NORMAN — Things change quickly in college football. The Big 12 Conference is the perfect example.
The fact the league is preparing for its final season as a 12-team group isn’t the only alteration for the 2010 season. There’s a strong perception the mighty offenses that dominated for the last several seasons have bid farewell, too.
Texas coach Mack Brown said it’s the natural evolution of the sport. The defenses have finally caught up with the spread offenses that dominated the last decade. He admits the Longhorns spent the spring and will spend the next month trying to rediscover a running game that was dormant the previous four seasons.
“We’re not going to be three yards and a cloud of dust,” Brown said. “We’re just changing our personality. We’re not going to change it entirely, but we are going to tweak it some.”
The Longhorns aren’t the only ones. Just about every team in the league except for Oklahoma State has professed a need to reintroduce themselves to dormant running games.
OU has been one of the few teams that wanted offensive balance over the last five years. Even it got pass-happy last season when injuries forced personnel to change. That won’t be the case this year.
OU running back DeMarco Murray said he’s set a goal for rushing for 2,000 yards this season. It was an incredible feat, considering Murray only rushed for 1,000 yards once in his career.
But don’t discount Murray. The Big 12 could very well be decided by which teams run the ball the best.
Brown is right in one aspect: Defenses throughout the conference have gotten more comfortable defending the spread offense. The biggest change this season, however, is the quarterbacks that will be running those offenses.
Stars like OU’s Sam Bradford and Texas’ Colt McCoy are gone. But those are two of the luckier teams in the league. The Sooners know Landry Jones will be their quarterback this season. The Longhorns have already named Garrett Gilbert as their starter.