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One Spring Football Question For The Big 12 Programs

Spring Football Question

It might feel like the next college football season is miles away, but have no fear. Big 12 Spring football practices have actually already begun for some teams with more kicking off over the next few weeks. Spring football gives every college football fan that first dose of optimism for the upcoming fall season. It also gives everyone a glimpse into the pressing issues each team faces. March madness might be dominating the college athletic consciousness, but what is one Spring football question that needs to be answered for all (new and old) Big 12 members?


Will the real Baylor Bears please stand up?

Head coach Dave Arranda’s first three seasons look like this: 2-7, 12-2, 6-7. Entering year four, they have quarterback Blake Shapen back, but he will need to be more consistent. Plus, the Bears brought in competition from the transfer portal in former Mississippi State quarterback Sawyer Robertson. Will more consistency in the passing game produce results similar to 2021? Or do the Bears enter the new Big 12 landscape with another very middle-of-the-road performance?


Can Kedon Slovis have a third act strong enough to challenge for the conference title?

Slovis enters the 2023 season with his third program. After leaving USC, his time as the Pitt quarterback resulted in the worst statistical season of his career. A season with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions simply will not elevate the Cougar program. But for BYU, Slovis has to be the answer due to other quarterback departures. Jaren Hall is off to the NFL and backup Jacob Conover transferred to Arizona State. For a program that has averaged 9.5 wins the last three seasons, above-average quarterback play could push BYU into a Big 12 title appearance.

Central Florida

Where is the leadership going to come from?

The Knights had 10 players who started at least 10 games in 2022 and are not returning. Luckily for Gus Malzahn, his quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is back for the 2023 campaign. The two position groups that lost the most were the offensive line and the defensive secondary. UCF could struggle in the Big 12 if they don’t have unproven players step up in multiple different areas of this team.


Can Scott Satterfield maintain what Fickell built?

One Spring football question plenty of people will be paying attention to is if Cinncy was built by former head coach Luke Fickell to last beyond his presence. This Group of 5 programs broke down the playoff walls (which were coming down anyway with the 12-team playoff). Satterfield comes over from Lousiville where he was recruiting a very comparable level as Fickell. But his time as the Cardinals head coach was very *yawns loudly* average and certainly didn’t lack drama. How will the team adapt/adjust/take to their new head coach?


Can Dana Holgorsen right the ship?

Houston entered the 2022 season as the Group of 5 team that had the potential to crash the playoff party, with expectations being to earn an NY6 bowl bid. Instead, they started 2-3 before scrambling to finish 8-5 on the season. He has to replace his two biggest offensive weapons in quarterback Clayton Tune and wide receiver Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. This team also has lost two straight to Texas Tech. So if Houston can’t get past a current mid/lower tier Big 12 program, there should be major concerns about  Houston’s ability to be ready for the Big 12 jump in 2023.

Iowa State

Can the offense be better than their in-state rival?

Iowa State’s coordinator, last time we checked, is not on a drive for 325. That said, Iowa State had the same problems as the Hawkeyes; elite defense and dreadful offense. The Cyclones have elevated assistant Nate Scheelhaase to offensive coordinator to help makeover their offense. What challenge exactly does he face? A team that averaged 20.2 points per game (113th nationally) and only averaged 108 rushing yards per game (116). Oh, and he has to replace All-America receiver Xavier Hutchinson. Is it too early to take the under in the battle of the Cy-Hawk?


What’s next?

The Jayhawks earned every rose that was cast their way. A program that had suffered for over a decade as a punchline in the college football world finally earned respect as a competitive football team. But this team did fade down the stretch after starting 5-0. However, it did include possibly the most thrilling non-NY6 bowl game of the year. The athletic department extended head coach Lance Leipold and standout quarterback Jalon Daniels is back. Will Kansas be just a flash in the pan or can they continue the build to a consistent winner?

Kansas State

Can they replace Deuce Vaughn?

This one Spring football question is pretty easy to answer. No, they can’t simply replace a two-time first-team All-American. But the Wildcats have to figure out where they can turn offensively now that he is gone. Kansas State has a few different options for running back, but it is going to be difficult to replicate being the 2nd best rushing team in the Big 12. The defending Big 12 champs will also start out this season for the first time in a decade as the hunted instead of the hunter.


Will the defense look more Venables-esque?

Oklahoma fans, and many college football fans, could use some very colorful language to describe how bad the Oklahoma defense looked during the 2022 season. Politely, it looked nothing like what everyone expects from a Brent Venables defense. At worst, see Red River. The rebuild defensively is going to start in the trenches. The Sooners had several defensive linemen enroll early. In addition, Five of the 12 incoming transfers are on the defensive line or the edge. This team still has plenty of talent on paper, so Oklahoma fans would like to see this team back near the top of the Big 12 standings before departing to the SEC.

Oklahoma State

Who will the quarterback be?

It was pretty surprising to see long-time starter Spencer Sanders transfer to Ole Miss. The loss of Sanders means a true quarterback competition for the starting position. Could it come from former Big 12 quarterback Alan Bowman, who transferred from Michigan? Or will it be redshirt freshman Garret Rangel or Mike Gundy’s son Gunnar Gundy? There is some underlying uneasiness with the current state of the Cowboy program. If Oklahoma State can’t find a solution at quarterback, it could be a long season for Gundy and company.


Will Arch Manning see the field?

Just how quickly will Texas fans forget that Quinn Ewers was the number one overall recruit in his class? Ewers had plenty of moments in 2022 that were jaw-dropping, but he never was consistent enough to cement him as the no-doubt starter heading into this upcoming season. There is not a single spring football question that will bring more popcorn-worthy moments than this possible quarterback race. Especially because things in Austin never get weird.


Can Chandler Morris make a Max Duggan-type run to New York?

It is unfair to expect Morris to put up Heisman-worthy numbers coming off the most improbable national title run in college football history. But remember, Morris won the job leading into last season. A week-one injury kept him out long enough that Duggan never gave the job up. Morris is plenty talented, but the job he has is more than simply being the next quarterback of a football team. He will have to be a leader of the team to help navigate expectations no one could have ever seen coming in Sonny Dykes’ second season in Ft. Worth.

Texas Tech

Can the offensive line gel quickly (again)?

Head coach Joey McGuire dealt with quite a wide variety of personnel issues in year one. His team had to rebuild the offensive line and manage playing three different starting quarterbacks. Now they are shuffling and attempting to quickly gel another unit up front. McGuire already noted that Left tackle Caleb Rogers and right tackle Monroe Mills are switching positions. Also, center Dennis Wilburn will move to right guard, and transfers Rusty Staats (center) and Cole Spencer (left guard) will round out the five-man unit. Offensive line play needs to improve dramatically if the Red Raiders want to improve on their 8-5 2022 campaign.

West Virginia

Who is going to call plays and will it matter?

No Big 12 coach enters 2023 with a hotter season the Neal Brown. With Graham Harrell off to Purdue, Chad Scott was promoted to offensive coordinator after 17 years primarily spent coaching running backs. It is unclear if Scott or Brown will grasp the play-calling reins. The offense, which averaged 30.6 points a game, still ranked 9th out of 10 teams in the Big 12. Scott should get an opportunity to face play-clock pressures and personnel groupings in spring scrimmages. How he does ultimately will decide if Scott will be tasked with running an offense that could determine the ultimate fate of Brown after this season.

Spring Football Question

Photo courtesy: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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