By KEVIN LONNQUIST
Big 12 Insider
West Virginia scores 70 points. Baylor scores 63 – and loses. Texas tallies 41. Oklahoma State is “modest” with 36 – and loses.
The Big 12 has always been known for being a great offensive league. But what we witnessed in the first real week of the conference season was unreal. Where do you want to go with the numbers?
For starters, Baylor and West Virginia combined for 180 plays. Texas and Oklahoma State had 147. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith probably took the lead in the Heisman Trophy race and was crazy good at 45-51 for 656 with eight…that’s right eight…touchdowns.
And then there was Baylor’s Nick Florence. Remember there was supposed to be a drop-off at Baylor’s quarterback position when Robert Griffin III left? Florence was 29-47 for 581 and five touchdowns and one interception.
“It’s a tad bit scary,’’ Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “My gosh. Look at the numbers and statistically it just takes your breath away.’’
If it’s not Weis, it’s Texas’ Mack Brown or West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen who know that the age of moving the football in this league is at an all-time high. Simply, it’s bigger stronger athletes on the perimeter who can make plays in space and take an 8-yard out route into a 68-yard touchdown pass.
Going into this Saturday, Oklahoma State (659.0 ypg), Baylor (601.5) and West Virginia (598.5) are the top three offensive teams in the country. Texas Tech (547.0) is eighth.
On the passing wide, West Virginia (441.5), Baylor (416.5), Oklahoma State (359.0) and Texas Tech (358.75) are first, second, sixth and seventh respectively.
As for scoring, Oklahoma State (55.75), Baylor (54.25) and West Virginia (53.0) are the top three.
Defensive coordinators are in hiding right now.
“The style of offense and the speed are the two big things,’’ Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “Really, when the Big 12 is playing out of league, the teams are still scoring points. Are the defenses shutting people down? No, not right now. The Big 12 just moves fast.’’
To be sure, the recruiting has benefited many programs. There are bigger players who can move so well. Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin are proof of that. Each has the size, speed and skill. They create match-up nightmares.
And it’s not that Big 12 defenses don’t have the personnel to make plays. The sophistication of creativity is at an all-time high.
“[Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest] felt worse than anybody,’’ Holgorsen said. “It was just two offenses playing at a high level. I felt better Sunday than Saturday when I looked at the film. But wide receivers and quarterbacks were making plays.’’
It could be a trend that may wane in the next couple of years, but college football is at a time where spreading the field and creating favorable match-ups belongs to the offense. If you’re a defensive coordinator, find a new line of work.
BIG 12 WEEKEND
A look at the upcoming weekend action involving the Big 12 along with their TV listings. All times are central.
11:00 a.m. Saturday, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS. (FX)
The Skinny: The Wildcats return from their bye week and should be ready to roll over their out-manned intrastate rival. Kansas also had a bye week. The Jayhawks are trying to get all elements in better condition.
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas (Fox Sports Net)
The skinny: On Thursday, TCU’s gameplan completely changed when quarterback Casey Pachall was indefinitely suspended for his DWI arrest on Wednesday. That means redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin takes over and runs the offense. Per Patterson, Pachall is expected to be on the sidelines for the game, but there might be the concern his presence could become a distraction. Meanwhile, Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz could be playing for his job. He struggled against Texas Tech last week throwing for 73 yards and three interceptions. TCU has won all three lifetime meetings with the Cyclones.
2:30 p.m. Saturday, AT&T Jones Stadium, Lubbock (ABC/ESPN/ESPN 2)
The Skinny: Perhaps the first quarter will demonstrate where the Sooners are mentally. They haven’t won in Lubbock since 2003. But Texas Tech is 1-6 at home in Big 12 play under Tommy Tuberville. QB Landry Jones is battling a confidence problem. Texas Tech’s defense is No. 1 in the nation at 167.5 yards per game, but faces its best opponent of the season.
6:00 p.m. Saturday, Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin (FOX)
The Skinny: Texas will try to use its physical running game to slow the tempo but will have to do it without RB Malcolm Brown (ankle). Still, the defense has yielded its share of big plays. That might be ideal for West Virginia and Heisman Trophy leader Geno Smith who has been dynamic through this part of the season. The Longhorns have got to hit him and make him uncomfortable or else they are in trouble.
Baylor and Oklahoma State have the week off.
BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS
Now moved to Tuesdays, RattleandHumSports provides its Power Rankings for the Big 12 conference. Agree or disagree, this makes for great water cooler talk:
1. West Virginia – Mountaineers now facing consecutive road trips to Texas.
2. Kansas State – The Wildcats are steady, quiet and just doing their job.
3. Texas – QB David Ash now becoming a play-maker.
4. Texas Tech – DC Art Kaufman’s defense is No. 1 in college football in total defense (167.5)
5. Oklahoma – Sooners haven’t won in Lubbock since 2003.
T6. TCU – There are problems with the running game.
T6. Baylor – Coach Art Briles still has faith in DC Phil Bennett, but for how long?
8. Oklahoma State – Cowboys get the bye week and hope QB Wes Lunt (knee) will be ready
9. Iowa State – The bloom may have come off the rose for QB Steele Jantz
10. Kansas – Behold the dreaded social media
NEWS & TRENDS
TCU’s attrition war
Since its infamous drug scandal back in February, TCU’s football program is losing players at an alarming rate.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier this week that red-shirt freshman linebacker Austin Terry has been medically disqualified and isn’t a member of the team. Terry is the 20th player to leave the program and the fifth linebacker to leave.
No wonder why coach Gary Patterson said off the cuff, or seriously, (sometimes you can tell and sometimes you can’t) after the Virginia game, “we don’t have any linebackers.’’…meanwhile Patterson also said that backup quarterback Trevone Boykin may see some time at running back. But we’ll see. Matthew Tucker turned an ankle last week against SMU and didn’t play in the second half of the Horned Frogs’ 24-16 victory.
Apology? Not so much
The Big 12 said late Wednesday its office is disputing a published report that the conference’s coordinator of officials Walt Anderson apologized to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy following Texas running back Joe Bergeron’s disputed touchdown in the Longhorns’ 41-36 victory last Saturday.
“Reports that the Big 12 acknowledged a blown call and issued an apology to Oklahoma State are inaccurate,” the Big 12 tweeted on Wednesday.
Bergeron scored the touchdown with 29 seconds to play but the ball popped free. At issue was whether the ball popped free before Bergeron cross the goal line.
The Oklahoman had reported the story.
Making their head spin
West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest admits Baylor wasn’t the ideal opponent to open with last week in the Big 12. The Bears scored 63 points and collected over 700 yards of total offense.
Now, they probably won’t see those numbers against Texas Saturday night. But the Longhorns are going to try to lean on them because of their physical running attack led by Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray.
Texas quarterback David Ash has become a play-maker and seems to have developed chemistry with wide receivers Marquise Goodwin, Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley.
“We’ll look at making personnel changes and making better calls, but we’ve got to do a better job of, when the ball is in the air, attacking the ball,” DeForest told The Charleston Daily Mail. “They ran the same plays we practiced. They never really tempted us. We were always in position to make plays. They just executed better than we did. That’s what we’ve got to change if we want to compete in this league.”
BY THE NUMBER
The road winning percentage in conference play since 1997. But that trend may be changing. Through the first five conference games, road teams are 4-1. TCU won at Kansas, Kansas State won at Oklahoma, Texas won at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech won at Iowa State. West Virginia is the only home team to win when it held off Baylor.
- Big 12 Coaches’ Corner Week 5 – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Big 12 News: Big 12 Extra – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Geno Smith heads Big 12 Players of the Week (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Big 12 Extra Week 4 – Rattle and Hum Sports (rattleandhumsports.com)