Senior quarterback Bryce Petty gears up for a new season in spring practice drills at Baylor. Petty led the Big 12 in every major passing category in 2013 and was a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Big 12 Spring Football: Kicking Off The 2014 College Season

The 2014 college football season does not officially get under way until late August, but college football insiders would beg to differ with that timeline. The new college season actually begins much earlier, in March and April, as winter transitions into early spring. That’s when spring football practice gets going and, through Big 12 spring football, we get our first glimpse of what the 2014 season might look like.

All 10 Big 12 schools have been busy on the practice field, working out the offseason cobwebs and getting a look at new faces in familiar places and seeing what they can do. Six teams have already held their annual spring games or scrimmages (five last weekend and one on April 5).

Texas will hold its spring games this Saturday, and Kansas State, which started spring practice later than the other nine teams, will host its Purple-White game on April 26.

Among the five teams that held their spring games last weekend was Oklahoma. If you think football isn’t relevant or widely followed in the offseason, you need look no farther than  Norman, Okla., where 43,000 fans – more than half of the capacity of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium – attended the annual spring ritual know as the Red-White game.

That represented a record turnout for the spring game in head coach Bob Stoops’ 15-year reign in Norman, no doubt boosted by the Sooners’ impressive wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the road to end the 2013 regular season and topped off by OU’s improbable upset of two-time defending national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

As for the OU spring scrimmage itself, the Sooner Red team, led by Super Bowl MVP Trevor Knight at quarterback, was defeated by the White team 28-13. Quarterbacking the White team for Stoops troops was a familiar name. Transfer Baker Mayfield, who started at quarterback in a handful of games last season at Texas Tech, threw two touchdown passes and completed all nine of his attempted passes for a game-high 125 yards to lead the White offense.

Unfortunately, Mayfield will not be eligible to play at Oklahoma until the 2015 season. He must sit out a year under the transfer rules set by the NCAA. Last year’s part-time starter at the quarterback position for OU, Blake Bell, was one of a number of key players who did not play in the spring game because of injuries. But Sooner fans will get to see the 6-5 senior, affectionately known as the  “Bell-Dozer,” at a new position next season. Bell has moved to tight end for his final college season.

“I don’t know if you ever get anything answered in 15 practices,” Stoops said after OU’s spring game about drawing conclusions from spring practices and projecting them into the immediate future. “What I feel like is that there has been improvement (which is something all coaches hope to see). Players that haven’t had a lot of experience have more now. We’ll build on it.”

Speaking of Texas Tech quarterbacks, the incumbent in Lubbock, sophomore Davis Webb was the star of the Red Raiders spring game last Saturday. Webb wasted no time serving up notice that Tech’s high-flying aerial show is still very much alive and well and primed to do some damage around the Big 12 next fall. Webb engineered a 67-yard scoring drive on the opening possession and led the Offense to a 37-30 win over the Defense.

Webb completed 25 of 37 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers as the Red Raiders concluded their spring practice schedule. An estimated 15,000-plus Red Raider fans were on hand to view the live action at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.

The 2013 conference-champion Baylor Bears wrapped up their spring football schedule on April 5 with a controlled scrimmage. A crowd of 3,750 was on hand to watch the 51-play scrimmage. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate in his first season starting at quarterback for Baylor after sitting behind two pretty good ones in Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, looked very good again this spring, completing 10 of 15 passes in the controlled scrimmage for 135 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

On the receiving end of the Petty TD tosses were a couple of new names in what has been one of the Big 12’s best receiving corps the last several seasons. Junior wide receiver Jay Lee caught a pass on a sideline pattern and turned it into a 40-yard dash to the end zone, and sophomore Robbie Rhoads was on the receiving end of a 38 yard strike to paydirt. Sophomore receiver Corey Coleman led all Baylor receivers with five catches for 47 yards.

Shock Linwood, who is expected to carry the heavy load at running back this season with the early departure of Lache Seastunk to the NFL as well as senior Glasco Martin, had just two carries in the April 5 scrimmage, but those were for a combined 32 yards.

“I’m just tickled to death at the crowd,” said Baylor head coach Art Briles about the spring scrimmage that was open to the public,” because we didn’t really promote it. And all of a sudden, you look up, there are people everywhere. It’s certainly evidence of how they respect what our players have done and how they feel about the direction of Baylor football.”

At West Virginia last weekend, Mario Alford got things started right off the bat in the annul Blue-Gold scrimmage with a 99-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown. The Mountaineers did not have a kickoff returned for a touchdown all of last season. Alford also had their longest return last season: 43 yards. It was a high-scoring game, with first-string QB Paul Millard leading the Gold team to a 37-27 victory. Millard threw for two touchdowns and 129 yards on 14-for-19 passing.

There were five scoring drives of 62 yards or more in the West Virginia spring game and four scoring drives that took 10 or more plays. What really pleased head coach Dana Holgorsen, though, was that the offense did not turn the ball over in 95 plays from scrimmage.

Tags: Baykor Bears Big 12 Spring Football Blake Bell Bryce Petty Oklahoma Sooners Texas Longhorns Texas Tech Red Raiders Trevor KnighDavis Webb West Virginia Mountaineers

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