The Big 12 put together a solid performance in Week 2. Here’s what stood out to me.
Mike Gundy needs to roll the dice with Daxx Garman. The reaction from OSU wasn’t necessarily frenzied horror when J.W. Walsh made his way to the locker room for X-rays on his right lower leg. I’d say it was more curiosity, and I’m betting Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State liked what they saw when they peered under the rock that is Arizona transfer Daxx Garman.
Tougher opponents will tell us more about Garman’s real accuracy and decision-making under pressure, but he showed a ton of unsurprising upside, considering the constant reports of his fantastic arm strength since he came to campus in 2012. Since Brandon Weeden left, only Wes Lunt had a bigger arm in Stillwater than Garman, but his skill set is much more fitting to Oklahoma State’s preferred offense and talent. Receivers Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd and Marcell Ateman can be much more useful with a guy like Garman who gets the ball down the field.
The flipside is I feel horrible for J.W. Walsh in the situation. He’s everything you could ask for in a teammate and has handled awkward situations at the quarterback position extremely well the last couple seasons. This looked like his year, but Garman’s more prototypical passing style allows OSU to do some things offensively that aren’t options most of the time for Walsh. It’s not often Walsh hits a post route in stride 30 yards downfield for an 87-yard touchdown. Mike Gundy said if he’s healthy (which seems like a big if for next week, at the very least), he’ll be the starter. I’d hand the ball to Garman if I were Gundy.
Walsh needs to be a part of this offense. His legs give a needed dimension to OSU’s offense, but Garman’s arm might give it a more integral dimension. Gundy knows he can trust Walsh in pretty much any situation at this point in his career, but Garman’s final numbers (16-26, 244 yards, 2 TDs) offer plenty of reason to roll the dice. Let it ride.
Tyrone Swoopes isn’t Texas’ biggest worry. Texas opened with a great game plan for Tyrone Swoopes, and if you told me he would complete 65 percent of his passes and turn the ball over once, I would have told you Texas had a great chance to win the game. The 41-7 final score means they did not.
In the second half, the defense looked like the same one that got torched for 550 rushing yards in Provo a year ago. Texas gave up 28 third-quarter points and got out-rushed 248-82. The offensive line struggled as expected without Kennedy Estelle, Desmond Harrison and Dom Espinosa. Swoopes’ accuracy was much better than it was a year ago, and he didn’t try to force plays. Those were the two major worries and neither materialized for the sophomore in his first career start. Texas has plenty of athletes, but plenty of issues, too. Quarterback isn’t the only spot that could present problems for the Longhorns. If the defense keeps playing like this, especially against an offense that’s a lot more one-dimensional than many Texas will face in the coming weeks, my pick for Texas to go 6-6 might even be too ambitious.
Kansas State’s performance shouldn’t inspire panic. I begged you not to overreact at Iowa State’s embarrassing loss to North Dakota State last week, and this week, I’ll have to beg you not to overreact to a less-than-stellar outing for Kansas State. Too many people don’t realize that college football teams don’t have static values. They’re young and performances at every position can vary wildly from week to week. Iowa State wasn’t as bad as it looked last week, and the same is true of Kansas State this week. The Cyclones played well and should be a little upset after a bad call went in favor of Tyler Lockett near the end zone and helped produce seven points. The Wildcats committed 10 penalties and found themselves down 28-13 in the first half after committing seven for 57 yards. They cleaned it up and drew just three flags for 20 yards in the second half, which was a big reason why they shutout Iowa State in the second half. (The Cyclones, by the way, are still waiting for their first second-half points of 2014).
Jack Trice Stadium doesn’t get enough credit as a difficult place to play, but the Wildcats survived a rough day, and when you get in that kind of situation and still win, it can often inspire confidence in similar situations in the future and help you in the long run. Down 28-13, Kansas State executed on both sides of the field (especially on offense in the fourth quarter), got big stops when they needed them and advanced to 2-0.
Kansas notwithstanding, you should be happy with any conference road win. K-State will take its lessons learned and move on. That’s what Bill Snyder’s teams do. Saturday didn’t change the fact that K-State has an outstanding chance of beating Auburn in Week 4 at home on Thursday night.
Baylor is WRU to the nth degree. Is KD Cannon serious? The true freshman caught four passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns … in the first quarter. The Bears were already missing Antwan Goodley (hamstring), Clay Fuller (clavicle), Levi Norwood (wrist) and lost a major recruit before the season in Robbie Rhodes, but looked like the same old Bears offense even without Bryce Petty. The receivers were the reason. Cannon finished with 223 yards on six catches and fellow true freshman Davion Hall had 78 yards on four catches. Jay Lee hauled in a 61-yard score, too. You’re seeing Baylor’s improved recruiting start to show up more and more.
Kansas has a long way to go … again. The Jayhawks jumped out to 24-0 lead in the first quarter … and apparently fell asleep. KU may have taken its foot off the gas a little bit, but I would be alarmed if I won the turnover battle 3-0 and had 174 penalty yards given to me and beat an FCS team by six points. You can only glean so much from playing SE Missouri State, but that seems like a very troubling box score for Kansas’ coaching staff.
West Virginia’s already showing serious defensive progress. The Mountaineers held just one team under 16 points last season. WVU has talent, but looked undisciplined a year ago and never put it together. Putting together a shutout against any team is impressive because it necessitates 60 minutes of mostly mistake-free football. That seemed impossible for this defense a year ago, but new DC Tony Gibson has this defense looking solid. I wonder how much credit longtime Joe Paterno assistant Tom Bradley deserves, too.