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Big 12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2015

Baylor Bears stadium

Baylor Bears stadium

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2015, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Big 12 Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes


“Their skill guys on offense are as talented as anybody in the country.”

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“They always seem to have not one, but three receivers. They always have a good running back. And their trigger man has been a guy who can run that offense.”

“Their issue has been defense. I don’t know if they’ll be much better this year. That always seems to be the thing that holds them back.”

“Art Briles has transformed the whole perception of that program. They were once great under Grant Teaff, then they hit a bump and lost sort of their tradition and the shine on the program. Art has brought them back with really good recruiting and great relationships with high school coaches and a system that works at a place like that.”

“You look traditionally at defenses that pair up with that style of offense, they don’t match up well at times. Then when you get to a power team, you haven’t seen it in the spring or the summer and it can get you. There’s some disadvantages in that. You’ve got to build yourself in this league to play, basically, five corners. Then you come up against somebody who wants to run the ball and you’ve got to change your mindset. It’s not easy to do it.”

“For seven or eight years now, I keep saying, ‘Oh good,  they’re going to lose so-and-so at quarterback.’ Then all of a sudden the next guy comes in and breaks all the records. (Robert) Griffin, (Nick) Florence after him, and then Bryce Petty. The new quarterback isn’t bad, either.”

“They have a tremendous supporting cast. Scheme-wise, they spread the field and their athleticism at wideout and running back is where they’ve gotten better over the years.”

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

Iowa State

“They’re so well coached. And they play hard, every play and every game.”

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“They never seem to give up, no matter what their record is. They’re tough and disciplined. They always seem to have a playmaker, good linebackers. They’re solid in the kicking game.”

“Recruiting is difficult for them. They go all over to find kids and they don’t get the first pick, obviously. They have to go get some kids from Florida and obviously get into Texas. Not a lot of players in their backyard. It’s tough.”

“I thought schematically, what Mark Mangino does, he’s so good at studying the opponent and tweaking what he does week to week to move the ball.”

“The quarterback, Sam Richardson, is a guy who’s proven he can move the ball.”

“They’ve had a missing piece as far as a big-time playmaker. With Quenton Bundrage and Allen Lazard, they’ve got a chance to be better in that area. Those guys are talented.”

“If they lose (Luke) Knott, who’s been injured, that’ll be tough. To lose an experienced linebacker like that would be a blow. Depth is always a concern for them anyway, so a couple of injuries can really affect their team.”

“Not very often are they just blown out on the field.”

“The tough thing about them is when you play them in Ames, they’ve got an attitude about them and there’s a mystique. The crowd gets into it and they really support them. They’re different up there.”

Related: Big 12 Breakout Players for 2015


“I definitely think there will be excitement in the program. I think David Beaty brings excitement with his approach. He’s hired a bunch of young coaches who coach enthusiastically and with excitement.”

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“They have a junior college resource right there in state that is probably as good as any junior college situation in the country. Maybe they can lean on that.”

“They’ve just got to create more consistency. They’ll have a skill guy here and there, but they never have a lot of them. Still, they’re not that far removed from going to the Orange Bowl, so it can be done.”

“They have to get rid of that basketball stigma and approach football with a different attitude, which I believe David will bring.”

“David knows Kansas. I don’t think he’ll complain about what they don’t have. I think he’ll buy into just making it work with what they have.”

“They’ve gone heavily into the junior college recruiting route recently, and sometimes those kids pan out better their second year. They might have some guys sitting in the wings that not many people know about, who could make a big improvement from their first year to their second.”

“They have some interesting guys at quarterback, guys with some skills, but I’m not sure either of the two are premium guys. And it takes a premium player at that position in this league.”

“Keeping Clint Bowen as defensive coordinator was smart. They’ve been pretty good on that side of the ball, and he’s a big part of that.”

Related: Big 12 Programs Will Sink or Swim With New Coordinator Hires

Kansas State

“Two words: Bill Snyder. They’re the most well-prepared, well-disciplined team we play all year. We say the same thing every year, but he’s amazing. It’s incredible what he’s done since he came back (out of retirement).”

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“They always seem to find a skill guy who can hurt you. And they always seem to find a quarterback who can run his system. Now, they have to do that again this year, losing Tyler Lockett and Jake Waters, but I always expect them to plug their holes.”

“Offense, defense, special teams, they don’t hurt themselves. When they play ‘perfect football,’ you’ve got to match them, or else every mistake is going to cost you in the game. I think they sort of grind you out until you make a mistake.”

“Kansas State was probably the most physical game we played last year. That’s sort of who they are every year. And you better be ready to get after it against them.”

“Thank goodness their quarterback is gone, because he was dynamic. I thought he was really underrated as far as a guy who could make things happen, throwing and scrambling.”

“They’ll be solid. They’ll be sound. And then they’ll be a very tough team. And they’ve got enough back on defense that they should be in every game.”

“Some teams are more aggressive in their schemes — Kansas State isn’t a big blitz team. They don’t bring a lot of pressure. So they might give up some yards. I don’t see them giving up a whole lot of explosive plays, though. So you have to really earn what you get on offense.”

Related: Big 12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015


“I think what Bob Stoops has done with the staff is try to create a new identity. It comes down to this offense being successful, not only in this league but across the country. Going that route, I think he’s going to restore excitement.”

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“They were thin at receiver and they’ll have to be better there.”

“I don’t know who’s going to be the quarterback. And that’s a question mark. But they obviously have great running backs.”

“It’s hard to fathom them not having a great quarterback, but everybody misses in recruiting at times. And then if you miss on a guy like the quarterback, that can set you back. They’ve always been good at recruiting skill guys.”

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“Lincoln Riley will bring an offensive philosophy similar to what Oklahoma State does, West Virginia does, Baylor, TCU. He’s a young coach with a great opportunity to be at a special program. I think he can breathe new excitement into it.”

“I’ve seen East Carolina play and I know the family tree — (Riley’s) not necessarily pigeon-holed into doing exactly what’s been done by Mike Leach and that family. He’s moved the ball against some great defenses. That’s what scares you. Watch what East Carolina did without maybe the talent and the recruits that everybody would say he’s playing against. He’s beaten a lot of those ACC teams that supposedly can recruit better than them. I haven’t looked at the stats, but I doubt there’s been a year where he’s been average on offense. That’s why he’s at OU now.”

“They have to find a quarterback, but they can probably win more games than they lose without throwing it one down, and just handing off to that No. 32 (Samaje Perine).”

Related: College Football's Top Coordinator Hires for 2015

Oklahoma State

“Wow, things really turned for the better for them in a hurry. And that all comes down to the quarterback. The (Mason Rudolph) kid was impressive, getting thrown into the fire late and handling the situation so well. Showed great maturity and calm. He looks like a really good one.”

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“They were forced to play a lot of kids last year, and it really showed in some games. They got exposed in spots. But now those guys should benefit from the experience and turn depth into a strength, especially on defense.”

“(Emmanuel) Ogbah is a man. He’s so disruptive on the edge, with great speed and power and athleticism. And I think he’s going to be better after a full year as a starter.”

“They lost two really solid and underrated inside guys on the defensive line (James Castleman and Ofa Hautau). That’s not easy to replace, and it’ll be a big question mark going into the season.”

“(Brandon) Sheperd is a hoss when he’s really locked in. But he can drift, too. He was a man in the Oklahoma game and in the bowl. He could be their next stud at wideout, if he figures it all out.”

“They’ve always prided themselves on balance, but the running game was pretty ordinary last year. O-line improvements should help, but is there a game-breaker back there? They’ll be counting on the junior college kid (Chris Carson) to provide some juice.”

“They really miss Tyreek Hill, as much on special teams and for what he did to defenses as his production. You had to be aware of him at all times.”

Related: Big 12 Predictions for 2015


“They have everybody back on offense, which is the scary part.”

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“They’re very skilled. Very well-coached. You can’t say enough about their skill guys. And with everybody coming back, the coaching staff coming back, there’s continuity there on the staff and on offense.”

“Anytime Gary Patterson is involved on defense, they’re going to be good. They’ve lost a lot on defense, but I see them not losing a step.”

“(Trevone) Boykin can be even better. The second year in the system, I’m sure (Doug) Meacham has learned what he can and can’t do and will tailor the game plan to what he does best. He was a completely different quarterback a year ago.”

“Right now, if you go down the schedule, you’d say they’re favored in every game. Now, that doesn’t mean anything now, other than they’re really talented and figure to be the solid favorite in the league. They still have to go out and do it. But they’re capable.”

“In the second year of Meacham’s offense, you don’t see them doing anything but getting better. And that’s scary.”

“They’ll have some tricky road games, at some tough places to play. But they’ve got the program to where that shouldn’t bother them.”

“Their biggest issue will be how they handle success. And how hungry they’re going to stay. That’s the thing you never know about. They rose up last year and had a great year and look like they’ve turned a corner. But you never know.”

Related: Ranking the Big 12's Quarterbacks for 2015


“They’re only going to get better in the system. Once that new staff realizes who they have and the pieces they have and where to fit them, I think they make a move.”

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“They’ve got the greatest recruiting hotbed in the country. They’ve got tireless workers in recruiting. I just think they’re going to take another step forward.”

“What’s held them back the past couple of years, they’ve gotten commitments early in a kid’s high school career and some of those kids didn’t pan out. And they’ve had some injuries. And some discipline problems where they had to remove some guys from the team. I think it’s a combination of all of that.”

“They could probably contend, because they can fill a few holes and be a lot better.”

“I see a normal progression. Just like Year 2 with players, that next year they’re more mature and they know the expectations, a lot of that same stuff is true for coaches in Year 2. They’re very proud down there. They’re very talented. I don’t think that staff’s going to let them accept mediocrity.”

“They need the quarterback position to develop. Tyrone Swoopes was good at times last year, really good sometimes. But there needs to be consistency. With another year of teaching and watching film and reps, he should get better. And to win a lot of games down there, I don’t think you have to be phenomenal at quarterback. You just have to be reliable.”

Related: College Football's Top 50 Players for 2015

Texas Tech

“They’ve got skill. Their skill players know how to get you out in space.”

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“They’ve got some inside receivers who are really good and cause some matchup problems. And the running back is back, and he’s a good one, so they’ve got some talent on offense.”

“This will be what, Kliff Kingsbury’s third year now? I’m sure he’s more comfortable with what he’s doing. And their staff as well. Sometimes it takes some time in transitioning to a new coach and a new system. Kliff has to have time to do that.”

“Defense is the question. They weren’t very good last year. I see that as a weakness.”

“I think the quarterback, Pat Mahomes, he’s a competitor. Last year, I think people saw him as a guy who could do what Kliff wants. I bet this year, he’s really going to give people fits, because he’s seen how people have attacked him, he’ll know where to throw the ball quicker. He can make a play when it’s not there. I was impressed with him last year. Their whole team will be a lot more sound, but he’s going to be the key for them.”

“They’re getting more recruits who fit to their scheme.”

“The defensive coordinator they got from Houston, David Gibbs, he’s highly respected. He does a lot of great things to bother quarterbacks, putting defenders in their eyes.”

“The overall maturity of their team is a question. There’s still youth in some areas.”

“How many dynamic playmakers they have? I’m not so sure. They don’t have as many as other people do, that when a game’s on the line, a guy makes a tremendous play.”

Related: College Football's Bowl Projections for 2015

West Virginia

“They lost their quarterback (Clint Trickett) but could really be better there. The (Skyler) Howard kid was good when he got his chance last year. And they’ve got some competition there, too. And Dana Holgorsen knows what to do with good quarterbacks.”

“They’ll need some new receivers, losing two to the NFL. And Kevin White was a monster. He was so good last year, probably the best receiver in the nation. So that’s something to watch, to see if they can find the guys needed to keep that offense humming. They’ve been in this spot before and plugged in replacements. But it’s never automatic.”

“They’re much different and much better in Morgantown. They still have to prove they can go on the road and win big games.”

“They’ll go as far as their defense allows them to go. Speed on that side of the ball has been an issue, although they’ve had a few years now to recruit and build a defense better suited to handle the spread offenses of the league. You would think they will be better.”

“If it’s a close game and they need a kick to win, they’ve got one of the best field-goal guys around in (Josh) Lambert. That kid’s got a big leg. And he’s accurate, too. I don’t want to see him lining up with the game on the line. That is such a luxury to have — a kid who can step up and make a big kick.”

“They’ve got some experience and stability in the secondary, which they haven’t had since they’ve been in the Big 12. (Karl) Joseph is a playmaker back there.”