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

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