- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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In 2013, the Big 12 had some offenses that excelled, such as Baylor and Oklahoma State, and other offenses that floundered, such as Kansas and Iowa State. But every Big 12 offense has one thing in common: It is looking to improve in 2014.
With the help of ESPN Stats and Information, here's a team-by-team look at one key offensive stat from last season and how to improve the number in 2014.
Key stat in 2013: The Bears offense was so dominant in 2013, there’s really nowhere to go but down. Baylor finished atop the Big 12 in almost every offensive category, so maintaining that level of play is the most important thing the Bears can do in 2014. But, if we’re nit-picking, the Bears could improve their touchdown efficiency in the red zone. Baylor scored touchdowns on 64.2 percent of its red zone drives, ranking third in the Big 12 and No. 52 nationally.
How to improve in 2014: Losing Glasco Martin, the Bears’ goal-line specialist, doesn’t help, but Baylor has enough options at running back to kick their percentage up to 68 percent or higher, which would place them among the nation’s top 25 in that category. Between Shock Linwood, Johnny Jefferson, Devin Chafin and freshman Terence Williams, the Bears have some quality options and should be able to field fresh legs in goal-line and red-zone situations to combine with Bryce Petty’s brillance.
Key stat in 2013: Iowa State’s struggling offense played a key role in a disappointing 3-9 finish a year ago. At the root of those struggles were slow starts on its drives. Paul Rhoads' squad didn’t achieve a first down on 43.5 percent of its offensive drives in 2013, ranking ninth in the Big 12 and No. 120 nationally.
How to improve in 2014: Rhoads brought in several new offensive coaches, including former Kansas coach Mark Mangino, who will run the ISU offense this fall. With new coaches and new ideas on offense, the Cyclones should be able to improve their percentage of drives without a first down, particularly if they can get quality quarterback play.
Key stat in 2013: The Jayhawks simply didn’t make enough big plays in 2013. Only 35.2 percent of KU’s offensive plays gained five yards or more, ranking last in the Big 12 and No. 117 nationally.
How to improve in 2014: Charlie Weis fired himself as offensive coordinator and brought in John Reagan to run the Jayhawks offense. A complete rebuild of the offense is needed after a horrible 2013 season, and Kansas has placed hopes for offensive success on the shoulders of sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart, who has the dual-threat ability to increase the number of big plays in Lawrence, Kan.
Key stat in 2013: Turnovers handcuffed the Wildcats in 2013. KSU turned the ball over on 14.6 percent of its drives last season, ranking No. 9 in the Big 12 and No. 103 in the nation.
How to improve in 2014: Quarterback Jake Waters has a year of experience in the Big 12 and returns as the main man in the backfield, which should be a huge help. The Wildcats offense was efficient and was among the Big 12’s best without the turnovers. If they can fix their turnover problems, the Wildcats could make a run at the Big 12 title.
Key stat in 2013: The Sooners lacked balance on offense in 2013, despite their 11-win season and Sugar Bowl triumph. Just 47.1 percent of their offensive yards came on passing plays as the Sooners struggled to find their footing throughout the season. OU ranked last in the Big 12 and No. 105 in the nation in that category.
How to improve in 2014: Having Trevor Knight as the clear starter will help, particularly if the sophomore performs the way he did in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma knows its offense needs to be balanced if they want to make a College Football Playoff berth in 2014. In 2008, the last time the Sooners earned a berth in the BCS title game, OU gained 63.8 percent of its yards through the air.
Key stat in 2013: The Cowboys had a strong offense in Mike Yurcich’s first season, but there’s room for improvement. Oklahoma State punted on 42.1 percent of its drives, which ranks No. 7 in the Big 12 and No. 84 nationally. Punts, which are much better than turnovers, aren’t always bad, but TCU, Iowa State and Kansas finished lower than Oklahoma State in that category and combined for 10 wins in 2013.
How to improve in 2014: Oklahoma State's offense simply needs to operate more efficiently and consistently. The Cowboys had stretches of offensive football that could compare with Baylor, and other times when they looked more like Kansas than one of the Big 12’s best offensive attacks. Quarterback J.W. Walsh will shoulder a lot of the burden of making the offense more consistent in 2014. He has the experience to handle that burden.
Key stat in 2013: A lack of big plays was like an anchor on Texas’ offense last season. Only 15.9 percent of Texas' offensive plays gained 10 yards or more, ranking No. 9 in the Big 12 and No. 116 nationally.
How to improve in 2014: Texas needs to find playmakers and put them in position to change games. Receiver Daje Johnson is a big-play guy, and the return of a healthy Johnathan Gray would help, but Charlie Strong needs some younger offensive players to step up and show they can be difference-makers in his first season.
Key stat in 2013: TCU’s offense struggled to sustain drives despite having several talented offensive playmakers. The Horned Frogs gained 35.2 percent of possible yards on their drives in 2013, ranking No. 9 in the Big 12 and No. 88 nationally.
How to improve in 2014: TCU is addressing its poor offensive showing with new coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie taking over the Horned Frogs offense. Both coaches have a background as key contributors in explosive pass offenses, so TCU’s offense looks as if it’s on the road to improving in this category.
Key stat in 2013: Kliff Kingsbury’s squad was horrible at taking care of the football in his first season. The Red Raiders had 33 turnovers in 2013, ranking last in the Big 12 and No. 119 in the nation.
How to improve in 2014: Kingsbury knows the Red Raiders must be better at taking care of the ball after a second consecutive season among the Big 12’s worst teams in turnovers committed. Having returning QB Davis Webb, whose 2.5 interception percentage ranked No. 3 in the Big 12, will help, particularly with the sophomore having a full season under his belt.
Key stat in 2013: Dana Holgorsen’s offense was horrible on third down, converting just 31.9 percent of its conversion attempts. The Mountaineers ranked No. 9 in the Big 12 and No. 113 in the nation.
How to improve in 2014: Better quarterback play will help, but Holgorsen needs more playmakers to emerge on offense. It will take a combination of better production on first and second downs and better clutch playmaking on third down to improve this number.
4dDavid M. Hale