Facing the spread attack each weekend in conference play it can take it's toll on a defensive secondary...especially if you're defensive backs don't have the combination of being both fast and physical. Exploiting the mismatches is the aim of the spread attack and the fewer of those mismatches you have the better your chances are for survival. Here's our take on ranking the Big 12 secondaries.
1. Baylor - The Bears return all four starters at corner and safety, including All-Conference free safety Orion Stewart who recorded 82 tackles and four interceptions in 2014. Sophomore Travon Blanchard moves from a backup to a starting role, this fall, at the nickel position.
2. West Virginia - Senior K.J. Dillon has knock-out power as a hitter and Karl Joseph is an All-Conference safety that is going into his fourth year as a starter. Corner Daryl Worley will play in the NFL and highlights a secondary that is the most experienced in the conference with five returning starters.
3. Texas Tech - If this is going to be the year where the Red Raiders finally get it figured out on defense then it will start with an experienced secondary that returns four starters. Strong safety Keenon Ward is one of the most physical defensive backs in the conference and has no problem providing run support.
4. Iowa State - The secondary is clearly the strength of the Cyclones defense where corners Sam E. Richardson and Nigel Tribune join 2014 Freshman All-American free safety Kamari Cotton-Moya as returning starters. Senior Qujuan Floyd recorded 33 tackles last season and steps in as the starting free safety this fall.
5. Oklahoma State - Ashton Limpkin returns from injury and will look to retake his starting corner spot from sophomore Ramon Richards. Senior corner Kevin Peterson is one of the best cover guys in the conference and free safety Jordan Sterns led the Pokes with 103 total tackles in 2014.
6. Kansas State - The Wildcats return starting experience at both corner positions and at free safety but are looking for senior Nate Jackson to transition from a spot-duty guy to a full time starter at strong safety.
7. Texas - Sophomore free safety Jason Hall is a headhunter who thrives on the big hit and senior corner Duke Thomas can be a lock-down guy. Strong safety Dylan Haines led the team in picks last season and looks to be the spark plug for the secondary this fall.
8. Oklahoma - The Sooners are retooling their secondary in 2015 but have a strong anchor in First-Team All-Big 12, and former Freshman All-American, Zack Sanchez at corner. Sophomore Jordan Thomas had four starts in 2014 and will most likely line up at the opposite corner. Junior Ahmad Thomas started all 13 games in 2014 at strong safety and has a hold on the spot again this fall. Sophomore Steven Parker looks to transition from nickel to the starting free safety.
9. TCU - The good news for the Frogs is that they have five upperclassmen slated to start in their secondary but the bad news is that three of them lack starting experience. Sophomore Ranthony Texada had a solid freshman campaign at corner and senior free safety Derrick Kindred is a playmaker who is more than capable of leading a revamped secondary.
10. Kansas - The Jayhawks are either young or inexperienced in their secondary which raises many red flags. Without a returning starter this unit will need to grow up quickly on the field. Don't overlook Bazie Bates IV at strong safety though. The JUCO transfer is a hard hitter who loves contact.