Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Checking in on the Big 12 after week 8

In my estimation, week 8 was pretty ho-hum in the Big 12 unless you didn't already trust trends like Oklahoma finding ways to outscore everyone, Texas blowing it on the road, or West Virginia proving to be legit.

Here were a few highlights I took away from the weekend's events

Patrick Mahomes night in Lubbock was pretty amazing and fun to observe if you're not an Oklahoma fan. A line of 88 passes for 734 yards, five TD passes, 1 INT, 12 rushes for 85 rushing yards, and two rushing TDs is simply an amazing thing.

There's a lot of criticism floating around out there against Texas Tech from people saying that you can't win football games having your quarterback throw 88 times and leaving your defense out to dry...well they came pretty close. What's more, Oklahoma was a 19.5 point favorite and had a lot of advantages in this contest.

Coming at the Tech strategy from the perspective of "well they came within seven points, what would have put them over the top?" is reasoning backwards from the conclusion. Particularly when your takeaway is that the only thing that gave Tech a chance, which was Mahomes doing insane things, was part of the problem.

I'm going to pause now and note that Brent Venables' strategy for Tech would have been to bring an endless array of blitzes that aimed to keep Mahomes from winning the edge while sitting good tacklers in the middle of the field to run him down if he was flushed up the middle. You can get burned deep playing like that, but if you're going to try and win in a shootout anyways you might as well take the risk of getting burned in exchange for shutting Tech out on multiple possessions.

Anyways it all worked out for the Sooners and so long as Okoronkwo is back after the Kansas game I anticipate they'll continue to find ways to make enough stops to allow their now no. 1 rated O (per S&P+) to win them shootouts.

Mahomes is now at:

360 passes for 3313 yards, 9.2 yards per attempt, 26 TDs, and 6 INTs with
75 rushes for 237 yards and nine TDs (before taking out sack yardage).

He might be the most dominant QB the Big 12 has seen since Vince Young. Later on we're going to have to talk about that Red Raider defense, which is not fulfilling David Gibbs' mission to complement Mahomes by generating turnovers.

Mahomes may have been hampered by injury when he played against West Virginia but Kenny Hill wasn't and the Mountaineers shut him down. Only 4.8 yards per pass for an ordinarily explosive Horned Frog passing game against Tony Gibson's "all or nothing" defense.

If you listened to that full show with Jeff Postus that I was featured on you'll have heard a Mountaineer insider talk about how Florida transfer Will Grier has looked in practices at West Virginia. When you add up the Mountaineers great season, the program and staff they have in place on offense and defense, and the returning talent in 2017 you have a convincing case for Dana Holgorsen to stick around in Morgantown.

In the meantime, I've got the Mountaineers as the 2nd most likely team to win the Big 12 behind Oklahoma. Keep in mind that this team is playing both Baylor and Oklahoma at home.

I recently broke down Texas' abysmal performance in run defense over the last few years and particularly in Manhattan last Saturday at Inside Texas, so let's talk a little Wildcat football.

The Kansas State D played Texas reasonably well, although they bit on the customary "wheel route to Devin Duvernay" that seems to generate exactly six points every single week for Texas. The Wildcat strategy was very predictable as they alternated between playing off coverage on the boundary and dropping Kendall Adams in the box or playing him in cover 2 while playing off to the field to allow Dante Barnett to attack the box.

Either way, they played to contain the run and prevented Texas RB D'Onta Foreman from explosive runs although they couldn't deny him his typical 100+ yard rushing day.

The Wildcats probably win this game in a blowout if Jesse Ertz is healthy and doesn't turn the ball over twice down the stretch. Overall the Wildcats looked solid and I'd say there's a chance they make some noise down the stretch if Ertz is healthy and on track. They should be able to beat Iowa State in Ames on Saturday and Kansas at home, which would give them four conference wins. Their other games are Oklahoma State in Manhattan, Baylor in Waco, and TCU in Ft. Worth.

Winning 2 out of 3 from that slate would be really impressive. The big question though is what Bill Snyder will do. Will he finish strong and stick around one more year to coach a 2017 offense that will return Ertz, Pringle, Heath, 4/5 of the OL, and most of the backs? Or will he choose to retire?

If he retires, will Jerry Kill be the one making the call on how to replace him? If so, I've an inkling of who the next coach in Manhattan will be.

My sense of how week nine in the Big 12 will go:

Baylor comes out of the gate and puts a hurting on Texas, the Longhorns are unable to get back in the game. More on this later in the week at Inside Texas.

Texas Tech comes up short once more in their road trip to Ft. Worth.

OU looks to heal up at multiple positions but still destroys Kansas because Joe Mixon is the best player on the field.

If West Virginia is going to drop a road game this will be the one. Mike Gundy will have a good plan for attacking Gibson's defense but the question is whether Oklahoma State has enough athletes to stop the Mountaineer offense? More on this at Seventh Day Adventure later this week.


  1. I think WVU at Oklahoma State is going to be a replay of the Mountaineers game against Texas Tech. The Cowboys are going to get in scoring position on 2/3rds of their drives, and then run into the strength of the West Virginia defense: covering a compressed field. And Gundy is going to have to solve the riddle that Tech couldn't in converting those opportunities into touchdowns against Gibson's defense. That's going to be the tough part. I have full faith in Gundy getting his offense into West Virginia territory early and often, but bearish on Rudolph being able to make the tight throws necessarily to come away with TDs when they do. Maybe Gundy and Rudolph will surprise me (wouldn't be the first time), but I'm not optimistic.

    1. That's where they miss that JW Walsh red zone package.

    2. Shows what I know. The Cowboys landed in scoring position on 8/12 drives (as predicted) and then did a very good job of coming away with points (totally wrong).

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