Big 12 mailbag

In today’s mailbag, Red Raiders begin to question their freshman QB, Longhorns wonder why they continue to be unranked and Cyclones think if they just changed their play-caller, all would be well.

To the ‘bag:

May in Houston writes: In 2010, many true freshmen played key roles on an OU team that won the Big 12 and a BCS bowl. Many people were saying this group had the potential to be the best class of the Stoops era, which, fair or not, implies competing for a national championship. The group ended up never even winning another conference title outright. What happened? Was it just a group of talented individual players that didn't gel as a team, did the coaching staff fail to further develop them or was the early praise unjustified?

Jake Trotter: Interesting question, May. There’s no doubt that class had talent. Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson are both playing in the NFL. Aaron Colvin is an All-Big 12 cornerback. Corey Nelson was having an All-Big 12 season before getting hurt. The same with Trey Millard. Two things have prevented the class from becoming truly special. One, no impact player emerged out of the class on the defensive line. Daniel Noble, the class’ most promising lineman, had to give up football. Eric Humphrey and Damon Williams are gone, and Torrea Peterson has been a non-factor. The other reason is, Blake Bell has not lived up to his recruiting billing as the full-time QB.

Daniel in Waco, Texas, writes: Baylor proved last night that they can not only play shock-and-awe style football, but they can also get down and dirty in the trenches and come up with a victory. How strong of a case did Baylor make for their national title hopes?

Jake Trotter: I’ve been saying this for weeks. Everyone knows Baylor is loaded with skill talent. But the Bears’ lines are vastly underrated. Baylor’s third-string running back, Shock Linwood, rushed for 182 yards against what had been one of the Big 12’s better defenses. The Bears are superb in the trenches. As for the national title race, Baylor made a strong case Thursday night. But the Bears still need either Florida State or Alabama to lose to have a shot. If either did, it would be really interesting to see what would happen with Baylor, Ohio State and Stanford. The Bears could use another dominating performance against Oklahoma State, Texas, or better yet, both.

Cautiously Optimistic in Davis, Calif., writes: Why do people constantly overlook Kansas State?

Jake Trotter: Those that do, do so at their own peril. With the way the offense is beginning to click, K-State is going to be a tough out here down the stretch.

David in Alexandria, Va., writes:Is Texas on upset alert this weekend?

Jake Trotter: I picked West Virginia to win, so clearly I feel so. This is a tough spot for Texas. The Mountaineers have been far better at home, and now they have a ton of momentum coming off the TCU win in overtime.

Steve in Phoenix writes:What are the chances K-State wins in Lubbock this weekend? I am expecting a great game that is closer than most may believe, given Tech's highflying offense

Jake Trotter: I feel like this is a toss-up game. K-State is surging, while Tech is trying to regroup. I picked K-State. Turnover-prone teams usually don’t fare well against teams coached by Bill Snyder.

Michael B. Hess in Dallas writes: Jake, with turnovers being an obvious part of Tech's struggles over the last two weeks, do you think Kliff Kingsbury should consider giving Baker Mayfield or Michael Brewer a shot at QB? Or should he just continue to develop Davis Webb?

Jake Trotter: I would stick with Webb. I thought he showed a lot of promise leading that comeback win at West Virginia. He played pretty well in the loss at Oklahoma, too. Yeah, he had a couple of bad interceptions against Oklahoma State, but the Tech run defense had more to do with that loss than anything Webb did or didn’t do. Remember, he’s only a true freshman that’s only going to improve with every start.

Bobby Layne in Santa Fe, Texas, writes:You said the Cowboys delivered the most impressive Big 12 win of any team this season, dominating Texas Tech before a record crowd in Lubbock. Obviously you did not watch Texas-OU, a Texas win more dominant than the score.

Jake Trotter: Texas hammered Oklahoma on a neutral field. Oklahoma State hammered Texas Tech on the road. That’s why the Cowboys’ victory was slightly more impressive.

Anthony in Columbus, Ohio, writes:Can you please explain why Notre Dame is ranked and Texas isn’t, considering we destroyed the team (Oklahoma) that beat Notre Dame?

Jake Trotter: Don’t blame me. I have the Longhorns ranked 14th in my ESPN Top 25 power rankings. Texas definitely deserves to be ranked, in my opinion. I’m assuming voters have a sour taste from that ugly September. Honestly, though, does it really matter? Texas is not going to the national title game. The Big 12 title and automatic BCS bowl berth is all that matters now, and voters will have no bearing on whether Texas secures either.

Lucien in Omaha, Neb., writes:What an unmitigated disaster this season is turning out to be for the Cyclones. This week there weren't bad calls by the officials, just bad calls by Courtney Messingham. What's it going to take to get a decent offensive coordinator in Ames? First name that comes to mind: Mark Mangino. If the man can take Kansas to an Orange Bowl he should be able to get ISU to .500.

Jake Trotter: There’s no doubt what Mangino accomplished at Kansas was amazing. But this idea that Iowa State is struggling offensively because of play-calling is misguided. The Cyclones simply don’t have the talent on that side of the ball, and for the most part, really haven’t in a long time. The last Iowa State offensive skill player to get drafted was QB Seneca Wallace, and that was 10 years ago. When running back Aaron Wimberly is not on the field, is there a player on this offense for a defense to be nervous about? If you want to rip the coaching staff for not recruiting better players, fine. But when you don’t have the horses, it really doesn’t matter the plays you call.