Sooners' need at wide receiver leads top Big 12 camp storylines


As fall camps open across the country, here is a quick glance at the top question marks for every team in the Big 12:


First practice: Aug. 5

Biggest concern: Rebuilding the passing attack. Quarterback Nick Florence and wide receiver Terrance Williams have graduated, and while there is optimism about junior Bryce Petty, he is still untested. The Bears were one of the hottest teams in the nation down the stretch last season and the punishing one-two punch of running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin will keep that momentum going early while the aerial attack gets back up to speed.

Iowa State

First Practice: Aug. 5

Biggest concern: Find consistency under center. Juggling back and forth between Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett, the Cyclones never established a rhythm at quarterback last season, making their bowl bid all the more impressive. Head coach Paul Rhoads believes in sophomore Sam Richardson so much as to refer to him as having a "returning starter." Richardson must justify that faith and dramatically boost an offense that finished second-to-last in the conference in scoring.


First practice: Aug. 8

Biggest concern: Improve in the secondary. The Big 12 is an offensively-minded league, but that is no excuse for how awful the Jayhawks pass defense was in 2012, allowing 26 touchdowns and an average of 289 yards per game through the air. Now a completely new group of defensive backs will be thrust into the lineup, with three projected starters from the junior college ranks. The rushing attack led by James Sims managed to be productive even when paired with one of the worst passing attacks in college football and should be better with the addition of BYU transfer quarterback Jake Heaps, so the defense must hold up its end.

Kansas State

First practice: Aug. 3

Biggest concern: Replacing its leaders. No one would ever mistake the Wildcats for flashy, but quarterback Colin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown provided an unmistakable presence and plenty of big plays for Manhattan's scrappy overachievers. Running back John Hubert and safety Ty Zimmerman have the seniority and experience to pick up the slack during a cupcake-filled non-conference slate.


First practice: Aug. 1

Biggest concern: Refine the aerial attack outside the numbers. The Sooners have slot receivers for days and fullback Trey Millard is a capable option who could see more time at tight end, but need someone to challenge opponents out wide. Without someone -- preferably sophomore Trey Metoyer -- stepping up, Oklahoma is just too predictable on offense, as Notre Dame and Texas A&M showed last season.

Oklahoma State

First practice: Aug. 2

Biggest concern: Name a quarterback. The combined numbers J.W Walsh, Clint Chelf and Wes Lunt delivered in 2012 were pretty much equal to the year before, in spite of the injuries that forced all three into action. Lunt transferred to Illinois, leaving Walsh and Chelf to battle for the starting job. The winner inherits a proven offensive system that makes the Cowboys a nominal preseason favorite in the jumbled Big 12.


First practice: Aug. 1

Biggest concern: Get the offensive line ready for LSU. With projected starting right tackle Tayo Fabujule's abrupt departure, the Horned Frogs must now identify three new offensive linemen in the next month before facing the Bayou Bengals in the season opener. LSU always has exceptional defensive linemen, so the pass protection better be ready, or else quarterback Casey Pachall's return to the team will be a short one.


First practice: Aug. 5

Biggest concern: Bring back that Texas-sized swagger. With 21 of 24 starters returning, the Longhorns don't have any glaring position battles to settle during fall camp. Instead, those veterans need to discover the unflagging confidence that took Texas to BCS bowls for much of the last decade. There is no excuse for the horrible tackling or erratic offense that Texas displayed in spots last season, a product of the wrong mindset rather than the wrong personnel.

Texas Tech

First practice: Aug. 3

Biggest concern: Be more careful with the ball. In its five losses, the Red Raiders had a minus-12 turnover margin, including four in an overtime loss to red-hot Baylor in the season finale. If new quarterback Michael Brewer or Davis Webb can deliver Air Raid numbers without too many mistakes, Texas Tech could surprise in its first season under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

West Virginia

First practice: Aug. 1

Biggest concern: Playing any sort of defense. The Mountaineers were just atrocious, giving up 43.3 points per game in Big 12 play and 50 or more on four occasions. Sophomore safety Karl Joseph and redshirt sophomore linebacker Isaiah Bruce give defensive coordinator Keith Patterson a couple of promising young building blocks on the back end. Without significant improvement on the defensive line, however, West Virginia will again be involved in shootouts every week, and on the wrong end more often than not.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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