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Big 12 offensive and defensive drive analysis entering this weekend’s full slate of games

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Defensive-minded head coach Gary Patterson and his 4-2-5 TCU defense were gashed by Brock Purdy and Iowa State’s run game last week.

Iowa State v TCU Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

To help gain a better understanding of how each conference team, specifically Texas under new coordinators Chris Ash and Mike Yurcich, is performing on both sides of the ball throughout the season, I put together several drive charts involving metrics such as scoring rate, stop rate, yards per play, turnover rate, negative play rate, 3rd/4th down conversion rate, big play rate, etc. Each week, I’m going to update the charts accordingly and provide game analysis with the data — along with what to watch for in the upcoming weekend slate of conference games.


Offensive drive ratings (through Sept. 24)

Week 2 Big 12 offensive notes and highlights

Kansas State 38, Oklahoma 35

Without top running backs Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma has not been able to run the ball as effectively as they did in previous years — 3.6 yards per carry so far. The offensive line play hasn’t been great, either. They were called for holding four different times on Saturday.

A second half offensive explosion put Kansas State in position to beat Oklahoma for the second straight year. Senior-led quarterback Skylar Thompson and freshman running back Deuce Vaughn helped spark the comeback with several big plays. Thompson averaged a whopping 13.4 (!) yards per pass. Extremely elusive at 5’5”, Vaughn caused a lot of problems when he matched up against Oklahoma’s linebackers in space.

Oklahoma State 27, West Virginia 13

After struggling to run the ball against Tulsa (2.8 YPC) in their season opener, Oklahoma State got back on track through the ground against West Virginia without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders. Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown each topped the 100-yard mark. The Cowboys offense is currently last in the conference in touchdown rate and points per game.

Last season, West Virginia’s run game ranked dead last in the conference and among the worst in the nation. Unfortunately for them, it was familiar territory against the Cowboys defense. They averaged 1.6 yards on 42 carries.

Iowa State 37, TCU 34

With the Big 12’s best tight end Charlie Kolar back on offense, Iowa State carved up TCU’s defense on a variety of counter, stretch, and trap run plays throughout the game. They had five plays that resulted in 30 yards or more. Quality bounce back performance for the Cyclones after scoring on just 2-of-11 (18.1%) offensive drives in a loss to Louisiana.

It was a tale of two halves for a new-look TCU offense based on their quarterback play. They scored only once and averaged 7.6 yards per pass when Downing was in. After Duggan took over in the second half, the offense opened up. They scored three times and averaged 12.1 yards per pass. For a team that stayed true to the run too much in past years, it looks like the decision to bring back Doug Meachem to the offensive staff is already paying off.

Texas 63, Texas Tech 56 (OT)

Sam Ehlinger and the Texas offense averaged just 5.2 yards per play against a Tech defense that allowed 7.9 yards per play against Houston Baptist. After their first three offensive drives of the game, Texas averaged just 23.5 yards per drive the rest of the game. They punted five times and turned the ball over twice over that span. Not ideal for a Yurcich-coached offense despite putting up 56 points in regulation.

Tech’s quick passing game did damage and helped open up the rest of their offense. Their skill players made a lot of defenders miss when in space. The wide receiver trio of Erik Ezukanma, KeSean Carter, and T.J. Vasher combined for 18 receptions, 248 yards, and five touchdowns. This offense has potential to be dangerous this season if quarterback Alan Bowman stays healthy.

Baylor 47, Kansas 14

Quarterback Charlie Brewer and the Baylor offense didn’t have much success through the air. But it wasn’t needed in a game where they dominated. Running backs John Lovett, Craig Williams, and Trestan Ebner combined for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries.

The Jayhawks currently rank last in the conference in scoring rate, yards per play, and yards per pass. Without true quarterback play, it could be another long year for the folks in Lawrence.


Defensive drive ratings (through Sept. 24)

Week 2 Big 12 defensive notes and highlights

Kansas State 38, Oklahoma 35

Oklahoma held the Wildcats offense in check for a half. It was a completely different story in the second half. 240 yards on five big plays ended up being the difference for Kansas State as the Sooners offense stalled late.

True freshman Spencer Rattler struggled under pressure against K-State’s defense down the stretch. In the fourth quarter, Rattler completed just 5-of-13 passes for 58 yards. He was sacked twice and threw an interception on the final drive. Defensive end Wyatt Hubert really made a difference in disrupting the protection for Rattler off the edge.

Iowa State 37, TCU 34

In a battle between two great defensive minds, offense surprisingly set the tone of this game. TCU’s defense played well early on, but costly offensive turnovers and the inability to finish offensive drives put their defense in quite a hole. All in all, several long runs really hurt the TCU defense. Iowa State averaged 8.2 yards per play thanks to those explosive plays.

While up 30-28, the Cyclones defense made the play of the game on an interception in plus-territory. Three plays later, running back Breece Hall scored a game-sealing 32-yard touchdown. The Cyclones scored 14 points off two turnovers.

Texas 63, Texas Tech 56 (OT)

Texas’ four-man front drew a total of zero holding penalties going up against Tech’s offensive line. Aside from a 75-yard touchdown run, the Longhorns run defense was outstanding — allowing just 1.8 yards per run.

Tech head coach Matt Wells credited his defense for giving up the fewest explosive plays and yards per play as they have in any game since he arrived in Lubbock. Through six second half defensive drives, Texas was averaging just two yards per drive at the time while trailing 56-41. Then came the epic Red Raiders meltdown.


What to watch for this weekend

Texas vs. TCU (11:00 a.m. Central FOX)

In his six games against TCU, Mike Yurcich’s offenses have averaged 28 points per game. It’ll likely take more than 28 points to defeat them this weekend, though. Gary Patterson should have his defense tightened up by Saturday. The return of slot receiver Jake Smith could go a long way for Texas in this one.

No tune-up game really hurt TCU heading into this game. Last week, they were trailing too much to know how effectively they can run the ball. The skill position talent is certainly there.

Their hopes for an upset over Texas once again rests upon the shoulders of talented sophomore quarterback Max Duggan. He pulled it off as a freshman last year in Fort Worth.

Question marks remain for both teams on the offensive line — each unit has something to prove.

West Virginia vs. Baylor (11:00 a.m. Central ABC)

Facing a Dave Aranda defense, West Virginia has to run the ball effectively enough to keep the Bears defense honest against the pass. If that doesn’t happen, Baylor’s defensive backs will be sitting back all game long.

Oklahoma State had significant success running the ball against the Mountaineers last week. Baylor will attempt to produce similar results on the ground.

Kansas vs. Oklahoma State (2:30 p.m. Central ESPN)

A three-game stretch against Tulsa, West Virginia, and Kansas was exactly what Mike Gundy and his Cowboys needed to start the season considering the injury to Sanders. The ceiling for their offense is much lower without him at quarterback. Their upcoming bye week after Kansas before they travel to Baylor is crucial, too.

Kansas State vs. Texas Tech (2:30 p.m. Central FS1)

Considering Kansas State’s struggles against the pass, this game serves as a prime opportunity for Texas Tech to snag their first win of the season. Both secondaries are undersized and have struggled noticeably thus far. Could be a shootout in Manhattan.

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma (6:30 p.m. Central ABC)

With expected game-time temperatures around 40-45 degrees and potential rain in the forecast, weather could be a factor in Ames on Saturday. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell is 1-3 in his career against Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma — his team hasn’t lost by more than 10 points in those four meetings. Future NFL tight end Charlie Kolar can be the difference maker for Iowa State offensively.

Heacock’s 3-3-5 defense will test Rattler and the Sooners offense in what they hope to be a bounce back game. For the third time in consecutive seasons, Oklahoma’s playoff hopes are against the wall. They’ve been here before. Just not with a true freshman quarterback.