Big 12 Insider: Mack Brown’s staying power is among Big 12’s declining stocks

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Storylines Red zone reliability Big 12 teams have scored on 87.1 percent of their red-zone possessions this season (61-of-70), with 48 touchdowns. That’s a TD conversion rate of 68.6 percent for drives that reach the opponent’s 20-yard line. Fabulous freshmen Four freshmen rank among the Big 12’s top eight players in total offense or touchdowns, led by Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield (first in offense, 431 average), Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight (eighth in offense, 175 average), Baylor RB Shock Linwood (third in TDs, 3) and Texas Tech WR Reginald Davis (seventh in TDs, 2). Triple-digit producers The Big 12 has 10 players with a 100-yard receiving game and six players with a 100-yard rushing performance this season. Four players average at least 100 receiving yards, topped by Baylor’s Tevin Reese (113.5 average). Two players average at least 100 rushing yards, topped by Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (130.5 average). Burch’s picks No. 24 TCU at Texas Tech (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., ESPN): Horned Frogs played their best football last season in road games. No reason for that to change in Lubbock. TCU 34, Tech 31. No. 25 Ole Miss 38, Texas 30 (Saturday, 7 p.m., Longhorn Network): Desperation switch of coordinators will not fix all that ails this Longhorns’ defense against explosive Rebels’ offense. No. 14 Oklahoma 34, Tulsa 10 (Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2): Quarterback injury will not slow the Sooners as they build momentum for Sept. 28 showdown with Notre Dame. No. 12 Oklahoma State 62, Lamar 24 (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., FSW/FCS): Cowboys cap unbeaten march through their nonconference opponents, continue to build case for a Top 10 ranking. Rice 31, Kansas 28 (Saturday, 6:30 p.m,. CBS Sports Net): Owls prevail in a tight one for a second consecutive season against Jayhawks. Iowa 24, Iowa State 20 (Saturday, 5 p.m., FS1): Cyclones remain winless after being swept at home by their two in-state rivals. Kansas State 38, Massachusetts 14 (Saturday, 6 p.m.): Wildcats continue to make strides after stunning loss to FCS foe in season opener. West Virginia 38, Georgia State 20 (Saturday, 11 a.m., Mountaineer Network): Mountaineers improve to 2-0 this season against FCS opponents but remain 0-1 in the Big 12. Last week: 7-1 Season: 13-4
More information Spotlight Micah Awe, Texas Tech LB Among major-college linebackers, Texas Tech’s Micah Awe (6-foot, 205 pounds) has one of the smallest frames of anyone playing the position. But the speedy sophomore from Mansfield Summit is making plenty of big plays for the Red Raiders (2-0). Heading into Thursday’s game against TCU, Awe has 15 tackles (7.5 per game), with 1.5 tackles for losses this season. He shared one of five sacks in the team’s 41-23 victory over SMU. And he is grateful to TCU safeties coach Chad Glasgow, who spent the 2011 season as Tech’s defensive coordinator, for bringing him to Lubbock with what proved to be his only offer from an FBS school. “He’s the one that recruited me,” said Awe, a native of Lagos, Nigeria. “I want to thank him for bringing me into Tech. I’m glad for the opportunity… but we all have chips on our shoulders. I have a chip against everybody [that did not recruit him]” He’s played like it since enrolling in Lubbock. Awe led Tech’s incoming freshmen in tackles last season (12) and has carved out a much larger role for himself under new defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt. His high-energy style of play has made him an emotional leader on the Tech defense. “Once I make a tackle, I get excited,” Awe said. “I get excited and everyone gets excited. It’s a rave out there. Football is entertainment, so we might as well have fun.” Storylines Red zone reliability Big 12 teams have scored on 87.1 percent of their red-zone possessions this season (61 of 70), with 48 touchdowns. That’s a TD conversion rate of 68.6 percent for drives that reach the opponent’s 20-yard line. Fabulous freshmen Four freshmen rank among the Big 12’s top eight players in total offense or touchdowns, led by Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield (first in offense, 431 average), Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight (eighth in offense, 175 average), Baylor RB Shock Linwood (third in TDs, 3) and Texas Tech WR Reginald Davis (seventh in TDs, 2). Triple-digit producers The Big 12 has 10 players with a 100-yard receiving game and six players with a 100-yard rushing performance this season. Four players average at least 100 receiving yards, topped by Baylor’s Tevin Reese (113.5 average). Two players average at least 100 rushing yards, topped by Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk (130.5 average). Burch’s picks No. 24 TCU at Texas Tech (Thursday, 6:30 p.m. ESPN): Horned Frogs played their best football last season in road games. No reason for that to change in Lubbock. TCU 34, Tech 31. No. 25 Ole Miss 38, Texas 30 (7 p.m. Saturday, Longhorn Network): Desperation switch of coordinators will not fix all that ails this Longhorns defense against explosive Rebels offense. No. 14 Oklahoma 34, Tulsa 10 (11 a.m. Saturday, ESPN2): Quarterback injury will not slow the Sooners as they build momentum for Sept. 28 showdown with Notre Dame. No. 12 Oklahoma State 62, Lamar 24 (6:30 p.m. Saturday, FSSW): Cowboys cap unbeaten march through their nonconference opponents, continue to build case for a top 10 ranking. Rice 31, Kansas 28 (6:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Net.): Owls prevail in a tight one for a second consecutive season against Jayhawks. Iowa 24, Iowa State 20 (5 p.m. Saturday, FS1): Cyclones remain winless after being swept at home by their two in-state rivals. Kansas State 38, Massachusetts 14 (6 p.m. Saturday): Wildcats continue to make strides after stunning loss to FCS foe in season opener. West Virginia 38, Georgia State 20 (11 a.m. Saturday, Mountaineer Network): Mountaineers improve to 2-0 this season against FCS opponents but remain 0-1 in the Big 12. Last week: 7-1 Season: 13-4

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Two weeks into the Big 12 football season, it’s time to tweak the portfolio. Here’s a rundown of stocks I am dumping, buying or holding for potential payoffs based on September feedback:

Mack Brown futures: Dumping as fast as possible, even faster than the Texas coach rearranged staff members after getting embarrassed by Brigham Young. Although Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds defended Brown on Wednesday, telling the Austin American-Statesman that “Mack’s fine” despite last week’s 40-21 pasting by BYU, it’s hard to believe that status is not subject to weekly updates the rest of the season. The next comes Saturday against No. 25 Ole Miss (2-0), with the Longhorns (1-1) playing their first game after Sunday’s dismissal of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

Key number to know: Brown’s contract can be bought out for $2.75 million, a much lower figure than this year’s annual salary ($5.3 million).

Key fact to know: Brown skyrocketed to No. 2 on this week’s list of embattled coaches on the website CoachesHotSeat.com, typically an accurate industry gauge. Brown trails only Southern California’s Lane Kiffin.

For what it’s worth, Brown downplayed any concerns about his job status during a Wednesday news conference in Austin. He said he is “not backing off” his August assessment about having “fixed” the Longhorns’ issues during the off-season. He also reiterated that he has the support of school administrators.

“I don’t have knee-jerk bosses,” Brown said. “They get it.”

Baylor bonds: Buying in bunches. It’s true that the Bears (2-0) have yet to play a quality opponent. But it’s even more clear that this team, averaging 69.5 points per game, should have been ranked in the preseason and probably is underrated at No. 22 in this week’s AP poll. Expect the Bears to be a major factor in the Big 12 title race during the November stretch run.

Oklahoma State distractions: Dumping this idea, at least for the 2013 season, despite this week’s five-part series of investigative reports from SI.com about alleged improprieties in the program. These allegations will impact OSU next season, once the NCAA has time to investigate and possibly penalize the program. But No. 12 OSU (2-0) should be able to use this as us-against-the-world mental fuel this season, with a Big 12 title and BCS bowl bid looking very possible for these Cowboys.

Oklahoma’s defense is dominant again: Holding this idea, pending further evidence. The Sooners’ defense, an admitted question mark to coaches during fall drills, has allowed just seven points in two games (3.5 per contest). No. 14 Oklahoma (2-0) seems to be trending upward defensively but stronger tests await in matchups against No. 21 Notre Dame (Sept. 28) and No. 24 TCU (Oct. 5).

Walk-on wins Newcomer of Year Award: Holding this one, too, until Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield faces some of the league’s better defenses. He’ll get his first shot Thursday against No. 24 TCU. But there’s no question that Mayfield, an incoming freshman walk-on from Austin Lake Travis, has been the league’s most impressive newcomer during the first two weeks of the season. In victories over SMU and Stephen F. Austin, Mayfield completed 71.1 percent of his passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns, with no interceptions. He leads the league in total offense (431 average). That’s incredible stuff for a guy who pays his own tuition and is not allowed to eat at the team training table, per NCAA rules, until he is placed on scholarship.

TCU’s league title hopes end with Casey Pachall’s injury: Dump this idea. Quarterback Trevone Boykin, who will start Thursday against Texas Tech, was more effective than Pachall in the Horned Frogs’ first two contests and is capable of winning big games.

Balance remains the buzzword for Big 12 race: Still buying this idea, even more than in July, when six of 10 league teams received first-place votes in the preseason media poll. Thus far, no contender has been impressive enough against a quality opponent to suggest it will separate from the pack and run away with this year’s title.

Jimmy Burch 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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Orlando «105Final | Box
Charlotte100
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Philadelphia96
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Denver114TV: FSN-NO, Altitude
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Golden State42TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-BA
Chicago272nd Qtr 8:37 | Box
Portland39TV: ESPN, WGN, CSN-NW
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Thursday
Kansas City20Final | Box
Oakland «24Gridiron Replay
Sunday
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: CBS
Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: FOX
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
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Monday
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Buffalo TV: CBS
Baltimore 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: ESPN
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NY Islanders «5Final(SO) | Box
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Columbus3
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