Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Big 12=the Wild, Wild West?

I wanted to shine some attention on an article written by my man Super K over at the football brainiacs, which you can find here.

The article makes a few big picture points about the nature of the Big 12 that I think are well put and should be well understood by fans of every team in the league:

1. The Big 12 is a ruthless league

Most of the teams in this league will keep their foot on the gas until they have 60 points. Oklahoma really set the tone in 2008 when they catapulted themselves to the top of the BCS rankings after a hard fought loss to Texas in the RRS (45-35) by using their combination of NFL talent on O and up-tempo pace to post the following scores:

45-31 over Kansas (Mangino-era Kansas, mind you)
58-35 over K-State on the road
62-28 over Nebraska
66-28 over Texas A&M on the road
65-21 over then #2 Tech at home
61-41 over Oklahoma State

Four consecutive games of scoring 60 points (and nearly five) really grabbed the attention of those with votes in the process and it allowed OU to play in the B12 title game, where they pasted Missouri 62-21.

Now lots of teams do this, and they do it in part to impress voters and in part due to necessity. Teams like Baylor and TCU march down the field so fast and make that process so integral to their strategy that sometimes they don't even know how to slow down other than to put in the back-ups and rely on execution errors to muck up the works.

What's more, if you are playing a Baylor or a Texas Tech you don't want to take your foot off the pedal because you know they can erase massive deficits in a short period of time if you aren't careful.

As Super K pointed out, if you are just a bit worse than the other team and that other team is one of the top teams in a given year, you can be blown out just due to the nature of how teams play.

2. There is no law in the Wild, Wild Big 12

"I often call the Big 12, the Wild West. It’s a gunslinger’s league with no rules or code of honor. You call a run defense on first down because you expect the other team to understand the rule’s of engagement and call a run on first down. They throw a 9 route. You expect them to punt it on 4th and 3. They throw a 9 route."
-Super K

Perfectly put. There is little reward for being a traditional team in the Big 12. Briles don't care, he'll put six holes in you whether there's a badge on your chest or not.

Gary Patterson figured this out, some other coaches still need to learn.

3. You can't just be a defensive team

You can't win the Big 12 if you can't win a shootout.

2009 Texas was led by Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley, but they were really keyed by elite defense and special teams. However, when push came to shove they only escaped the Big 12 schedule undefeated because their offense won a shootout against Texas A&M at the end of the year when the defense gave up 532 yards of offense.

Some will say, "that defense wasn't elite! They got gashed by Texas A&M!"

Everyone gets gashed at some point in this league. Unless you have NFL players healthy and locked in every Saturday at most every position you are going to get caught in a bad situation and ripped up eventually.

The teams at the top of the league are the ones that can play defense, yes, but if you don't have a great offense you don't stand a chance. Gary Patterson figured this out, some other coaches still need to learn.

4. Defense is largely about being able to play man

"One of the things you may have noticed occur in the past few years in the Big 12 is the prevalence of more man coverage. Two of the reasons for that is really simple, the offenses are moving so fast that a) there is no time to figure out the perfect defensive call and b) if you keep switching between too many zone calls, someone will bust. It’s not a question of if they will bust…it’s when. I’ve seen teams call cover 2 man under, followed by cover 2 and bust. I’m not talking about freshman. I’m talking about upperclassmen busting on a simple change..."
-Super K

When you play Baylor, the extreme nature of their WR splits and scheme basically turns every coverage into man coverage, the defense is basically just choosing (hopefully) who covers who and what their leverage looks like. Other Air Raid teams are learning to accomplish the same thing and everyone has their own unique ways to guarantee that their best players end up facing man coverage.

Defense then comes down to being able to disguise weak spots, despite facing tempo, and having very good and very skilled athletes all over the field. Don't have that? You're in a whole heap of trouble.


  1. Wouldn't be an advantage to have a traditional offense in the Big 12 since all defenses now are built to stop all spread attacks?

    I love both of your sites!

    1. Thanks!
      It's tricky having a traditional offense these days because if you can't score, you can't win games.

      K-State comes closest to having that style of offense, and the years where they can't score in the 30s (or 40s or 50s as the case requires) they can't even come close to winning the league.

      The advantage has to come more from other teams not being good at defending your system than from trying to keep the score down because you can't expect to consistently keep the score down in the Big 12. Snyder has tried, it just doesn't work that well.

    2. Yeah, in the Big 12 it's score, core, and score so more along with trying to field enough talent on defense to create turnovers. The SEC is slowing moving in that direction as well.

  2. The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lot of information is helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more content...Great job, keep it up.