The Big 12 REPORT

A weekly look at all things Big 12 as the college football season begins

Tom Herman leads the Longhorns in Year 2. Tim Warner/Getty Images

College football is back and so are your favorite Big 12 teams. As we look ahead to week 1 of the 2018 college football season, there are plenty of things to highlight and catch up on. In this article I will preview some of the key matchups to watch in week 1, and what Big 12 players you should keep your eye on.

Must Watch Games Week 1: (BIG Story/Games of the week)

Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

The first game I want to highlight is the matchup between Texas Tech University and the University of Ole Miss. This game will arguably be one of the most exciting and nationally recognized games that includes a Big 12 team in week 1. Look for this game to hold a lot of offensive excitement, as neither of the teams are known for their defensive ability. Also, a lot of controversy has been made of the perceived stability of Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job heading into 2018. Many believe this season will be his last opportunity for Kliff Kingsbury to establish Tech as a true contender not only in the Big 12 but on the national stage as well.

Texas vs. Maryland

The second game that I believe should draw considerable attention is the University of Texas vs. the University of Maryland. This matchup will be a rematch from the 2017 season where Texas suffered a heartbreaking fourth quarter loss that diminished the early excitement around UT’s 2017 season, after three subpar years under head coach Charlie Strong. Eyes will be on this game for two reasons, the first being Tom Herman’s second season as the head coach of the University of Texas after a promising offseason full of exciting player development and high profile recruiting. The second reason will be due to the controversial offseason of the Maryland coaching staff after having a player die during off-season training and allegations of player abuse and mistreatment surrounded the program. Keep an eye on this game to see if Texas can come out of the gates hot for 2018 and show the country that the program is one step closer to returning to its former glory.

Oklahoma vs. FAU

The final game I recommend tuning into will be the University of Oklahoma vs. Florida Atlantic University. The 2018 OU team will not only be carry big preseason expectations from the national media, but they will also be trying to fill the shoes of a high achieving 2017 squad that made the playoffs on the backs of former quarterback and Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma’s new look team led by second-year head coach Lincoln Riley and new quarterback Kyler Murray, will face off against a sneaky FAU team who was revitalized in 2017 by the hiring of former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has loaded the FAU roster with talented athletes who have the potential to steal an early season victory away from a new and unproven Oklahoma team.

Big 12 players to watch week 1:

West Virginia QB Will Grier & WR David Sills

When it comes to the players to watch heading into this first jam packed week of college football, all eyes will be on the country's arguably most dangerous QB & WR duo at the University of West Virginia. Senior quarterback Will Grier has received high praise all off-season and is expected to compete for the title of top QB in college football for the 2018 season. To help him meet those lofty expectations will be Senior wide receiver David Sills who burst onto the scene in 2017 after hauling in 18 touchdowns and finishing the season just shy of 1,000 yards receiving. This tandem will demand attention all season but their week 1 matchup against Tennessee will have the country watching to see if they can live up to the hype.  

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray & RB Rodney Anderson

Another Big 12 backfield duo to watch week 1 will be Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (QB) and Rodney Anderson (RB). Murray has received most of the attention this off-season as he will be stepping into the starting quarterback role with big shoes to fill, left behind by Mayfield. Murray has not seen much of the field since his dominant high school days at Texas high school football powerhouse, Allen High School, where he won three straight state championships and finished with a record of 42-0. Murray will look at Week 1 as an opportunity to quiet the skeptics and prove that his abilities translate to the major college level. Luckily for Murray he will have Anderson beside him in the backfield, who rushed for over 1,000 yards and collected 18 total touchdowns in 2017. Anderson will be the perfect running mate for Murray and should relieve a ton of pressure as defenses will have to respect his game breaking ability.

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger

The final Big 12 player that I believe deserves some extra attention in Week 1 is Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. In 2017, Ehlinger brought hope back to the fallen Texas program, and produced flashes of potential stardom that could quicken the resurrection of the Texas football dynasty. Week 1 for this young quarterback will be a chance for Texas fans and the country to see the product of his off-season development, and a chance for Ehlinger to solidify himself as THE starting quarterback of the present and the future.





 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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