CBS football analyst shares Big 12 snap judgments after spring ball

The college football season is within striking distance with media days just two months away. With the spring transfer portal settled and spring games completed, many of the talking points we’re discussing now will be readdressed in the Big 12’s media sessions on July 12 and 13.

Over the weekend, CBS college football analyst Shehan Jeyarajah shared his takes on spring games across the league. Jeyarajah did not hold back from delivering strong opinions on a handful of teams. Most notably, he has high hopes for Texas’ redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers as well as questions about the Oklahoma receiver room.

The Longhorns’ Big 12 championship hopes could hinge on Ewers after a season of growing pains. If he grows into his role, the sky is the limit for the 2023 squad.

Here’s a look at Jeyarajah’s snap judgments from watching Big 12 spring games.

Baylor Bears

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The defense is fixed.”

It better be fixed. Jeyarajah’s confidence stems from the 12 transfers the team brought in and a change at defensive coordinator. Matt Powledge takes over the reigns of the defense after leaving Oregon with talent influx led by former Utah State and Texas defender Byron Vaughns at edge. Time will tell if head coach Dave Aranda has the talent in house to return to stronger defensive play. Stopping the run will be paramount for Baylor’s defense.

BYU Cougars

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The defensive transition will take time.”

We’ve discussed how great the BYU offense projects, but the lack of defensive experience is cause for caution. Experience is spoken of by many as the leading indicator of defensive success. The Cougars could find themselves in a few track meets on the gridiron this year.

UCF Golden Knights

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The Knights are ready.”

UCF is a dark horse Big 12 contender this season. Jeyarajah draws confidence in the team’s seven Power Five transfers, strong recruiting class and trustworthy quarterback play. Central Florida quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is the type of player that could put the team on his back.

Cincinnati Bearcats

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Premise: “The defense isn’t going anywhere.”

The surest way to stop offenses in modern football is to disrupt. If you can wreak havoc up front, you can stop any form of offensive ingenuity and any style of football. Cincinnati figures to have that in defensive linemen Dontay Corleone and Jowon Briggs. The remains of what was a strong defense under former head coach Luke Fickell are still present for the team.

Houston Cougars

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The offense will be a mess.”

I’m not as concerned with the offense as I am with the defense and overall mindset of the team. However, the loss of several offensive linemen is reason to doubt the team. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the offense will be a mess, but it could be a long season for the Cougars in their new conference.

Iowa State Cyclones

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The offensive line is ready to thrive.”

Given the lack of playmakers at running back, Iowa State needs its offensive line to thrive. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers was one of the more prolific passers in the Big 12 last season. If he has time to find Jaylin Noel and company in the passing game, the Cyclones could be competitive.

Kansas Jayhawks

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The Jayhawks have the best running trio in the Big 12.”

You probably didn’t see this prediction coming. If true, we’re talking about perhaps a top-three offense in the Big 12 conference. Lead back Devin Neal leads the rushing attack with Jalon Daniels supplementing the running game. Kansas should put up plenty of points this season.

Kansas State Wildcats

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “Ben Sinnott is a superstar in the making.”

Jeyarajah touts Sinnott’s two touchdown, 89-yard performance against Baylor as reason to look out for the K-State tight end. Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman runs a tight end friendly offense making it plausible that the receiver could have a strong season. The team will need a concerted effort from Sinnott, wide receiver Phillip Brooks and running back DJ Giddens to make up for the loss of Deuce Vaughn.

Oklahoma Sooners

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Premise: “The Sooners don’t have receivers.”

These are Jerayajah’s words, not mine. Obviously, the Sooners have receivers, they just don’t have many good ones. The loss of Marvin Mims looms large as speed receiver Jalil Farooq and elite tight end Austin Stogner will be charged with making up Mims’ lost production. Frankly, Stogner might be a better weapon for quarterback Dillon Gabriel than Mims given that Gabriel is an ace gunslinger down the seam. But after watching freshman safety Peyton Bowen lock down transfer receiver Andrel Anthony downfield in the Oklahoma spring game, there’s a kernel of truth in this strong take.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Bedlam Football

Premise: “A crash is coming.”

Oklahoma State’s transfer losses are well documented. What isn’t as well known is the team loses five of its top six receivers from last season, as Jerayajah shares in his take. An easy schedule could prevent much of a crash this season.

Texas Longhorns

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Premise: “Quinn Ewers will play like a first-round NFL draft pick.”

Ewers is certainly capable but has plenty to prove after a roller coaster season last year. Some suggest injuries lingered for the quarterback down the stretch. It’s possible he simply had growing pains after enrolling at Ohio State early and not playing his senior year. If he emerges from those growing pains as the quarterback we expect, Texas is a slam dunk pick for a Big 12 championship and could have even higher aspirations.

TCU Horned Frogs

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The passing game is actually better.”

The TCU passing attack could still thrive with new starting quarterback Chandler Morris. Alabama transfer receiver JoJo Earle was mentioned after John Paul Richardson, Dylan Wright and Jaylon Robinson as transfer receivers who could make an impact this year. The issue for the Horned Frogs will be the defense, which loses more than its fair share of contributors from last season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “The Red Raiders are going to the Big 12 title game.”

The take isn’t as bold as some might suggest. Texas Tech returns key players across the board. Jeyarajah touts former Texas commit Dylan Spencer as a defensive standout over spring ball. The Raiders are in the same class as Texas, Kansas State and perhaps Oklahoma and TCU as teams who could play for the league title in Arlington.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Premise: “CJ Donaldson will lead the Big 12 in rushing.”

West Virginia should be set to run the football this year. Dual threat quarterback Garrett Green is perhaps more of a runner than passer which could lead to more opportunities for Donaldson in the running game. The team will need to find production from somewhere in the offense.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire