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February 1, 2010

Rivals.com Spring Practice Primer: Big 12

We're two days from National Signing Day, and that also means the start of spring practice is just around the corner.

The first team to open spring ball? It's Duke, on Feb. 15. (Uhh, that's two weeks from today.)

To get you primed for spring practice, here's a look at the start dates for all 120 FBS teams plus the overriding problem each program must deal with during spring drills.

Big 12 Spring Practice Primer

BAYLOR
Practice begins: March 15.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: Juggling players to find the right fit along the offensive line appears to be the top priority. The unit was inconsistent in '09 and loses its top player, center J.D. Walton.

COLORADO
Practice begins: March 8.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: The offensive line needs to start turning potential into production. All five starters return up front, but last season they allowed 44 sacks -- worst in the Big 12. The Buffs, who are talented at the skill positions, could be much better if significant progress is made in the line.

IOWA STATE
Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Continuing the development of senior QB Austen Arnaud and the passing game is vital. In '09, Arnaud passed for 2,015 yards and threw 14 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He had more interceptions than touchdowns in four games, and three were losses. The Cyclones ranked just 94th in the nation in passing offense.

KANSAS
Practice begins: March 27.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: New coach Turner Gill is seeking an adequate replacement for QB Todd Reesing, who passed for more than 11,000 yards and 90 touchdowns in his career. Kale Pick, Jordan Webb and junior college transfer Quinn Mecham will vie to get the edge going into the summer.

KANSAS STATE
Practice begins: March 21.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: The Wildcats' passing offense ranked last in the Big 12 last season, so deciding on a quarterback to replace Grant Gregory is vital. Don't be surprised if junior college transfer Sammuel Lamur, a dual threat who redshirted in '09, emerges as the No. 1.

MISSOURI
Practice begins: March 9.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Finding reliable receivers for QB Blaine Gabbert is a top priority. The Tigers have had at least one player with at least 80 catches in each of the past three seasons, but the top receivers from a year ago are gone.

NEBRASKA
Practice begins: March 24.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: An intense quarterback competition is expected. Incumbent starter Zac Lee had a mediocre '09 showing, but was hampered by an elbow injury that required surgery. He may be recovered in time to vie with Cody Green, Kody Spano and redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez.

OKLAHOMA
Practice begins: March 9.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Bolstering an offensive line that was inconsistent and injury-riddled in '09 is a priority. OT Donald Stephenson was suspended this past season, but could bring stability if he avoids off-field issues.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Practice begins: March 8.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Converting to the system of new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, whose "Air Raid" offense led the nation in scoring last season at Houston. The Cowboys also will have a new quarterback in place of Zac Robinson.

TEXAS
Practice begins: Feb. 26.
Spring game: April 4.
Biggest task: The Longhorns must develop a running game that has been inconsistent at best the past two seasons. With Colt McCoy no longer around, Texas needs a reliable ground game to support new QB Garrett Gilbert.

TEXAS A&M
Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: New defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who was hired from Air Force, faces the job of rebuilding the defense. The Aggies have ranked 105th and 114th in the nation in points allowed the past two seasons.

TEXAS TECH
Practice begins: March 22.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: The Red Raiders must rebuild the defensive line, which helped produce 40 sacks this past season. T Colby Whitlock is the only returning starter in the front four.

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