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Big 12 stats and trends: Passing game efficiency

The offseason is a good time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

Which Big 12 teams are efficient on offense and defense, excel on third down and consistently create turnovers? Those are just a few of the questions we’ll aim to answer during this weekly offseason series. In this series we’re looking to expose the programs that build themselves upon certain long-term traits as opposed to riding one or two elite players to short-term excellence.

Today, we continue the series by looking at yards per dropback (passing yards and scramble yards minus sack yards per dropback) to get a glimpse at the Big 12’s most efficient passing attacks. (All stats are in Big 12 games only since TCU and West Virginia joined the conference in 2012 via ESPN Stats and Information.)

1. Baylor, 8.16: The Bears led the Big 12 with 22 percent of their passes traveling 20 yards or more through the air, yet Baylor also ranked second with 67 percent of passes traveling five yards or more through the air, a sign Baylor uses deep and short passing games to challenge defenses. Nick Florence (8.43) and Bryce Petty (8.23) ranked 1-2 in this category during this span. Returning quarterback Seth Russell has averaged 7.65 yards per dropback average in 13 games.

2. Oklahoma State, 7.33: The Cowboys focus on the mid-range passing game, leading the Big 12 with 46.1 percent of passes traveling 10 or more yards in the air and 29.3 percent of passes traveling 15 or more yards in the air. Mason Rudolph is the Big 12's top returning quarterback in yards per dropback at 7.73, which ranks him sixth among all Big 12 quarterbacks during this span.

3. Kansas State, 7.22: The Wildcats have the highest air yards per attempt at 11.35, as K-State uses run-pass options and a deep passing game with its dual threat quarterbacks Collin Klein and Jake Waters. Waters (8.14) and Klein (8.13) rank 3-4 among Big 12 quarterbacks during this span. Last year's starter, Joe Hubener, has averaged 5.39 yards per dropback average in 14 games.

4. Oklahoma, 7.07: The Sooners are helped by a Big 12-low 54 sacks and 60.9 completion percentage, which ranked second during this span. Former Sooner Landry Jones joined Florence, Petty, Waters and Klein in the top five with a 7.77 yards per dropback. Returning starting quarterback Baker Mayfield has averaged 6.71 yards per dropback in 14 games.

5. TCU, 7.02: The Horned Frogs have been the Big 12’s best in this category since Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie took over the offense prior to the 2014 season. TCU’s 7.9 yards per dropback is the Big 12’s best in 18 games the past two seasons. The Horned Frogs averaged 6.05 yards per dropback the previous two seasons. Departed starter Trevone Boykin averaged 7.15 yards per dropback in 34 games.

6. Texas Tech, 6.9: The Red Raiders are the kings of the short passing game with 7.38 air yards per pass attempt, the lowest in the Big 12, and their 63.6 completion percentage ranks first. Returning starter Patrick Mahomes has averaged 7.51 yards per dropback in 16 games. Seth Doege (7.18) and Davis Webb (6.85) joined Mahomes among the top 16 quarterbacks during this span.

7. West Virginia, 6.31: Accuracy has been a problem for West Virginia quarterbacks with 14.1 percent of their passes off target (i.e. over or under thrown) during this span. Only Geno Smith, with a 7.29 yards per dropback, ranked among the top 15 quarterbacks since West Virginia joined the Big 12. Returning starter Skyler Howard has averaged 5.78 yards per dropback in 12 games.

8. Texas, 6.23: The Longhorns problems at quarterback are well-chronicled. Case McCoy's 6.34 yards per dropback average was the best by a Texas quarterback during this span, and Tyrone Swoopes (5.97) and Jerrod Heard (4.45) failed to approach the Big 12 average of 6.64.

9. Iowa State, 5.42: The Cyclones were sacked 91 times during this span and didn’t have the deep passing game to make defenses pay for blitzing them 26.2 percent of the time. The result is 6.04 yards per pass attempt, which ranked ninth in the Big 12. No Iowa State quarterback ranked among the Big 12’s top 24 signal callers during this span, with Joel Lanning and Sam B. Richardson tied at No. 25 with a 5.44 average.

10. Kansas, 4.69: The Jayhawks completed only 50 percent of their pass attempts, and Kansas' 33.2 QR is shockingly low. Jake Heaps (3.96) and Montell Cozart (3.67) were the only Big 12 quarterbacks who failed to average at least four yards per dropback during this span, and last year wasn't much better as Ryan Willis averaged 4.43 yards per dropback in 2015.