Big 12 mailbag: Rushmore, '14 defenses

In today's mailbag, we discuss the Big 12 Mount Rushmore, position rankings and defense in 2014.

To the 'bag:

Hunter in San Antonio writes: No Ricky Williams on the Big 12 Mount Rushmore?

Jake Trotter: Ricky was the first player left off, and the player who’s been argued most for inclusion. It’s not that Ricky isn’t deserving. He is. But who do you take off? Most Texas fans would pick Vince Young over Ricky. Oklahoma has to have at least one player on Rushmore because of its domination of the conference. So if Adrian Peterson was nixed, he would have to be replaced by another Sooner. I felt like there had to be a defensive player, thus Ndamukong Suh. And Robert Griffin III’s impact at Baylor and in the Big 12 might be as large as any player that’s ever come through the conference. If Rushmore included five figures, Ricky probably would have made the list. But there’s only room for four.

Blund in Oklahoma City writes: What about a Big 12 Mount Rushmore of coaches?

Trotter: I would go with Bob Stoops (dominated the conference), Bill Snyder (Manhattan Miracle), Mike Leach (brought the spread to the Big 12) and then probably Mack Brown (turned Texas around). Mike Gundy and Art Briles could both still work their way there, too, if they keep Oklahoma State and Baylor rolling.

Alan Stuber in Austin, Texas, writes: How do the number of Tech players that have transferred since Kliff Kingsbury arrived compare with other programs? It seems that there is something going on with communication between the staff and players. The two quarterbacks that left the program would seem to have been in line for significant playing time if past history is any indicator. Doesn't seem to bode well for someone that has been touted as a player’s coach.

Trotter: Quarterbacks transfer. That’s part of college football. Everywhere. Davis Webb actually did solidify himself as the QB of the future in Lubbock, which is what prompted Michael Brewer’s decision to transfer. Baker Mayfield wanted to be the full-time QB, and because he wasn’t, he transferred, too. But this happens across the country. Wes Lunt, Kendal Thompson, Drew Allen, Connor Wood, Connor Brewer, Garrett Gilbert, Jared Barnett (I could go on) all transferred out of the conference. Others, like Kirby Freeman, Clint Trickett, Jake Heaps and T.J. Millweard transferred in. This is nothing unique to Texas Tech or anyone else in the Big 12. QBs want playing time. And when they don’t get it, they often leave.

James Fulton in El Paso, Texas, writes: Jake, I understand why you put Texas where you did on your WR breakdown. If David Ash can come back and stay healthy, they could surprise a lot of teams. Do you think redshirt freshman Jake Oliver can make a push for playing time?

Trotter: I like the Texas WR corps. There are no superstars like a Tyler Lockett, but it’s a balanced, deep group. The knock on Oliver coming out of high school was speed, but he spent the year redshirting working on that. As long as speed isn’t a major liability, he could be a rotation player and a solid possession receiver in the Texas offense.

Nick in Waco, Texas, writes: Is it possible that the Baylor defense takes a step forward instead of back this year? Younger guys with more talent are going to be pushing the veterans for playing time. Plus I can only see Oakman and Billings getting better.

Trotter: The only way the Baylor defense takes a step forward is if Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings take major steps forward themselves. There’s a lot to replace defensively, notably Eddie Lackey and Ahmad Dixon. But both Oakman and Billings have the potential to be menacing defensive linemen, which would go a long way in determining how good the Baylor defense will be.

Thaddeus Townes in Texas writes: I feel as if Texas and OU will be better, Kansas State will continue to string a solid team and Oklahoma State will be slightly less talented but not dramatically. With Bryce Petty returning I still expect high offense production from Baylor and if TCU can solve its quarterback situation they will be solid. So what kind of record can I realistically expect from a second year of Kliff Kingsbury?

Trotter: The key game for Tech will be at Oklahoma State on Sept. 25, a Thursday night. Tech should be 3-0 going into that game. If the Red Raiders can escape Stillwater with a victory, then 8-9 wins are a real possibility.

Colby in Stillwater, Okla., writes: Who do you think will have the best defense in the Big 12 next year? Could you give a top 3?

Trotter: A way-too-early guess would be OU, Texas and TCU.

Brandon in Fayetteville, Ark., writes: More dangerous QB/WR combo? Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett, or Bryce Petty and Antwan Goodley?

Trotter: I’d go with the latter. Goodley is closer to Lockett than Waters is to Petty. But those are two best combos going into the season.