Friday, August 19, 2005

Cheap Seats Mega Football Preview 2005: Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma

We're done with the North. Today we move to the Big XII South, the stronger of the two divisions, but that doesn't mean all the teams are perfect. Many have huge questions they need to answer also

Big XII South

Overview

There is great wealth in the Big XII South. Four teams could wind up in the Top 25 by season's end.There is also great poverty as Baylor will continue to struggle and Oklahoma State looks like it's going to fall.

A lot of people are predicting a change in the pecking order. Unfortunately, the other contenders for the Big XII title, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, still have to prove they can look across the sideline from Oklahoma and play their game without fear. That may be the biggest thing keeping anyone from seriously challenging OU for the South title.

Baylor
The Skinny: Baylor traditionally has one role during football season: provide the rest of the Big XII with an easy game. The football team is talking positive, and the fact that Baylor's women's hoops team won the Final Four, the men's tennis team went to the NCAA championship match, and the baseball team went to the College World Series has given this team motivation to not be left behind. Unfortunately, the drive may be there, but the talent isn't.

Schedule

DateOpponentProjected W/L
9/3at SMUW
9/10SamfordW
9/17at ArmyW
10/1at Texas A&ML
10/8at Iowa StateL
10/15NebraskaL
10/22at OklahomaL
10/29Texas TechL
11/5TexasL
11/12at MissouriL
11/19Oklahoma StateL

Position Ratings
QB: 1 - Terrance Parks broke his hand on his helmet, Kevin Brown-style, in spring practice so Shawn Bell, the hero of the A&M game will be the starter to start the season.
RB: 3 - Paul Mosley could be better if he could get some holes to run through.
WR: 2 - An experienced group, unfortunately, that experience doesn't come with great numbers.
TE: 3 - Mike Miller could surprise some people if he wins the position
OL: 1 - Allowed 32 sacks last season and couldn't open holes for the running backs

(Note: Baylor runs a 4-2-5 defense)
DL: 1 - No real pass rushers or run stuffers here
LB: 1 - Collin Allred has the size, but not the athleticism, the rest have neither.
CB: 1 - Injuries, Inexperience and lack of athletic ability make these corners suspect.
ROV: 2 - OK playing the run, not so good playing the pass.
FS: 4 - Unfortunately, Maurice Lane is the team's only defensive star and leading tackler

Kicking Game: 3 - Punter Daniel Sepulveda won the Ray Guy Award last year, and is the favorite to win again. Kicking game and coverage teams suspect.
Return Game: 4 - Rover Willie Andrews averages 24.7 yards on kickoffs and 10.8 yards on punt returns.

What the Baylor must do to win:
1. Catch some teams napping - They managed to do this with A&M last year, another couple wins like that would help the program.
2. Thank their scheduler - SMU, Samford, and Army are not exactly world beaters.
3. Play loose - They have nothing to lose and everything to gain when they step on the field.

Projection: I'd like to believe this year is different, but unfortunately, it's going to be same old Bad News Bears. 3-8 overall, 0-8 conference, and dead last in the Big XII

Oklahoma State
The Skinny: Oklahoma State overacheived in the last 5 years under Les Miles. Unfortunately, Miles was always looking for his big break and finally got it, moving to LSU. Mike Gundy wants to turn a team who finished 12th in rushing and 111th in passing last year and install a spread offense. Good luck to ya, Mike. The defense is also undergoing a change from the 4-2-5 to the 4-3.

Schedule

DateOpponentProjected W/L
9/3Montana StateW
9/10Florida AtlanticW
9/17Arkansas StateW
10/1ColoradoL
10/8MissouriL
10/15at Texas A&ML
10/22at Iowa StateW
10/29TexasL
11/5at OklahomaL
11/12Texas TechL
11/19at BaylorW

Position Ratings
QB: 2 - Donovan Woods could be a poor man's Vince Young if he had a higher completion percentage.
RB: 2 - A collection of redshirt freshmen and sophomores and no one knows how they will adjust to the new offense
WR: 2 - D'Juan Woods can help his brother Donovan Woods out, but there's not enough depth behind him
IR/TE: 1 - Too many question marks at this position.
OL: 2 - A line build for running that doesn't have too many pass blockers

DL: 2 - They have to hope Xavier Lawson-Kennedy lives up to his potential
LB: 2 - Plenty of experience, but no real athleticism
CB: 2 - Unfortunately, Oklahoma State lost it's shutdown corner to a fatal car accident, but they do have some promising true freshmen.
S: 1 - Suspensions and graduations have depleted the secondary

Kicking Game: 3 - The kicker and punter positions are both up for grabs.
Return Game: 1 - Someone must emerge as a new return ace.

What the Cowboys must do to win:
1. Blitz often - OSU must get pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.
2. Move some faster running backs to inside reciever - True, it's only a temporary solution, but it could shore up a position that needs help badly
3. Play well on defense - With an offense sure to have growing pains, the defense must carry them. True, the Cowboys are also installing a new defensive system, but the learning curve isn't as steep for a new defense as it would be for a new offense.

Projection: Maybe next year they can claw back to the middle of the pack, but for right now, expect Oklahoma State to take a big step back. 5-6 0verall, 2-6 in conference, and 5th in the South.

Oklahoma
The Skinny: Most teams that lose their starting QB, and return only 4 defensive starters would be devastated. Oklahoma isn't most teams. They recruit well, and they have depth most teams only dream about. (Being in the title game 3 times in the 6 years Bob Stoops has been in Norman doesn't hurt either)
With Adrian Peterson entering his sophomore year as a Heisman candidate, Dusty Dvoracek returning from suspension, a favorable non-conference schedule that gives them 3 games to work out the QB situation, a lot of talented youngsters, and 5 teams behind them psychologically shell shocked whenever they see the "OU" on the helmet, the road to a Big XII championship is easier than people think.

Schedule

DateOpponentProjected W/L
9/3TCUW
9/10TulsaW
9/17at UCLAW
10/1Kansas StateW
10/8Texas*W
10/15at KansasW
10/22BaylorW
10/29at NebraskaW
11/5Oklahoma StateW
11/12Texas A&ML
11/19Iowa StateW
12/3Big XII Championship**W

* - Cotton Bowl, Dallas Texas
** - Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas

Position Ratings
QB: 3.5 - That's 3 if Paul Thompson is the starter and 4 if Rhett Bomar starts. The preview mags say Bomar is the better all around player, but if he can't beat out Thompson, he may not be as good as first thought.
RB: 5 - Adrian Peterson could be the first sophomore to win the Heisman if the other candidates fall flat. Oh, by the way, Kejuan Jones is pretty good to.
WR: 5 - Travis Wilson led OU in TD catches last year, but keep an eye on 6-6, 205 speedster Quentin Chaney in 3 reciever sets. That's right, I said "6-6, 205 speedster"
TE: 5 - They could have the best 3 tight-end sets in the country.
OL: 5 - They are all big, and move very well for people their size.

DL: 4 - The return of Dusty Dvoracek bolsters a unit that is way underrated. DE C.J. Ah You is the leading candidate for Big XII Name of the Year.
LB: 4 - Look for outside linebackers Clint Ingram and Rufus Alexander to emerge as defensive stars
CB: 4 - Mosty young, but the talent is there. Sophomore Marcus Walker could emerge as a shutdown corner
S: 5 - FS Darrien Williams has the speed to back up the corners. SS Jason Carter has all the physical tools.

Kicking Game: 5 - Garrett Hartley is accurate and has a good leg, and the coverage teams only gave up 4.3 yars/punt return and 15.8 yards a kickoff return.
Return Game: 2 - Too many question marks at the return spot.

What the Sooners must do to win:
1. Play like they have something to prove - Other experts are saying it's Texas's year. They need to play with a chip on their shoulder rather than rest on their laurels.
2. Balance the offense - It's tempting to run Adrian Peterson until his legs fall off, but there are enough potential playmakers at wide reciever and tight end for OU to work with as well.
3. A return ace must emerge - Somewhere in all that talent has to be a player who can read his blocks, get good field position for the offense, and break a few returns

Projection: A reloading year for Oklahoma that should result in a big year 11-1 overall, 7-1 conference, a Big XII South title (based on head to head with Texas), the Big XII Championship, and a BCS Bowl.

Next: Part 5: Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech
Back: Part 3: Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado
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