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July 28, 2013

It may be more than perception that has Big 12 defenses lagging behind

NORMAN — One after another, the Big 12 Conference’s football coaches all talked about the depth of the league last week at Big 12 Football Media Days.

Parity has spread to a level where over half the league feels it has a legitimate shot to win the conference title.

But the league has another issue it continues to grapple with, when scores like 70-63 (the score in West Virginia’s victory over Baylor last season), 56-50 (the score in Texas’ win over Baylor) or 50-49 (the finally tally in OU’s win at West Virginia) become common place.

Six of the teams scored at least 45 points in a game they lost. It’s hard to argue that the league’s defenses are at the very least trailing in terms of innovation and have a talent gap that needs to be closed.

“When you’re happy to win a game 56-50, things have changed. I mean, it’s just a different deal,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “You walk out mad at your defense or happy with your offense. You walk out happy you won, and that’s it, or you lose a game 48-45.

 

There’s no doubt the Big 12 Conference has been ground zero for the up-tempo spread offense. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy believes the proliferation of them has helped level the league.

“I think it’s tremendous for college football,” he said. “I think that’s why college football has gone through the roof, and there’s so much interest. There’s been so many different people that are involved in college football now because of tempo and spread offenses.”

 

But every offensive innovation has eventually been met by a defensive counterpunch. The end of the wishbone era in college football came when defensive coordinator figured out they had to match speed with speed and began recruiting athletic defenders.

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