Last week I asked for your takes on some of the conventional wisdom coalescing around the Big 12 in general, and Texas in particular. There were lots of interesting comments, and as promised, here are a few of my favorites, with commentary.
MYTH: COLT NO THROW PICKS = TEXAS WIN!
Both crocodile235, billb, and BMG are tired of hearing Texas' offensive issues oversimplified into a matter of Colt turning the ball over less frequently:
Colt doesn’t throw the football in a vacuum. Will the O line give him more time to throw? Will we find a threat at RB? On the other side of the ball, will the youngsters impress? That seems to be the biggest problem with the statement about Texas—that last year’s season was a product of Colt’s interceptions alone.
On Colt, yes he threw a lot of interceptions, but Texas would have still contended if not for the defense. Defense should improve this year. I also don’t see a lot of people note how close Texas and OU were last year. Jamal does not fumble and I frimly believe Texas wins that game, all other things being equal they end up 6-2 and OU ends up 5-3. Texas plays Missouri for big 12.
Colt’s INT total isn’t the only thing that is important. Try having someone other than a DB lead the team in tackles. Try being in the top half of pass defenses in the country. Try having an offense that doesn’t depend on passing on 3rd and short, instead of moving the chains with a punishing RB. Try having a RB without fumbling issues. If Colt throws his 18 picks and we do these things last year we would have beaten OU and played for the Big 12 title.
PB's Take: These guys are right - improvement from Colt is one of many important factors that will determine the 'Horns successes this fall. Beyond that, though, there's an unspoken point within their comments: when you're devoting as little as a sentence and at most a paragraph or two to "previewing" a team, that's as deep as the analysis will get. Which... what's the point? Plug-n-publish sports coverage has been - and continues to be - the downfall of the mainstream sports media. There's a reason we increasingly gather at fan sites like this one.
MYTH: KANSAS IS LEGIT
DMCHorn isn't sold on Kansas as a contender:
Although it seems that some of the KU love has attenuated since last year, I still think that they’re getting too much credit for their performance last year. I know that Reesing is a great quarterback and I appreciate the Jayhawks’ success last year (my wife is a Jayhawk), but I can’t see Lawrence as more than a basketball town (and football success is probably tough when everyone’s focused on the basketball program – which likely hasn’t changed with the recent championship) and I really do think that last year was an aberration. Maybe KU will be able to maintain some momentum from last season, but I suspect that this season will be as successful as some of Mangino’s diets (okay… maybe not that bad). If KU does well this year, then I’ll concede that there’s a pattern of success and may sidle up to the KU Kool-aid. Until then, I anticipate a typically mediocre season for the Jayhawks.
PB's Take: Dismiss Kansas at your own peril, sir. With that said, the difference between Kansas last year and this year is the schedule; the '08 Jayhawks play at South Florida, at Oklahoma, vs Tech, and vs Texas. Another 11-1 regular season is highly improbable, but the Jayhawks' performance last year was legit. They obliterated weak teams, beat solid ones, and capped the season with a win in the Orange Bowl over a solid Virginia Tech squad. They'll score points again this year; any team caught napping against KU will find itself in trouble.
MYTH: THE YOUNG DB'S WILL BE FINE
HornChamps is worried for the youngsters in our secondary:
Why is everyone so accepting of this young, inexperienced defensive backfield? We’re going to start 2 freshman safeties and 3 inexperienced DBs. Even Thorpe winner M.Huff was toasted his freshman season. I’m not sure if he’s caught Wes Welker yet…
These young guys have a ton of initial talent and abilities, but the same can be said of the Gators’ young D-backfield last season. They took 4 losses in a run-oriented SEC. We’re playing in the pass-happy Big-XII with a number of the country’s finest QBs.
PB's Take: I more or less agree with HornChamps on this one. I tend to think of DB development as equal parts coaching, talent, and experience. Two out of three ain't bad, but the growing pains from lack of experience are inevitable. Deep touchdowns over out-of-position freshman safeties will burn Texas on at least a few occasions this season. Especially, as HornChamps notes, in this conference.
With that said, as billyzane explains in his chapter in The Eyes of Texas 2008, Muschamp's biggest impact on his new defenses is in the passing game. Whatever growing pains we experience along the way, I'm of the mind that by December, this is going to be a defense no one wants to play.
MYTH: MISSOURI WILL WIN THE BIG 12 NORTH
Quite a few commenters spoke up noting their support for Colorado as the Big 12 North team to beat.
Darkhorse, out of nowhere team- Colorado. They are always tough at home, where they play Texas this year, they don’t play Oklahoma, Cody Hawkins is experienced, and Darrell Scott will be the real deal by October. The whole team is much farther up the learning curve than last year.
--burnt in ny--
PB's Take: I'll agree that Colorado will be improved, but I think they have too far to go to challenge Missouri. The Buffs allowed 440 yards per game at 6.3 yards per play on defense in Big 12 play last season. On offense, I do think Colorado will be dangerous, but not dominant enough to overcome their defensive shortcomings.