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 but Saturday night all hell broke loose. Went bar hoping with a few buddies and you can bet that I regretted every ounce of booze on Sunday morning. We all ended up trying to soak up the hangover at Hooters for lunch before I went back home. As you can expect, I slept for most of the afternoon on Sunday.
@RPTexan asks: Which CFB team has the best colors?
Duke: Man, that’s a tough one. To me every team has at least one uniform combo that looks at least halfway decent no matter the colors of the school. I don’t have a favorite but I can give you my favorite uniform combo for every Big 12 school.
WVU- All Gold (Gold helmet, top and pants)
OSU- White Helmet, orange top and white pants or any homecoming combo
ISU- Chrome red helmet, white top and white pants (Liberty Bowl combo)
KU- White helmet, powder blue top and white pants (2011 season throwbacks to honor 1961 team)
KSU- Classic home uniform (Silver helmet, purple top and silver pants)
Baylor- Chrome gold helmet, green top and green pants
Texas Tech- Throwback double T uniforms (Black helmet, black top and silver pants)
TCU- Chrome purple helmet, black top and black pants
OU- Crimson helmet, crimson top and white pants
Texas- All whites (White helmet, white top and white pants)
@DFF_JamesH asks: Which do you prefer, Texas Tech’s RBs in the air raid offense or Oklahoma WR’s with a fairly inexperienced QB throwing to them?
Duke: I am going to go with the wide receivers in Oklahoma. The current Texas Tech running back situation is a bit of an unknown while I feel very confident about two of the current starting wide outs at Oklahoma in Marquise Brown (Who was on my preseason first team all-Big 12 ballot) and CeeDee Lamb who was outstanding as a freshman last season and could possibly play his way into being an all-conference player himself. While Tech has two interesting freshmen running backs coming in with Sarodorick Thompson and Ta’Zhawn Henry, they are unproven at this point. Demarcus Felton was ok last season and Tre King is the leading stat returner rushing for 623 yards in 2017. Not to mention, what will Da’Leon Ward do? He had off the field issues that prevented him from playing at all last year. At the end of the day, I’ll take CeeDee Lamb and Marquise Brown over the Red Raider backfield. Too much star power for me not to pick them.
@JoSCobbs90 asks: We all know WVU’s offense is elite, but do you think the rest of the country is sleeping on WVU’s defense or do you genuinely not see improvement? People keep talking about the losses on that side, but forget two years ago we replaced nearly the whole unit and were pretty good.
Duke: You’re totally on point about that 2016 season. NOBODY expected that defense to be that good after losing a ton of production a year before. If I remember correctly, that 2016 defense had a lot of upper classmen who spent 3 to 4 years in the program before seeing a ton of playing time. Now, as for this year I do think that they will be better than last season. How much better is the key question because 2017 was a defensive train wreck. Last year they weren’t that bad in pass defense but they were dead last in the Big 12 in rush defense. Yes, they finished behind Kansas. They gave up over 200 yards on the ground and could not get a decent pass rush. That’s what bothered me the most. If you give up an average of 200 yards per game on the ground, you’re not going to be playing when it counts. In Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5 defense, they looked very undersized up front last year.
While, I think LB David Long is the best linebacker in the Big 12, they are plenty of question marks around him. The defensive line will be improved but what will the other two linebackers look like? Not to mention, they have some holes at corner so they brought in some JUCO guys (Josh Norwood and Keith Washington) in the secondary. The good news is that Tony found a way to get some of his best playmakers on the field at the same time in the secondary by moving Dravon Askew-Henry to the SPUR spot and having Kenny Robinson play safety. While I think the defense will still be a weakness, I think they won’t be as bad as last season. Will they be a top 5 Big 12 defense? Probably not.
@ted_rood asks: Is any other Big 12 schedule as front loaded as Iowa State?
Duke: I finally get to break out my new pocket Big 12 schedule for this one! Call me a nerd but this is why it comes in handy. So, after taking a peek at it there are two other teams that I would say I are right there with them. TCU plays a tough 4 game stretch after their season opener with Southern (@SMU, vs Ohio State, @ Texas and vs Iowa State). That’s one hell of a four game stretch before their bye week. Also, Texas doesn’t exactly have a cakewalk either. After kicking off the season with Maryland and Tulsa, they play USC and TCU back to back at home before traveling to K-State. After that? The Red River Showdown against the 3-time defending Big 12 champs, Oklahoma. Don’t get me wrong Iowa State has a front loaded schedule with Iowa, OU, Akron, TCU, Oklahoma State and WVU in consecutive weeks. Those are probably the top 3 front loaded schedules in the Big 12 this year.
@johnhanson20 asks: Why can this year be any different for WVU? Always can beat the lower tier teams but always falter against the upper echelon teams.
Duke: Well, first off, Will Grier is the best quarterback in the Big 12 so that should help the Mountaineers tremendously. The last couple of years, we have had some serious star power in this conference and guess what? A lot of those faces are gone this season. The Big 12 is wide open this year. We all have Oklahoma penciled in for the title game but what about the number two spot? You can make a case for a lot of teams there. Offensively the Mountaineers will be fine. It’s the defense that will determine if this a good or a very good team. In fact, it will determine if they will play for a Big 12 title come December. I talked about the defense in an earlier question but I will still stick by my thoughts on them. They will improve but how much? That is the million dollar question about this team this season. Some may say Dana’s job depends on it and the defense will make or break this team once again.
@scottwildcat asks: What happens first series:
KU wins a road Big 12 football game or someone else wins the Big 12 in MBB?
A Power 5 conference adds a new school or the CFP is expanded?
Bill Snyder retires or 4 Big 12 schools hire a new coach?
OU goes back to the playoff or the Big12 field goes to the playoff?
Duke: I’m going to give you short, quick answers here and fire from the hip.
- I don’t know much about college basketball but I will say someone else wins a Big 12 basketball title before the Jayhawks win a road Big 12 football game.
- CFP is expanded to 8 before anyone else adds schools. Most conferences are at full capacity already.
- Bill Snyder retires. The man is a wizard but he is an old wizard.
- OU gets back to the playoff. If the quarterback situation works out, then they could make another run this season. If not, I like where the program is headed under Lincoln Riley.
@jonkev50 asks: In your opinion, which head coach/assistant is the best offensive play caller in the Big 12?
Duke: The top 2 that come to mind are Mike Yurcich at Oklahoma State and Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. Both those schools have been offensive juggernauts the last few years and these men had a large part in that. Even though Kliff Kingsbury has an “OC” he is a great offensive mind as well but the two Oklahoma schools are a cut above for me. Also, Sonny Cumbie at TCU has been fantastic as well. If you put a gun to my head, I would say Lincoln Riley. The man is so young but just look at what he has been able to do. Has he made a few mistakes? Sure, but overall, I think he is not only the best in the Big 12 but he may be even in the top 3 in the entire country. I remember speaking to a Big 12 head coach back in the winter about Lincoln and he said “That is one smart mother fuc**r.” This helped reassure my decision.
@KBehr68 asks: With Nebby losing to TOE, Wiscy, Minny and NW last year, should Scott Frost (NEB HC) be more concerned about beating his Big Ten brothers before wanting to match up with an old Big 8 fore?
Duke: Personally, I don’t care about teams who are no longer in the Big 12. Nebraska chose to leave the conference on their own and for the last 15 years that program has been irrelevant quite honestly. So along with Texas A&M, Colorado and Missouri, they can kick rock rocks for all I care. Seriously, if the Big 12 never played those schools again I am not going to lose any sleep over it and you shouldn’t either.