Big 12 Sports Articles

Big 12 Football Mailbag: Iowa State’s Ceiling, Biggest Surprises, Longhorn Network

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State

It’s that time of year where football is scarce across Big 12 country. If you’re like me, you need a football fix and quick. This mailbag is for all you football junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school who not only have questions about your team, but other teams in the conference as well. So, join me, grab a cold brew or your favorite drink and relax as I answer all your Big 12 questions in my mailbag. For those interested, I will send out a tweet (@Derekduke25) every Monday at noon until last call (No, not 2 AM) at 8 PM CT for you to send in your questions to be answered every Tuesday right here at Heartland College Sports.

I will pick the best question for each mailbag and label it as my question of the week. The winner gets a free HCS Koozie to keep your beer cold (Unless you like it warm, but that’s just plain wrong). It was busy question day which tells me that this mailbag is working harder than me at my day job. Unlike the “Big 12 blog” over at ESPN (I say that loosely because one story a week is a tragedy), we here at HCS are determined to give you the best Big 12 coverage on the planet. I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week and for those reading, I am glad you could join me. I am enjoying a late-night cocktail myself and let’s get this party started!

There are probably some that don’t give a rats you know what about how my weekend was. If you do care or even if you don’t, I am going to tell you anyways. Didn’t do much on Friday and had a relaxing evening at home. I didn’t want to go crazy because I had to work my regular day job on Saturday which was about as fun as watching paint dry. Sunday, I went to see Sicario 2 which I give 4 Mike Gundy mullets out of 5 Mike Gundy mullets. Afterwards I ate probably the most expensive dinner in my entire life at Perry’s Steakhouse. While expensive, I have to say it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten top to bottom. If you’re willing to lighten up the wallet quite a bit, I highly recommend it. Don’t tell Pete I used the HCS company credit card.


@FitzDaddy85 asks: What 3 players not in your top 25 that can surprise you and end up being in the top 25 by the end of the season?

Duke: This is very great question. For those who follow the site, be sure to check out our top 25 Big 12 players heading into the season to find out who made the list. In our first post we ranked numbers 25-21 but I also included a list of guys who just missed the cut. So, for your question, I will exclude those players to dig a little bit deeper here. Here’s some guys who are very under rated in this conference.

Tyron Johnson (OSU WR)- This is a guy that NOBODY is talking about. I get it, he didn’t do much last season but go back and watch the Bedlam game. Who know who Mason Rudolph threw to on fourth down with the game on the line? It was Tyron Johnson. This guy is a freak athlete and I truly believe that he will emerge as the number one target no matter who starts at quarterback for the Cowboys.

Ray Lima (ISU NG)- You want to know why the Cyclones can play only 3 up front? Just watch Ray Lima eat up double teams and shed blocks. I watch a lot of Big 12 football and Ray is a guy who sticks out to me every time I watch this team play. He won’t put up a ton of stats, but he has a very big effect on the offense and not to mention free up his linebackers to go make those tackles.

Steven Sims (KU WR)- I was going to put Texas Tech LB Jordan Brooks here but considering Steven Sims is entering his last season, I am not going to pass him up. Sims has been one of the few players for the Jayhawks that has been productive for awhile now. He is the clear number one passing option for the offense and he could arguably play for any team in this conference at a high level. Go look at his stats, look at what he has done considering how bad everything else around him has been.

@StrawnBob asks: Barry Tramel recently rated K-State as the best conference game day experience. Rank each stadium with a Cliff Notes validation point?

Duke: I really wish I could answer this question but unfortunately, I am not qualified to give an answer or my opinion on this. I have not been to every Big 12 venue in fact, there are more I haven’t been to than I have been to. While I have been covering the Big 12 for about two years now, 2017 was the first season we really got credentials to get into football games. While all our staff combined has probably been to every stadium, I don’t think any of us have been to all of them. Once I get a chance to visit every stadium on gameday I would be more than happy to give my opinion on this topic. Trust me, I will get there.


@Adoughty88 asks: Would you rather get drunk on a month-long kayak trip with Lincoln Riley or Gary Patterson? Maybe rank all 10 coaches in this scenario?

Duke: Man, I love questions like this. This is what the mailbag is all about folks! In the first part of your question, I would have to say Gary Patterson simply because of the wisdom with all his experience. I am sure he would have some fantastic stories to tell during all his years of coaching. Not to mention, he can also play some guitar. No offense to Lincoln Riley. If I had to rank all 10 in this scenario it would go something like this.

  1. Mike Gundy
  2. Gary Patterson
  3. Bill Snyder
  4. Matt Campbell
  5. Dana Holgorsen
  6. Kliff Kingsbury
  7. Lincoln Riley
  8. Tom Herman
  9. Matt Rhule
  10. David Beaty

@MacMoore22 asks: Last week ESPN announced that the November 17th Iowa State @ Texas game would only be aired on Longhorn Network, essentially making the game unavailable for anyone in Iowa. On a scale of 1-10, where does this rank on the Derek Duke bullshit meter?

Duke: I can feel the anger as you typed that question and the answer is that it gets a 9 out of 10 on the Derek Duke bullshit meter. I live in south Texas and I have dish as my cable company. I do in fact have ESPN and all those channels including the Longhorn Network. I absolutely hate watching the games there because the announcing is downright awful in general, but I would bet it’s even worse for the opposing teams fan base. If ESPN needs to put a game on LHN put the crappy ones on it. Like the Kansas game (No offense Kansas fans) and the Tulsa game. As much as it sucks having to watch a game on that channel, I believe if you have ESPN in your cable package, you should be able to stream the game online using your cable company login. There are times when I must use the ESPN and Fox Sports app when I am on the road.

@Doc_Texas asks: Texas DBs vs OU WRs in 2018: Who do you have?

Duke: Oh, this is going to be a fun matchup to watch and the best part is that if you are following recruiting, this battle is only going to get better over the next few years. As of right now, I would have to say the Texas DBs. While Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb are stars in this league, I just don’t know what that passing game will look like with Kyler Murray slinging the football around. Texas has some great, experienced talent in the secondary starting with Chris Boyd and P.J. Locke. Not to mention, look at all those freshen coming in. I bet a few of them play early and often. Now, this could all change of course if Kyler Murray lives up to the hype and throws the football well. Only time will tell but as of right now, I’ll take the Texas DBs.

@RPTexan asks: Do you read any CFB preseason magazines? If you do, do you critique the breakdowns because you think a certain program or payer, or coach is over/underrated? Which magazine do you prefer taking everything into account?

Duke: I only buy two CFB magazines a year. Athlon Big 12 edition and the Phil Steel preseason magazine. Of course, I critique everything I read. It is very rare that I am going to agree with someone word for word about anything including college football. That’s what great about talking football. We get to express our opinions. Do my opinions mean anything? I will let you guys be the judge of that but that’s the beauty of social media. We can all talk about football on the same platform at any time of the day. Out of the two I read, I prefer the Athlon magazine. Now, the Phil Steele one will have info about every team and every stat including how many times your favorite coach said this word or that word or called a family member etc. There is so many words and numbers on Phil Steele’s magazine that it feels just so over crowded at times. But overall, when it comes to the Big 12, I like the Athlon magazine better.


@Chrissboom_ asks: Compare Big 12 fan bases to characters from “The Office”.

Duke: I told you on twitter that you would be disappointed in my answer. Why? Oh boy, are you sure you can handle this? I have never seen the show before. I know that I must be one of the few people in this world who has never seen it and I will be expecting some comments about this in my mentions. That’s the truth. I just haven’t gotten around to watching the show but maybe I need to make that a priority before football season gets underway.

@Cullen_B12C asks: With the uptick in recruiting with Matt Campbell, where do you see Iowa State in 2 years? Was last year the ceiling or can they really contend for a league title?

Duke: Appreciate the question Cullen. For those who follow recruiting, Iowa State is currently in the top 30 for the 2019 cycle according to 247. I do not think that 2017 was a ceiling year for this program. Why? Because if Matt Campbell is there, this program looks like it will finally have a coach they can believe in and trust. Not to mention, Matt Campbell molds players into his system and most importantly he gets guys to buy in the team culture which is rare nowadays in a me first society. However, I don’t think that 2017 was far off from their ceiling. I think the ceiling for Iowa State is going to be 8-9 wins tops (without bowl game) but most IMPORTANTLY I think he has set the bar in Ames to where a bowl game is a must every single season which hasn’t been the case for awhile now. Unless, this program finds a game changer at quarterback, I think the ceiling would be an 8-4 or best-case scenario 9-3 if all the stars align properly during a down year in the conference.

@KBehr68 asks: With the talent Oklahoma State has lost on offense, do they have the weapons to score with some of the other schools? And will their defense be able to stop teams this year to give the offense chance?

Duke: Oklahoma State has always been a high powered offensive team with a solid quarterback. They certainly have the weapons around the quarterback position heading into the season. Heck, they have the best RB in the conference with Justice Hill and one of the best receiving cores in the Big 12. From Jalen McCleskey, Tyron Johnson and Dillon Stoner, they have the guys at receiver to make plays. Will there be a slight drop off at receiver? Probably but nothing drastic. I worry about the two open tackle spots up front on the offensive line to protect the quarterback in this offense. Does this offense have weapons? Yes, but how will the quarterback battle shake out? Will it be grad transfer Dru Brown or true freshman Spencer Sanders? That’s the biggest question for this offense and the season will go as far as the quarterback does in this offense. Don’t worry though, Justice will get plenty of carries this season.

Defensively, the Cowboys will go to a 4-2-5 look with new DC Jim Knowles. The defensive front is by far the best unit on the defense with Cole Walterscheid and Jordan Brailford leading the way. Also, LBs Calvin Bundage is a rising player in this league and Justin Phillips is darn good himself. The secondary is where I have all the questions at. A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams got thrown into the fire early at corner and looked like freshman last season. How much better will they be this season with some experience under their belt? Also, the safety position is wide open as well, so I am not sure how that will shake out. I think the front will be fine, but I am not too confident in this secondary right now.

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