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Big 12 Roundtable: Preseason Edition

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Editor's Note: Not really sure what happened, but somehow, with the site upgrades last night and everything, my Big 12 Roundtable went ka-poof, never to be heard from again. So, here is a re-do of sorts, with me trying my best to give similar, if not identical, answers.

The questions in bold, the answers in normal text.

1) There has been lots of talk this pre-season about scheduling. Colorado has arguably the strongest schedule but who do you think has the weakest and which cream puff on your team’s schedule do you wish wasn’t there?

Last season, I don't know if you know or not, but we had a pretty bad schedule. I know nobody ever really talked about it or anything, just kind of gave us a pass while they continually hammered tOSU for their schedule, but it still happened.

In any case, this season the weakest schedule is obviously Texas Tech. They are trying to be "this year's Kansas", only just about every single person sees them coming. So, not quite. Try again later. However, they do have the schedule of last year's Kansas, as they face Eastern Washington (as opposed to LSU), @ Nevada, SMU and UMass. I mean, last year, at least we had the defending and future MAC champion in Central Michigan come in to Lawrence; the best the Red Raiders will face is the always dreaded Nevada Wolfpack. Scary.

As far as our schedule is, I'm fine with every team. I mean, sure, I would love for there to be no FCS teams on the slate, especially Sam Houston State with their QB Rhett Bomar, but it serves a purpose of getting some experience for younger kids. Honestly, I don't see the harm.

  1. 2) As a whole the Big 12 has the best quarterbacks in the country. Make a case for your quarterback being one of the conference’s top signal callers and tell us which other conference quarterback you would pick to replace him if you had to.

Todd Reesing is a beast. He is a man among boys. He is this school's greatest QB, hands down. And he does all of that 5'10".

Yet, given all of that completely factual knowledge, it's hard to make a case for him to be any higher than 4th. Harrell, Daniel and Bradford sit comfortably atop the upper echelon of Big 12 QBs. That is obvious. The order is debatable, sure, but those three are the top tier of Big 12 QBs. However, there is one more member to their tier, and that is Todd Reesing. So, a better way to look at it is there are four dominating QBs at the top of the rankings, then there are a couple more 'good' ones (McCoy, Ganz, Robinson, Freeman) and then a pile of decent ones. But Reesing's stats and record clearly prove that he belongs at #4 at the lowest, and a mild contender for one of the top three spots.

As far as trading him out, that has to go to Chase Daniel (yuck!). I don't really like Booger all that much, but he is the best (or second best) QB in the Big 12, and he would be a near-perfect fit for our system, which is quite similar to the one he is currently running. As tough as it is for me to pick a Mizzou player, he is clearly the best option. Well, him or Graham Harrell...

  1. 3) Going into the season which unit for your team are you most confident in, offense or defense?

Tough question. You have the starpower on offense, with Todd Reesing and Jocques Crawford and Dez Briscoe and Kerry Meier, but they lost their leading rusher (Brandon McAnderson), Todd Reesing's favorite dumpoff guy (Derek Fine) and leading receiver yardage-wise (Marcus Henry) along with the two starting offensive tackles. On defense you have the nine returning starters and the best LBer crew in the Big 12 (Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera, James Holt), but they lost their two best players, hands down, in Aqib Talib and James McClinton.

With all of that said, I've got to go offense. Sure, the LBer crew is the best unit on the entire team, but there are major questions about the defensive line, particularly the pass rush and the D-Ends. On offense, you have adequate replacements for every position, and while the offensive tackles still scare me, I feel more confident in them than I do Brorsen and whoever else starts across him (Jeff Wheeler or John Larson).

  1. 4) Who is the new guy on you squad that will be a household name among your fan base before the season ends.

Jocques Crawford is the obvious answer, but I would say he is already well-known enough, both by the MSM and our casual fanbase, to be disqualified from selection. And so, I'll go with Daymond Patterson, I guy I absolutely love. He is really short, only 5'9", but he is dynamite out of the slot and, as a true freshman, figures to see plenty of action. He is also the starting punt returner, and figures to be a large improvement over the guys we threw out there last year.

He is turning more heads in practice than anyone else, and has solidified his status, even as a true freshman with only a couple weeks worth of practice. I can't wait to see him out there.

  1. 5) Prediction time! Tell us how the north and south divisions will wind up.

NORTH

Missouri (11-1, 7-1)

Kansas (10-2, 6-2)

Colorado (8-4, 5-3)

Nebraska (6-6, 3-5)

Kansas State (5-7, 2-6)

Iowa State (4-8, 1-7)

SOUTH

Oklahoma (12-0, 8-0)

Texas Tech (10-2, 6-2)

Texas (8-4, 4-4)

Oklahoma State (7-5, 3-5)

Texas A&M (6-6, 3-5)

Baylor (1-11, 0-8)

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ROCK CHALK!

Dezmon Briscoe :: #80 :: SO :: OWR1

If you are looking for a star on this offense, one of the first names that should pop out of your mouth is Dezmon Briscoe. If you're looking for the best NFL prospect on this offense, you probably have to look towards #80. He has the size (6'3" 200), hands and skills to play in the NFL, and is good enough to make an early jump to the NFL. Honestly. With a really good year this year and an even better year next, he could be a 1st round pick and leave school early.

And, I really am expecting Briscoe to explode this season. Last season, as a true freshman, he was somewhat overshadowed by the veteran presences of Marcus Henry and Dexton Fields, not to mention Reesing's favorite dumpoff target, fifth-year senior Derek Fine. Now, with two of the three gone to the NFL, he figures to be the primary target of Todd Reesing. He probably won't lead the team in receptions, that will likely (once again) fall to Dexton Fields, but he will be the most impactful receiver on the team, and whenever a big passing play occurs, odds are it will involve Briscoe. He is a special, special talent who figures to have a monstrous season.

In case you can't tell, I'm pretty much in love with the guy. He had 43 catches last year, or a little over 3 a game, but that looks a lot better considering that he caught all of 1 pass the first two games. Take those two games out, and that one all-important reception (it did go for a TD, one of 7 on the season, second on the team), and he averages nearly 4 catches a game. Big difference. This year, he will go from being a name known merely around Big 12 circles to a nationwide name, acknowledged as one of the better WRs in college football by all CFB followers nationwide.

He will be the #1 receiver throughout his time here at Kansas, barring an injury or mountainous drop-off in production, and should be a star this season.

Jonathan Wilson :: #81 :: SO :: OWR2

Last season, Wilson hardly made a blip on the Kansas football scene. He mostly just stayed on the sideline, learning by way of watching and during the pressureless trials of practice. Yet, despite being a freshman, he was not handed a redshirt, and was brought in for a handful of plays against Toldeo. Then, in Kyle Field against Texas A&M, which was the game that actually burned his redshirt. Then, he caught a pass against Iowa State for 36 yards, his third of the season (he had a catch against both Toledo and A&M). I'm sure, in a couple of the other blowouts he saw field action, but the lack of television for said blowouts and the lack of catches made by Wilson make that difficult to track. In any case, numerous fans, me included, kind of considered his redshirt to be wasted last season, as his glimpses of action could have easily gone to anyone else on the team.

Still, maybe that experience will come into play for him this season. Maybe those extra catches, one of which came in an incredibly hostile environment, will make a difference in his nerves entering this season, and he will start out hotter. But more importantly, it is another example in a long list of them that Mangino really will play the best players; even if it might be in the team's best longterm interests for the better player to sometimes get a redshirt slapped on, Mangino won't redshirt the better player. And, while it doesn't always seem to make sense on a case-by-case basis, Wilson's case included, it does in the big picture of a program. It allows Mangino to, truthfully, make promises to recruits that "the best players will play", a cliche said by nearly all college coaches but followed through by few.

In any case, redshirt or not, Wilson is a starter this season and has been throughout all of fall practice. He has the potential to be really good, and with this basically his first whole season, he could emerge on the scene very similar to Briscoe last season. I'm not expecting such a splash from the outset, but he looks to have a very promising career in front of him. Wilson wasn't a highly rated prospect by Rivals, only a 2-STAR and a 5.2 RR, but he was a late bloomer, not really emerging as a legitimate BCS-level prospect until his senior year of high school. After his senior year, Kansas had to fight Arizona State and the Iowa schools for the kid, showing the potential some other big name programs thought he had. He has the talent, he had an inkling of experience last season; it's now time for Wilson to step up and become a legitimate #3 or #4 threat in the passing game.

Rod Harris Jr. :: #86 :: SO :: OWR3

Amidst all of the late commitments, most influenced by Kansas' 12-1 season, one that got continually overlooked, in my mind, was Rod Harris Jr. I mean, sure, he was a JUCO kid who wasn't an obvious starter (Rojas), an Aussie 4-STAR (D'Cunha) or the JUCO Offensive Player of the Year (Crawrord), but still. Good size (6'2" 200), good speed (4.5 40, according to his Rivals page) and decent production in JUCO. And yet, no one really talked about him much at all, and no one has really since, with him yet to pass either Briscoe or Wilson (a tougher task than you might think, I might add). So, he has gone almost completely overlooked coming into this season, by me as well as nearly every other Kansas fan. He figures to be a key member of the receiver rotation, as he looks to be, clearly, the #3 OWR as of right now, and that doesn't figure to change. While the other two receivers in front of him are also true sophomores, providing little chance for an increased role due to graduation, he still provides crucial depth and, if Briscoe were to leave early for the NFL, would seem to be the obvious replacement. I really don't know

much about him besides his measurables and the fact that he has a Chad Johnson haircut, but he has quickly become one of my favorite players. I don't know if it's the hair, but it likely has something to do with the fact that I think he is being hideously overlooked. Like, that harictu hideous. Well, maybe not that much, but you get the point.

Raymond Brown :: #38 :: rsSR :: OWR4

Honestly, who is Raymond Brown? I kind of remember him as a reserve safety, when hearing the name a couple of times, but I didn't even know he had moved to OWR. Then, sure enough, he shows up on the newly updated depth chart as Briscoe's primary backup, essentially placing him at #4 on the OWR depth chart. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a spot in the receiver rotation, and likely leaves him to pick up the scraps in garbage time, but that beats being a reserve safety likely never to see the light of day on the depth chart. So, however he ended up moving to OWR, congratulations to the coaching staff for finding him a place on this team. Another interesting little tidbit: Joe Mortensen, who is a self-proclaimed boxer, claimed that Raymond Brown would be the closest to scaring him in the ring. As Mortensen stated:

We have a wide receiver here, Raymond Brown, who's got the long reach and who's pretty quick.

Putting the whole boxing element aside, that little description of Raymond by Joe bodes well for his WR prospects. I know that he is a fifth-year senior, and the term 'prospects' isn't the best to use, but still. Maybe this ex-safety will see some field action afterall.

But, most likely, he will be around simply for depth purposes and special teams. However, it does make me feel slightly better about our OWR depth to have one more able-bodied guy out there, because frankly, were we stuck with Marcus Herford out there, we are in big trouble.

Marcus Herford :: #13 :: rsSR :: OWR5

Speak of the devil, here is Marcus Herford on the depth chart. Upon coming to Kansas, he was a farily celebrated recruit and was expected to be a key member of our team, wherever he ended up playing. The high school QB wound up at outside receiver, and quickly rose up the then-depleted depth chart and played a significant amount of snaps his sophomore year. However, it was apparent he wasn't a natural at the position, and he never really stuck. So, while he remains listed as an OWR, with the emergence of Raymond Brown his chances at playing OWR this season are slim-to-none. Honestly, it speaks to Herford's OWR talent that he got beat out by a largely give up on, fifth-year senior who was just moved to OWR for fall practice. And Herford was beaten out like *that*.

He was one of the nation's best kickoff return men, and I absolutely love watching his top-end speed unveil as he speeds down the field away from the kickoff coverage, but he just isn't made to be a OWR.

Xavier Rambo :: #18 :: rsSO :: OWR6

In all honesty, I'm not quite sure whether Rambo is a SWR or a OWR. But, I already had 6 pegged for the slot so I figured I would throw him out here with the outside wideouts and hoped nobody would freak out over the last scholarship WR on this team getting placed in the wrong category. In any case, his chances of getting on the field this season are virtually nonexistent, and he should be thought of as mere depth in the future.

Next Up: Offensive Tackles, Offensive Guards and Centers (Tuesday)

ROCK CHALK!