Baseball truism: Chicks dig the long ball. Football truism: Defensive backs hate the deep ball.
In the Big 12 this season, playing defensive back is a high risk, low reward proposition. Last week, TCU coach Gary Patterson said being a defensive coordinator is the worst job in America. The worst position to play would be cornerback.
“That’s not a position I would want to play,” said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose goal as a Red Raiders quarterback was to undress and embarrass opposing defensive backs.
“Those are probably even when it comes to bad jobs,” Patterson said when asked about the defensive coordinator/corner back debate. “It’s our job to stop people. It’s what makes the game fun. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Offenses are making the defense play the whole field.”
Saturday at the Cotton Bowl there were touchdown passes of 71, 63, 42, 45 and 47 yards. Thus far in 11 Big 12 games there have been 47 TD passes averaging 32.9 yards in distance. There have been 26 touchdown passes have been 30 yards or longer.
Defensive backs have to worry about wide receiver screens, quick slants – and if you miss a tackle, it might be a touchdown. They have to worry about back-shoulder throws, the latest devilish trick developed by offenses. And if you let a 4.4 wide out run past you, you’ll be on the highlights for the wrong reason. It’s the college football version of being posterized by a King James dunk.
“We’re throwing deep more because we’ve got a good deep threat in Shelton Gibson,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re also running the ball more and that brings more defenders close to the line and leaves guys on an island.”
Holgorsen and Kingsbury both point to the increase in seven-on-seven competition during the summer to help develop quarterbacks and wide receivers. Having shut-down corner backs is a rarity plus pass interference rules tend to favor the offensive player.
“We’ve had a couple of offensive pass interference calls that I thought were touchy-feely but I think there’s an emphasis on pass interference calls both ways by the officials,” Kingsbury said. “But when you’ve got two out of three outcomes being positive, the risk-reward of throwing deep is in your favor.
“The quick throws, the underneath screens have been so prominent that defenses are trying to take that away. That means you’ve got to take shots and throw it deep.”
No home field advantage
The visiting team has won the last five games in the Kansas State-Oklahoma series. The Wildcats, coming off a 44-38 victory over Texas Tech, will try to keep that streak alive in Norman Saturday.
Last season, the Sooners were coming off an embarrassing 24-17 loss to Texas and they embarrassed K-State, 55-0. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a former assistant on Bill Snyder’s staff when he was in the process of building the program to prominence, doesn’t look forward to the game.
“No, I don’t enjoy coaching against Coach Synder’s teams,” Stoops said Monday. “They’re too good.”
Snyder was asked about the visiting team’s winning streak in the series and answered, “Beats the tar out of me.” He does know, though, that last season’s outcome can be instructive to this season’s Wildcats.
“We didn’t show up,” Snyder said. “That made a tremendous difference in the ballgame. Certainly it’s on their mind. We have to address last year’s ballgame for a lot of different reasons. Not just that we didn’t show up. From a schematic standpoint. Going back to revisit that ballgame will be somewhat beneficial.”
TCU escaping Lawrence with a 24-23 victory gave the Frogs a 2-1 Big 12 record heading into this bye week. TCU will play at West Virginia, host Texas Tech and then play at Baylor before their second and final bye.
“We’ll have two weeks to get ready for West Virginia and fix some of our problems,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We’ve got a three-game season. After the second bye, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas State. First three were on the road twice, then the next three we’ve got two at home.”
Patterson said last week that he believes the parity in the Big 12 could produce a champion with two losses. TCU is one seven conference teams with one or fewer losses.
- The downside to the Big 12’s media rights deal with ESPN/FOX is that FS1 has failed to gain traction in terms of ratings. That was reflected in the Nielsen numbers for Saturday’s Oklahoma-Texas game. The Sooners won an exciting contest, 45-40, but the 2.0 overnight rating is the lowest since at a least 2000. The rating was down 47 percent compared to 2015 and down 39 percent compared to 2014.
- Texas Tech put up some typically gaudy numbers but had season lows in points (38), total yards (592), rushing yards (63), passing yards (529) and yards per play (6.5) in Saturday’s loss at Kansas State. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense.
- Oklahoma junior wide receiver Dede Westbrook set a school record with 390 receiving yards in his last two games (148 vs. TCU, 232 vs. Texas). He broke Ryan Broyles’ record of 339 yards set against Texas and Kansas in 2011. In the last two games, Westbrook has had touchdown receptions of 67, 40, 71, 42 and 47 yards.
- TCU was 6-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less last season. This season, the Frogs are 1-2 following Saturday’s one-point victory at Kansas.
- The glass is half full: Texas averages 41 points per game, and if it maintains that would be tied for the fifth-highest scoring average in school history. The glass is half empty: The UT defense, allowing 39.6 per game, is on pace to be the worst in school history.
Said and done
Kansas State sophomore defensive back D.J. Reed, who studied about 10 hours of Texas Tech tape, on his 35-yard pick six against the Red Raiders:
“We were all disguised in cover four, but we were really in cover two. So I just had nothing but the flats. I just told myself before the play happened, ‘If something goes to the flats I am going to break on it.’ One of their receivers tried to block me and I just gave him a juke. I didn’t think I was probably going to get a pick, but I got my hands on it and it was history from there.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on Tay Evans and Daniel Brooks, two Sooners who will become student coaches after ending their careers because of concussions:
“I don’t ever want a young man feeling pressured by me to do something that isn’t going to be in his best interest. I am not a part of it. It’s really doctors and parents. Then, it’s my job to get my arm around them if they are finished and let them know that they’re still a part of this team.”
Texas coach Charlie Strong on what he tells his players about the speculation regarding his job status:
“I tell ‘em it’s nothing for them to worry about and they should never concern themselves about it. You have to block out the critics. Don’t get involved with it, don’t read it. Let me just handle it all.”