Big 12 notebook: Texas chaos and Bears bringing fireworks to Kansas
Charlie Strong likely never envisioned the nightmare he’s living. Halfway into his second season, Texas is spiraling into chaos. The product on the field is underperforming and off it, the players, seemingly divided by class status, are sniping at each other through the media and on Twitter.
Strong’s own comment more than a year ago about social media being "the downfall of society" is ringing loudly with an eerie irony. During halftime of Saturday’s humiliating, 50-7 defeat at TCU, a freshman retweeted a suggestion that he transfer to Texas A&M. On Monday, in a most surreal, 21st century scenario, younger Texas players took to Twitter to either make fun of or rebuke complaints made by older players that were being live-tweeted by media attending the Longhorns’ weekly press conference.
After Strong found out about freshman cornerback Kris Boyd’s halftime tweet, he said he would address the social-media issue. But after Monday’s foolishness that has embarrassed the program and the university, it appears nobody is listening. That has to be especially concerning to Strong, who recruited the freshmen and many of the sophomores clashing with their older teammates.
During Strong’s 30-minute press conference, which preceded the players’ interview sessions with the media, and the start of the Longhorn-on-Longhorn Twitter rage, reporters on location said Strong was asked only three questions about this week’s opponent, No. 10 Oklahoma.
Oh yeah, Texas still has to play a game. If the infighting wasn’t bad enough, Strong has to figure out how to get his team’s psyche straightened out to at least compete on the field, something it didn’t do last week. Strong left the TCU debacle saying his team doesn’t know how to compete and that "we just didn’t play hard."
Those are typically earth-shattering statements for a coach to make about his team. So how does Strong feel about the Longhorns’ chances to bounce back against the undefeated, chip-on-their-shoulder Sooners as to avoid a 1-5 start?
"We had a couple of good team meetings this past weekend and it’s time for us to pull this team together," Strong told the media Monday. "This is a big game and we know what we’re up against. But we’re ready to get going, and we know this: We’re going to play with a lot of passion and a lot of intensity. We’re going to be a team that’s disciplined, a team that’s focused and a team that just really enjoys playing."
Shortly thereafter, the great Texas Twitter civil war started.
Kansas braces for Baylor juggernaut
What happens when the nation’s most explosive offense meets one of the nation’s worst defenses? We’re about to find out when No. 3 Baylor head to Lawrence to take on Kansas.
But let’s start with the Kansas offense. Freshman quarterback Ryan Willis is set to make his first career start after injuries have taken down the Jayhawks’ first- and second-string signal-callers. Kansas has allowed 11 sacks in four games, so at this time we’d like to introduce Mr. Willis to Mr. Oakman, as in Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman.
Now, back to the Baylor offense, which is averaging 745.3 yards in four games and 9.4 yards per play. The Bears destroyed Texas Tech last week, 63-35, and are routinely putting up points more accustomed for Allen Fieldhouse. Baylor hasn’t scored fewer than 56 points and it put up 70 on Rice.
“It will be a great challenge,” first-year Kansas coach David Beaty told reporters. “I’m not really sure how you slow these guys down because I don’t know many people that have.”
Patterson loves TCU’s resiliency
No playoff contenders has been hit harder by key injuries than TCU and Notre Dame. The No. 2 Horned Frogs can feel fortunate they didn’t lose their Heisman candidate quarterback Trevone Boykin the way the Irish did. But still, TCU’s defense has been decimated.
It hasn’t stopped the Frogs from starting 5-0 and 2-0 in the Big 12. Now, the defense took plenty of hits in a magical 55-52 win at Texas Tech two weeks ago, but the unit showed its mettle with a near shutout of Texas in shutting down previously hot redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard. Now TCU tries to remain unbeaten and on a playoff track at banged-up Kansas State (which lost its starting QB in the opening week).
"They’ve had a lot of resiliency; I’ve been proud of them,” Patterson said of his team this week. “With everything that’s happened to them, they just keep fighting.”
Snyder wasn’t aware of officials mistake
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he wasn’t aware of the mistake officials made when they incorrectly awarded Oklahoma State a first down in the second quarter of the Cowboys’ 36-34 victory Saturday in Stillwater.
Five plays later, Oklahoma State scored a touchdown to cut K-State’s lead to 28-20. On the play that the Big 12 has ruled was called incorrectly, the Cowboys needed to reach K-State’s 35 yard-line on a third-and-23 play. Oklahoma State gained only 19 yards, but was given a first down.
"When the situation took place, it didn’t seem as though they had made enough yardage to make the first down,” Snyder said Monday on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “I certainly didn’t question it and had no idea.”
It sure seems that someone in the K-State coaches box should have been aware of the distance and called down to the sideline so Snyder could alert the officials. As for the officials, the Big 12 announced that disciplinary action will be addressed with both the field officials and the chain crew.
Quick hits: If Texas has any advantage against No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday it could rest with Longhorns play-caller Jay Norvell. Norvell is the former wide receivers coach for the Sooners who was let go after last season when coach Bob Stoops made several changes to the offensive coaching staff … Texas Tech might have found a new go-to receiver in sophomore Zach Austin. Looking for his first career catch, he had eight for 110 yards and one touchdown against Baylor … Baylor senior running back Shock Linwood is well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard season, aided by last week’s career day of 221 yards … Oklahoma State kicker Ben Grogan should be getting a steak dinner from teammates any day after making his second consecutive game-winning field goal. His 37-yarder to put the Cowboys ahead of K-State late followed his 40-yarder to beat Texas.