Who won week 8 in the Big 12?

Ian Boyd

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When Oklahoma benched Spencer Rattler, rolled with Tanner Mordecai for half the second quarter in the Red River Shootout, settled in, and then nearly blew out Texas down the stretch but for a late Sam Ehlinger push, I think we all knew that was a turning point.

The Sooners had a bye week after the RRS and have now absolutely squashed TCU and Texas Tech in succession. Texas Tech’s decision to move on to Henry Colombi to try and boost their run game was, of course, the absolutely wrong decision. Alex Grinch has worked out pretty solid solutions to PA/RPO spread schemes and Tre Norwood came back out of the woodworks to pick off a pair of passes in relief of Dellarin Turner-Yell. Hard to see Oklahoma missing the Big 12 Championship game, especially with Ronnie Perkins back on the defensive line where he can smoke some of the league’s weaker linemen.

Things will come down to Bedlam of course, but I may have been wrong about Farmageddon serving as the other defacto playoff game. West Virginia shut down Deuce Vaughn and consequently erased the Wildcat offense from the face of the earth. The Wildcats have time to adjust and now only hold one L in conference play but it’s now going to be a mad scramble between them, Iowa State, and Texas down the stretch.

Let’s talk about some things we saw on Saturday.

The curious case of Charlie Brewer

I’ve been tracking Charlie Brewer’s relative health from week to week for about a year now. It’s a strangely fascinating topic with all kinds of twists and turns. Heading into this game I suggested TCU needed to employ the “blueprint” which I’ve been attributing to Mike Gundy back in 2018 but I can recall also being employed against Shane Buechele and Texas back in 2016 and really against Jarrett Stidham and the Bears by Mike Stoops of all people in 2015.

The blueprint defense is basically to cheat the boundary, play man coverage to the short-side receivers with a safety over the top even if it means losing a hash or even middle of the field safety against receivers to the wide side. It’s not just beat up Brewer who will struggle to beat man coverage to the wide side of the field, those are long throws for everyone and it’s hard to force the ball into those windows with a strong arm and good protection. TCU’s Andy Dalton-era teams made a living on hitting slants and hitches outside against the spacing defenses regularly concede out there.

Anyways, I suggested if TCU didn’t employ the blueprint against this beat up Brewer we’ve been watching then Gary Patterson might as well hang up his sweat towels and retire. Saturday brought a few revelations on this front.

First of all, check out this play:


TCU is playing cover 2 to the boundary and then their typical “bracket the inside slot and leave the strong safety on an island against the outer slot” coverage against a trips formation. That coverage has been exposed so many times in the Big 12 by the “mills” or “dig-post” combination I’ve written so many times about. Sure enough, Baylor dials it up again here and Brewer hits the throw!

It wasn’t a one-off either:


This is “dagger” which is almost a reversal of dig-post. The inner slot runs a go up the seam and then the outer slot runs a dig underneath him. The Frog safety falls over and Brewer has a pocket to step into for a shot over the middle.

At times against TCU, this looked more like the old Brewer before injuries in 2019. The Brewer who wasn’t going to be able to play in the NFL due to lack of arm strength but still had the savvy, athleticism, and accuracy to absolutely carve up defenses at the college level.

Beyond all this, I received some additional intel from a Baylor fan who attended the game. He was able to see Brewer receiving treatment on the sideline for his throwing hand. He evidently injured it against Kansas and it has yet to be able to heal properly. This easily explains everything, if he can’t grip the ball tightly enough he’ll never be able to “grip it and rip it” and fling the ball down the field with the kind of tight spiral you need.

However it also indicates that should his hand heal properly, we could see a return of the old Brewer. The old Brewer is worth starting and can absolutely weaponize the Bear skill talent in this Larry Fedora-Jorge Munoz fusion offense. I’m sure everyone else is as fascinated by this storyline as I am and will hang on for weekly updates ;)

West Virginia erases Deuce Vaughn

Stopping Deuce Vaughn in the run game isn’t really so difficult, not with a defensive line and linebackers like they have at West Virginia. What has made Kansas State so difficult to solve this season is when they get into pro-spread sets and can hammer the inside with Vaughn and tight end Briley Moore matched up on linebackers. It’s not even really enough to shade help inside, they’re still difficult to cover.

Well, West Virginia had some solutions. For one, they had a lot of eyes on Vaughn, you never saw him drifting out of the backfield or flexed without surrounding defenders keeping eyes on him to avoid giving him easy angles and space.

Then they also utilized some tactics like this:


At first glance you see that and say, “oh nice throw. And what a coverage bust!” Look more closely. West Virginia is dropping NINE into coverage and absolutely surrounding Briley Moore and Deuce Vaughn with defenders underneath so there’s no possible way for Howard to fit the ball into either. Obviously they pay for it here, but they didn’t pay for it on other occasions.


It’s very hard to cover Moore and Vaughn without using some kind of sub-package, having an Isaiah Simmons at linebacker, or bracketing them in a way that exposes your secondary to 1-on-1 matchups. But if Will Howard can’t hit the throws, then what difference does it make?

The Wildcats are currently tied with the Cyclones at the top of the standings with a 4-1 record. Their schedule from here goes as follows:

Oklahoma State
At Iowa State (Farmageddon)
At Baylor
Texas

If Will Howard can’t hit targets outside they could lose all of those games. If he can? They could win all of those games. Probably we’ll see something in between those two extremes.

Who won week 9 in the Big 12?

Obviously it's Tom Herman, but let’s go ahead and check out the standings and remaining schedule for everyone in the Big 12.

B12 going into November.jpg

When I look at that I see some problems and some opportunities for different teams.

Kansas State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State always have some issues down the stretch. All of the “little 8” teams in this league do because of depth concerns. The Wildcats are managing without their senior quarterback, Iowa State got beat down in Stillwater because of an injury to Tarique Milton, Oklahoma State had to play their only two good linemen at tackle to finish the game against Texas and it ended with Spencer Sanders getting sacked on fourth down.

Oklahoma has already finished the toughest part of their schedule save for Bedlam and they get another bye before that game to shape up and scheme in Ronnie Perkins and Rhamondre Stevenson for the stretch run. Adding a big power back like Stevenson and a pass-rusher for the month of November is a massive advantage, this is the time of year when the big guys eat. It’s harder to tempo and sweat them off the field when it’s 40 outside as opposed to 140 on these turf fields.

Texas has a similar advantage down the stretch. In one sense, their victory against Oklahoma State was something of a bizarre miracle for Tom Herman. Oklahoma State out-gained Texas 530 to 287, but they also committed five turnovers and gave up a kick return touchdown.

I wrote going into the game Texas could match up with Oklahoma State’s “space force” athletes but only if they made a few key adjustments on offense. Those mostly didn’t happen save for down the stretch when it mattered most:


They flexed tight end Jared Wiley to the bottom, put their good receivers (Josh Moore, Jake Smith) in the slot where they belong and where they don’t face Ro Williams, and then Sam Ehlinger managed to evade the blitz long enough to get the game-tying (sorta) throw off.

Edge-rusher Joseph Ossai destroyed the Oklahoma State offensive tackles with 12 tackles, six tackles for loss, and three sacks. The Oklahoma State edge rushers did similar damage to Texas but Sam Ehlinger didn’t commit any turnovers. Then Texas’ cornerbacks took a lot damage against Tylan Wallace and the OSU passing game, but held up juuuuust well enough to allow Texas to keep numbers in the box and hold the Cowboy run game to 2.5 ypc on 51 carries. Without big runs, OSU’s drives were prolonged, and prolonged drives with a beat up O-line against Ossai and the Longhorn D-line resulted in turnovers.

Tom Herman celebrated after the game like a guy who’d just potentially saved his job, because he had. They can’t turn around and blow the season against a West Virginia or one of the old Big 12 North teams but if the Longhorns can get to the Big 12 title game then he won’t be replaced in the offseason. Everyone brace yourself for a wild ride down the stretch.
 

sherf1

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Cool play on the 4th down, set it up like Mesh then had Smith throw the double move to get vertical. Would have been wide open with better blitz pickup but just about worked out anyway.
 
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travisroeder

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Baylor finished with an offensive success rate of 9% in the first half, and finished the game around 17-19%. It was probably the worst offensive showing Baylor has put out in 10+ years.

It's becoming clearer that Munoz is totally in charge of the passing game (should've been clear since he is the passing game coordinatory, but there isn't much Fedora here at all). Brewer has been terrible this year even when throwing to wide open guys, but it is also becoming more clear that Munoz is setting him up to fail. Rhule realized that you can't ask Brewer to read defenses a long time ago and they switched exclusively to RPOs and single reads last year. Munoz is asking Charlie to read the field and it is predictably going extremely poorly.

Brewer had some truly mind-bending decisions and throws the other day. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Baylor can figure out what they want to do at the position. If Munoz insists on Brewer reading the field, he probably refuses to have an offense based on power option run game with Bohanon, which could be why Baylor can't figure out what they want to do.
 
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Ian Boyd

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Baylor finished with an offensive success rate of 9% in the first half, and finished the game around 17-19%. It was probably the worst offensive showing Baylor has put out in 10+ years.

It's becoming clearer that Munoz is totally in charge of the passing game (should've been clear since he is the passing game coordinatory, but there isn't much Fedora here at all). Brewer has been terrible this year even when throwing to wide open guys, but it is also becoming more clear that Munoz is setting him up to fail. Rhule realized that you can't ask Brewer to read defenses a long time ago and they switched exclusively to RPOs and single reads last year. Munoz is asking Charlie to read the field and it is predictably going extremely poorly.

Brewer had some truly mind-bending decisions and throws the other day. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Baylor can figure out what they want to do at the position. If Munoz insists on Brewer reading the field, he probably refuses to have an offense based on power option run game with Bohanon, which could be why Baylor can't figure out what they want to do.
I can tell Munoz has a lot of influence, they should give him more still and just get the personnel right.
 

yerfttam

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Ian (I think) alluded to it in a tweet, but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts: on the 4th and 7...watch Bijan. He almost ends up in Jake’s lap. Was he supposed to stay home and block?
 

stilesbbq

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Bedlam is gonna be a doozy this year. Gundy having an elite skill corps and defense but somehow both missing the playoff and losing to a down Texas and OU kinda epitomizes his career. Great coach but could never make Okst relevant nationally. I almost wish Texas had lost this weekend so we could see Gundy in a playoff.
 

sherf1

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Ian (I think) alluded to it in a tweet, but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts: on the 4th and 7...watch Bijan. He almost ends up in Jake’s lap. Was he supposed to stay home and block?
Smiths route is designed to be thrown on the break, way before it ends up being released as Sam scrambles.

Kind of similar to his TD against OSU in the game last year actually
 
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Ian Boyd

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Bedlam is gonna be a doozy this year. Gundy having an elite skill corps and defense but somehow both missing the playoff and losing to a down Texas and OU kinda epitomizes his career. Great coach but could never make Okst relevant nationally. I almost wish Texas had lost this weekend so we could see Gundy in a playoff.
The OL killed him this year. Well, they aren't done yet, but that's what is hurting them.

Remember, they lost starting LT Dylan Galloway to medical retirement, then starting RG Bryce Bray, lead back-up Jacob Farrell, and then back-up tackles Cole Birmingham and Hunter Anthony were lost for the season against Tulsa.

It's amazing they're doing as well as they are up front. What happened to Texas in 2017 wasn't that bad and it totally crippled them.
 

eodhorn

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Surprise, Arizona
For some reason as I mentioned in another thread to @Ian Boyd , Texas under TH doesn’t get blown out often. Especially against higher ranked teams. I know you hate the intangibles that go beyond any ability to measure, but it seems to be a real thing. These manifest in freak games where opponents play reckless, or for some reason guys play better than they indicated throughout the season. Add a pinch of Sam at key moments and it’s what we get. Probably never a playoff or NC team, but a team that will constantly make people believe they are on the edge of a breakthrough year.
 

DuvalHorn

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For some reason as I mentioned in another thread to @Ian Boyd , Texas under TH doesn’t get blown out often. Especially against higher ranked teams. I know you hate the intangibles that go beyond any ability to measure, but it seems to be a real thing. These manifest in freak games where opponents play reckless, or for some reason guys play better than they indicated throughout the season. Add a pinch of Sam at key moments and it’s what we get. Probably never a playoff or NC team, but a team that will constantly make people believe they are on the edge of a breakthrough year.
I'd say having the more talented roster in the vast majority of games plays a major role.
 

eodhorn

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I'd say having the more talented roster in the vast majority of games plays a major role.
I agree, but Ian seemed to think a blowout was on the horizon. And honestly if you just watched both teams, especially with Sanders at QB it seemed it could go that route. But that’s just Texas under Herman. The OSU offense went off, Texas played like ****, but the weird things that seem to keep TH from getting blown out happened and Texas even won. It’s the nature of this beast. I used to think it was luck, but I am chalking it up to just how his teams play. And that nature at games almost always being close is a reason TH should be canned. They shouldn’t all be close, we are way too talented (as you mention) for turtle Tom to not win big way more often.
 

kevinbelt

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As a buckeye, what do you think of Franklin?
Well, *I* don’t really like him, but he’s an ok coach. It’s hard to fairly evaluate him because he plays in a division that’s stacked against him, but the fact that he won it once speaks well to his abilities. Consistency is a big thing for me, and PSU has been pretty consistent. Their offense relies a lot on jump balls, which I don’t love, but they replace great jump-ball receivers with new jump-ball receivers every year. (Check out #5’s catch against us.) Good recruiting, solid defense, and competent quarterbacking. At a non-blue blood school, they’d build a statue of him. He’s also weathered some staff turnover, which indicates that his success is sustainable.

I think he’s a bit too yappy and gimmicky, kind of like PJ Fleck, but he backs it up.

If you’re asking whether Texas should make a run at him, I think you could do much worse. It’ll take a lot to get him to leave, but I’m under the impression that UT has the resources.
 
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patentjt

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damn, even in OU's "down year", looks like they might win the Big12 again... F me...
 

Ian Boyd

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Well, *I* don’t really like him, but he’s an ok coach. It’s hard to fairly evaluate him because he plays in a division that’s stacked against him, but the fact that he won it once speaks well to his abilities. Consistency is a big thing for me, and PSU has been pretty consistent. Their offense relies a lot on jump balls, which I don’t love, but they replace great jump-ball receivers with new jump-ball receivers every year. (Check out #5’s catch against us.) Good recruiting, solid defense, and competent quarterbacking. At a non-blue blood school, they’d build a statue of him. He’s also weathered some staff turnover, which indicates that his success is sustainable.

I think he’s a bit too yappy and gimmicky, kind of like PJ Fleck, but he backs it up.

If you’re asking whether Texas should make a run at him, I think you could do much worse. It’ll take a lot to get him to leave, but I’m under the impression that UT has the resources.
I'd not be a fan of Texas hiring James Franklin. He's more of a hire and delegate guy than herman, which is good, but he has perhaps even more turtling tendencies and also seems to think that spread innovation ended with opening up room for the run game.
 
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Wings N Girls

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[/QUOTE]

god, I hope not Ian. I wanna win the conference but if you gave me two options.

1.) win the big 12 in this down-year as a 2-loss team and go to a big bowl, maybe win it, and keep Tom Herman

2.) Lose a game you’re not supposed to, don’t win the conference, but Urban Meyer is your coach next season

#2 and it ain’t even close

Herman needs to be fired regardless of W/L because his wins or losses still indicate the same things you’ve been worried about, Ian. You thought a huge red flag when Harrell backed out last second, and that was on the money. Tom told him he wouldn’t let him run his own offense and now we see the same governor on Mike. We predictably run a bunch of BS that doesn’t suit our strengths. Rod Babers on twitter was posting stats today about us from 5-wide and Ehlinger hasn’t been sacked once from 5-wide this year, and we get a large chunk of explosive plays from it. Sam is clearly very good at diagnosing defenses quickly and getting the ball out from 4 and 5 wide sets and it’s criminal we don’t use that to our advantage more often..

I have been seeing sam slander on other boards more than this one and it makes my blood boil. He’s far from perfect, but he’s a heisman candidate and texas is undefeated with Harrell as a free reign OC

instead we get Yurcich with a governor, a loss to TCU and OU in a down year and a wasted potential of a very good college QB. Tom turtles and has proven too stubborn to adapt and would rather opt for his square pegs, even if they’re going in round holes. For that he deserves to get fired, as I’m confident we’ll never achieve great success with him as long as he’s the HC. I pray no matter what happens that his fate is sealed and that we get Meyer. I’ll never forgive him for how he did Sam, a kid who bleeds burnt Orange from day 1 and feels his father up in heaven watching him every single play. It’s sad he was not maximized
 

Ian Boyd

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god, I hope not Ian. I wanna win the conference but if you gave me two options.

1.) win the big 12 in this down-year as a 2-loss team and go to a big bowl, maybe win it, and keep Tom Herman

2.) Lose a game you’re not supposed to, don’t win the conference, but Urban Meyer is your coach next season

#2 and it ain’t even close

Herman needs to be fired regardless of W/L because his wins or losses still indicate the same things you’ve been worried about, Ian. You thought a huge red flag when Harrell backed out last second, and that was on the money. Tom told him he wouldn’t let him run his own offense and now we see the same governor on Mike. We predictably run a bunch of BS that doesn’t suit our strengths. Rod Babers on twitter was posting stats today about us from 5-wide and Ehlinger hasn’t been sacked once from 5-wide this year, and we get a large chunk of explosive plays from it. Sam is clearly very good at diagnosing defenses quickly and getting the ball out from 4 and 5 wide sets and it’s criminal we don’t use that to our advantage more often..

I have been seeing sam slander on other boards more than this one and it makes my blood boil. He’s far from perfect, but he’s a heisman candidate and texas is undefeated with Harrell as a free reign OC

instead we get Yurcich with a governor, a loss to TCU and OU in a down year and a wasted potential of a very good college QB. Tom turtles and has proven too stubborn to adapt and would rather opt for his square pegs, even if they’re going in round holes. For that he deserves to get fired, as I’m confident we’ll never achieve great success with him as long as he’s the HC. I pray no matter what happens that his fate is sealed and that we get Meyer. I’ll never forgive him for how he did Sam, a kid who bleeds burnt Orange from day 1 and feels his father up in heaven watching him every single play. It’s sad he was not maximized
Amen.
 
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