Big 12 Report Card

Nick Cremona

Oklahoma — A

Strength — Senior leaders
The Sooners’ offense is anchored by two seniors in quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Broyles is Jones’ favorite target and the pair mesh well on the field. Their leadership is extremely important to the team’s success. There are 16 seniors total on this year’s squad.

Weakness — Running game
After what seemed like a decade with the team, DeMarco Murray has finally graduated and the Sooners are left without a clear-cut choice at running back. The odds-on favorite to take over for Murray is freshman Brandon Williams. The five-star recruit and Texas native was also targeted by the Longhorns.

Baylor — B

Strength — Passing game
One wouldn’t think that a speedy quarterback like Robert Griffin III would excel as a passer, but he has done just that for the Bears. Griffin had a career-high 67 percent completion last season and threw for more than 3,500 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Weakness — Defense
The Bears ranked 80th in sacks and interceptions a year ago, and if it weren’t for Griffin and the rest of the offense, the Bears would have suffered greatly. They will need to get their act together if they want to go bowling this year.

Missouri — B

Strength — Defensive line
The Tigers ranked sixth in points allowed last season and return nearly all of the starters from that entire defensive unit. The defense will be relied on heavily this year as well and should keep the Tigers in most games.

Weakness — Quarterback
The loss of Blaine Gabbert will hurt this team, and it is not certain how sophomore James Franklin will fill the void Gabbert left. However, Franklin has some tools at his disposal, especially junior wide receiver T.J. Moe.

Texas Tech — C+

Strength — Passing game
No surprise here. The remnants of Mike Leach still remain in junior quarterback Seth Doege, who will have to step up as a leader. Doege has a strong arm and plenty of options at receiver.

Weakness — Defense
The Red Raiders ranked 61st last season in sacks and must get more pressure on opponents’ quarterbacks. Head coach Tommy Tuberville has done a lot for this program in his short time at the helm, and the defense should continue to improve.

Kansas — D

Strength — Quarterback
Sophomore Jordan Webb will take the reins of an offense that lacks any true playmakers aside from possibly himself. Rebuilding is the name of the game for the Jayhawks this year. Webb played for the majority of last season and will look to build his game this year.

Weakness — Secondary
The Jayhawks only registered seven picks last season and failed to stop any team from throwing on them. With plenty of pass-happy quarterbacks on their schedule, the Jayhawks could be in for another long year in Lawrence.

Texas — B-

Strength — Linebackers
This year’s group of linebackers is deep with talent, but the true stars are Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho. Both received high praise for their leadership and commitment in the offseason and are ready to lead a new-look defense.

Weakness — Secondary
The entire unit was lit up at times last year but will hope to have solved any issues lingering from last year come Sept. 3. Young guys such as Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips will have to grow up fast if the Longhorns want to escape last season’s memories.

Kansas State — C+

Strength — Secondary
The Wildcats return most of last year’s defense who weren’t spectacular but do bring experience to the field. Most notably David Garrett at cornerback and Tysyn Hartman at safety return and are in charge of keeping opponents out of the defensive backfield.

Weakness — Running game
Daniel Thomas ran for more than 1,500 yards last season, but he’s long gone now. Redshirt junior quarterback Collin Klein is the team’s returning rushing leader. Tennessee transfer Bryce Brown will have his work cut out for him as he enters the season as the front-runner for the starting running back job.

Texas A&M — A-

Strength — Offense
The Aggies have a plethora of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The senior trio of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Cyrus Gray and wide receiver Jeff Fuller alone can cause a defense fits. Sprinkle in Ryan Swope at receiver and it’s easy to see why the Aggies’ hopes are high this season.

Weakness — Defensive line
Not a terrible weakness here, more along the lines of a possible concern. The loss of defensive end Von Miller will be felt, but players such as defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie should be able to hold the line down.

Iowa State — C

Strength — Running game
Sophomore Shontrelle Johnson takes over the starting running back gig and will look to learn from four-year starter James Robinson, who precedes him at the position. Johnson ran for 218 yards and a score last season.

Weakness — Wide receivers
The Cyclones’ top-three receivers from last season graduated, and the fourth leading receiver Darius Reynolds’ status is still up in the air after an offseason toe injury. Junior college transfer quarterback Steele Jantz may struggle to find a solid option to throw to.

Oklahoma State — A-

Strength — Offense
Senior quarterback Brandon Weeden and junior wide receiver Justin Blackmon connected for 20 touchdowns last year. The Cowboys are set if the pair continues to perform well. Weeden threw for more than 4,000 yards last year, so he does a great job of distributing the ball to his playmakers. Four starters from last season’s offensive line also return.

Weakness — Defensive line
Only two starters from the Cowboys’ front seven return this year. While much of the secondary returns, the line gave up some big numbers last season and haven’t gotten any better talent-wise. These guys will have to step up in order for the Cowboys to get past their in-state rivals in Norman.