- David Ubben, College Football
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We haven't done this in awhile, but it's always interesting to look back at how each Big 12 team stacks up when it comes to big plays. We'll look at both sides of the ball this week on the blog, as well as what it all meant in the standings, too. Let's just start with the offense for now. Here's how many plays longer than 20 yards each Big 12 team logged last season.
Oklahoma State -- 92
Baylor -- 86
West Virginia -- 70
Texas Tech -- 68
TCU -- 60
Kansas State -- 59
Texas -- 59
Oklahoma -- 54
Iowa State -- 44
Kansas -- 40
Lots to chew on here. A few thoughts:
Nobody was surprised when Oklahoma State led the league in this stat in 2011. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon were two of the Big 12's biggest talents, and cleared the way for Joseph Randle to do a whole lot of damage, too. But this year? OSU ranked fifth nationally in total offense, and you have to also consider the number of plays they ran (we'll get to that later), but this is a "Wow!" stat. Josh Stewart proved to be a big talent, but with all the quarterback injuries this season, this is one more reason to be encouraged at the program's future. It is also another clear reason why OSU is holding on with white knuckles to this system, despite having their second offensive coordinator in three years to run what Dana Holgorsen installed.
Speaking of Holgorsen, it's a little surprising to see WVU that far behind Baylor on the list. The Mountaineers had the most dangerous players in the league, and I thought I'd chalk it up to Baylor's ability to run the ball versus West Virginia's weakness in that area, but Baylor had just 24 running plays longer than 20 yards, compared to 18 from WVU. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are more adept at getting open underneath defenses, though both can stretch the field. Baylor is better than anybody with the long ball.
More evidence of that? Terrance Williams led the league with 32 plays longer than 20 yards, ahead of Bailey (24) and Austin (23) at the Nos. 2 and 3 spot.
It felt like KU's offense made some strides in this area this year with Tony Pierson, but the grinding style with James Sims showed up. KU had just 36 plays longer than 20 yards in the 2-10 season under Turner Gill. Putting up 40 this year isn't much of a difference, and it's obvious how far behind the rest of the league the Jayhawks are.
On that note, you can see where Iowa State's inconsistency at quarterback showed up here. Tough to get a ton of big plays consistently if you don't have a quarterback who can deliver it. All four of the top teams have that.
Another team who does have that, but didn't have a ton of big plays this year? That's a little shaky for Oklahoma. The running game occasionally broke free with Damien Williams, but you can chalk this one up to a running game without explosiveness. Oklahoma's 10 runs longer than 20 yards were fewer than every team in the Big 12. For the folks wondering why the Sooners' offensive line coach James Patton was headed out the door in favor of WVU's Bill Bedenbaugh, that number likely has something to do with it.
Props to TCU, who lacked an experienced quarterback and a high-tempo offense but still found a way to log 60 plays on this list. I've got no idea how they did that, and I'm as shocked as you are to see that up there, but it's impressive regardless. It's worth noting that 23 of those came in the first month of the season, but the 37 over the rest of the year isn't a huge difference. Impressive.
The biggest flaw in the raw numbers is not everybody in the Big 12 runs the same number of plays because the pace varies so much. Here's how the numbers break down in percentages. This is the percentage of each team's plays that went for longer than 20 yards. I'd say this is your definitive number on just how explosive your team's offense is:
Oklahoma State: 9.1 percent
Baylor: 8.02 percent
Kansas State: 7.02 percent
West Virginia: 6.99 percent
Texas Tech: 6.85 percent
Texas: 6.62 percent
TCU: 6.56 percent
Oklahoma: 5.37 percent
Iowa State: 4.77 percent
Kansas: 4.59 percent
We haven't done this in awhile, but it's always interesting to look back at how each Big 12 team stacks up when it comes to big plays. We'll look at both sides of the ball this week on the blog, as well as what it all meant in the standings, too.