Monday, November 30, 2015

Big 12 Twitter-bag Volume 3

The 2015 Big 12 season is over and it did not end as I had expected. Before the season my guess was that OSU would be the main challenger to TCU and Baylor thanks to a passing game built around Mason Rudolph and the versatility afforded by Cowboys' TE personnel.

They might have under-utilized their TEs but still got a lot out of Rudolph and a deep WR corps. However, while they were perfectly positioned to take down Baylor and TCU and win the Big 12, they were stopped by their Bedlam rivals who proved to be better situated to steal the league crown from Briles.

We'll talk about how OU won the wild, wild west in another post this week but for now, let's do hit some Twitter-bag questions.
The question of what a "league average" QB in the Big 12 looks like is maybe a more interesting one than what that would do for Texas or West Virginia. I'd say it probably looks like Skyler Howard, who happens to be returning next season.

If you could put Skyler Howard on either Texas' team or West Virginia's which team would be better? With their current offensive staffs you'd have to say the Mountaineers, but I'd argue that the Longhorns actually have slightly better offensive personnel with the following freshmen all coming back next year: Deep threat WR John Burt, thundering RB Chris Warren, pulling guard extraordinaire Patrick Vahe, and future 1st round pick LT Connor Williams.
They probably do, but it would have been very interesting to see if one-loss Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma State would have got in ahead of a team like Notre Dame or Stanford who also had one loss. I don't think anyone had any serious doubts about whether the Big 12's lack of a championship game or overall pedigree was going to hurt Texas or Oklahoma in a beauty contest.
Are we counting Mark Mangino? He might get some crap job at a D2 school this offseason. I'll say Doug Meacham, who might already have locked up the job at UNT, heaven help him. Lincoln Riley and Kendall Briles are another pair of names that are likely to be looking for similar opportunities in coming seasons.

Also on this note, if A&M is axing Jake Spavital then I'm betting he lands a job with a Big 12 program this offseason. West Virginia would make a lot of sense, where Holgorsen is currently in charge of coaching QBs.
Kansas successfully went defeated in 2015!

I ended up breaking my rule and watching a single Kansas football game (against Texas), although I didn't even watch it live. I have two things to say about Kansas:

1. I'm not terribly impressed with Clint Bowen, I think some of his defensive plans venture towards being unsound

2. Ryan Willis is a better QB than anyone at Texas. He's probably going to end up helping them to be pretty solid when they actually have a real OL and some skill players around him. Some of their players this year would have struggled to earn a starting spot at a 6A Texas high school.
Well, it appears that the likeliest playoff outcome is Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and then the winner of Iowa vs Michigan State.

Because their OL is not dominant and much of their offensive firepower comes from the abilities of Samaje Perine and Baker Mayfield to make stuff happen, a team with a strong DL and comparable athletes in the defensive backfield could cause the Sooners some major problems.

I'd say every defense listed above, save for maybe Iowa, matches that profile.

The Sooner defense has really toughened up this year and are playing at a pretty high level that shouldn't excite any opponents that would have to face them. I tend to think the power-based teams like Alabama and Michigan State would be most concerning simply because being spread out isn't a great fear of OU's but their DE's and ILB's may not shine as bright if forced to stand their ground in the trenches with a downhill rushing attack.

Right now I definitely wouldn't have OU as a favorite heading into this thing but if the field is shaken up, who knows?

Alright, final question:
So these are power rankings of which teams that I would favor to win the most games if the season played out in a neutral field tournament in which no one could incur any more injuries.

1. Oklahoma

The Sooners have the best defense in the league and an offense that can match points with anyone in the league.

2. TCU

Patterson's ability to field competent defenses no matter the situation really shined through this season and with Boykin back this is one of the better offenses in the league. Perhaps the best.

3. Baylor

I'd be curious to see if Chris Johnson could repeat his magic against the Cowboys in another go round where the 'Pokes would be prepared for him but I just can't put them behind OSU after they took them down in Stillwater. The Bear defense was pretty decent this year, thanks largely to Andrew Billings.

4. Oklahoma State

Glenn Spencer is starting to lose some of his luster in my eyes with a 2nd consecutive unit that you simply couldn't trust to stop the league's better offenses. I wonder if this team is capable of being who they were back in 2011-2013 without a Justin Gilbert on the roster.

Spencer started to move the team away from Bill Young's emphasis on staying really sound and simple and added more disguise and complexity and the results just haven't been there for the 'Pokes. I'll give him one more year with what will be a pretty veteran group in 2016.

5. West Virginia

The Mountaineers were very, very close to Baylor and OSU by the end of the year. Look out for this team next year because they have a lot of talented young WRs that will be coming back next year including Jovon Durante, Shelton Gibson, and converted QB David Sills who may end up being a real stud at outside WR.

6. Texas Tech

Perhaps the league's most explosive offense paired with one of the very worst run defenses I've ever watched in my entire life. David Gibbs is basically out to prove right now that he can foster a defensive culture that can produce physical, hard-nosed units under the auspices of Kliff Kingsbury. If he can't, I wonder who (that Tech could convinced to come to Lubbock) could? Paul Rhoads?

7. Kansas State

The Wildcats were pretty poor this season, but they simply don't fall victim to circumstances in the same way that other Big 12 teams do. They'll play anyone but the best teams tough. I'm expecting this team to make a big leap next year with a roster that will see a ton of quality players back from injury and also have much better options at QB.

8. Texas

Decent at home, awful on the road, perhaps the most physical team in the league but also one of the least competent. I know Iowa State blistered them in Ames but Texas is really young and has a much higher beta than the Cyclones. You never seriously entertained the possibility that Iowa State would beat a top team but with Texas anything between a blowout and a close agonizing loss was pretty likely.

9. Iowa State

This is really a pretty poor team. Their defense just wasn't much to write home about and the offense struggled mightily considering that they had some pretty nice pieces to work with. To me their season can be wrapped up by saying "Rhoads desperation moves to hire Mark Mangino and convert to the 3-4 defense failed to move the needle."

I'll be very curious to see what Matt Campbell brings to this team and I suspect that they've made a great hire.

10. Kansas

In the year 2015 the Kansas Jayhawks went defeated. My guess is that they win some games in 2016 but finish at the bottom once more.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Derrick Kindred vs K.D. Cannon: The key to TCU vs Baylor?

Read more on how Kindred has held the TCU defense together this year and how his face-off with K.D. Cannon could determine that game.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What'd I say about Cardale Jones?

At SB Nation I broke down Sparty's victory over the Buckeyes, namely how they stuffed the normally potent Ohio State offense.

From the beginning of the season I've been with team Cardale Jones, often by my lonesome, for the simple reason that a QB who's proficient throwing the football has more to offer a feature back like Ezekiel Elliot than a QB who's just another running back.

Against Michigan State J.T. Barrett was just another running back, and running backs were getting stuffed that night by the Spartan front.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Three tips for Paul Rhoads' successor

What a week in the Big 12!

In my estimation the league was heading for a Big 12 championship game in Stillwater next Saturday between Oklahoma and the 'Pokes, but Baylor had other ideas as they ripped apart the Cowboy defense. We'll talk more about that in the week.

Glenn Spencer was known for producing good, sound defenses under Bill Young as the OSU linebacker coach and he turned the fantastic upperclassmen he inherited in 2013 into a fantastic defense. But since then, OSU just hasn't looked as good on D and you wonder if Mike Gundy will be looking around this offseason for a replacement.

One obvious option would be Paul Rhoads, who was just fired from Iowa State.

As for the Cyclones, I've got a few tips for Rhoad's successor that I think will help spare him from also enduring repeated losing seasons until he's unceremoniously dumped.

Tip 1: Don't hire a complete jerk to be your offensive coordinator

When Iowa State blew their game against Kansas State, who I suspect will also soon begin a search for a new head coach (probably with the assistance of the current head coach), Mark Mangino taunted the program with a tweet.

You might recall that I was skeptical in this space of Rhoads firing Mangino, even when the result was a crushing 23-0 win over Texas and solid offensive showing from replacement Joel Lanning. I just knew Mangino knew more about QB development than Paul Rhoads and was also less worried about trying to save his own job like Rhoads was.

Sure enough, Lanning has been iffy when not scrambling or running, and the Cyclones have fallen apart since their big win over Texas.

But while Mangino had the Cyclone OL playing better than I've seen them in some time while trying to rebuild their passing game, he's just a jerk. Plain and simple. Rhoads entrusted him the role of trying to preserve his job and it's no surprise that it didn't work out for anyone.

I wouldn't hire either of them to be a head coach and I'd think long and hard before hiring Mangino at all, even though he's a fantastic, detail-oriented coordinator. I would be interested to hire Rhoads as a DC and would be curious to see what he could do with better players.

I bet he could be an option at KSU or OSU within the Big 12, and a dozen other spots outside the league.

Tip 2: Don't try to compete with the 2/3 stars from California and Florida that no one else in the country wanted

Recruiting is dictated FAR more by staff connections than the average fan realizes. It's more than plain that Rhoads and his staff relied on connections to the big programs in California and Florida (and Texas somewhat) to guide them to players. From there, they tried to build them through a good S&C program and effective coaching into a unit that could take down more talented teams.

There were just a few problems with that strategy. First of all, the Florida and Cali kids from the big high schools that every other college program knows about aren't going to make Iowa State their top choice. The Cyclones were the last to a very crowded bowl every year and that meant that when they found talented kids they were often ones with baggage that would later get them kicked out of school anyways.

Secondly, that talent pool of well-coached high schoolers wasn't a good one to execute the plan of building up players once they arrived on campus. Rhoads needed a talent pool of players with much more upside.

Finally, they totally ignored the advantage of recruiting in a small mid-western state like Iowa. Namely, there are tons of kids all around that just need a closer look and maybe a greyshirt and they could be built up into much, much better players than anyone would expect. Iowa State in the Paul Rhoads era didn't have nearly enough local kids that turned out to be excellent because he wasn't looking locally.

The local Iowa Hawkeyes represent a better model for the next coach, as does Kansas State. Beef up that walk-on program, take the hard working local kids and milk them for all their worth, and find dog bowls that aren't crowded with much bigger breeds.

Tip 3: Don't give up on building from the trenches

As the only real midwestern program in the Big 12, unless you count Kansas, the Cyclones should look to build from the inside out with tough, physical DLs and OLs. We've seen flashes of this working in the Paul Rhoads era. The current team has a good, physical interior OL and a RB that keeps his legs churning and isn't fun to tackle.

They've also fielded some stout fronts in the past, especially when they had guys like Stephen Ruempolhamer or Jake McDonough at nose tackle and guys like Jake Knott or AJ Klein at inside linebacker. Those are the kinds of players that are available locally, so the next head coach should probably aim to build around strategies that involve stout, hard-nosed players up front on both sides of the ball.

They could also hire Bob Stitt, who seems to be capable of making a dynamic Air Raid team just about anywhere in the country, but my choice would be North Dakota State's Chris Klieman, who fields a team better than Iowa State just about every year with players that Rhoads has ignored.

Good luck, Cyclones.

Friday, November 20, 2015

DeForest Buckner, OU, and the highly prized 4i-technique DE

I wrote a post today for Football Study Hall on the 4i-technique strongside DE you can read here. The upshot is that big SDEs that can battle with offensive tackles and vacillate between setting the edge and filling interior gaps are becoming prized tools in anti-spread, odd fronts.

Lots of Big 12 teams are after kids like this, yet a likely future stud like Andrew Fitzgerald is still not fully recognized for his potential value in the role. OU has somewhat miscast Charles Walker in this role, and he's doing real work there despite being more of a natural 3-technique. Texas will use Hassan Ridgeway in that role and the impact he's capable of is probably blunted somewhat as a result.

The guy who has some lateral quickness and 6'4" or better length is the ideal.

The game is always changing and it's hard to keep up if you don't watch lots of film of lots of different teams, which is why you read this site, no?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Previewing OSU-Baylor and OU-TCU

The state of Oklahoma is about to host two major football games that could have a big impact on a Big 12 championship race that is starting to look like it might come down to the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State season finale in Stillwater.

Baylor and TCU look to be out of the running due to injuries, which have now claimed Seth Russell and Josh Doctson, two of the better offensive skill players in the entire league. But of course, both of those teams are still more than capable of playing spoiler to the playoff hopes of the Oklahomans.

The rest of the Big 12 is a morass of struggling teams with major questions marks about how long their coaches are going to stick around. I'm very curious to see what happens at Kansas State, for instance, and Mangino is now available again while Iowa State will presumably be on the market for a new O.C.

But for now, every team in the Big 12 that really matters is playing on Saturday night in one of these two games.

Sizing up Baylor at Oklahoma St.

The biggest question here is whether or not Jarrett Stidham is healthy and ready to go. Now I tend to think he'll be fine, but no doubt that a back injury in the days after the injury is a difficult thing to work through and Baylor's young QB really needs reps.

If Chris Johnson is the man at QB for Baylor against Oklahoma State than this game is probably already over.

The match-up between Oklahoma State's offense and Baylor's defense is probably the most interesting aspect of this game. Mason Rudolph got his career off to a great start when he nearly took down Baylor a year ago in Waco and now he comes into this game looking to protect home field and an undefeated record.

Last year he did a lot of damage against the Bears throwing 7 routes to David Glidden matched up on Terrell Burt:

You'll note this is the same weakness that Oklahoma picked on a week ago with Sterling Shephard, although they tended to use snag rather than this "bash" concept (also known as 7-ins).

OSU also has outside receivers like James Washington that can present problems for the Baylor cornerbacks when they're matched up in isolation. Take this post-dig route combination from last year, for instance:

They get twin receivers to the boundary, which forces Baylor to play their cover safety over the boundary slot or risk losing the boundary linebacker against the run. However, the linebackers are sucked in by the play-action, the cover safety is sucked in to stop the dig route, and that leaves the corner on an island against the post route by Washington.

So suffice to say, the Cowboys are very capable of attacking the same coverage weaknesses that Oklahoma ruthlessly exploited last Saturday in Waco.

The big questions are the run game, whether the Bears will be able to handle the pass more conservatively without getting punished by the OSU ground game, and if the Bears can get a pass-rush from their DL.

The Cowboys are one of the few good offenses in history that can't run the ball worth a lick (108th in rushing S&P, 105th on standard downs) and it's because they do work on passing downs (8th in the nation!).

Since the Bears are wretched on passing downs I expect that OSU will score some points in this one.

On the flip side, the 'Pokes have a mediocre run defense but are excellent on passing downs thanks to their numerous packages and the DE tandem of Jimmy Bean and Emmanuel Ogbah who have combined for 16 sacks on the year so far.

Their ability to get pressure with four and match personnel with Baylor makes me think this game could get ugly for Baylor nation. Look for some more cover 2 brackets on Coleman, including plenty of tampa-2 on passing downs, and for the Bears to continue to pound away with the run game in response. That might work better this week than against the Sooner front but I again foresee it failing to produce enough points to keep up.

Sizing up Oklahoma at TCU

Oklahoma is the flavor of the week right now after slowing down Baylor's offense and another week of the Baker Mayfield-improv hour getting great results. It's worth noting that the Sooners' current five game winning streak came against four creampuffs and a Baylor team that might have been overrated and was adjusting to life without their starting QB.

Of course, TCU is dealing with injuries to what might be the three most important players on offense with Trevone Boykin (ankle), Joey Hunt (something), and Doctson (wrist, done). It's hard to see the Frogs taking down the Sooners without a healthy, running Boykin.

The uncertainty around Boykin is probably why Vegas hasn't given odds on this game.

Here's something we do know though: there is quite a bit of optimism from the Sooner side about running the ball on TCU and I'm not sure this optimism is entirely well placed.

First of all, OU has a finesse approach to blocking with a heavy reliance on stretch plays and Samaje Perine bringing the physicality when he can square up his shoulders and run through people. That latter element should be concerning to TCU, but the finesse approach to blocking won't scare the Frogs' defensive front.

Part of the reason TCU has survived this season on defense in the midst of all their injuries, besides the fact that Patterson is a patchwork-quilt maker, is the play of their DL. They aren't getting a ton of pressure on the QB with their base rush but they are stout against the run and have several good DTs between Davion Pierson, Chris Bradley, Aaron Curry, and Tevin Lawson.

What's more, their safeties can run and tackle and they play with great leverage as a team. You figure Perine probably bulldozes his way to a solid game regardless but the overall OU run game may not find much success or explosive plays against this group.

Perhaps the bigger concern is covering Sterling Shephard, as the TCU secondary basically consists of three traditional safeties, an up and coming corner (Nick Orr), and an older more suspect corner (Corry O'Meally). OU should be able to force TCU to roll some coverage over to Shephard and then attack the resulting soft spots with the run game or other receivers.

Gary Patterson is going to make it a point to try and confuse Mayfield and hide where the Frog weaknesses are and it's going to take a savvy, veteran performance from the Sooner QB to see through it all and get after them.

But without Boykin it's hard to see TCU scoring enough to require too much. For that reason, an OU victory seems fairly likely in this one.

The next OC at Texas

I keep having to write this column, it'd be nice to have some stability in Austin again. Here's a look at what Charlie needs to look for (and who he might look at) to bring some leadership and vision to the Texas offense.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Baker Mayfield, the unwanted high school champion

Over at SB Nation I did a write-up on Mayfield, who's now garnering Heisman attention after taking down Baylor.

The 6'0" or shorter, quick-thinking, quick-moving, solid-armed, gritty white QB has generally been pretty underrated by college evaluators these days though that's now changing. The services were actually more accurate here than college coaches as Mayfield was given a three-star rating despite not having very good offers.

Like I say in the article, colleges hadn't caught on that prototypical height and NFL measurables don't really matter in the spread era. Being able to throw concepts, buy time, and make off-schedule plays is a much bigger deal.

Baker Mayfield is basically another Jake Waters, and you can win a lot of games in the Big 12 with a guy like that. I wish Texas had taken him in any of their numerous opportunities to do so.

How Oklahoma ended Baylor's 20 game home winning streak

Oklahoma at Baylor was probably the biggest game of the season for the Big 12 because it firmly established that the Baylor dynasty is on hiatus for a year. This team can't win the Big 12 with a true freshman QB, although I'd venture a guess that this QB will probably win a Big 12 title before his career is over.

We don't yet know if OU can win the Big 12 either, it's looking more and more like a two- or three-way tie at the top might be in the cards. One. Two. Three. True. Champion(s).

We'll talk more about that later, for now I'll break down how exactly the Sooners finally broke through against the Bears.

1. They were finally able to score on Baylor's defense

Over the last two seasons the Sooners haven't been balanced or skilled enough on offense to attack Baylor's aggressive, Sparty-inspired brand of 4-3 Over/Cover 4 defense. The nature of the Bears' defense is such that if you get behind and show weakness they will absolutely swarm you with press coverage on the outside and flat-footed safeties coming downhill to outnumber your run.

Well thanks to Baker Mayfield, the Sooner offense is now quite balanced and capable of requiring that you commit numbers to multiple areas of the field to shut them down.

Before the game I noted Mayfield's ability to create off-schedule plays with his feet was going to be a tough challenge for a Bear defense that pairs a backfield at its best playing two-deep zone with a defensive line that can't get consistent pressure without blitzing.

Baylor ended up with three sacks, but they failed to contain Mayfield and he made several plays either scrambling for first downs (or penalties) or buying time before finding Sterling Shephard.

The Sooner WR was probably the biggest problem Baylor had and Lincoln Riley moved him all over to punish the Bear DBs not named Xavien Howard. Shephard ended the game with 16 targets, 14 catches, 177 yards, and two touchdowns. That's 11 yards per target.

With formations like this the Sooners could ask challenging questions of the Baylor defense, particularly with Shephard as the man in the slot. Do you bracket him with the weakside linebacker and safety ("R" Stewart) or try and man him up with the safety and allow Rocket to fly to the ball to stop Perine?

They'd do the same thing to the field side and hit Shepard three different times with seven routes (a deep out) against three different Baylor DBs (Burt, Waz, and Singleton) most often with a "snag" route combo:

The goal with this concept is either to get easy yardage on the flat or "snag" route underneath if the underneath defenders carry the vertical route by the slot or else to get that slot in a favorable match-up downfield against the safety. Covering that route is a very tough challenge for the field safety, which is why Baylor tends to go with a more coverage-minded athlete at that position.

Throwing that seven route to the field is a challenge though, but one that Mayfield was up for. Chance Waz and Travon Blanchard are solid zone defenders and tacklers but they're not up for handling a combo like Mayfield-Shephard on a field seven route.

Samaje Perine also had a great day simply because he's freaking hard to tackle if the OL can give him anything close to a crease and some momentum to work with. They were able to do so and Orlando Brown did a respectable job of staying between Shawn Oakman and the ball, even if he couldn't stop the freakish DE from getting a lot of penetration.

Andrew Billings was a big problem for OU as well but Perine routinely broke tackles from Baylor's unblocked run defenders. Such is life.

So Oklahoma was able to keep pace with Baylor, but that probably wasn't the biggest problem for Baylor.

2. The Sooner DL won the line of scrimmage

There were a few problems in the trenches for the Bears which added up to a difficult night for a unit that was trying to protect Jarrett Stidham from having to win the game by himself.

Obviously Linwood had a good day, with 21 carries for 103 yards, but the Baylor offense isn't designed to move the ball methodically on the ground. They're designed to blow the game open with the passing game and OU was content to allow Linwood to do 100 yards worth of damage without committing extra numbers to the run knowing that this wouldn't result in Baylor scoring enough points to win a shootout.

Here's the Bears' best running play this year, which they of course will combine with WR screens, H-back blocks, and even downfield routes:

Here's why it's Baylor's best play: You force the defense to commit numbers out wide to the field, away from the trenches in order to stop the bubble screen from picking up easy yardage, you get Coleman in a 1-on-1 match-up on the backside to run whatever route is most likely to yield results, and then you have a running play with down blocks and your best OL (Spencer Drango) leading into the hole for the RB.

This play yielded some results on the first drive for Baylor, and then OU shut it down. How? In part because their odd front required Baylor to win some battles on base blocks without the benefit of angles. In that match-up, Charles Walker dominated the Bears' right tackle Pat Colbert, their nose tackle often squeezed the gap closed as well working against Fuller, and the right guard Jarell Broxton also struggled to connect on OU's LBs at the second level.

The Bears then tried to run this play to the left side with Colbert as the lead blocker, but Colbert would regularly whiff trying to block the play-side linebacker whereas Drango is dependable at finding and connecting.

Ironically, when DE Matt Dimon was kicked out for his egregious attempt to kick the Baylor long-snapper (you sure picked a real threat to neutralize there, Dimon) it probably hurt the Bears because it meant more snaps for Walker, who's probably the second best DE/3-technique DL in the conference (Hassan Ridgeway).

But then, this is why you carry a 410 pound TE on campus, right? To come in and mash skulls when you're struggling to win the line of scrimmage, right?

Well it turns out that Laquon McGowan is a terrible football player who routinely misses blocks. I counted one series where he whiffed on his assignment three consecutive times. Here's one of the more egregious examples that got him relegated to the bench:

The Bears had to turn to Gus Penning, which helped greatly, but by then it was becoming too late to try and blow open the game with running plays and Stidham had a costly pick that sealed Baylor's fate anyways. I'd expect to see more of Penning in the coming weeks, save for maybe on the goal line where McG's massive paws are still an asset and opposing defenders are easier to find and block.

3. The Sooners took away Corey Coleman

Oklahoma started out with a plan to keep some numbers in the box to stop the run, since they assumed (and I did as well) that an honest six-man box would probably perform well enough against a Baylor run game that's used to bullying undermanned fronts.

They had an evolving plan for stopping Coleman from abusing them for this strategy. If Baylor brought four receivers on the field then the Sooners would match up in man coverage with Jordan Thomas on Coleman and a little bit of help coming from the middle of the field and underneath:

When Baylor would bring a TE on the field, the Sooners still bracketed Coleman with an OLB underneath and Thomas over the top and would drop Steven Parker down on the slot, still in man coverage.

Jordan Thomas had some help, but he also just had to be able to run with Coleman without getting beat and he did a great job in the first half. In the second half, OU felt comfortable enough with how things were going in the trenches to just play more Cover 2 and bracket Coleman the traditional way without fear that a 5.5 man front would get gashed by the run.

Coleman finished the day with three catches for 51 yards. That ain't no way to win a shootout.

It was clear that Stidham's comfort level with the Baylor passing game beyond the RPOs that make up a good chunk of the offense is still not there yet. The Bears run a ton of option routes that he will someday be murderous with but against the Sooners he threw a curl straight at Zach Sanchez when Cannon was running a slant.

Moving forward, the Bears need to improve his comfort level throwing these routes to Jay Lee and K.D. Cannon because the road doesn't get any easier with trips to Stillwater and Ft. Worth and teams aren't going to stop bracketing Coleman. I think a 9-3 outcome is most likely for the Bears unless Boykin and Doctson are seriously limited.

Next Saturday we get OU-TCU in Norman and Baylor-OSU in Stillwater. If there's going to be the threat of a three-way tie we'll know it when the dust settles from those two contests.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Previewing Oklahoma at Baylor: Pt II, when OU has the ball

At some point in the last few years Oklahoma went from being the dominant bully on the block that everyone is afraid of to being this decade's version of the 2000's Mack Brown Texas Longhorn team.

After getting physically whipped by their rival, the Charlie Strong Longhorns (who are largely incompetent at this stage but plenty violent in the Cotton Bowl), the Sooners were perfectly set up for a recovery run before traveling to Waco to take on the league's new big dog.

The Sooner schedule has played out since that defeat as follows:

@Kansas State: 55-0 victory
Texas Tech: 63-27 victory
@Kansas: 62-7 victory
Iowa State: 52-16 victory

Those are arguably the four worst teams in the Big 12 and the two better squads in that group had to play in Norman. However, the Sooners took great advantage of this easy stretch to settle on their run game identity, develop a new nickel package that could be useful against Baylor, and tinker with their OL.

In particular, they've been able to get Samaje Perine and the run game going just in time to face their brutal concluding stretch of @Baylor, TCU, and then @Oklahoma State.

Perine's performance in the first five games of the year was dulled as the Sooner OL was struggling to control the line of scrimmage in some of Lincoln Riley's new gap schemes. In those five games he had 82 carries for 364 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, and three touchdowns.

In the four games since Perine has carried the ball 58 times for 442 yards at 7.6 yards per carry and with seven touchdowns. Backfield mate Joe Mixon has also taken off in this time with 45 carries for 359 yards, 7.5 yards per carry, and four touchdowns.

With this rekindled identity and balance on offense, Oklahoma is now hoping to do what they haven't been able to do in either of the last two seasons and keep pace with the Baylor offense.

Big bodies will collide when OU runs the football

The OU run game has become fairly diverse in scope but is now largely focused around zone blocking, which has been a better fit for their personnel. They're probably at their best in 20 personnel groupings with three WRs and both Perine and Mixon on the field but they also have some solid options in fullback Dmitri Flowers and TE Mark Andrews to mix in as well. Their formational versatility and the versatility of both Perine and Mixon gives them a lot of flexibility for how they can attack opponents.

A big question for them this week will be what they do at left guard with former starter Jonathan Alvarez back from an ankle injury. While he's been out they've been playing the 6'8" 339 pound converted tackle, Derek Farniok and running a lot of "stretch C" blocking where Farniok blocks down while the rest of the OL executes standard reach blocks and center Ty Darlington pulls around the edge:

A scheme like this raises a dozen questions for this OU-Baylor match-up. Let's stay with the theme of left guard as this scheme requires that the left guard (when run to this side) be able to control Baylor nose tackle Andrew Billings.

If Jonathan Alvarez is back in action they'll probably want to support his 6'3" 297 pound self against Billings with a double team rather than pulling Darlington (only 6'2" 285 himself) around the edge to try and find Taylor Young (Rocket) in space.

The success of Alvarez and Darlington in double teaming Billings and then sealing off linebackers to create cutback lanes could be one of the most crucial factors in this football game. Now seems a good time to mention that Billings is also coming off an ankle injury.

Then there's big issue number two here, the edge block by OU left tackle Orlando Brown against Baylor right defensive end Shawn "I am Groot" Oakman.

Oakman is used to being able to totally dominate opponents virtually at will with his absurd 6'9" 275 pound athletic frame. Well, Brown may be a young guy as a redshirt freshman, but he's also a pretty big guy. At 6'8" 342 and shockingly light on his feet, Orlando Brown is going to test Oakman in ways he's not accustomed to. If Oakman wants to get paid next summer he'll show strong in this one.

Finally there's what happens if and when Oklahoma gets Samaje Perine on the edge. Will Baylor prefer to play more standard cover 2 on the boundary with the corner responsible for forcing the run? Or will they bring rover Orion Stewart down aggressively and how will he handle trying to tackle Perine?

That's three "strength on strength" match-ups on only play concept and it's hard to say with great confidence who will gain the advantage in any instance.

Oklahoma could also try to run more power or inside zone schemes but the best way to take advantage of Billings, if he's hurt, and to leverage the strengths of their own OL is with stretch blocking that forces him to move his feet while potentially springing Perine to the edge where he was an absolute terror in 2014.

For the Bears, it's all about Billings and their run defense takes several steps back when he's not in the game. They do have several good run support players though starting with Taylor Young, who's brilliant when covered up by his nose tackle, and also including their very solid safety tandem of Chance Waz and Orion Stewart.

The Bears will usually look to outnumber the run and bring Stewart into cutback lanes so that Young can just run to the football with reckless abandon and it's difficult to punish them for this approach without throwing the ball.

Baker Mayfield vs the Bear pass defense

The biggest weakness to this OU offense is their pass protection and breakdowns there tend to highlight the best and worst of who Baker Mayfield is as a quarterback.

At this point the Sooners are now starting true freshman Dru Samia opposite redshirt freshman Orlando Brown at right tackle after Texas absolutely abused Josiah St. John. Their OL is not full of guys who thrive against the blitz and Mayfield is still learning to hit hot routes rather than trying to make something happen with his legs.

What has made OU dangerous this year is that Mayfield is very effective at escaping pressure and either scrambling for yardage or finding receivers on the run. He has great lateral quickness and can win the edge against most defenders, particularly when using the threat of a throw downfield with his more than respectable arm strength.

Texas abused them because they were able to get pressure all day long while fielding multiple linebackers that were faster than Baker Mayfield when he tried to scramble. There aren't any great solutions for the Bears here, who have had a weak pass rush all year, unless they want to bring Rocket-Groot blitz combos all day. While it's easiest to attack the Sooners on the right side of their OL, the Bears simply don't have great personnel there.

They're probably better off trying to contain Mayfield in the pocket and hoping the rush can get home with time.

The other big worry for the Bears is pass coverage, where they've not been great in 2015. Bennett has diversified the coverages that the Bears will play this year, mixing in some tampa-2 looks that frankly haven't gone that well (Grant Campbell isn't the best guy for defending the seam) and trying to keep safeties Stewart and Waz in two-deep zones where they aren't asked to pick up players in man coverage. They'll also leave their corners on islands at times and have seen mixed results from this approach.

The problem for the Bears has been that what their defensive backfield is best at, sitting in zone and rallying to the football, works best when the DL can consistently get pressure. The Bears' alternative means for getting pressure is zero-blitzes and they don't have anywhere close to good enough DBs in man coverage to pull this off without getting burned.

They definitely don't want to ask any of their safeties to spend quality time playing man coverage on Sterling Shephard, who will be the best WR Baylor has faced this season and may prove to be the best WR they face all year depending on how healthy Josh Doctson is when Baylor rolls into Ft. Worth. Shephard can run by weak corners, is effective coming back and getting open when Mayfield scrambles, and will also move inside and run crossing routes and seam stretchers over the middle of the field.

The Bears best hope of containing him is to be able to play both safeties deep all day long and play bend don't break, but that will require their corners and nickel to be very effective at stopping the run, which takes us back to the question of Brown vs Oakman and Billings vs the double team.


There's a reason the line on this game is only Baylor -2.5 and the most likely result of this game is that Oklahoma is able to do a much better job of keeping pace with the Bears and the whole game comes down to whether Mike Stoops has schemed Stidham well or if the freshman is ready to make plays on a big stage.

Oklahoma has enough strength across their offense to take on the strength of the Bears' defense and between Baylor's lack of pass rush and Mayfield's effective scrambling there's likely to be some fireworks when the Sooners throw the ball.

At the same time, if Baylor gets a great game from Billings and can play more cover 2 then they have a great chance to keep the OU offense from turning this into a shootout played in the 40s.

Since I have no faith left in Mike Stoops, I'm expecting Stidham to stave off a game effort from Mayfield with something in the realm of a 38-33 victory in Waco.

This Big 12 season is about to get crazy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Baylor vs Oklahoma preview: Pt I, OU's D vs the Bear offense

As promised, find it at Football Study Hall or with this link.

Is Brent Venables the best defensive coordinator in college football?

I've got a two-part preview of the Baylor-OU game coming. Part one will be an examination of the Mike Stoops vs Art Briles battle over the years and how it might look this year and you can expect to see it very soon on Football Study Hall.

I'll host part two here and it will dive into the OU offense vs the Baylor defense.

In the meantime, can we all appreciate now that bringing in Mike Stoops and pushing out Venables was a bad, bad idea? A few words on his success at Clemson.

Jerrod Heard and the development curve

Over at Inside Texas I finally took the chance to break down where Heard is as a collegiate QB and what needs to happen for him to become an answer for Texas' drought of effective play at the position.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The playoff rankings are a win for college football

The goal of the playoff rankings is to generate discussion and hype around the college football season, the process, and the eventual playoffs. The more that the committee and ESPN can get people talking and arguing about it all the more interest and passion they can stir up about the sport itself. That's their biggest reason to list these rankings as the season progresses.

But there's also no reason not to indulge ourselves and talk this through, the playoff rankings' goal of fostering debate and discussion about college football is one of their more laudable goals.

Here's what the 2nd top 10 looks like:

1. Clemson (9-0)

2. Alabama (8-1)

3. Ohio State (9-0)

4. Notre Dame (8-1)

5. Iowa (9-0)

6. Baylor (8-0)

7. Stanford (8-1)

8. Oklahoma State (9-0)

9. LSU (7-1)

10. Utah (8-1)

*TCU (15th)

There are obvious problems here just examining the results on the surface stemming from the fact that unbeaten teams like Iowa, Baylor, and Oklahoma State are all ranked behind traditional powers Alabama and Notre Dame, who have each been beaten.

All the fans of underdogs out there smell a rat when they see these rankings.

But you'll also notice that Stanford is ranked ahead of Oklahoma State and the Cardinal is not exactly a blueblood program. The defense offered by the committee in subjectively ranking these teams as they have is based on strength of schedule and quality of wins.

For my own convenience, I'm going to list each team based on their record against S&P top 40 teams to give a glimpse into what these teams have actually done this season and rank them accordingly:

I've ranked teams here according to who they lost to, so Notre Dame goes higher because their loss came against Clemson while LSU lost to Alabama and Stanford lost to a team (Northwestern) that is outside of the S&P top 40.

What we find is that the teams that aren't getting much benefit of the doubt are LSU, Stanford, Oklahoma State, and Iowa. Why? Because Stanford got beat by a marginal team, because LSU got absolutely ripped going up against a top team (Alabama), and because Oklahoma State beat Texas and Kansas State very narrowly and with the benefit of some penalties that were universally recognized as bad calls.

Meanwhile, there are two teams that really stand out as getting a LOT of benefit of the doubt, Ohio State and Baylor. We can assume that Ohio State is getting credit from having won the playoffs in 2014 and returning most of their championship squad intact.

Baylor is getting credit for the manner in which they've been whipping teams to even be ranked as high as 6th based on the (strong) theory that you can tell a good team from the way they obliterate weaker teams. But of course, that resume comes almost entirely with Seth Russell at the helm.

If you look at the pure records of the teams and assume all else is equal, you get the sense that Baylor and the Big 12 is getting absolutely screwed. But everything else is not equal, and the Big 12 teams simply don't have a good case that what they've accomplished this season is more impressive than what teams from other conferences have done.

Of course a lot of this will sort out itself as the season progresses. Ohio State and Iowa are on a collision course, Baylor still has OSU, TCU, and OU on the schedule to bolster their resume, OSU faces Baylor and OU, and Stanford and Notre Dame will square off.

The only really interesting and controversial note from these rankings is that a one loss team that has played a tougher schedule is apparently going to get the benefit of the doubt over an undefeated team that hasn't played a great schedule.

What's the upshot of that? That all college football teams who hope to compete for the playoffs are going to have to schedule competitive games in their pre-conference slate. Who loses from that exchange? Only smaller programs that will have less opportunities to cash in from traveling and playing good teams. Who wins in that exchange? Fans of college football who will get to watch more competitive games. 

This seems to be another major goal of the release of the playoff rankings, to make it clear to college football programs that if you don't schedule good games you will be punished, once again this is very laudable.

Baylor fans, you should be frustrated more with your athletic department that has tried to game the system by playing weak teams and saddling season-ticket holders with crap programming than the selection committee that is actually taking steps to push the game towards a more compelling regular season AND postseason.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Stanford's anti-spread ways

I'd be curious to see a team try to run Stanford's schemes in the Big 12, particularly on defense, you can read about them at SB Nation by following this link.

My favorite thing about them is their dual nickel packages.

One of them puts two swing DL on the field to play tackle, guys that are 6'2" 275 or so and can long-stick (stunt across multiple gaps), two OLBs, and two ILBs.

The two DL are always rushing the passer but they can be joined by any possible combination of two LBs while the other two LBs drop into simple coverage assignments made easy by their base cover 1/3 schemes.

Their other nickel package is a 30 front that subs out an OLB for a nose-tackle, Solomon Thomas, who was a 5-star SDE prospect out of Coppell, Tx.

The remaining OLB can roam the box like a "spinner" choosing gaps to attack, or dropping back and allowing one of the ILBs to do the same.

The best way to deal with the spread is probably to have a versatile, deep front that can give you the chance to do things in a number of different ways on the back end and to play to stop the pass first. There aren't enough teams in the Big 12 that can get good DL play and can attempt schemes like this.

Demographic limitations play a part in this and when 5-star DL are leaving the state of Texas to go to schools in other leagues that ain't helping either.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Kyler Murray, the return of the Aggie run game, and baseball-playing QBs

Check out my new post on how Kyler Murray enables A&M to get back to what they were doing so well in the Johnny Football era of (almost literally) yesteryear.

Within that article, I briefly mention a new theory of how teams should look for QBs. We've all been getting pretty close to it with Trent Dilfer's realizations of what QB skills translate to actual success on the field, the growing realization that it's helpful for kids to grow up playing multiple sports, and plays like this:

Perhaps more teams should look for QBs by searching the baseball diamond? And perhaps more HS and private skills coaches should look to groom QBs by encouraging them to play baseball where they can learn to throw from different arm angles and with different footwork.

The applications to throwing from a moving pocket are clear.

Meanwhile, the following QBs have a background in baseball:

Pat Mahomes: His dad was a MLB star and he plays baseball for Tech.

Shane Buechele: Ditto for the Longhorn QB commit.

Kyler Murray: Drafted to the MLB.

Johnny Manziel: Ditto.

Tom Brady: Drafted out of HS as a catcher but went to Michigan to play football instead.

The list is really quite extensive. Good athletes who can throw on the move tend to be pretty good in the spread offense. Let's take note.

The first playoff rankings and the "SEC Myth"

Every conference that isn't the SEC has what might be described as an inferiority complex about that region and its football teams. When the playoff selection committee released their first ranking and it looked like this...

1. Clemson (8-0)
2. LSU (7-0)
3. Ohio State (8-0)
4. Alabama (7-1)
5. Notre Dame (7-1)
6. Baylor (7-0)
7. Michigan State (8-0)
8. TCU (8-0)
9. Iowa (8-0)
10. Florida (7-1)

...the outrage was predictable.

There are two truths that everyone needs to accept about the current system and college football today in order to accurately peel back the onion and see all the layers to this debate.

Truth 1: The purpose of the college football playoffs is to appease the masses who wanted a better system while still restricting access to the big dogs.

Truth 2: The SEC schools, and other blueblood programs, generally are actually better.

Truth 2 provides some excellent political cover for truth 1.

Last year the committee egregiously had Ohio State leapfrog the, uh, the Frogs and the Bears in the final poll after the Buckeyes smashed Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game with their back-up QB.

Comparing the resumes of the three teams it was absurd that Ohio State be recognized over TCU or Baylor. They played but one really good team (Michigan State) and though they won that game on the road in impressive fashion, their resume just didn't compare to the two teams who'd navigated the tougher Big 12.

Ohio State was always going to get the benefit of the doubt there because they are the big dog, they draw in the TV sets, and they are much more connected in the political process.

As it turned out, Ohio State was unquestionably the best team in the country and proved it over the next two games while smacking down Alabama and Oregon.

The main outrage from this new poll is over the fact that Alabama is ranked over undefeated TCU and Baylor under the political cover of "those teams haven't played anyone that strong yet." Strength of schedule is going to be the consistent trump card that the committee uses every year to protect the big dogs.

Here's the thing though, having watched all of these teams in multiple games I have little doubt that Alabama would beat either TCU or Baylor.

Baylor's defense still needs to be tested, but the bigger issue is that their QB broke his freaking neck. Bear fans keep coming back with all kinds of arguments about how great their team is this season, using results from this season to back up their points. All of these arguments ignore the fact that the QB who played in all of those games broke his freaking neck.

Sorry Baylor, until your freshman QB wins on the road in Stillwater and Ft. Worth you aren't going to get any benefit of the doubt for how badly you beat up the little sisters of the poor with a different QB running the show.

Meanwhile TCU is a defense that is relying on excellent fundamentals combined with smoke and mirrors to overcome the simple fact that they are too beat up and too small at linebacker to hang with the likes of Alabama. Does anyone doubt that Derrick Henry would run roughshod over the Frogs? He's probably bigger and faster than anyone in their defensive backfield.

Here's the underlying truth of the matter that is rarely discussed directly and yet dictates much of the whole proceeding and why the big dogs do regularly get the benefit of the doubt besides the fact that they are more popular programs. The sport of football is largely dominated by African-American athletes and these athletes reside in far greater numbers in states with SEC schools.

Observe! The power five conferences ranked by how many African-Americans live within their states:

Let me start by debunking an easy counter, which is that if this chart revealed the most powerful factor in which regions play the best football you'd expect the ACC to be the premier conference in the land.

Well, the ACC's geographic borders includes 8.23 million black people who live in New York, North Carolina, and Georgia, states which are devoid of powerful ACC football programs. Meanwhile the SEC boasts programs like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Florida in the states with the largest populations of black athletes while also regularly snatching up recruits from other areas like Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Texas.

You'll also notice from the state by state breakdown the tremendous advantage that comes to schools like Ohio State and LSU, big time powers that are the only major college programs within states with large African-American populations. Take a gander at which SEC schools are stronger and which are traditionally weaker and you'll see more overlapping correlations.

Guess why the Big 10 East is so much stronger than the Big 10 West?

Also, I have to note that the Pac-12's small population of African Americans is largely mitigated by the presence of about 1 million Pacific Islanders who live along the West Coast or in Utah. I'd venture a guess that the percentage of Pacific Islander young men who get Div 1 scholarships to play football is several times that of any other ethnic group.

Football is all about big, fast, and powerful men executing athletic movements in short bursts, which requires lots of fast-twitch muscle fiber. Well, men of Western-African descent tend to excel here beyond any other ethnic group on this planet, save perhaps for the Islanders.

The major programs in the southeast who have major resources and access to large populations of black athletes tend to be able to field more talented football teams than anyone else. That's one of the underlying (and rather logical) assumptions being made by everyone who subjectively believes that Alabama is better than most everyone else even when they have a loss.

That's the rub and why the SEC gets so much benefit of the doubt. Their conference includes multiple major programs with big time resources and literally millions more athletes within their geographic borders. 

The big lie of the selection process is that this is somehow objective when in reality it is totally subjective.

However, the assumptions that guide the subjective arguments are actually very solid. So when the small private school in Texas that has been putting up wins over schools without the resources of teams in the SEC doesn't get the benefit of the doubt in a subjective ranking, don't be surprised. And don't be surprised if the underlying assumptions guiding these arguments aren't what's openly debated.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Big 12 Twitter-bag: Volume II

I didn't find week nine to be a particularly interesting week in the Big 12, though maybe that's just me as a bitter Texas fan, but that OSU vs Texas Tech game sure was fun. Nevertheless, we have several interesting Big 12 topics to dive into thanks to you readers who fired some questions my way on Twitter that we'll now survey:


OU had a very aggressive defensive model early in the year that was all about combining Striker and Bond on opposite ends of the field and attacking protections, but now Bond is out and OU has instead started to rely on playing Will Johnson at the nickel.

Now their identity is built around being able to put Ahmad Thomas closer to the box, erasing the deep field with Steven Parker, keeping Striker in the trenches attacking off the edge, and generally having more coverage flexibility on the field while still having a good pass-rush.

On offense, their identity is now much more zone-based and that's paid big dividends in getting Perine going. Their OL is not physical at the point of attack but they are big and mobile and outside zone has been a much better way for them to open lanes for Perine and Mixon.

Oklahoma has now become what Texas was in the Mack Brown era: a finesse team that would rally around an identity after getting beaten down by a more physical team in the Cotton Bowl. Can a team like that win on the road in Waco and Stillwater though? I'm not sure. The Sooners will definitely have those teams' attention though.
I'm not sure what the atmosphere is like in Morgantown right now or what their expectations are in the Big 12 but based on Holgorsen's sad puppy expressions in all of their defeats I'd venture to guess that he's in some trouble.

Here's the good news for West Virginia (or Holgorsen at least), if they can keep their morale up after this four-game losing streak they might be favored in every remaining game and they only need to win three of five to be bowl-eligible.

Tech in Morgantown promises to be a shootout but Tech will be helpless against Smallwood. Their trip to Kansas should be an easy win if they build some confidence by beating Tech. Iowa State is a tough team but they'll drawn them at home, Texas is terrible on the road and has to come to Morgantown, and then they finish in Manhattan against a K-State team that's been pretty weak so far.

I think they'll win at least three of those games and perhaps that allows Holgorsen to keep his job for another year. It'd be helpful if they blew someone out and then Crest or another QB came into the game and flashed some big time potential that would suggest a big year in 2016.

That is a tough question, I think each of these teams is legitimately very good. I suppose it has to be Baylor until we see clear evidence that Stidham can man the helm against great teams that are going to be examining him under a microscope for the next several weeks.

They each have their fatal flaws but that's probably the biggest one, unless it isn't. Oklahoma State fending off Tech on Halloween in Lubbock was a more impressive win than some might think after seeing how Mahomes and Grant lit up their defense. That was a game that only confident, veteran teams win.

Like I said above, WV should be able to become bowl eligible and probably finish with a string of victories. If they fail to do so I can't imagine Holgorsen keeping his job.

Kingsbury seems safe in Lubbock from what I hear, they aren't in a hurry to fire a guy with a massive contract and explosive offense. He needs to mine the JUCO ranks for some tough safeties though and one signature win sure would help.

K-State will see coaching changes when Bill Snyder allows them to see coaching changes. There is no way that guy will ever be pushed out. Anyways, he can sell himself on coming back to coach a team with actual QBs in the next few years.

As dubious as it is to claim beating Texas is a statement win, I'm thinking Rhoads is safe for another year. Props to him for standing up to the fat man and insisting on Lanning. The young QB is clearly severely limited as a passer but he's electric on the move and the Cyclone run game is legit. Not sure what's going to happen as they play teams that load the box and dare Lanning to beat them from the pocket...actually I know exactly what will happen, they'll get whipped.

Charlie is safe for another year, I'll have more on that over at Inside Texas very soon this week.

I LOVE the hatred between TCU and Baylor in this rivalry, it's hilarious to observe, and this Patterson moment was a gift from the gods to Baylor fans.

From my observations of Patterson and brief interactions with him, he strikes me as a guy that basically always says what he's thinking and will say things aloud that others would stew on in silence. He basically has no filter and very little hesitation even to say things that reveal possible insecurities and questions within his own mind.

But what did we learn from this clip? First of all, that beating Baylor is a pressing issue on his mind. That may be something that coaches never want to admit, but if you didn't believe that was already true then you are completely naive. Of course it's a nagging question for him! Baylor is the ultimate test of his bonafides as a defensive genius and the main obstacle to his ultimate goal of winning big at TCU and proving himself on the biggest stage.

Given Patterson's willingness to very carefully and deliberately craft defensive game plans to target specific opponents I wouldn't be that excited about this revelation as a Baylor fan. When Patterson has doubts and fears his response is to pore over film until he has answers.

The second thing we learned from this clip is that Holgorsen seems to think TCU is a better team than Baylor, or at least that they are without Russell. That wouldn't fill me with joy as a Baylor fan either.

You could say he was just being nice but his body language seems to indicate otherwise.

As Texas fans are still slowly learning, there's a fine line between preparing a QB with meaningful and valuable experience and protecting his confidence. It's probably less of a fine line in Manhattan than in Austin but it's worth noting.

If his shirt is already burned I would try to get him as many snaps as I could in situations where he can build confidence and feel his oats in safe settings. Using him in a Wildcat package would seem to also serve to help the team reach bowl eligibility, which should be a priority for the benefit of bringing extra bowl practices for a very young team.

K-State needs a QB very badly for 2016 and it can't be Hubener, who's basically their version of a Case McCoy or Charlie Batch. If he's your back-up that's not terrible but your ceiling with him as a starter is just too low.

That wraps things up for this week, we'll check back next Monday after a fun weekend that will include:

-Stidham's first start
-Tech vs WV, loser is in some trouble
-TCU traveling to Stillwater and the end of someone's undefeated run
-A basic test of Mike Stoops' competency as OU faces Iowa State
-Me debating whether to bother watching Texas vs Kansas