27 Comments

  1. matt

    Ian, what’d you think of Kenneth Murray this season? Do you think OU should keep him inside or try him outside? Or at least switch him to the weakside spot?

    • ianaboyd

      I think he wore down and lost discipline. He’s the only guy on the roster who’s played inside much so I doubt he moves.

  2. Clayton Davis

    If Iowa State is true to form, they will lose Brock Purdy to injury by the 4th or 5th game, and their backup will amaze everyone down the stretch.

  3. Clayton Davis

    I still have to think OU will be pretty good on offense, even if Rattler and Mordecai aren’t ready to unseat Kendall. OU will have a stable of running backs (again – they’ve got Sermon, Brooks, Pledger, JUCO 230-lber Stevenson, and some freshmen) and lots of weapons at receiver. Their early schedule isn’t too dangerous for their line to start gelling. I wouldn’t automatically place them on top again, but I don’t really see anyone else with that many fewer question marks.

    I think one ignored point about the OU defense is that they should have more depth at d-line this year. They don’t lose any defensive linemen to graduation, and they return a few lost to injury last year. Plus they have some highly touted incoming recruits to provide some reps here and there.

    • ianaboyd

      Texas has fewer question marks than Oklahoma. Their offseason question marks are things like, “which skill players make Sam Ehlinger most deadly?” and “can we teach all of our freak athletes on D enough technique and scheme this offseason to maximize their ability?”

  4. System Poster

    I don’t really see how Texas Tech can be better next year given that they have to replace an NFL-caliber head coach.

    But seriously, this has to be one of the harder years to rank the big 12 replacing so many head coaches and so many starting quarterbacks. I’ll yield to your higher level of expertise, but I did find it surprising that you’re not projecting Baylor to make a bigger jump. They seem to be right on the verge of being pretty good with the only missing ingredient being experience.

    • ianaboyd

      Individually good chances of each. I think there’s a good chance Texas is better than both next season. Especially considering Big Game Tom’s reputation for getting his team ready for those games, some of which I think is a factor of him running his QB more in big games.

      Texas when Ehlinger runs it 10x and Texas when Ehlinger runs it 15-20x are two different teams.

  5. Will

    In case you’re interested, here’s an article where a couple Sun Belt coaches talk Neal Brown:

    http://wvmetronews.com/2019/01/09/sun-belt-coaches-praise-neal-brown-trademark/

    There are names, so they aren’t completely candid, but there is some consistency in what they say, specifically about Brown’s teams being physical. You’ve talked a lot about the importance of physicality in the league and we’ve both noted that WVU’s most physical Big 12 team also won the most games (2016).

    Next year is whatever, I’d expect pretty uneven performances against 11 P5 teams and a top 5 FCS squad. But if this guy can bring the culture he had at Troy, I like the upside.

    As for an edge rusher at LBer, it is hard to know what is there. Qualls was supposed to be that kinda guy but then tore his ACL and never saw the field. Josh Chandler is supposed to be a lesser David Long clone but he’s equally small, Long wasn’t really an edge rusher, and Long really felt like a once in a decade guy for WVU.

    The Alabama transfer, Vandarius Cowan, is 6’4 and 236 lbs. So the size of a WVU passing rushing end or twice the size of our typical SAM. He might get a look if he doesn’t stick in the middle. WVU probably hasn’t had a guy with his upside and size since Bruce Irvin.

    On the programs I know very little about, I’ll take the over on the fighting Gundys and the under on TCU. I have a lot more faith in Gundy reloading at QB next year than Patterson finding a guy who can produce. And those TCU wideouts other than Reagor have sucked for more than a year now and I don’t know when we should expect them to develop.

    • ianaboyd

      Very interesting, Troy was definitely physical when they played LSU and upset them a year ago.

      I think TCUs problem has mostly been QB the last year or so. As good as Reagor has been he would be so much better with consistent QB play. But I guess Hurts May follow Locksley to Maryland so that’s that.

  6. quigley

    Big 12 will be really down next year outside of UT. It would be a surprise if we don’t see two OU-UT games a year for the next few. The animosity between the fan bases will remind people of a time we had a criminal as president.

    1. UT: Sam’s got a little hurt in 2018, and it cost the Horns. He’s built like a tank, but there are anti-tank armaments. Does he survive 2019? It’s vital because he’s both the best passer and runner on the roster.

    Can UT finally beat the Mullet? If so, which random team drops Texas? Herman gets the heat, but it was Orlando’s side that let the team down in the WTF games last year (I include Tech in that). The Horns’ defense will be the league’s standard, but can they be consistent?

    2. OU: Betting against Bedenbaugh to develop an OL and Riley to develop a QB is a mistake. The dudes could squeeze a top 50 offense out of readers of this board. Despite the loss of Marques Brown and Rodney Anderson, the Sooners skill position talent will be better than who was on the field in 2018. I’m excited to see Brayden Willis, Jeremiah Hall, and Rhamondre Stevenson. Becaues their offense was so far ahead of the rest of the nation, even with regression, OU’s probably gonna be a top 20 on that side in 2019.

    New coordinator hires, especially on defense, can invigorate units because of better schemes and better talent utilization (moving players around). The numbers don’t support it, but the Sooners defense played MUCH harder the latter half of the year, and OU’s strength should now be that they have serviceable depth after three years of better recruiting. The prior defensive didn’t use this depth, nearly at all. Jalen Redmon, Isaiah Thomas, DeShaun White, Ryan Jones, Turner-Yell are all players I’d like to see more of. The goal is for the OU defense to give up TDs on less than 40% of opponent drives. That’s only asking for top 50 unit, which should be the floor.

    Psst, which Big 12 team had an S&P+ top 25 offense and top 50 defense in 2018?
    (hint: they made the conference championship game).

    In some order:
    > TCU: Patterson is 58 years old and has been the Frogs coach since 2000! He’s amazing, but the sweaty dude isn’t gonna coach 18 more years. His offensive staff has failed develop a QB since Boykin. Hurts would be taking a risk going there if he wants to become a polished passer.

    > Iowa St: that OL that returns five was awful last year so an improvement may only = bad. Montgomery was Barry Sanders-lite. Dude is going to be a “steal” on the second day of the draft because his combine numbers will be trash. Their defense will keep them in games. I continue to secretly hope Riley recruits the Cyclone DC to Norman.

    > Oklahoma St: Does the Mullet hate his team?
    > Kansas St: year zero.
    > Kansas football on Comedy Central! Does he eat plastic grass! Who cares!
    > Baylor: Following the Rhules in CFB is a relativist pursuit. The Bears are learning that dotting some of the i’s and crossing some of the t’s makes it hard to get players to come to Waco, Texas when UT and OU are doing the same.

    • ianaboyd

      Agree on most everything, a few points of mild disagreement.

      Not a disagreement but I think they could potentially help Ehlinger stay healthier next year through a combination of a few things. 1) Him being a little smarter about avoiding hits (the ISU hit was one he really should have avoided). 2) Maintaining the OU type gameplan where they mostly save his carries for situational football like 3rd down or goal line. 3) Having other ways to run the ball effectively in 2018 like a double TE set and a bigger OL.

      OU has a lot of athletes up front to work with if Wylie can mold them into something. The issue is athletes on the back end and building a spread-resistant unit. The base 4-3 that worked against Texas is a tough one against most other teams and may not work against Texas again either. Ever since they got Caleb Kelly it’s been a big question every year how they’re going to build a defense that actually makes sense against the Big 12. In 2018 they were finally going to teach him to play inside and then he couldn’t do it plus their outside nickel guys were terrible.

      The Iowa State OL had some bright spots last year and they’ll ALL be back next year along with whatever talent upgrades they can manage. That’s a unit that can really improve just by growing in chemistry and technique even without the athleticism angle. As Belichik says of OL, he wants them to be big, smart, and tough. That will be true of Iowa State’s OL next year. I remember Mark Mangino turned a similar unit there a few years back into a pretty good run blocking unit.

      I don’t think Baylor is dotting the i’s and whatnot. I’d be willing to bet they are still playing the game to some extent without the part where they encourage sexual assault.

      • quigley

        I’m not the Caleb Kelly fan others are. He’s a liability in pass defense and a poor blitzer. He doesn’t shed blocks and is an inconsistent tackler. Offenses run or pass. He’s a liability for both. What am I missing?

        Kenneth Murray and Kelly may benefit from the LB coach’s teaching (coming from Missouri). Otherwise, OU’s got four LBs who will be Frosh or Soph next year who I’m interested in seeing. Going from Venables development of LBs to Kish’s was a defining change for the OU defense regardless of the rest of the fiasco.

        Have you sent Ehlinger the “JT Barrett runs the ball for 6 yards and falls down” mix tape yet? It may add 5 years to the end of his life.

        RE: Iowa St. We all know OL is more important than RB for run game success. But that assumes some degree of RB competency. We’ll have to see what the Clones have now that Montgomery’s gone.

        • ianaboyd

          Kelly is good at playing from the edge now, he’s improved there. Problem is that position is pretty outdated and limits the D.

          Young Odom has been coaching for like one year and now has to teach guys what to do in the B12. He might be great but he may also have a steep learning curve, should be interesting to watch.

          Ehlinger did slide after the bruising goal line attempts against Georgia, haha. I think he knows it’s just hard for him. Georgia and Iowa State probably helped him because they delivered some real shots on him.

          I think Kene Nwamgwu for State is promising and they have some other guys. Plus they have Purdy and the RPO game. They need to upgrade in a lot of places to replace Monty but all those areas have up and comers that have shown something.

  7. Travis

    I’ll go:
    1. Texas
    Close to a no-brainer at this point. Losing LJH allows for it to be very close with OU, though.
    2. Oklahoma
    Lot of variance with them, mostly depending on QB play.
    3. Iowa State
    They were already 3rd or 4th in the league this year, and they will almost assuredly be better next year, unless losing Montgomery/Butler proves catastrophic.
    4. Baylor
    Brewer is one of the 2 or 3 best QBs in the conference and, once again, they return almost everyone of import. OL should take another leap forward.
    5. TCU
    If they land Hurts I’d put them above Baylor and maybe Iowa State. But Collins is only OK at best, and Banogu single-handedly won them a couple games this year. Lot of variance with TCU.
    6. Oklahoma State
    Potential to be higher depending on QB play and how second year of Jim Knowles works.
    7. Kansas State
    Should give teams trouble, but also themselves. They’ll be OK.
    8. Texas Tech
    Depending on how fast Bowman integrates into new system they could be good. Defense will still be bad.
    9. West Virginia
    Allison was uninspiring in the bowl game and they’re in for a culture change.
    10. Kansas
    Yes.

    • ianaboyd

      Why would the OL take another leap forward? Do they have some new pieces or up and comers rounding into form? I don’t totally doubt you I just don’t know what they have in the pipeline that can help them.

      I figure WR is fine, Lynch is a great piece, the LBs should put it together, and maybe the safeties finally figure things out.

      • Travis

        I doubt the OL will be great in 2019, but it should be better than in 2018 because of additional experience and not losing anyone of import. They lose two seniors but neither was better than average and neither were recruited by Rhule (one got the impression that a major reason for their starting was leadership).

        Baylor went from one of the worst OL’s in the country in 2018 to an average to below-average one in 2019 (they’re pretty average across the board in a lot of the stuff rates, sack rates etc. after being at the bottom in 2018), and the only real reason was experience, depth, and adding one JUCO piece (Valentin). They were never great against good pass rushing teams (as I’m sure you remember against Texas) but that was mostly shored up after Baylor replaced ailing (dislocated knee before season) LT Jake Fruhmorgen with true freshman Connor Galvin.

        Baylor is set up for a similar leap in 2019, adding experience and one stellar JUCO OT in Blake Bedier. They wont’ be dominant, but they’ll probably be average, with above average as a ceiling.

        Basically, I think Baylor is set to improve slightly across the board in 2019, while bringing back one of the 2 or 3 best QBs in the league.

        • ianaboyd

          I forgot about Galvin, he’ll gain weight and strength. Bedier could be a big addition, early enrollee?

          If they make another leap on OL then they’re going to climb the ranking.

          • Travis

            Galvin mysteriously gained about 15 lbs on the roster once they made him the starter, LOL. Baylor listed him around 295 but he looked closer to 280-285. He looked small-ish, but not too small. And he wasn’t an early enrollee, so this spring should be big for him.

            Bedier is an early enrollee.

  8. System Poster

    I’ll be on the lookout for your revised rankings now that Texas Tech has filled out its coaching staff by poaching the crown jewel of Big 12 defensive assistants away from OU, Kerry Cooks. OU hasn’t had any problems with their secondary recently, have they? What should I expect in your new rankings? Third? Second?

    • quigley

      Cooks came from ND, where he’d been successful. On paper, he recruited well at OU. The on-the-field product was historic as you know.

      The 2018 DBs suffered because they played Bookie too long. After he was benched, the number of flat-out busts went down.

      Cooks recruiting eye seems to be poor. He doesn’t seem to understand that there is a baseline level of size + speed that is now required. Unless you’re UT, Clemson, GA, Bama, you’re gonna have to get guys with those measurables and teach them the position.

      • ianaboyd

        The other knock is that he doesn’t teach DB technique well. His guys never find the ball in the air and plenty of people say they aren’t taught to do it well.

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