Mailbag: Tech surprise, Big 12 QBs, grades

Thanks for all the e-mails this week. Interesting stuff as always. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Bert in Frisco, Texas writes: You keeping talking about Texas Tech surprising everyone next season. What does surprising mean exactly and how many wins do you think surprising translates to?

David Ubben: Texas Tech has obviously overhauled its coaching staff on the sideline, and you have to figure there will be some growing pains in Kliff Kingsbury's first year as a head coach. That's no small task for a young guy who hasn't been in coaching long. It also doesn't have a returning starter at quarterback. There's lots of room for the Red Raiders to falter next year, and the expectations will be mild, likely 6-8 wins. That said, when you look at the rest of the team (and Kingsbury's upside) the potential to be a really, really good team is absolutely there.

Michael Brewer has looked great in his spot duty. Receiver Eric Ward is back and Jakeem Grant looked good this year, not to mention TE Jace Amaro, who's probably the most talented guy on the entire offense. ESPN 150 receivers Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis will be playing this year, too. Kerry Hyder and Terrance Bullitt are solid on the defensive side, and running backs Kenny Williams and SaDale Foster are solid.

Tech has the advantage next year of perhaps sneaking up on teams, too. Nobody (except maybe WVU) will be fired up to beat Tech. Nobody's got them circled on the calendar. The Red Raiders should be solid, though, and if the ball bounces their way a few times, don't be surprised if they win 10 games or more.

Rick in Waco, Texas writes: DU,Please give some justification (that would be acceptable to a reasonable person ) for grading Baylor an A on offense and OK State an A+. In case you took a nap in the off season, Baylor lost their all time leading receiver that was arguably better than the receiver lost by OSU. We lost a 1500 yard rusher (school record), two offensive linemen... Oh yea, and the Heisman Trophy winner. I realize that BU was just plain bad on the defensive side for the first 4 games in conference, and even struggled on O a bit in that stretch - but showed they could play with ANYONE in the second half. There's not a team in team in the country that they would have been concerned to play in December or January.

DU: Hey, remember that time when Baylor's No. 1 QB got hurt, and then a few games later, the No. 2 guy went down, too? Then after replacing him with the No. 1 guy, the No. 1 guy got hurt a game and a half later and the Bears had to finish the season with their No. 3 quarterback, but still finished in the top five nationally in total offense?

Me either.

Baylor lost a little more than OSU, mostly at running back, but most everyone knew Baylor had depth at the position anyway. OSU went through just as much as Baylor did, but its offense was more consistent through the first half of the season and at the end of the year, was basically on pace with the Bears, despite dealing with all that from the quarterback position. It's that simple.

Vince Young in Texas writes: Is it possible that I could be back in Philadelphia with the hiring of Chip Kelly? I know Vick is a great athlete but he's a little injury prone and I ran an offense very similar at the best school on the planet, THE University of Texas.

DU: I don't see it. Young's a great athlete, but there's a big misconception about how much Oregon's quarterbacks run. Last year, it was on just over 10 percent of the Ducks 1,000+ snaps. I expect that number will shrink even more in the NFL. Having a QB who can move is integral in running the zone read, but you still have to run the other 90 percent of your offense, too. That requires a guy who can deliver the ball accurately with velocity and good decison-making. Guys like Cam Newton, Kaepernick, RG3 and Russell Wilson have shown an ability to do that. Vince Young has not for the better part of his career.

David in Wichita, Kan. writes: Why are we only seeing a big difference for 7-on-7 on the offensive side of the ball? Shouldn't there be a marked improvement in coverage skills as well?

DU: Interesting question, David. Fantastic name, by the way. One would think so, but the results clearly indicate that has not been the case. It's apparent that 7-on-7 far benefits offensive players, but much more so the quarterbacks. Playing that much skeleton helps their decision-making and accuracy and gets them extremely comfortable delivering intermediate and deep balls, something that wasn't the case long ago. That's the biggest difference, and the biggest reason why the impact of 7-on-7 has swung so heavily in the offense's favor. Quarterbacks are better.