COACH SPEAK – BIG XII STYLE – MAY 10
By Leo Haggerty

Part III of our trip around the “Power 5 Football Conferences minus the Southeastern Conference” is to Big XII country. But before we get there, a quick reminder as to what is transpiring with these four columns.

I will be asking the same question of head coaches in four of the Power 5 Conferences.  What I am trying to accomplish is to see if there’s one prevailing answer that permeates all four conference football coaches when it comes to spring practice.

Just to hit the refresh button, the two questions are as follows:

Question 1 – In your opinion, what’s the hardest position to develop in spring practice?

Question 2 – What was your major goal going into spring practice?

Most of you, including myself, expected quarterback to be the stock answer of all the head honchos.  As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend” as we have found out from the Big 10 as well as the ACC.

I hope you find the answers as interesting, as well as diverse, as I did.  So read on and enjoy installment #3 from four of the Big XII head coaches.  The PAC 12 will conclude the column next week.

KANSAS HC DAVID BEATY

Q1 – I don’t think there’s any one piece that’s more or less important.  They are all going to have to work in conjunction.  Our sport is very unique in regard that it definitely depends on one another.  you know, you can have a really talented quarterback but, if you don’t have people that can keep him upright and off his back and on schedule with reads, the development of that quarterback is going to be affected directly.  I think developing that O-line is critical with regard to making sure the rest of the pieces work.  So, as the big guys go the rest of the guys go.  That’s typically how things play out.  I always say this.  Watch the really, really good teams in the country and there are some things that they will have in common.  They will always have a dominating up front on defense and a dominating up front on offense.  If you go back and look at the Final Four teams from this year and, I think, they all had that common denominator.  Those things were present.

Q2-You know, most of the time, we’ll look at our team and see if there’s a common area that we need to improve upon.  We will put that at the top of the list.  However, we will have individuals goals for each particular unit on what we have to improve on to get to a Big XII level.  It’s not really as simple as picking one thing because there’s usually a lot of different things that are going to play into it that we need to focus on.  You can’t do too much.  It kind of falls to the wayside if you do that.  You have to focus on what do you think the main thing is and then focus in on making the main thing the main thing.  Whether it’s pad level.  Whether it’s eye control. Whether it’s alignment and your tempo of alignment so you get ready to play.  We always say hurry up to wait.  Get lined up faster than you even should.  You get there fast and then you can go to school on the information they’re giving you.

OKLAHOMA HC LINCOLN RILEY

Q2 – You try to accomplish one major goal and a lot of smaller goals.  Probably both.  The major goal, I think, would be to start to see this team come together.  Every team is different.  Things change from year to year.  College football isn’t going to have the same team and the same leaders.  Young guys are growing up.  Taking on lot bigger roles.  New players coming in.  You want to see the team start to establish their personality and mentality and goals and what the overall feel of the team is going to be.  Then, you have small goals for individual players.  Group wise, with offense and defense and special teams, there are goals that will make us better because we got to be better.  I think everyone needs to stay focused on the big picture.  Then, there’s small goals that you need to stay locked in on every day.

OKLAHOMA STATE HC MIKE GUNDY

Q1 – You know, I don’t know if there is one.  They all get quality work.  I would guess the quarterback spot because they don’t take hits in the spring so it’s a little bit masked on what the game is like.  The other position, though, get some real quality work.

Q2 – We just have to get some young guys ready to play in the fall.  We have to find out where we’re at.  Get some quality rep and keep guys healthy and move along.

KANSAS STATE HC BILL SNYDER

Q1 – I don’t know if there is one collectively.  For us, as it probably is for most people, it’s when you don’t have adequate personnel to fit a position.  I think all of them take a great deal of time and effort. I think probably offensive linemen, as much as anything, and tight end would fall closely behind that.

Q2 – Since my first spring practice, we have almost three times as many youngsters on the field.  We had an opportunity to create a little greater depth.  If you’re asking about the fundamentals of the game, probably from a tackling standpoint because of safety and security, contact with the head has changed across the nation on how people are tackling.  From a fundamental standpoint, the rest of the game has stayed pretty consistent. There are nuances.  Everybody comes up with adjustments as it applies to safety and for techniques that apply to every position across the board.  Obviously, some things have evolved when you talk about the rules of the game.  Most of these rule changes are directed at either the safety of the players or trying to reduce the time of games.  In my eyes, I think some of things they’re doing are wrong.  Anyway, that’s what comes to mind right now.