I thought about doing opponent-by-opponent previews just like I always do, but since it’s a new year, I wanted to maybe try something different. So, I decided to take a look at the Big 12 overall, with the idea that perhaps I’d have a better idea about how teams stack up. And I thought about doing this on two different levels: 1) statistically; and 2) significant players.
Click the image to embiggen.
I decided without a ton of thought, that looking at a few statistics would be beneficial for reviewing the offensive lines. I picked “Line Yards,” “Standard Downs Line Yards,” and “Sack Rate”. Definitions are at the link, but simply line yards per carry is, “the line gets credit for rushing yardage between 0-3 yards (instead of 0-4) and 50% credit for yards 4-8 (instead of 5-10). Anything over 8 yards is quantified as a highlight opportunity, and credit goes to the runner. As with the pro definition, lost yardage still counts for 125%. (Garbage time is filtered out for all line yardage averages.)” The Standard Downs Line Yards is essentially the unadjusted line yards, while the Sack Rate is the unadjusted sack rate for non-garbage passing downs.
If you want more stats, then please visit the link above. Football Outsiders is an incredible statistical resource and you should visit them and if you really enjoy stats, then please sign up.
The numbers are the national rank, which I think is more important than the actual numbers because the numbers may not mean as much in context. The teams are in alphabetical order and I could have sorted this by rank, but I didn’t want to do that. I’ll stay consistent and just keep things alphabetical. The other item is that I took the national rankings of each teams and then averaged the three and then ranked the teams accordingly.
Obviously, Oklahoma was absolutely dominating, and 20+ spots behind the Sooners were the Longhorns. Most surprising was the stats on Iowa State, who loses their best running back in a long time and they didn’t have a great running game. I would have thought they were just fine and probably traditional stats would say that they’re just fine, but here . . . not so much.
Offensive Line Key Losses
I decided that I would take a look at a couple of things because trying to do a conference-wide preview can be difficult for a couple of reasons: 1) you’re always going to get something wrong; and 2) determining who is deemed to be an “important” player is difficult. So what I did is I looked at the 2018 All-Big 12 Conference team and went through those players that were on that list in some form or fashion, 1st team, 2nd team, and honorable mention. So if the Big 12 writers listed an offensive lineman on that list, then you’re deemed to be important.
Baylor: Blake Blackman (HM)
Iowa State: N/A
Kansas State: Dalton Risner (1st)
Oklahoma: Cody Ford (1st); Ben Powers (1st); Dru Samia (1st); Bobby Evans (2nd);
Texas: Calvin Anderson (HM); Elijah Rodriguez (HM); Patrick Vahe (HM)
Texas Tech: N/A
West Virginia: Yodny Cajuste (1st)
The biggest takeaway is that Oklahoma loses a ton of talent and then did before 2018 and then they went out and kicked tail and had four all-conference performers again. Can they do it again? I wouldn’t guess that the Oklahoma offensive line is going to be as good as it was last year, but it will still be pretty good. And Texas loses some significant talent as well.
Offensive Line Key Returners
I did the same thing with the losses on the offensive line and looked at who returns, but in addition to the 2018 all-conference team, I looked at Athlon’s 2019 preseason Big 12 all-conference teams.
Baylor: Sam Tecklenburg
Iowa State: Josh Knipfel (HM); Julian Good-Jones; Colin Newell; Bryce Meeker (HM)
Kansas: Hakeem Adeniji (2nd)
Kansas State: Adam Holtorf; Scott Frantz
Oklahoma: Creed Humphrey (HM); Adrian Early
Oklahoma State: Teven Jenkins (HM); Marcus Keyes (HM); Johnny Wilson
TCU: Lucas Niang (2nd); Cordel Iwuagwu
Texas: Zach Shackelford (2nd); Samuel Cosmi (HM)
Texas Tech: Jack Anderson (2nd); Terence Steele (HM); Travis Bruffy (HM)
West Virginia: Colton McKivitz (HM); Josh Sills (2nd)
With Iowa state, we probably get the idea that they had a young offensive line so that could explain the less than impressive stats and of the teams returning the most talent is . . . your Texas Tech Red Raiders. The deal with Texas Tech though is that the actual rushing statistics were absolutely terrible. Protecting the quarterback, everything is just fine, but I’ve said this offseason the offensive line needs to figure out how to maul the opponent because that’s something this team has not done. They were passive at best, so the returning starters comes with a caveat in that statistically, there is room for improvement. Also of note is that Oklahoma State is probably going to improve a bit, and they weren’t bad overall, but they’ll probably get better on the line.
You have the stats, the losses and returning starters, who do you think will be the top five offensive line groups this year? And where would you rank Texas Tech’s offensive line in comparison to the rest of the Big 12. If you think they’ll be the best, then rank them “1” and if you think they’ll be the worst, then rank them “10”.