Big 12 notebook: Texas quarterback Ash wins conference honor
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith wasn't named his team's offensive player of the week despite his 411-yard, five-touchdown game against James Madison, though that omission has become a custom.
Yet Smith wasn't the Big 12 Conference's offensive player of the week, either. The honor went instead to Texas quarterback David Ash, who was 19-for-23 for 326 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 66-31 win at Ole Miss.
Quarterback was the key position in the offseason for the Longhorns, who have arguably the nation's most talented defense. Ash was named the starter in August after neither he nor Case McCoy could keep the starting spot last season. Ash was just a true freshman in 2011 who wasn't expected to play much, if at all.
Ash, who enrolled in January 2011, took only a handful of snaps in the team's spring game because McCoy, Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood were expected to win the job.
"They went into the summer really working hard and David didn't really get in the flow during summer workouts and there wasn't enough time for him to get a lot of snaps," Texas Coach Mack Brown said. "He had a little option package. We were going to redshirt Connor Wood and Case McCoy and Garrett Gilbert were going to play."
Wood transferred to Colorado last August. Gilbert, who came on for an injured Colt McCoy in the 2010 national championship game, started the first two games last season, but transferred to SMU after two starts and season-ending shoulder surgery.
Ash and McCoy traded the job back and forth as Texas went 7-5 in the regular season, but Ash started the bowl game win against Cal. Brown said Ash was 14-for-15 in the final scrimmage in preseason camp. Ash completed 15 consecutive passes against Ole Miss.
"It was a difficult thing putting the whole package on him (in 2011)," Brown said. "It was probably too much. But since then he's grown a lot, all the way through the Cal game when he was the most valuable player. He and Case had a great competition throughout the spring and summer and they were neck and neck, but David really started to do thing right."
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THE BIG 12 has five teams ranked in the top 25 and Baylor is only 26 points from cracking the rankings. The Bears have the nation's second longest winning streak (eight), trailing only new neighbor TCU, which was won 10 straight.
Baylor, which has scored 30 or more points in eight straight games and 40 points or more in six consecutive games, could be ranked Sunday. The team travels to upstart Louisiana-Monroe, which won at Arkansas Sept. 8 and lost in overtime at Auburn on Saturday.
"You hope your players are always ready, regardless of the situation, but I think what Monroe was able to do against Arkansas and the national attention garnered from that, if we didn't have a healthy amount of respect for them then, that should have helped," Coach Art Briles said.
Baylor is WVU's first Big 12 opponent. The Sept. 29 game will be at noon on FX, the conference announced Monday.
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THE LEAGUE'S marquee matchup this week is Saturday night when No. 15 Kansas State plays at No. 6 Oklahoma. Sooners Coach Bob Stoops attended Iowa from 1979-82 and was a four-year starting safety when Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder was the Iowa offensive coordinator.
Stoops then spent time as a volunteer assistant and graduate assistant at Iowa and was later a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for Snyder at Kansas State from 1989-95.
"As a young G.A., I worked the scout team defense against his offense every day for about five years, when we did spend a lot of time around each other," Stoops said. "Then on my seven years on the staff with him as an assistant coach, the attention to detail, the determination, the focus in preparation, the team preparation were just some of the things I will always remember. Being very detailed in everything we do is one thing that came from working with Coach Snyder."
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A YEAR AGO, Texas Tech had one of the nation's worst defenses and replaced thee of its four defensive coaches. The Red Raiders are now No. 2 nationally in total defense - as well as No. 6 in total offense. No other team is in the top 10 of both.
Texas Tech's offense, led by quarterback Seth Doege, who is No. 6 pass efficiency, ranks second nationally to just Oklahoma State in third down conversion percentage. The Red Raiders have punted just twice in three games.
"The big thing is we've been able to do is gain a lot of yards on first down and stay out of thing-and-long situations," Texas Tech Coach Tommy Tuberville said. "We've converted some third-and-longs to keep us from punting, but we've had a lot of success on third-and-medium and third-and short."
Texas Tech is averaging 6.5 yards on first down.
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IOWA STATE has used its punter much more frequently, though with great success.
"Kirby Van Der Kamp is a weapon on our football team," Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads said.
The Cyclones moved to 3-0 for the second straight season with a 37-3 win against Western Illinois in front of the fifth-best home crowd in school history. Iowa State, which beat Iowa a week earlier, has held back-to-back opponents without a touchdown for the first time since 1965.
Van Der Kamp helped, averaging 47.3 yards on four punts Saturday with three downed inside the 20-yard line.
"He's punted the ball 19 times in three games and 14 of the 19 punts have been inside the 20-yard line," Rhoads said. "He's put balls at the 2, the 9, the 8, the 8, the 1 and the 9 in those three games. That's impressive. When you talk about field position, that's what's necessary to win any game. Not just a Big 12 game, but any game."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.