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Big 12 coaches using spring to address issues

Associated Press Published: April 24, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New Kansas coach Charlie Weis isn't exaggerating when he repeats the coaching mantra that spring practice shows how far his team is from being ready to play actual games.

Weis took over in the offseason after the Jayhawks fell to 2-10 under departed coach Turner Gill, and it didn't take long for him to see why Kansas had a coaching vacancy to begin with.

The Jayhawks have issues on both sides of the ball — including the nation's worst defense at nearly 44 points allowed per game in 2011. Weis took spring ball as an opportunity to start fixing what's wrong.

"My whole mentality is you have to come into a program that's won two this year and didn't win any in the conference and try and get these guys headed in the right direction, where that's just not acceptable on either end. There's a lot of work that needs to be done," Weis said Monday in a league-wide conference call with reporters.

Not all the coaches in the Big 12 have as much work ahead of them. But their programs all have areas that need to be addressed before the players depart for the summer.

It's no surprise that quarterback tops a lot of those to-do lists.

Baylor has perhaps the biggest hole of any team in the country to fill behind center, with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III departing for the NFL. The Bears will likely fill his spot with senior Nick Florence, who started seven games in 2009 as a freshman when Griffin was hurt.

Though Florence hasn't seen the field much since, Baylor coach Art Briles isn't concerned because of his maturity.

"He's already graduated from college. He's already married," Briles said. "He's got a good grasp of what's expected of that position from playing it, from watching (Griffin)."

At Iowa State and Oklahoma State, quarterback battles have dominated the headlines this spring. But coaches Paul Rhoads and Mike Gundy have very different approaches on how they're handling them.

Rhoads has no problem letting the battle between senior Steele Jantz and sophomore Jared Barnett stew all the way to September. Gundy will likely pick junior Clint Chelf, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh or freshman Wes Lunt as the starter by the end of the week, allowing the program to move forward with clarity at the game's most important spot.

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