Who has the best space force in the 2020 Big 12?

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
Keep up with the full 2020 space force series:
-The importance of wide receivers
-Ranking the league's receivers
-The importance of left tackles
-Ranking the league's left tackles
-The importance of cornerbacks
-Ranking the league's cornerbacks
-The evolution of the edge rusher

-Ranking the league's edge rushers

We've now wrapped up our series on the different space force positions and how they're used in the modern Big 12. To summarize for anyone coming in late, a team's space force is the athletes they have at positions it's exceptionally hard to hide a poor athlete. Offensive tackle (particularly left tackle), wide receiver, defensive end, and cornerback.

If you don't have smart quarterback play, good blocking, good fills at linebacker, positional soundness at safety, etc, then you aren't going to win games even if your space force is loaded with elite athletes. However, once a baseline is reached of competent play at those spots the 1-on-1 matchups in space tend to carry considerably more weight in determining the outcomes of games. If the end or outside backer is beating the tackle, the quarterback may not be able to make key situational plays. If the cornerbacks can't cover the wide receivers without considerable help that's going to hamstring the ability of the defense to stop anything else.

TCU had a theoretically strong space force in 2019, fielding NFL players at tackle (Lucas Niang), wide receiver (Jalen Reagor), and cornerback (Jeff Gladney) but couldn't make much of it because they didn't arrive at a baseline of competence elsewhere. Baylor was often barely competent along the offensive line and quarterback Charlie Brewer struggled to finish the season, but they were fantastic at receiver (Denzel Mims, Tyquan Thornton, RJ Sneed), solid at cornerback (Raleigh Texada, Jameson Houston), and dominant at rushing the passer with their defensive ends (James Lynch, James Lockhart).

Here's the summary of how everyone looks heading into the season:

Texas Longhorns

Left tackle: 1st
Wide receiver: 4th
Cornerback: 1st
Edge-rusher: 2nd


Texas had three major issues over the course of the last decade, and arguably two in particular. They tried to be a team oriented around the power run game despite being the flagship program of a spread-happy state and the richest program in a spread-happy conference. Yet they didn't have the pieces to be a power run team due to scores of missed offensive line evaluations and constant offensive staff turnover. The other big issue for Texas was related, they didn't leverage their positioning as the top recruiting program in the conference's most important state for talent to ensure that they had the best space force.

Texas had very few great left tackles this decade and overall, as @Scipio Tex recently noted in "Everyone gets a trophy," when they finally settled on a quarterback in Sam Ehlinger they've struggled to surround him with any NFL players. Ehlinger has played with three players thus far in his career that were drafted (that number will go up after 2020, obviously). He played with left tackle Connor Williams (2nd round) for four games in 2017, wide receiver Collin Johnson (5th round) for 26 games from 2017 to 2019, and Devin Duvernay (3rd round) for 27 games in 2018 and 2019.

One reason that Texas could, dare I say, "be back" in 2020 (or at least competitive like in 2018) is they are finally fielding high level talents at the space force positions. Every space force position save for wide receiver has highly promising, elite level athletes entering upperclassmen seasons with Sam Cosmi at left tackle, Joseph Ossai at jack linebacker, and D'Shawn Jamison at cornerback. At receiver they have a ton of young talent and the once ultra-promising Tarik Black from Michigan. If they hit on all four positions with senior Sam Ehlinger the prognosis for the season looks very good.

Oklahoma Sooners

Left tackle: 2nd
Wide receiver: 2nd
Cornerback: 2nd
Edge-rusher: 6th


Oklahoma has been in consistently strong position within their "space force" units most every year this decade, at least on offense. You can sense confidence growing out of Norman as their spring practices resolve despite the opt-outs, injuries, and what's rumored to be a COVID-depleted depth chart for the season opener against Missouri State.

Ultimately the Sooners just have too many high level athletes who have had a decent chance at development to consider them as anything other than the frontrunners (or co-frontrunners if you have any faith in Texas) for the Big 12 championship. I'm betting Adrian Ealy ultimately seizes the left tackle job, Charleston Rambo is due to surprise everyone when he's a featured target in Lincoln Riley's play-action game, and Tre Brown is an elite athlete who's now a third year starter at cornerback playing in a contract season. Nik Bonitto has even drawn great reviews from fall camp as the jack linebacker and many of the pieces seem to be in place for the Sooners to continue their annual tradition of embracing the Big 12's style and out-athleting everyone in space.

Iowa State Cyclones

Left tackle: 4th
Wide receiver: 3rd
Cornerback: 9th
Edge rusher: 4th


The 2019 Iowa State Cyclones had terrific quarterback play, owned the middle of the field with their tight ends and savvy senior slot Deshaunte Jones, and got up to their usual tricks with the flyover defense. What they lacked, and what stopped them from breaking through and having a chance to beat Baylor or Oklahoma (narrow losses), was their lack of athleticism at these positions.

Left tackle is a touch uncertain, but the have a pair of young talents in Joey Ramos and Grant Treiber emerging there that could upgrade their athleticism on the edge of the line. Wide receiver is likely to explode thanks to tight end Charlie Kolar, the movement of speedy Tarique Milton inside to the slot, and then the infusion of JUCO Xavier Hutchinson and the growth of some big, young receivers on the team like Sean Shaw. Cornerback will have experience but the Cyclones cover that position up. One of the real game changers here is the edge rush. Iowa State really lacked for a simple pass rush last season once they lost JaQuan Bailey to injury. He now returns and they also have Will McDonald, who had five sacks in three games down the stretch in 2019 after winning a job late as the third down defensive end.

Iowa State's disciplined, conservative approach on defense paired with a significantly improved pass-rush could be one of the main stories of the season.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Left tackle: 7th
Wide receivers: 1st
Cornerbacks: 8th
Edge rusher: 5th


The Cowboys have what's easily one of the most athletic teams in the Big 12, perhaps THE most athletic team in the Big 12, but a lot of that star power is concentrated in non-space force units. Quarterback Spencer Sanders is an elite athlete, as is running back Chuba Hubbard, and linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez and Amen Ogbongbemiga are well above average for their positions in terms of movement skills.

But left tackle will feature the road-grading Teven Jenkins and cornerback will evidently involve converted safety Jarrick Bernard. In the Big 12, typically when a player moves from safety to cornerback it's a harbinger of bad times ahead, excepting Aaron Colvin. The Cowboys do have the most terrifying wide receiving corps in the league, headlined by Tylan Wallace, and edge rusher Trace Ford is as explosive a pass-rusher as you'll find.

This team is pretty uneven overall both in terms of fielding athletes at the space force spots as well as in their infrastructure inside. The defensive line came along late in 2019 and needs to make a leap, the offensive line was gutted by offseason attrition, and it all may rest on how well Spencer Sanders has learned to pick his spots for when to dominate with athleticism and when to play it safe and live to fight another down.

Kansas State Wildcats

Left tackle: 8th
Wide receivers: 9th
Cornerbacks: 3rd
Edge rushers: 3rd


The Wildcats are fairly unique in the Big 12 for how their strategic approach to winning football games. Whereas the Cyclones have leaned into the supply of linebackers and tight ends across the Midwest and plugged them into a spread system, the Wildcats are much more old school with their offense. Power running, tight ends and fullbacks that block like traditional bludgeons, and play-action with those players slipping down the field.

Left tackle saw a surprise when big Kaitori Leveston surged in fall camp to win the job over spring favorites Christian Duffie and Cooper Beebe. Leveston was the left tackle for the Waco Midway 6A D2 state runner-up team quarterbacked by Oklahoma's Tanner Mordecai. If the light has come on for him it's hard to know what he might be capable of, he's certainly a bigger and better athlete than some would expect to see at K-State. Their wide receivers are actually pretty solid, or will be if Malik Knowles makes the expected leap, but they aren't special in a league stocked with great receivers.

Defensively the Wildcats are quietly very strong and comfortable in space. Cornerback A.J. Parker demonstrated he could play man coverage in 2019 and edge-rushers Wyatt Hubert and Khalid Duke are special.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Left tackle: 6th
Wide receivers: 5th
Cornerbacks: 6th
Edge rushers: 1st


Dana Holgorsen may have left a precarious situation behind for the 2019 season with all three top receivers leaving (one drafted), the quarterback leaving, a left tackle drafted, and then a good pass-rushing linebacker (David Long) and dual threat tight end (Trevon Wesco) also drafted from the team. The cupboard wasn't bare at West Virginia though, the fresh ingredients just weren't ripe yet. They will likely be much more table ready in 2020.

Left tackle will still be an adventure after losing another NFL player in Colton McKivitz but the up and comers are legitimate athletes (Junior Uzebu and Brandon Yates), cornerback welcomes big JUCO Dreshun Miller and athletic Nicktroy Fortune, young receivers like Sam James and Sean Ryan are a year older, and the defensive pass-rush looks like the class of the league. This team is a better run game and growth from quarterback Jarrett Doege away from shocking some teams in 2020.

Baylor Bears

Left tackle: 3rd
Wide receivers: 8th
Cornerbacks: 5th
Edge rushers: 8th


I underestimated the Baylor wide receiving corps in these rankings, it was hard to differentiate between the ability of their receivers and the capacity of Charlie Brewer in the second half of the season to throw the ball more than 30 yards in the air on a line. Tyquan Thornton is the kind of guy everyone wants to put in the boundary and RJ Sneed is a reliable chain mover. Left tackle should be much firmer with Connor Galvin healthy and back. If Charlie Brewer is healthy this season, or one of his replacements is ready to take over, the offense could make a leap.

Things look tough on defense. Previous unknown Ashton Logan ended up taking the edge rushing spot from Arkansas State grad transfer William Bradley-King and the composition of their depth chart suggests that Dave Aranda is going to try and blitz the Big 12, which is virtually never a good idea.

TCU Horned Frogs

Left tackle: 5th
Wide receivers: 10th
Cornerbacks: 4th
Edge rushers: 9th


TCU has a team with an uneven composition similar to what you find at Oklahoma State but now without the athletic, promising second-year quarterback to potentially paper over some of the issues. They have athletes at the edge-rushing spots but very little production to show for it and a lot of scrambling in practice to orient the roster. I think their best case scenario there is to play the 3-down, flyover defense most of the time and use LSU transfer Marcel Brooks as the jack linebacker with the now thicker Ochaun Mathis opposite him. That could yield a nice rise up the rankings for pass-rush, the other defensive spots for this team are excellent, assuming Noah Daniels is back on form at corner.

The offense is an absolute mess. They're moving athletic Austin Myers out to tackle where he's yet to show a particular mastery of the kick step while protecting what's going to be either walk-on quarterback Matthew Downing or unvetted JUCO Stephon Brown. Downing is somewhere in between pre-injured 2019 Charlie Brewer and post-injured 2019 Charlie Brewer, probably leaning toward the latter, while Brown is a big, strong athlete who may or may not have any idea of how to execute their passing game. They do have some dangerous slots with Taye Barber and JD Spielman but it'll be hard to create space for them unless they can hold attention in the boundary and they don't have any proven options for doing so.

Kansas Jayhawks

Left tackle: 9th
Wide receivers: 7th
Cornerbacks: 10th
Edge rushers: 10th


Kansas is mostly just young. This is going to be the first time in years that they've even had a real roster to work with after Charlie Weiss gutted their numbers years ago with a massive infusion of JUCOs in an effort to save his job.

They have new guys stepping in to provide tackle protection and edge rush, they seem fairly promising but we'll have to wait and see. They've tended to do a fairly good job of finding and developing skill athletes on both offense and defense but could be hurt by the unavailability of Louisiana cornerback Corione Harris due to off field issues. Wide receivers Stephan Brown and Andrew Parchment are legitimately good, my main interest in this team in 2019 will be how offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon continues to develop the offense and if/when they allow freshman Jalon Daniels to take the helm at quarterback.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Left tackle: 10th
Wide receivers: 6th
Cornerbacks: 7th
Edge rushers: 7th


Things look really bad here, except at wide receiver where the Red Raiders have a pair of big outside weapons. If TCU could trade for TJ Vasher or Erik Ezukanma from the Tech receiving corps they'd probably overpay to make it happen. Left tackle is a big mess, although the interior O-line is great, freshman phenom Adrian Frye can't seem to hold down a cornerback job with this coaching staff, and there's no edge rusher to speak of on the entire roster. Unless you count 4i-technique Eli Howard.

Tech fans should consider following Jeff Traylor's UTSA this season, or Jake Spavital's Texas State. I think the Red Raiders will be in the market for a new head coach whenever it's financially feasible after this season.

Thoughts? Which space force is best?
 

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
Would feel a lot better about our spot if Troy O was healthy or Eagles had made the jump, but also feels like there's so many options there, with so much support (QB, LT, improved scheme, RB) that someone in the WR room will step up to the level required.
 

mattwson

Member
Aug 4, 2020
6
3
0
Wow, there really is a huge dropoff from OU and Texas to the rest of the big 12 in terms of "complete" teams. OU's Average position ranking is 3rd, UT's average position ranking is 2nd. Everyone else's average ranking drops considerably.
 

clayinva

Member
Sep 9, 2020
24
29
0
I don't disagree with any of the placements based on proven performance. It would be interesting to see the end of year rankings in comparison to the game standings (assuming most of a season gets played). How much variance from the rankings/perceived rankings vs the final record is there?

I do wonder about there being an additional dimension as well - what are the ceiling and floor for some of the teams based on depth and potential for breakout players. As an example, at receiver Texas could easily jump a few positions and probably would have a floor of around 4 or 5 at any of those positions. So worst case scenario barring horrific injury/COVID luck, they have somewhere between the best and third best overall units.

OTOH Oklahoma State at tackle, corner and edge probably doesn't have much room to grow. They might top out at 4th or 5th best unit. The teams at the bottom don't really have much upside either - hard to see TCU, TT or KU breaking through at multiple positions. I don't see a scenario where Iowa State ends up much higher either.

Some of the middle tier teams like WVU with decent depth, numbers to find potential breakout players, and no glaring weaknesses could be where the real dark horse contenders come from. K-State too - health at WR and at least numbers to find a decent LT give them a chance.
 

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
V2.

View attachment 60798

@Ian Boyd - this is giving an even weighting to each position - but I suspect you may rank the importance of the positions themselves? If you were to weight the 4, distributing 100 points, I can then give weighted averages?

An example would be CB - 35, WR - 30, LT - 25, Edge - 20 = 100 ttl.
Those tables are awesome.

I'm not sure how I would weight them, that's a tough question. My main goal wasn't so much to create a quantifiable system so much as to outline the matchups that I think will dictate games. I'll work this season on demonstrating how space force matchups dictate games.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bHero

bHero

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Jan 19, 2012
48,815
86,177
0
Keller
barkingcarnival.fantake.com
Would feel a lot better about our spot if Troy O was healthy or Eagles had made the jump, but also feels like there's so many options there, with so much support (QB, LT, improved scheme, RB) that someone in the WR room will step up to the level required.
I think it's telling that Moore's moved from slot to Z, definitely seems like Yurcich is going maximize our roster. We've got 2 twitched up athletes at slot and field, with veteran Black on the boundary, who, at 6'4, has a 4.08 SS time himself (elite).

Yurcich has a technician as a WR Coach, a CFB-leading senior QB, 1st round pick at LT, and 3 stud RBs ... he's probably in OC heaven.
 

bHero

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Jan 19, 2012
48,815
86,177
0
Keller
barkingcarnival.fantake.com
Those tables are awesome.

I'm not sure how I would weight them, that's a tough question. My main goal wasn't so much to create a quantifiable system so much as to outline the matchups that I think will dictate games. I'll work this season on demonstrating how space force matchups dictate games.
Excellent. It's still ringing in my ears the moneyball analysis that was done last year (or the year before), the determined that CB tackles/pbus were a larger indicator of defensive success than DL or LB metrics. That was a sea change in my mentality.

I'm also curious what your take is on the sentiment out there than newer offenses are focusing more on preventing interior penetration vs outside?
 

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
Excellent. It's still ringing in my ears the moneyball analysis that was done last year (or the year before), the determined that CB tackles/pbus were a larger indicator of defensive success than DL or LB metrics. That was a sea change in my mentality.

I'm also curious what your take is on the sentiment out there than newer offenses are focusing more on preventing interior penetration vs outside?
As in, tackles bad, PBUs good for CBs, I assume?
 

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
I need to go find it.... for me the takeaway is that the best defenses are built from the secondary forward in the new age vs the DL back....
For sure, I'm just curious about the specific, as I would generally assume CBs making tackles is a sign of a play downfield (not always of course, as we saw against OSU from our guys crashing the wide runs).

PBUs seem like a stat that is entirely positive (besides the potential missed INT if it was really a dropped pick), while a tackle we see as good in aggregate but most explosive plays still end in a tackle made somewhere on the field, and it's obviously not a good thing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stilesbbq and bHero

bHero

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Jan 19, 2012
48,815
86,177
0
Keller
barkingcarnival.fantake.com
For sure, I'm just curious about the specific, as I would generally assume CBs making tackles is a sign of a play downfield (not always of course, as we saw against OSU from our guys crashing the wide runs).

PBUs seem like a stat that is entirely positive (besides the potential missed INT if it was really a dropped pick), which a tackle we see as good in aggregate but most explosive plays still end in a tackle made somewhere on the field, and it's obviously not a good thing.
Agree - I think it was due to demonstrating the ability to stop the pass first vs stop the run. But I'll go find it this week and drop it in the flyover board.
 

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
Excellent. It's still ringing in my ears the moneyball analysis that was done last year (or the year before), the determined that CB tackles/pbus were a larger indicator of defensive success than DL or LB metrics. That was a sea change in my mentality.

I'm also curious what your take is on the sentiment out there than newer offenses are focusing more on preventing interior penetration vs outside?
That analysis was part of what pushed me down the space force theories. That and noticing that the best pro-spread offenses would consistently win in the college football playoffs.

The RPO/play-action spread offenses are very difficult to beat with edge rush on standard downs, the ball is either getting out fast or they're using the TE and RB in max protection to make it nearly impossible to get to the QB quickly. What matters is preventing a quick, inside rush that can thwart the QB's ability to dropback and throw to a spot on the field.
 

btown1110

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Jan 23, 2012
16,955
23,833
0
Wow, TCU is likely going to have a really tough go of it this year if they are feckless on offense. They'll be playing ISU coming off presumably two lost weeks due to covid quarantine, won't have played a game while ISU will get a nice G5 tune-up and then catches Texas the following week who will have played their scrimmage and then got a decent, but non-threatening, offensive test (while getting another tune-up game for their own offense) from Tech.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Boyd

bHero

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Jan 19, 2012
48,815
86,177
0
Keller
barkingcarnival.fantake.com
That analysis was part of what pushed me down the space force theories. That and noticing that the best pro-spread offenses would consistently win in the college football playoffs.

The RPO/play-action spread offenses are very difficult to beat with edge rush on standard downs, the ball is either getting out fast or they're using the TE and RB in max protection to make it nearly impossible to get to the QB quickly. What matters is preventing a quick, inside rush that can thwart the QB's ability to dropback and throw to a spot on the field.
Our interior goes 6'6 294, 6'5 310, 6'4, 315. Seems pretty good.... but a bit light.

LSU - 6'3, 315, 6'3 346, 6'5 365
OU - 6'5 350, 6'5 320, 6'3 335
UGA - 6'4 330, 6'4 330, 6'6 350
 

Inanehorn

Member Who Talks
Mar 3, 2015
458
997
0
44
For me the most questionable rankings for Texas are CB and WR. I think we are probably too high at both. I'm not saying those rankings won't end up being accurate, but heading to the season I think they might be too divorced from last year's performance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Boyd

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
For me the most questionable rankings for Texas are CB and WR. I think we are probably too high at both. I'm not saying those rankings won't end up being accurate, but heading to the season I think they might be too divorced from last year's performance.
I think this is fair, particularly in a vacuum.

The question then becomes how much does having the most experienced QB help the WRs, and a dominant DL help the CBs? I would say a lot, although I understand the point of the exercise is to evaluate individually. However I think with those crutches in place, the actual results will match up with the high rankings.
 

Inanehorn

Member Who Talks
Mar 3, 2015
458
997
0
44
I think this is fair, particularly in a vacuum.

The question then becomes how much does having the most experienced QB help the WRs, and a dominant DL help the CBs? I would say a lot, although I understand the point of the exercise is to evaluate individually. However I think with those crutches in place, the actual results will match up with the high rankings.
Agreed the QB will definitely elevate the WRs I figure. Where it gets more iffy to me is all the talk about Texas DL being dominant. The returning TFLs and sack production isn't there and I get different scheme and positioning, but its not like we have returning production which more obviously projects. West Virgina might have a better DL.
 

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
Agreed the QB will definitely elevate the WRs I figure. Where it gets more iffy to me is all the talk about Texas DL being dominant. The returning TFLs and sack production isn't there and I get different scheme and positioning, but its not like we have returning production which more obviously projects. West Virgina might have a better DL next year.
I dont think you can use things like last years sacks as projection. Ossai matched a whole season's worth of production in one bowl game.

I think where we're really gonna shine there is the interior pressure, which is really the only place these offenses are vulnerable besides in passing situations, as Ian has mentioned. Coburn isnt gonna get 10 sacks as a Nose, but he's going to force a lot of uncomfortable throws that will then put us into passing downs.

I think we will be almost uniquely well set up to stop these offenses on 1st and 2nd down. I think unless the SDE and the second and third cover guys are really good we won't be as good in pure passing downs, but that's also where a lot of offenses also lose their advantages. Ideally its our strength beating theirs (1st and 2nd down) which then forces a lot of third downs. Even fighting to a draw there means a lot of stops. We kept OU and LSU around or under 50% third down conversions last year. If most drives require multiple 3rd down conversions to score the math is really in our favor.

From there teams will go to attacking us more aggressively on early downs, but that also becomes boom or bust. If you give up a sack or a hold on 1st down trying to take a shot that series is likely shot from the start.
 

stilesbbq

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Oct 2, 2019
1,462
4,424
0
Is being able to consistently generate interior pressure preferential to have a single dominant edge rusher? I wonder if it is easier to design help to OTs than pinching protections.

Is it better to have a Suh on your team or a Von Miller?
 

Inanehorn

Member Who Talks
Mar 3, 2015
458
997
0
44
I dont think you can use things like last years sacks as projection. Ossai matched a whole season's worth of production in one bowl game.

I think where we're really gonna shine there is the interior pressure, which is really the only place these offenses are vulnerable besides in passing situations, as Ian has mentioned. Coburn isnt gonna get 10 sacks as a Nose, but he's going to force a lot of uncomfortable throws that will then put us into passing downs.

I think we will be almost uniquely well set up to stop these offenses on 1st and 2nd down. I think unless the SDE and the second and third cover guys are really good we won't be as good in pure passing downs, but that's also where a lot of offenses also lose their advantages. Ideally its our strength beating theirs (1st and 2nd down) which then forces a lot of third downs. Even fighting to a draw there means a lot of stops.
Good point about interior pressure. My point about projection was trying to say Sam Cosmi for example is a known quantity as the best tackle in the conference. Him coming back makes it super easy to project he'll be really good. Whereas our dline last year generated very little pressure along the interior or otherwise. We both understand they were often in unfavorable positions, but it takes more projection for us to say they will do so this year. Whereas the Stills brothers were really good at it last year, and will be again. I agree there's a good chance the Texas DL will perform better this year, but how good will that be. Will ultimately Texas have a better defense than Iowa St or TCU? I think that requires some optimistic thinking, which might turn out to be right. I'm just not sure Texas DL is even going to be the best in the conference.
 

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
Good point about interior pressure. My point about projection was trying to say Sam Cosmi for example is a known quantity as the best tackle in the conference. Him coming back makes it super easy to project he'll be really good. Whereas our dline last year generated very little pressure along the interior or otherwise. We both understand they were often in unfavorable positions, but it takes more projection for us to say they will do so this year. Whereas the Stills brothers were really good at it last year, and will be again. I agree there's a good chance the Texas DL will perform better this year, but how good will that be. Will ultimately Texas have another better defense than Iowa St or TCU? I think that requires some optimistic thinking, which might turn out to be right. I'm just not sure Texas DL is even going to be the best in the conference.
The line generated a lot of pressure, it just never lead to anything because there was an open receiver or escape lane. I made a point of watching Coburn when replaying games and he was consistently winning.

Cosmi is a good example though, we know he's a good pass blocker, and we've heard even he has gotten beat by Jones a couple times in scrimmages. Haven't actually heard much on Ossai directly but all the reports project a ton of confidence in him, which I assume means he's also getting some wins against guys we know are objectively good (Cosmi).

Just having a guy like Cosmi there to measure the bar against gives me a lot of confidence the line is objectively good, not just beating up a purely bad O line. That's not something we've consistently had.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Inanehorn

Inanehorn

Member Who Talks
Mar 3, 2015
458
997
0
44
The line generated a lot of pressure, it just never lead to anything because there was an open receiver or escape lane. I made a point of watching Coburn when replaying games and he was consistently winning.
That's an interesting observation. I'm possibly jaded from my latest rewatch was the Iowa St game. They were run blocking us with more ease than I had remembered, made me question some things.
 

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
Is being able to consistently generate interior pressure preferential to have a single dominant edge rusher? I wonder if it is easier to design help to OTs than pinching protections.

Is it better to have a Suh on your team or a Von Miller?
The best guy is maybe a fellow like Watt or Hubert that can move around and whip whoever the weakest OL is. If that's the RT? Great. If it's the LG, also fine, he can rush from either spot.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bHero and stilesbbq

clayinva

Member
Sep 9, 2020
24
29
0
The best guy is maybe a fellow like Watt or Hubert that can move around and whip whoever the weakest OL is. If that's the RT? Great. If it's the LG, also fine, he can rush from either spot.
I've long wondered if there couldn't some advantage to putting your best pass rusher against the right tackle on some of the obvious passing downs. You lose some opportunity for blindside sacks, but matching a good pass rusher against a generally less proficient pass blocker could be more disruptive by creating visible pressure for the QB. Could you get more passes thrown away or thrown early, or more scrambles when the QB really had another second to let a receiver get open? It wouldn't make sense against the really mobile QBs, but against a QB who generally won't kill you with his legs it could pay off.
 

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
I've long wondered if there couldn't some advantage to putting your best pass rusher against the right tackle on some of the obvious passing downs. You lose some opportunity for blindside sacks, but matching a good pass rusher against a generally less proficient pass blocker could be more disruptive by creating visible pressure for the QB. Could you get more passes thrown away or thrown early, or more scrambles when the QB really had another second to let a receiver get open? It wouldn't make sense against the really mobile QBs, but against a QB who generally won't kill you with his legs it could pay off.
Go watch Chase Young's highlights.
 

4ormore2orless

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Oct 29, 2008
6,210
2,711
0
The best guy is maybe a fellow like Watt or Hubert that can move around and whip whoever the weakest OL is. If that's the RT? Great. If it's the LG, also fine, he can rush from either spot.
If TQ has added a little burst, he could be a situational “rover”. And I’m referring to mismatches more than down and distance - like you were...

CB’s #1??? New technique, smaller vs big WRs blocking.... If you are right, we’ll be real salty.
 

4ormore2orless

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Oct 29, 2008
6,210
2,711
0
@Ian Boyd
Also saw your mention of Spavital at the end of the TT comments. Man, I know it was only one game, but vs a deeper, more athletic SMU team, the good coaching just jumped off the screen. Physical, clean for a first game etc.... And granted, vs an outmatched Navy squad, but the BYU coaching staff showed it too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Boyd

travisroeder

Member
Aug 6, 2020
82
100
0
Interesting to see them all stacked up. Thanks for doing this, Ian. Immense amount of work. Kudos to not digging in your heels on the Baylor wideouts!
 
  • Like
Reactions: sherf1

sherf1

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Dec 8, 2018
8,268
25,254
0
That's what I'm saying though, go watch where his sacks came from and he'll appear more mortal.

Tends to be true of a lot of pass rushers, a lot of their best plays aren't even the highlights, because D line play is so tied to the offensive play call and the rest of your guys also doing their job.

But in the DE vs CB debate, i look at it like this. A great DE (lets take prime JJ Watt as the most extreme example). His best years were around 50 hits and 20 sacks. So that's 70 passing play wins, with a lot of pressures that likely affected the play as well. In a season the Texans would face around 480 passing plays (16*30 per game), so even the absolute best is getting a win on about 15% of the available plays and probably making an impact on another 20%.

I don't have CB stats off hand, but Revis would go entire games without getting targeted. Teams throw at Gilmore but his opponent QBR when targeted is super low. They might struggle against an elite WR (Moss on Revis, Hopkins beat up GIlmore a bit last year), but against the majority of teams, they basically win every play, some of them before the ball is even snapped because the QB isn't looking that way even if the receiver gets some room. In terms of play to play impact, an elite CB wins at likely the highest rate of any direct battle on the football field.

And the final point, you can manufacture pressure with scheme, you can't scheme your way past not being able to play man coverage, besides just not playing man coverage. To me it's really not even a contest.
 

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
21,876
67,322
0
Ypsilanti, MI
Tends to be true of a lot of pass rushers, a lot of their best plays aren't even the highlights, because D line play is so tied to the offensive play call and the rest of your guys also doing their job.

But in the DE vs CB debate, i look at it like this. A great DE (lets take prime JJ Watt as the most extreme example). His best years were around 50 hits and 20 sacks. So that's 70 passing play wins, with a lot of pressures that likely affected the play as well. In a season the Texans would face around 480 passing plays (16*30 per game), so even the absolute best is getting a win on about 15% of the available plays and probably making an impact on another 20%.

I don't have CB stats off hand, but Revis would go entire games without getting targeted. Teams throw at Gilmore but his opponent QBR when targeted is super low. They might struggle against an elite WR (Moss on Revis, Hopkins beat up GIlmore a bit last year), but against the majority of teams, they basically win every play, some of them before the ball is even snapped because the QB isn't looking that way even if the receiver gets some room. In terms of play to play impact, an elite CB wins at likely the highest rate of any direct battle on the football field.

And the final point, you can manufacture pressure with scheme, you can't scheme your way past not being able to play man coverage, besides just not playing man coverage. To me it's really not even a contest.
Yes.

This is why Belichik prioritizes DBs over pass-rushers year after year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sherf1