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.

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