Bye Week Observations

Scott Fitzgerald takes a look back on the bye week for the Red Raiders.

It was my first time this season to sit back and really get a feel for what each team is trying to do , both offensively and defensively. Saturday was a great day with a lot of great games and I think we learned a lot about the Big 12.

The primetime Kansas State versus Oklahoma matchup told us a lot more about OU than it did about K-State. The Wildcats did what they were going to do. No one was surprised to see the power running game with Klein and Hubert with short high percentage passes, tough defense, and a team that was fundamentally sound. OU, however, made the mistakes that become all too accustomed to a Sooners' team in recent years. Penalties, fumbles, and average QB play have haunted the Sooners at times and did again on Saturday night. The scary thing is that as bad as the Sooners played, they were still within five points of the Wildcats.

With the loss of two starting offensive linemen, the Sooners' struggles all seem to be starting up front. There is no push from the line and there is no dominant running back to hand the football off to. It boggles my mind, especially with the acquired running back talent at Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M that Oklahoma can look as average as they do at running back. Whaley does not look as if he is back to the form he was in after suffering the broken leg a year ago and Damien Williams, who Tech was in on late in the recruiting process last February, and was leading the Big 12 in rushing going into the Kansas State game got a very rude awakening to the Big 12.

Kenny Stills is the biggest threat in the Oklahoma offense, but it seems that OU is trying to use him more as a slot or inside receiver than on the outside. That may be a product of the lack of available receivers. Justin Brown had some catches, but he and Trey Metoyer were non-factors against K-State. Shepard led the team in receiving (He'll be featured prominently on the unsung article this week.), and looked like he, not Metoyer was the freshman ready for the spotlight. There is also not a viable tight end option. The Sooners' offense is in shambles. It could end up being the opposite effect of what we saw last year with the OU defense feeling the need to shut an opponent out because they don't know what the offense will do on a week-to-week basis.

From a Texas Tech perspective, the bye week for the Sooners is what scares me. Having already suffered a loss, the Bob Stoops will do whatever it takes to change out personnel and come up with something to try and stop the bleeding, and they've got two weeks to do it. Had the Sooners escaped with a win, they might have kept up the status quo until they lost.

The other interesting development was West Virginia. The 31-21 win over Maryland was never really in doubt, but Maryland did a good job of containing everyone but Tavon Austin. There were times when the WV offense looked merely human, which surprised me considering the turnover that Maryland has suffered over the last 12 months.

That said, the WV defense played a lot better than I thought. It looks like the Mountaineers will use a lot of pressure to make up for their inexperience.  They still gave up 300 yards through the air to a freshman QB. I like Doege's chances against their secondary on October 13th.

TCU is still a bit of an anomaly. They struggle to beat Kansas and then defeat Virginia handily, but don't look very good doing it. They had another personnel loss this week, as starting RB Waymon James is out for the year with a torn ACL. This team is going to live and die with how QB Casdey Pachall plays. Right now, he's not playing well enough to lead the Frogs to a top half finish in the Big 12.

Baylor survived against Louisiana Monroe. They had the tri-fecta going against them. On the road, Friday night, non-BCS opponent. The only thing Baylor had going for them was they weren't ranked. QB Nick Florence really struggled in the early going and Baylor looked like it had a tough time with a mobile QB that could throw. In the end, Louisiana Monroe just didn't have enough at the skill position to beat Baylor. The Bears have also kept the reins on Lache Seastrunk, probably hoping to unveil him in conference play.

Kansas lost. Kansas lost to Northern Illinois. Enough said.

In all, a very telling week for those that played in the Big 12. This conference is still wide-open in my opinion, and the team that plays most consistently from week to week is going to be the one that wins it. Texas Tech has a really important opportunity over the next three weeks to show what they have done is not a fluke against weaker competition and they are a force to be reckoned with in the Big 12.

Also, Chris Fowler, you owe me $100.


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