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Insider

Texas stays grounded as Big 12 airs it out

11/2/2011

Oklahoma’s Landry Jones threw for 500-plus yards Saturday.

Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden seemingly could throw for 500-plus yards any Saturday.

Texas rushed for 441 yards against Kansas.

Texas Tech has the nation’s fifth best passing offense.

Baylor has the sixth.

Texas’ pass offense is 90th out of 120 teams.

Is anyone else seeing the trend here?

While the rest of the Big 12 goes up top, Texas remains firmly grounded. Texas also remains stuck behind those top passing teams in the conference standings.

The Sooners and the Cowboys, the two most prolific passing offenses, are the two best teams in the Big 12. Texas A&M, the No. 17 pass offense, is not too far behind.

The lone exception in the Big 12 standings is Kansas State. The Wildcats are 113th in pass offense. They are also 4-1 in the Big 12, but the four wins have come over teams with losing conference records.

Whether or not Kansas State, or Texas for that matter, can hold its spot near the top of the conference standings being so heavily reliant on the run remains to be seen. What has been seen in the past is that in the Big 12, to win it, a team has to throw it. And well.

The past four Big 12 winners have all been in the top 40 statistically in passing. Three of those four years, the team was in the top 25 in passing. Twice it was in the top 5.

The last team to lead the conference in rushing and win the Big 12 championship was Texas in 2005. And the Longhorns were still No. 40 in passing offense that year.

So, it’s safe to say the Big 12 didn’t need to merge with the Pac-12. It has become the Pac-12 on its own -- a high-flying, spread-‘em-out, conference of quarterbacks. Nebraska clearly was only holding the conference back.

For those curious about soon-to-be Big 12 teams, TCU and West Virginia, the Horned Frogs are 69th in passing offense, but lost Andy Dalton to the NFL. West Virginia is seventh.

Dana Holgorsen, who was in charge of the Oklahoma State passing attack, is the Mountaineers’ coach. The player directing the attack, Geno Smith, is just a junior.

So if WVU starts play in the Big 12 next year, as expected, then five of the current top 10 passing attacks in 2011 will be a part of the Big 12 next year.

If Landry Jones does not enter the NFL Draft, four of those five quarterbacks will return.

Texas, on the other hand, will be adding ESPN’s top-rated running back recruit, Johnathan Gray, to a backfield with the top freshman rusher in the conference right now, Malcolm Brown.

The Longhorns will also have a quarterback who at the most would have eight starts. That’s a miniscule amount when considering Smith, Jones, Robert Griffin III and Seth Doege all could return. And that’s assuming David Ash is the starter next season.

Texas has commitments from the No. 3 rated quarterback, Connor Brewer, and dual-threat Jalen Overstreet. If the quarterback situation continues as it has through the first seven games, it is reasonable to assume either of the two true freshmen could compete for a starting job in 2012.

So while the rest of the conference is already in the clouds, Texas will be trying to build from the ground up.