Jul 23, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners mascot Boomer poses for a photo with Texas Longhorn mascot Hook Em during Big 12 Media Day at the Westin Galleria. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
For years, the nation has bought into the media nonsense of the "weak defense of the Big XII." However, one thing the media fails to spotlight are the names appearing on defensive award lists steadily increasing over the years. In 2008, the Big XII had a heyday in terms of offense while not looking back as the trend has continued but that does not mean defenses are not trying to keep pace and are more of an afterthought than anything else. With that said, each team poses a unique weakness to be exploited that will certainly give them troubles during the season. Here is a quick look at the weakness of each team.
Baylor Bears - The defense has always been an issue here as the Bears have had to rely on outscoring their opponents in order to win games. There simply is not enough athleticism for them to compete with the top units on the opposite side of the ball. However, the more pressing issue will be losing their top offensive weapon in Robert Griffin III along with WR Kendall Wright and RB Terrance Ganaway. Now, Art Briles will look to Nick Florence who had a solid outing when stepping in gor Griffin. His biggest flaw will be that he is not RG3.
Iowa St. Cyclones - The Cyclones will rely heavily on the linebacking duo of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott who comprise possibly the best linebacking pair in the nation. These are two active players who have the know how to make the big play time and time again. Paul Rhodes will need to decide on a QB between Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett who both got experience in 2011. The deciding factor for Iowa St. will be getting pressure on these other Big XII QBs as Roosevelt Maggit will be coming off a knee surgery.
Kansas Jayhawks - It's Kansas...need I say more?
Kansas St. Wildcats - Much of KSU's success came in close games due to their ability to manage the clock. The Wildcats managed seven wins by a touchdown or less and will struggle to do the same in 2012 without the surprise factor. However, Kansas St. will be dealing with a rebuild offensive line. This will certainly test the durability factor of the machine that is Collin Klein.
Oklahoma Sooners - The stream of news that unfolded Monday for the Sooners did them no favors. Landry Jones will have a single accomplished receiver to throw to in Kenny Stills while the rest will be unproven. For those who follow the Sooners know that a depleted receiving corp. is the main concern as it takes three solid receiver to compete with the top teams in the nation. The Sooners have all the tools on both sides of the ball but with the coaching changes, things may be a bit slow at first.
Oklahoma St. Cowboys - Remaining successful while replacing players like Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon with true freshmen like Wes Lunt. The defense led the nation in forced turnovers and will have a tough time duplicating that success. Freshman growing pains are a part of the process but could produce a major setback for a program with 23 wins in the last two seasons.
TCU Horned Frogs - Every successful season for the Frogs has been followed by the question, "what if they played in a major conference?" This season, that answer will finally be revealed. TCU will have a one-two punch in the back field with Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. However, depth on defense will be an issue after three potential starters were dismissed from the team .
Texas Longhorns - The Longhorns fell from grace due to sub-par QB play after Colt McCoy departed. Now just a few years removed, Texas is still facing those same questions as they continuously field one of the top defenses if not the top defense in the Big XII. The QB battle continues to rage on as Mack Brown seems to be taking a dual QB approach. The Longhorns also need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball outside of Jaxon Shipley.
Texas Tech Red Raiders - For the fourth straight season, Texas Tech will be looking at a new defensive coordinator. Last season, the easy road to victory over the Red Raiders came by way of the rushing attack. They will need to stop the rushing offense if they hope to have a shot this season at bettering the 5-7 record. On offense, RB Eric Stephens will be recovering from a knee surgery and will be counted on to carry much of the weight.
West Virginia Mountaineers - Playing in the Big (L)East has is disadvantages. One thing WVU proved was that offensively they were ready to compete in the Big XII. However, on defense, they were unchallenged for the most part through the conference. That won't be the case as the level of competition just took a few steps up. Can WVU defense hang with the best offenses week in and week out?