Big 12 mailbag: Don't expect UT's Whaley to play

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It wouldn’t be a Friday without a few letters from my readers. Here’s a representative sample of those I received this week:

Beau from Vidor, Texas, writes: What happened to Texas' freshman running back Chris Whaley. He was supposed to be all-world and most thought he would help us out this season. Any news?

Tim Griffin: Whaley arrived at fall camp out of shape and has had trouble picking up some of Texas' offensive philosophy. And since he hasn't seen action yet, I don't think we’ll see him play this year. He’ll be more likely to sit as a redshirt, while he gets into better shape and learns Texas’ offensive scheme better. But if he would ever play, this might be the week, considering the iffy condition of Tre’ Newton and Vondrell McGee. The Longhorns would have room for him, although I would sincerely doubt if Mack Brown put him in his first game against Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. That's too far-fetched to believe.

I look for Whaley to get better acclimated and in better shape for next season.

Robert Northrop from Superior, Colo., writes: Tim, thanks for covering the Big 12. I only wish Colorado was more relevant so you could write more frequently about the Buffs. Colorado struggles moving the ball using walk-ons at wide receiver. What is it about a Hawkins' psyche that makes him stubbornly refuse to modify his offense so that he can get the ball to his fastest players (Brian Lockridge, Darrell Scott, Andre Simmons, Anthony Wright) hands? Why are two players with starting experience (Blake Behrens, Matt Bahr) sitting while the rest of the CU offensive line struggles? And don't get me started about the QB situation. I think something smells fishy up in Boulder. Thanks again.

Tim Griffin: It’s been a challenging season for Hawkins and the Buffaloes, particularly on offense. I also have wondered why Brian Lockridge and Darrell Scott haven’t become more of a focal point in the Buffaloes’ offense. I would think that with Hawkins actually coaching the wide receivers as a position coach that he would have the best idea of who can help make his offense more productive.

It will be interesting to see what they can do against a Kansas defense that has struggled the last two weeks. I’m thinking Colorado might play this game a little bit closer than most. Maybe this is the week that the Buffaloes get their offense going. I certainly know they are due.

Steve Strom of Lubbock, Texas, writes: What do you think about Texas Tech’s chances Saturday in Nebraska? Is there any way we can steal a win from a Nebraska team that might be a little flat after beating Missouri last week?

Tim Griffin: Steve, I don’t think so. I really like Nebraska’s defensive line keyed by Ndamukong Suh to put pressure on whomever Tech has playing quarterback. Mike Leach has been successful in recent seasons against the Cornhuskers and has even won in Lincoln before. But this is a different Nebraska team coached by Bo Pelini than in previous seasons. Because of that, I'm thinking it will be tough for the Red Raiders to win tomorrow in Lincoln.

Chris from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Tim, I see that you are very high on Jordan Shipley and have him on your Heisman board. He's definitely a good player, but I'm curious why you don't have Dezmon Briscoe ranked above him? Briscoe averages more yards per catch than Shipley and has an equal number of TD's, despite missing the first game of the season. He's done this while having 17 fewer receptions than Shipley. If you were to average Briscoe's current stats to account for the missed game, he would have more yards, yards per catch and touchdowns than Shipley, and would still have less receptions. I'm not saying that Shipley isn't a good player, but I don't understand why Briscoe isn't considered better (and more deserving of Heisman talk)?

Tim Griffin: Shipley has had a knack for making big plays in big games and his bigger receiver numbers grab you. He's had double-figure reception games in his last three contests, which is something that no player in Texas' history has been able to accomplish. Look at his punt return for a touchdown reception and his big catch last week against Colorado that helped turned the game around. Briscoe has had some nice games, but he needs to stand out even on his own team. I think many would think that he’s been overshadowed by Kerry Meier on the Jayhawks so far this season.

Briscoe will have the chance to show what he can do over the next several weeks as the Jayhawks’ schedule will get tougher. If he can produce those numbers against Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, I would think that Heisman voters will start taking notice of him.

Donald Ashburn from Houston writes: My condolences to you, Tim. The Aggie bloggers complained earlier this year when you didn't think they would win. Now, they say you have put the kiss of death on them by picking A&M over K-State. I hope you can do a better job in the future! Good luck!

Tim Griffin: Donald, I’ve had a difficult time reading the Aggies so far this season. I thought they would beat Arkansas and I also thought they would beat Oklahoma State last week. They looked strong for the first 10 minutes against Arkansas in a game that turned on Jerrod Johnson’s fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Jerry Franklin midway through the second quarter. And the Oklahoma State game changed when A&M was held without scoring at the OSU 1 late in the first half.

But because of Johnson and all of his offensive talent around him, I’m picking the young Aggies to win again this week at Kansas State.

Is the third time finally the charm for me? I don’t know, I guess we’ll see.

Kyle Kvasnicka from Irvine, Calif., writes: Do you think Nebraska's defense this year will give it a chance to make it to the Big 12 Title game and if so, be competitive with the Big 12 South Champion? How close does Bo Pelini have this team to being a player again nationally?

Tim Griffin: Kyle, I think that because of the play of the Nebraska defense, especially compared with Kansas’ recent defensive struggles, is the major reason I’ve elevated the Cornhuskers into the favorite role in the Big 12 North. There are still some things I don’t like about the Cornhuskers. Zac Lee is too streaky for my taste and the Cornhuskers’ depth at running back isn’t very good with proven players with Quentin Castille gone and Rex Burkhead injured.

But I think Nebraska’s defensive play is the reason they are above the other teams in the North at this point of the season. It will be interesting to see if that makes them more competitive against the South’s powers when we see them play in the next several weeks.

I would also hope we would see Cody Green being used in the next week or two. The Cornhuskers have had some time to work on a package with their talented freshman quarterback. I’m just saying that bringing him into the game for a couple of series could change the momentum and make Nebraska that much more difficult to beat with a shot of offensive diversity that's missing right now. And with the questions about their running backs, developing another running threat could be huge for them.

I still think Pelini is a couple of recruiting classes from having the Cornhuskers back among the contenders who will challenge for national titles. It will be interesting to see if he gets them there.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. We’ll check back again next week.