Murphy (@Bmurphy47) March 25, 2016
Trotter: This is an interesting thought. My first inclination would be to say Baylor, based on track record and talent. But there are some questions with that group. Is KD Cannon ready to be the No. 1 guy, after playing alongside some prolific receivers the first two years of his career? Are Chris Platt and Ish Zamora ready to become lineup staples after catching just 20 passes combined last season? Can Devin Duvernay and Baylor's impressive receiving recruiting haul step in and contribute immediately? These are legitimate questions. Oklahoma State's corps, meanwhile, is a little bit more polished and proven, from James Washington all the way down to Austin Hays. Baylor's wideouts might have the higher ceiling. But Oklahoma State's seem to have the higher floor.
@Jake_Trotter who's the top receivers heading into this year ?— E (@Vandeezal) March 25, 2016
Trotter: In no order, Washington, Cannon, Allen Lazard, KaVontae Turpin and probably either Dede Westbrook or Shelton Gibson.
@Jake_Trotter Skylar Thompson or Alex Delton for KSU?— Kevin Yeagley (@KevinYeagley) March 25, 2016
Trotter: Alex Delton has the edge for now. He has an extra year in the system, and really impressed at times last spring. Had he not injured his knee, he would've eventually been K-State's starting QB last season, in my opinion. Skylar Thompson is intriguing, as well. But he would have to be pretty special this spring to pass Delton on the depth chart.
@Jake_Trotter Does anyone really think Joe Hubener's part of the discussion, or is everyone just being polite?— Jon Morse (@jonfmorse) March 25, 2016
Trotter: Joe Hubener is part of the discussion, but he's also going to have to improve dramatically with his passing to remain a part of it.
@Jake_Trotter Who will be Horn QB?— texdanr (@texdanr) March 25, 2016
Trotter: At the moment, I'm thinking it might be Tyrone Swoopes again to open up against Notre Dame. The Longhorns really seem to appreciate what Swoopes bring to the film room and in practice. Jerrod Heard was electrifying early, but tailed off late in the year once defenses figured out to scheme him. Because of the superior arm, Swoopes' skill-set might be the better current fit for the offense Texas is attempting to install. You would think that Shane Buechele would have a shot to take over at some point. But it's difficult right now seeing Texas rolling with a true freshman in Week 1 against a tough opponent.
@Jake_Trotter does expansion come up again or is it dead?— C (@cjcld27) March 25, 2016
Trotter: Nope. It's going to keep coming up and coming up until the Big 12 either finally expands or dissolves.
@Jake_Trotter So my friend switched shampoos, to Dove like you use, and his hair seems to be more thin, thoughts?— Frank the Tank (@MPCZ2) March 25, 2016
Trotter: Hmm. I'm going to have to see a before and after pic in order to make a proper assessment.
@Jake_Trotter Texas Tech's defense can't possibly be worse this year right? I mean, we said that last year but for real this time?— Socks N' Sandals (@Elitist_Fan) March 25, 2016
Trotter: There's just no way Texas Tech's defense isn't better this season, if for no other reason, the Red Raiders will finally have an incumbent defensive coordinator in David Gibbs. The players are not having to start all over again with a new system and new terminology, which alone should make a difference. Remember, Gibbs was Tech's seventh defensive coordinator in as many years. Personnel-wise, the Red Raiders might also finally have a difference-maker up front in Breiden Fehoko, who started every game at DT as a true freshman. Having a player of All-Big 12 caliber inside the defensive line could do absolute wonders for what was one of the worst run defenses in Big 12 history.
Trotter: Oh, man. Nice work. And obviously, as a Cyclone, you're welcome to complain about it here afterward.