Big 12 spring games wrap-up

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Recapping the Big 12 spring games from Saturday: 

Iowa State
Iowa State’s offense took off during the Cyclones’ spring game on Saturday, with both offenses combining for nearly 900 yards and 68 points. Grant Rohach completed 19-of-31 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown. Sam Richardson, a starter late last season, completed 9-of-12 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns

— Running backs played especially well yesterday. DeVondrick Nealy rushed 18 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns; Rob Standard had 65 yards on 10 carries; and Aaron Wimberly had 89 yards on 15 carries
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“I had felt the running back position overall had the best spring,” Rhoads said. “DeVondrick Nealy is running as he was capable. He is going into his third season and that is encouraging to see. James White is James White. He runs hard, smart, and knows everything about the offense. Aaron Wimberly showed why we are excited to have him and why we recruited him. Rob Standard is productive every time we play him.”

Oklahoma State
Though Oklahoma State finished the 2012 season with an 8-5 record, it could be considered one of Mike Gundy‘s better coaching jobs in Stillwater. Now, with three quarterbacks with starting experience competing for the No. 1 job this fall, the Cowboys could also be in a position to make a run at another Big 12 title. But Gundy won’t tip his hand as to who will start Week 1: Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh. 

“We are not really going to talk about that from this point on,” Gundy said. “There is no reason for us to talk about what our quarterback situation is. I think we have been very open about it throughout the spring. Our players have been very open about it.

— Believe it or not, but Oklahoma State’s defense held the advantage in Saturday’s spring game. Linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert combined to intercept three passes, one of which went back for a touchdown. Afterward, Gundy pointed out Gilbert’s strong spring.

“Justin played very average last year, and he would be the first to admit that,” Gundy said. “He’s certainly very talented, and he was in position to make plays today, and that’s what he needs to do for us. He needs to be a guy who has several interceptions and runs the ball back. As fast he as he is, if he’s in the right area, he can get the ball off a tip–and that’s what he did today. He played very well.”

— Overall, Gundy was pleased with the defensive effort in its first spring following the departure of DC Bill Young.

“I know the crowd here is not used to it. We dropped some passes on offense that contributed to it, but I’m really excited about the play we’re getting on defense. In the long run, we’re going to move the ball and score a lot of points here, because that’s what we do and who we are, but if we want to consistently compete for a championship, we have to play better on defense,” Gundy explained. “I’m excited about our group, I think their attitude is different and I think they have a chance to be better this season.”

Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberbille is out. Kliff Kingsbury is in. And on Saturday, over 16,000 fans made their way to watch Texas Tech’s spring game. Quarterbacks Michael Brewer and Davis Webb combined for 506 yards and three touchdowns through the air during the scrimmage.

Jace Amaro led all receivers with 11 catches for 80-yards, but Derrick Edwards had the most receiving yards with 101, including an 83-yard touchdown pass from Webb. Senior linebacker Will Smith led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I loved the atmosphere,” Kingsbury said.  “It was a great crowd and our kids were fired up.  I thought the defense came out and really competed well.  Both sides kept it base but their effort was really, really good.”

West Virginia
Coming off a 10-win season with Orange Bowl victory in 2011-12, West Virginia was predicted by some *ahem* to immediately compete for a Big 12 title. Yeah, about that. The Mountaineers went on a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finished 7-6. Now with the likes of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey gone to the NFL, WVU must replace the core of its offensive production. Battling to succeed Smith are junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshman Ford Childress.

Though both QBs posted solid passing numbers, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson wasn’t happy with their tendency to hold on to the ball. “Taking sacks gets you beat,” Dawson said. “We’re giving up sacks we shouldn’t give up. If you sit in the pocket for three, four, five seconds and get sacked, you can’t do that. If that’s what they’re going to do, then neither one of them can play.”

— Running back Dustin Garrison shined as a freshman in 2011, but was limited last year because of an ACL tear he sustained right before the Orange Bowl. Garrison came back strong in WVU’s spring game with 51 yards on seven carries.

— Though it will be difficult if not downright impossible to replicate what Tavon Austin did for WVU’s offense, receiver Jordan Thompson could emerge as a similar shifty playmaker. Thompson had three touchdowns during yesterday’s game.

— Defense will still be a concern for WVU, but Travis Bell‘s move from safety to corner could be an upgrade for a unit that was picked on often during last season. “He has embraced the change, and he’s excited about it. He can run fast, and he has great conditioning,” Dana Holgorsen said. “It is an experiment that we talked about a week ago, and we moved him. We’ll keep looking into it.”

— The Mountaineers will be sporting some new unis this fall as well.

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow, but Nick Saban has work to do

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Stores may be sold out of special solar eclipse glasses for what some are dubbing the Great American Eclipse on Monday, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be more likely to be found in his office preparing for a mega matchup to open the season next week.

Besides, Saban has seen how an eclipse works already because he is a devoted fan of The Weather Channel.

“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Saban said Saturday, according to AL.com. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So, what’s going to be significant? Watch the Weather Channel and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

That Saban sure is a curmudgeon, isn’t he? But that’s part of the legacy of Saban. Unless the eclipse can help Alabama win a game against Florida State in Atlanta next week, Saban has little time to worry about such nonsense. Otherwise, it is business as usual for Saban and Alabama. However, Saban will allow his players to take advantage of what is, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said.

The eclipse is having a slight impact on some football practices around the country, including in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans, for example, have modified their practice schedule for Monday due to the eclipse and will organize a team party around the event.

“I thought what a cool thing to do, but then I thought I’d like them to finish practice and give them time to put the glasses on and really enjoy the experience,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said (per ESPN.com). “I wanted to be on the field when it happened, as a team, I thought it’d be a neat memory for these guys.”

Clearly, Mularkey is not watching the Weather Channel on a daily basis.

Kansas surprised four walk-ons with scholarships at Royals-Indians game

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There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.

The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.

Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.

Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.

It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.

Shane Buechele is almost Facebook official as starting Texas QB

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The college football season officially gets underway this week, but Tom Herman has another week to make some decisions about the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. If he had to make that call right now, Shane Buechele would be getting the starting nod in Austin.

“I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow Shane Buechele would start,” Herman told reporters on Saturday, seemingly a bit frustrated with the question once again being asked, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll get a depth chart to make it Facebook official, I guess. Is that what we’ve got to do?”

It is expected Herman will make a decision on his starting quarterback within the next week ahead of Texas’ season opener at home against Maryland of the Big Ten. Buechele was the full-time starter for the Longhorns last season, but a new coach taking over at a program tends to wipe the slate clean to start from scratch. Buechele has faced his stiffest competition for the job from freshman Sam Ehlinger, who enrolled in January and was able to work with the team in the spring.

Whatever his decision ends up being, Herman has not been overly optimistic about his offense. Instead, Herman has been praising the defense as the key to the upcoming season. For a team that allowed 448.3 yards per game last season to rank seventh in the Big 12 in total defense, and 31.5 points per game (8th in the Big 12 ahead of only Kansas and Texas Tech), Herman is either suggesting the defense has taken some strides in practices this year or the offense really does have a long way to go.

It should probably not come as a great surprise Texas may be better off on defense, given the brief Charlie Strong tenure. Strong was always known more for his defense so the seeds for a reputable defense may have been planted in Austin prior to Herman’s hiring. Now it is up to Herman to get the offense in gear.

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

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The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.