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Big 12 Roundtable: Pre-Season Edition

It's Roundtable time again!  Check in with Crimson and Cream Machine for the Roundtable Roundup later this week.

1.  There has been lots of talk this pre-season about scheduling. Colorado has arguably the strongest schedule but who do you think has the weakest and which cream puff on your team’s schedule do you wish wasn’t there?

Colorado will always have the toughest schedule, because going to football games is apparently more boring than other Boulderian pursuits (skiing, snowboarding, hash) unless a powerhouse team or Nebraska is involved.

With apologies to Seth, Texas Tech has the weakest schedule this year.  Two FCS teams in four non-con games cements it.  In fairness, that's not Tech's fault, because Tulsa backed out and basically left TT with no viable options for replacement, but that doesn't change the fact that I think it's the weakest schedule in the conference.

The most obvious answer on our schedule would be Montana State, and part of me does wish we'd stop scheduling FCS teams.  However, my vote goes to Louisiana-Lafayette.  I'm tired of telling people our home schedule consists of North Texas, Montana State, and U-La-La-Land.

2.  As a whole the Big 12 has the best quarterbacks in the country. Make a case for your quarterback being one of the conference’s top signal callers and tell us which other conference quarterback you would pick to replace him if you had to.

I don't need to make the case...Josh Freeman did it himself!  OK, he didn't "make a case," he just said he thinks he's the best.  Conclusory statements do not a case make.  But, I digress.

Here's the case for Freeman: he showed tremendous improvement last year over his true freshman season.  In contrast, for example, Colt McCoy regressed last year after his stellar redshirt freshman campaign.  Even with less experience, Freeman showed improvement while McCoy went backward, with the end result being that Freeman's and McCoy's numbers were pretty comparable in 2007.  If Freeman continues to improve at anything approaching the same rate, he will be among the best signal callers in the Big 12.

If I had to choose a replacement for Freeman, it would probably be Chance McDanielson Chase Daniel.  He's smart, accurate, and tougher than nails.  And he really, really wants to win.

3.  Going into the season which unit for your team are you most confident in, offense or defense?

Probably the offense, simply based on Freeman's ability.  Our offense scored 30+ points per game last year, which in most years would be astronomical in the Big 12.  Last year, it was just pretty good.  We need to find some pieces at wide receiver and running back, but another year for Josh Freeman and a should-be improved offensive line should help.

All that said, I'm starting to feel much better about our defense.  Returning players like Gary Chandler and Chris Carney and getting Joshua Moore back should make the defensive backfield fairly strong.  Antwon Moore could be a beast at linebacker if he stays healthy.  Ian Campbell moves back to defensive end, and should be wrecking opposing QBs again.  Now, we need some JuCo guys to step up along the defensive line and at linebacker, and we could be pretty solid.  Or at least a lot better than last year.

4.  Who is the new guy on your squad that will be a household name among your fan base before the season ends.

According to my poll earlier this summer, it'll probably be wide receiver Aubrey Quarles.  As with most of our new players, he's a JuCo transfer.  With Jordy Nelson gone, he is expected to be, along with Deon Murphy, one of the go-to guys for Freeman.  Considering how many of Jordy's catches there are to go around, he should get plenty of chances.

5.  Prediction time! Tell us how the north and south divisions will wind up.

I already predicted the North this summer.  To recap, it goes Missouri, KU, Colorado, K-State, Nebraska, Iowa State.  I'll be picking the South sometime next week, and all I can tell you is you'll probably think I'm insane when you read it.