Big 12 Football: What We Learned in Week 4
A generally ugly and underwhelming Week 4 is over, and four Big 12 teams were spared with a bye. But that doesn't mean there weren't some highlights and lowlights worth pointing out.
First, let's give it up for Texas. Come on, y'all, at least a golf clap. (Okay, you don't have to clap.) That was a good win for Mack Brown and Co., and they've earned a little celebration, if only for a day.
And in Lawrence, Kansas snapped a 22-game losing streak to FBS opponents by beating Louisiana Tech on a game-winning field goal.
So what did we learn in the Big 12 in Week 4? Let's get to it.
Ya know, Texas is alright at this football thing when they tackle n' stuff
A two-game losing streak at Texas probably feels like a 20-game losing streak simply because of all the attention given to it. I contribute to that as much as anyone else. So, you have to give credit to the 'Horns for bouncing back and beating Kansas State 31-21 on Saturday night.
Beating the Wildcats, which Texas hasn't done since 2003, turns down the volume on the Mack Brown-hot seat chatter—for now. But that will undoubtedly be an ongoing conversation throughout 2013.
Instead, it's worth pointing out how much better Texas looked on defense against K-State. Yes, this is not your 2012 K-State, but the 'Horns were able to slow the run by tackling better in the open field and playing more disciplined assignment football. That's going to breed success no matter which team Texas faces.
Texas is tackling. They're playing football w/ gap integrity. It's the little things folks. They appear to care about those things tonight.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) September 22, 2013
Now, the Longhorns have to build on that.
Meanwhile, West Virginia has some soul searching to do of its own
Understandably, there's been a lot of focus on Texas' need to look in the mirror over the past couple of weeks, but if there's another Big 12 team in need of some reflection time, it's the Mountaineers. WVU suffered its first shutout in over a decade (a 35-0 loss to Virginia Tech in 2001, per the Associated Press (via ESPN) in a 37-0 loss to Maryland on Saturday.
Just how putrid was WVU's offense? The 'Eers had 62 yards passing as part of a 175-yard effort, six turnovers and two third-down conversions on 12 attempts. Not exactly the numbers you'd expect from a team led by Dana Holgorsen.
Or, to put it another way:
But this is not a one-game problem. West Virginia's offense has looked downright terrible several times this season against teams not named Georgia State (but somehow still included teams named William & Mary). This WVU offense ranks among the worst in college football with just 18 points a game. Passing yards rank 74th in the country, and total offense is 72nd, per NCAA stats.
Holgorsen has had offensive success everywhere he's been. What is so different now? That will undoubtedly be one of the major questions asked going forward.
Texas Tech is leaning heavily on its defense this year
I don't even know what I just typed and okay, Dan Beebe, haha funny joke and all but seriously what gives?
Neither Baker Mayfield nor Davis Webb played particularly well in a 33-7 win over Texas State on Saturday. Mayfield was relieved for the second week in a row by Webb, and it appears both will play moving forward.
Meanwhile, the Red Raiders defense remains this team's best performing group. Tech forced three turnovers, including a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Until the offense finds its rhythm again, this will be the side of the ball asked to keep Texas Tech in games.
The state of Kansas is famous for sunflowers but not offenses at the present moment
Kansas figured out a way to put a drive together when it mattered most in a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech Saturday. And I'm happy for you, Jayhawks. Really, I am. But the other 58 minutes against the Bulldogs? Um, woof.
This is still an offense that struggles to consistently execute and Saturday failed to convert a couple of early (and manageable) fourth downs. It's also telling that the Jayhawks' leading receiver is a running back (Tony Pierson with 209 yards).
What you have to hope for if you're a Kansas fan is that the final two minutes of Saturday's game gave this offense some confidence that it can perform more consistently.
Meanwhile, Kansas State is still struggling to run the ball. I never thought that would be the case, and especially against Texas. Daniel Sams' running room was swallowed up when the 'Horns realized K-State wasn't even going to so much as attempt a pass with him, and the designed quarterback runs were generally ineffective.
Outside of the Jake Waters-to-Tyler Lockett connection, there wasn't much going on for the Wildcats offensively. This doesn't look anything like the physical K-State offense we've come to know in recent years.
Other Week 4 Big 12 Happenings
Best offensive performance: Texas running back Johnathan Gray. The sophomore had a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns for the 'Horns on Saturday. His running style is divine: downhill, violent but with some finesse. He's fun to watch.
Best defensive performance: Baylor. The Bears defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns...in the first quarter. Through three games, the Baylor D has scored four touchdowns. We'll see how it continues to play as the year goes on, but so far, impressive.
Best/Worst dressed: Texas fan with a "Saban 2014" shirt.
So this is happening at Texas games now pic.twitter.com/5GFk7bnnAR— Jason Rogers (@JasonARogers) September 21, 2013
The commitment is admirable, but it's simply not going to happen, m'friend.
Angriest tweet from a player's mother: Daniel Sams' mom apparently wasn't too happy about how Kansas State used the sophomore quarterback against Texas.
It's gonna be a long flight back to Manhattan tonight... FYI... He can throw— ProudMommy4#LIFE (@sherrellgriffin) September 22, 2013
As the esteemed Mike Felder once opined: Nothing like a mom. Or a girlfriend. Or a dad.
Biggest "MAH GAWD" moment: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. As if you needed any further proof that Baylor's offense is a weapon of mass destruction, allow us to show you a GIF of Seastrunk outrunning everyone on a 75-yard touchdown run in the Bears' 70-7 win over ULM.
As a reminder, Seastrunk is averaging 11 yards per carry this season. This is why I can't wait for Baylor to actually get into Big 12 play.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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