Big 12 Media Days are set for July 13-14 and takes place around just six weeks before the 2022 college football season is set to begin.
There is ample uncertainty around the league this year, given the amount of turnover that rosters and coaching staffs have experienced in recent months, which sets up an exciting media days and season ahead. With that said there will be several pressing questions for each of the coaches in the Big 12 next week, but if only one could be answered, what would it be?
Here is one question that every Big 12 coach must answer at Media Days.
1. Baylor’s Dave Aranda: How Will You Replace Lost Production from 2021?
Baylor was one of the most well-rounded teams in the country last year and won games with a formula that has been around for decades: run the ball and play lights-out on defense. In 2022, the Bears will have to replace several skill players on offense and almost their entire secondary. Baylor does return nearly everyone along the offensive and defensive lines from last year and has a promising young quarterback in Blake Shapen, but the skill talent is a huge question mark.
2. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell: How Do You Replace Breece Hall and Brock Purdy?
For the last three seasons the Iowa State Cyclones could rest easy knowing that the had Breece Hall to lean on when the offense was struggling, or that Brock Purdy would be able to find Charlie Kolar open down the middle somewhere for a big play when they needed it. Now, those talents are gone to the next level and Iowa State is left with some big question marks. Is Hunter Dekkers ready to be QB1? Can Jirehl Brock fill the shoes that Hall leaves? Can Xavier Hutchinson be the go-to weapon in the passing game? All valid question in regards to finding new ways to produce offensively.
3. Kansas’s Lance Leipold: How Much of an Impact Will Transfers Play in 2022?
Kansas was competitive in many of their games in 2021, but it was clear that the lacked the talent necessary to win more than they lost. When the duo of Jalon Daniels and Devin Neal emerged late in the year, it appeared that the Jayhawks might have found something to build around, and so Leipold and company went to the transfer portal to find some pieces. There they picked up several talented, yet unproven, players from Big Ten country and now their roster looks a little more prepared for the Big 12 slate. Can Rock Chalk put the puzzle together and take the next step in Year 2 under Leipold?
4. Kansas State’s Chris Klieman: What Has Adrian Martinez Done to Clean Up the Turnovers?
Kansas State could be a legitimate conference title contender in 2022 if Adrian Martinez can find a way to clean up his play and act within the perimeters of Collin Klein’s offense. Martinez is a special athlete and pairing him with Deuce Vaughn in the backfield behind a solid offensive line could produce the offense that K-State has been looking for since Chris Klieman took over three years ago. Add to that a defense returning experience at all three levels and you have the makings of a dark horse. However, all of that could be for not if Martinez continues to give the ball away.
5. Oklahoma’s Brent Venables: How Can You Improve the Defense In Year One?
Oklahoma has had offenses good enough to compete for national championships for the last six years, but not one of their defenses in that time can say the same. Now, with Brent Venables at the helm, Oklahoma has no choice but to improve defensively. Venables is widely regarded as the best defensive mind in college football and if he can turn Oklahoma into a defensive stalwart the Sooners might finally get over the hump and win a playoff game. The question is, how much can he improve in just one offseason? If the Sooners can find a way to be a Top 30 defense in 2022, it would be a fantastic start for the first-year head coach.
6. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy: Is Spencer Sanders Ready to Take the Next Step?
Spencer Sanders is the leading returning passer in the Big 12, but that’s not saying much when he is the only quarterback returning who started a full season in the Big 12 last year. Sanders is coming off of perhaps the best game of his career against Notre Dame, and if that is what he looks like from here on, the Cowboys will be potent offensively in 2022. However, if Sanders regresses towards the mean and looks like the same player we have seen for three seasons, the Cowboys could fall off if the defense isn’t elite again under Derek Mason in his first year. Sanders will be vital to the Cowboys’ chances of returning to the Big 12 Championship and remains the pressing question for Oklahoma State heading into the season.
7. TCU’s Sonny Dykes: Will it be Chandler Morris or Max Duggan?
One of the most intriguing quarterback battles of the offseason has been deciding who will run Sonny Dykes offense in 2022: Chandler Morris or Max Duggan. Duggan was the starter for most of last season, but Morris shined when he got his chances. Now, with a new coaching staff and a clean slate for both of them, who will be named the starter. This question likely will go unanswered in public, but Dykes probably has the answer already in his head. If I were to guess, I would say Morris gives the offense a higher ceiling, given what he can do with his legs, but Duggan is a proven leader. This battle will undoubtedly be a big topic at Media Days.
8. Texas’s Steve Sarkisian: How Can You Avoid a Repeat of 2021?
As it does every offseason, the Texas Hype Train is full steam ahead with Longhorn Nation ready to see what Quinn Ewers is capable of. The Texas offense was good in 2021 but the defense was atrocious, finishing 99th in the country in scoring defense. UT brought in Gary Patterson as a Special Assistant to the Head Coach and will surely play a role in the Texas defense this year, but is that enough to turn things around? This season has a chance to hold some pitfalls for the Longhorns, with Alabama lurking early, the annual meeting with Oklahoma, plus trips to Stillwater and Manhattan in back-to-back weeks. Has Texas done what it needs to take off in Year 2 under Sark?
9. Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire: Will It Be Tyler Shough or Donovan Smith?
Just like several other programs in this conference going into 2022, Texas Tech has a quarterback battle that hasn’t yet been resolved. Tyler Shough and Donovan Smith both saw action last season but played under two different head coaches after Matt Wells was fired and Sonny Cumbie took over as the interim. Now, with Joey McGuire at the helm and Zach Kittley calling the offense, Texas Tech could have one of the most productive offenses in the country in 2022, but who will be running it? Tyler Shough is a gifted passer, but Donovan Smith showed some flashed that have people in Lubbock seeing Cam Newton. Either way, it looks like Texas Tech is in good hands with Kittley calling plays.
10. West Virginia’s Neal Brown: How Do You Replace The Losses in the Transfer Portal?
West Virginia ranks 111th nationally in returning production according to ESPN stats and a large part of that is due to the amount of players that left West Virginia in the transfer portal. The Mountaineers saw 20 players leave for a new school and a few more who have yet to land somewhere but are in the portal. The worst part is that they weren’t just players who were on the bench, but players who had significant snaps last season. In all, WVU lost well over 5,000 snaps worth of experience from the 2021 team. Now, with several additions highlighted by quarterback JT Daniels, the Mountaineers will look like a totally different, and unproven, team in 2022. Can they replace the lost production and find new playmakers to distribute the ball to?