Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Glancing at ESPN's midseason All-Big 12 team

The good folks at ESPN's Big 12 blog made a midseason all-B12 list recently that was interesting to glance at both for seeing how other writers who focus on this league think of what's been happening this season as well as for thinking through which players have been most impactful on the season.

It's very early in conference play so much of this could change as the season progresses, but I thought I'd take a look at their selections and make a few notes here and there on what I've seen.

Also for reference, here's how I projected things before the season.

ESPN's Big 12 Offense

QB: Trevone Boykin, TCU

This is just a no-brainer at this point. Sure Seth Russell has been effective, and Pat Mahomes has been no slouch, but Boykin's effectiveness both in their pass and run games has been on a different level than anyone else. He's playing like a Heisman right now.

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor

Eh, it's not that Linwood hasn't been great, but he couldn't have an easier job than running behind a strong and veteran OL while surrounded by wildly effective constraints that open up huge holes for him to blast through. For my money, Wendell Smallwood has been the best back in the conference.

RB: DeAndrew Washington, Texas Tech

I like Washington or TCU's Aaron Green here about equally. What I would have liked more was a shoutout to any of the league's many ancillaries (TE, H-back, FB) who often play critical roles for their teams. As it happens, I'm not sure who I would name to the 1st team at that spot currently. Perhaps Gronk, I have to concede that more B12 teams are going two-back with two true RBs this year than are utilizing normal ancillaries.

WR: Corey Coleman, Baylor

No-brainer, Coleman is one of the best skill players in the nation and would be a favorite to be B12 OPOY if not for Trevone Boykin.

WR: Josh Doctson, TCU

Also easy, Doctson's emergence as a total receiver who understands how to get open vs zone or man has made TCU very difficult to deal with this season.

WR: Sterling Shephard, Oklahoma

I think I'd have gone with Jakeem Grant here, partly because he fills a slightly different role than Doctson and Coleman and partly because I think he's been a tad better than Shephard this year but it's close. Splitting hairs, really.

OT: Spencer Drango, Baylor

Perhaps the best OL in the conference.

LG: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State

Cheating! While Whitehair would be the best left guard in the league if he actually played that position...he doesn't, so he isn't. I don't have a great counter here, perhaps TCU's Jamelle Naff who's been quite good.

OC: Joey Hunt, TCU

I think this is right on, Hunt struggles a tad if you line up a monster nose tackle across his face but he's been the best center in the conference this year and that frankly doesn't happen hardly ever. Dalton Risner of K-State is probably the future here.

RG: Daniel Burton, Iowa State

Daniel Burton actually plays right guard, so this is a nice and accurate nod. Iowa State's running game has been surprisingly good this year, not at all what was expected from this offense in the preseason when it wasn't even clear who could play RB for them.

RT: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

Another cheat in order to recognize the five OL who are actually the best in the conference, a job which I think the ESPN staff performed quite well. Texas' RT Kent Perkins could have been up for this had he not missed the last two games. 

ESPN's Big 12 Defense

E: Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Ogbah was an easy call and was my 1st-teamer over Oakman in the preseason. His size and strength mean that OSU can put him at left, or strong end to free up his counterpart Jimmy Bean to attack the blindside.

N: Andrew Billings, Baylor

Yep, Billings is the best player on the Baylor defense and a contender for DPOY in the Big 12.

T: Hassan Ridgeway, Texas

Texas has ended up using Ridgeway as a 3-tech as often or more often than at nose tackle where he played last year, freeing us from having a Ridge vs Billings debate. If Texas had landed Billings in recruiting (or if Baylor had landed Ridgeway, I guess) that would have formed a DT tandem that would have solved the spread offense.

E: Dale Pierson, Iowa State

This is almost like a middle finger to Shawn Oakman, although Pierson has been unquestionably more productive in terms of total sacks. I prefer to have a "rush-end" label here but it'd still be hard to deny Pierson.

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma

If we have a "space-backer" designation than Striker will earn the nod for it, although he's occasionally unsound because he's always hunting for the big play. TCU's Denzel Johnson has also been very good though.

LB: Malik Jefferson, Texas

I don't like that ESPN offered us a 4-2-5 defense without listing a single true, inside linebacker. Malik plays more of a hybrid role in the Texas defense and Striker is purely an edge weapon. For my money, Baylor's Taylor Young is the best but he's been limited thus far this season. Montrel Wilson of TCU has a chance to earn a spot here. Kansas State's Elijah Lee is my choice here.

CB: Zach Sanchez

Sanchez has been pretty good, and also frequently avoided, in part because he's often been playing across from weaker players but also because he's plain good.

S: Derrick Kindred

Kindred has been a B12 DPOY candidate, filling a million holes for TCU and flying around the field making big tackles.

S: Jordan Sterns

Sterns has been good and is one of the better "support" safeties in the league. There isn't really a "cover" safety on this list though, either a coverage-minded nickel or a coverage-minded free safety. Kindred is close but he's also a fantastic support safety. I'd list Steven Parker or KJ Dillon here.

S: Karl Joseph

He was playing great, but now he's out. Orion Stewart has played well this year and could end up being the choice for "support safety on my final list.

CB: Terrell Chestnut

It wasn't Chestnut who was called upon to cover Corey Coleman but Daryl Worley, nor was Chestnut the 2nd option as he lines up at left cornerback. I think Daryl Worley or Texas' Duke Thomas are better choices.


  1. This is off topic as I did not know where to ask this question...

    If you were an offensive coordinator who had complete control over your scheme, what would be your ideal offense and philosophy as a whole?

    What offense do you enjoy watching and learning about the most?


    1. I'd run something similar to what Baylor does, pairing a vertical passing attack with a physical run game.

      Some of the Air Raid teams are more interesting to learn about but the simplicity of the Baylor "veer and shoot" system makes it the superior choice, imo.

    2. I agree. Baylor and Art Briles have it maxed out offensively.

      With their passing game, do they just use option routes for the most part? I guess that is the "shoot" part of their offense lol.

      I mean, their offense is either to run between the tackles or vertical passing with a screen here and there. It is the ultimate "Stretch" offense.

    3. Yeah, lots of vertical option routes. Sometimes they'll just have half of their WRs stand around, run play-action, and send a single WR deep who's basically just hunting for open grass for the QB to throw him open into.

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