Spring look around the Big 12

With spring practices getting started, our Big 12 notebook addresses the big questions facing each team.

Updated: March 9, 2007, 4:06 PM ET
By Tim Griffin | Special to ESPN.com

Who will win the quarterback job at Oklahoma? Will Nebraska find replacements along the defensive line? Who will step up on the Texas offensive line? Our Big 12 notebook addresses those questions and much more.

Baylor Bears
Spring practice starts: March 20
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Find a replacement for starting QB Shawn Bell and become familiar with the schemes of new defensive coordinator Larry Hoefer. Blake Szymanski appears in the driver's seat as the new starting QB, but will still need to claim the position through his work learning the offense.

Colorado Buffaloes
Spring practice starts: March 12
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Try to blot away bad memories from last season's disappointing 2-10 record, the Buffaloes' worst record since 1984. The onus will be on finding a new quarterback, as well as holding productive practices with only seven offensive linemen currently on the roster.

Iowa State Cyclones
Spring practice starts: March 20
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Become acclimated to the philosophy of new coach Gene Chizik, who will have his work cut out for him as he tries to find four new starters on the offensive line and a replacement for running back Stevie Hicks.

Kansas Jayhawks
Spring practice starts: March 14
Spring game: April 15
Spring key: The makings of an interesting quarterback battle between returning starter Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing loom this spring. Whoever wins the job will be thrust into a difficult position as the Jayhawks replace Big 12 rushing leader Jon Cornish and top receiving threat Brian Murph.

Kansas State Wildcats
Spring practice starts: March 28
Spring game: April 21
Spring key: Coach Ron Prince will try to maintain continuity after losing four coaches to other jobs and letting another coach go. The most notable loss is defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who quit to become the secondary coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar, KSU's former special-teams coach, will be looking for replacements for leading tacklers Brandon Archer and Zach Diles from last season.

Missouri Tigers
Spring practice starts: March 13
Spring game: April 21
Spring key: The Tigers return 15 starters from last season's 8-5 team that was nosed out in the final seconds by Oregon State in the Sun Bowl. Most of the offensive firepower is back, but defensive replacements are needed for key contributors like DE Brian Smith, LB Marcus Bacon and SS David Overstreet.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: Heralded transfer QB Sam Keller will get his shot to replace Zac Taylor after sitting out last year. Nebraska's biggest chore during the spring will be to find a rushing threat as its top returning running backs -- Cody Glenn, Marlon Lucky and Kenny Wilson -- all will sit out the spring because of injuries. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove also will try to retool his defensive front, which loses all four starters including Adam Carriker.

Oklahoma Sooners
Spring practice starts: March 7
Spring game: April 7
Spring key: Coach Bob Stoops' most immediate chore will be to find a replacement for QB Paul Thompson among an inexperienced group that includes Joey Halzle, true freshman Keith Nichol and redshirt freshman Sam Bradford. Adrian Peterson's loss won't be as severe as might be expected with the return of Chris Brown and Allen Patrick. But the defense needs to find some capable pass-rushing threats to replace C.J. Ah You, Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux, as well as a linebacker to fill in for the production and leadership of leading tackler Rufus Alexander.

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Spring practice starts: March 5
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: New defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, former cornerbacks coach at Ohio State, returns all of his starting linebackers and defensive backs, but must replace his entire defensive line. Most of the major offensive weapons are back from last season, but the Cowboys will need a big defensive lift if they hope to become a dark-horse contender in the South Division.

Texas Longhorns
Spring practice starts: Feb. 28
Spring game: March 31
Spring key: The Longhorns have enough weapons returning to challenge for their second national title in three seasons, if new defensive coordinator Larry Mac Duff meshes with Duane Akina and three new starters can be found in the secondary. The Longhorns also need to find a backup for QB Colt McCoy and three new starters on the offensive line to replace potential NFL draftees Justin Blalock, Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein.

Texas A&M Aggies
Spring practice starts: March 11
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: The Aggies need to build depth for a fearsome schedule that will include road trips to Miami, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Missouri. And they must find capable replacements for LB Justin Warren and S Melvin Bullitt, their two leading tacklers from last season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Spring practice starts: March 21
Spring game: April 14
Spring key: QB Graham Harrell returns for his second season as starter. But the Red Raiders' offensive production needs to be honed as coach Mike Leach looks for four new starters on the offensive line and replacements for top receiving threats Joel Filani, Jarrett Hicks and Robert Johnson.

Tim Griffin covers the Big 12 for the San Antonio Express-News.

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