Dallas Colleges: 2012 report cards

Season report card: Texas Tech Red Raiders

January, 23, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Texas Tech Red Raiders.

OFFENSE: Texas Tech's offense goes as its quarterback goes. Seth Doege filled up the stat sheet this season, but his 16 interceptions were the most in the Big 12. The team raced out to a 6-1 start and 3-1 in Big 12 play, but the offense's inconsistency held the team back during its late-season slide. In three of their four losses to end the season, the Red Raiders failed to score more than 24 points. That's not good enough to win a ton of Big 12 games, and Texas Tech didn't. The offense rebounded and played well in the win over Kansas, but the defense's issues made it a dramatic overtime win. Eric Ward and Darrin Moore became the Red Raiders' first 1,000-yard receivers since 2008, and the Red Raiders' trio of backs combined for more than 1,700 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. That's pretty solid. The inconsistency and struggles late in the season make it hard to give this unit a great grade, but looking at the season as a whole, the Red Raiders still finished 14th nationally in yards per play and Doege's 39 touchdown passes were second nationally. The Red Raiders ranked just fifth in the Big 12 in total offense, which means that rank of 13th nationally looks a little different on a conference scale. GRADE: C

DEFENSE: This unit was the story of the Big 12 over the first half of the season. It led the nation in total defense for a time during the first half of the season after playing offensive juggernauts like Texas State, Northwestern State and New Mexico. The brunt of Big 12 play predictably brought the Red Raiders back down to earth. Nonconference schedule criticisms aside, there's no denying that this unit was much better. It was exposed in some spots in most of its losses, and didn't force a turnover from Oct. 20 until the final possession of the bowl win over Minnesota, a span of nearly six games. It's tough to win in the Big 12 when you do that, but you still have to give these guys credit for jumping from 114th in total defense a year ago to 38th this season. Kerry Hyder and Cody Davis had solid years, but besides that duo, there was little to write home about in regards to the personnel for this defense. GRADE: B-

OVERALL: The Red Raiders were aggressively average this season. They had Big 12 title hopes after romping against West Virginia in Lubbock and edging TCU in overtime, but K-State's 31-point win in Manhattan ended those pretty quickly. The late-season slide put a bad taste in the Red Raiders' mouths, but a bowl win helped. The pain over losing Tommy Tuberville was quickly healed by bringing home a program legend in Kliff Kingsbury. Last year's team got back to the postseason and didn't have to deal with an avalanche of injuries for once. We saw this was a better team, even if it was far from a great one. GRADE: C

More Big 12 report cards:

Season report card: TCU Horned Frogs

January, 18, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The TCU Horned Frogs.

OFFENSE: You have to wonder what could have been for TCU in Year 1 in the Big 12 if Casey Pachall had stayed on the team, Ed Wesley hadn't left in May and Waymon James' knee had remained healthy more than a couple games into the season. Ifs and buts, candy and nuts, etc., but that wasn't the case. The early season was plagued by turnovers and missed opportunities in the red zone even with Pachall, and that's factored into this grade. The toughest thing for this offense to swallow was how strong its receivers were, but Pachall's replacement, Trevone Boykin, couldn't get Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter the ball consistently enough to make this an offense good enough to hang in the upper half of the Big 12. Boykin played gutsy ball and used his legs well, and had an ability to hit the big play when TCU often needed it, and clearly grew throughout the season. After TCU got blasted at home by Iowa State, I all but eulogized TCU's season. A bowl game was out. And then it wasn't. Against K-State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the offense looked really, really rough, and let winnable games slip out of reach. The Frogs had a really impressive season, but the post-Pachall offense wasn't the reason why it happened. GRADE: C

DEFENSE: The Frogs got my vote as the Big 12's best defense. Stansly Maponga was a bit underwhelming on the defensive line, but Devonte Fields was better than anyone could have ever thought, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman who only started to begin the season because DE Ross Forrest missed the season with a shoulder injury. Jason Verrett emerged as the league's best shutdown corner, a far cry from his awful outing to begin 2011 when RG3 torched Verrett and the Frogs. Elisha Olabode and Sam Carter filled out a strong secondary that forced 32 turnovers, tied for the most in the Big 12. Joel Hasley and Kenny Cain played well for an underrated linebacking corps that was gutted by the loss of Tanner Brock before the season and rising star Deryck Gildon being ruled ineligible and leaving for junior college. Nobody dealt with losses as heavy as TCU, and they happened on both sides of the ball. Gary Patterson strung together an amazing defense, despite it all, and led the league in total defense and yards per play. The Frogs gave up just 4.92 yards per play, nearly half a yard per play fewer than any other team in the Big 12. GRADE: A+

OVERALL: It's tough to grade the Frogs, whose seven-win season felt like a 10-win season, considering the circumstances. The offense had to play with one hand tied behind its back at times, without basically its entire offensive backfield. The defense lost almost as much, but filled in the holes at linebacker and Fields was a breakout star. Every win down the stretch was emotional, but you can't ignore there were only two of them in the final seven games of the year. TCU's impact on the Big 12 in Year 1 was bigger than its number in the win total. It showed a lot of toughness and to some degree, answered the "depth" question. Still, 7-6 is 7-6. GRADE: B-

Season report card: Texas Longhorns

January, 17, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Oklahoma State Cowboys.

OFFENSE: It was obvious from the start that this offense would only go as far as David Ash would take them, and the offense looked really, really strong in the first four games, including wins on the road against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. He played well against West Virginia, but the wheels came off for everything in a blowout loss to Oklahoma. Ash was benched against KU and Case McCoy rescued a win, and McCoy got some run against TCU and K-State when Ash suffered a rib injury. Ash was OK this year, but has to eliminate the rough outings. The receivers were solid, but the running game still has yet to become the force that the raw talent at running back suggests it should be. It's been good, but the Longhorns still keep their backs healthy. The offense was better this year and earned Bryan Harsin a head-coaching job at Arkansas State, but there's a lot of room for improvement for this unit. GRADE: B-

DEFENSE: This is where it could get ugly, considering we generally grade these units on a curve relative to the talent present. Texas looked like a runaway candidate for the Big 12's best defense. The defensive line was beastly and deep at defensive tackle, and the linebackers were young, albeit promising. The secondary returned all of its best talents and Kenny Vaccaro and cornerbacks Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs could arguably be considered the Big 12's No. 1 and No. 2 corners. That was in the preseason, though. Texas never found much ability to slow the run, and Diggs and Byndom were disappointments compared to their 2011 seasons. The linebackers had to deal with the loss of leader Jordan Hicks for most of the season, so they get somewhat of a pass, and the defensive line recovered well from the loss of Jackson Jeffcoat. Alex Okafor was one of the Big 12's best defenders, but that inability to stop the run cost the Longhorns. GRADE: C-

OVERALL: That 4-0 start had plenty of folks, myself included, thinking Texas was back. The loss the following week to a top-10 West Virginia team (back then, anyway) was nothing to be ashamed of. That Red River loss, though, cast a huge shadow over the season and even a late four-game winning streak and a big win on the road at Texas Tech couldn't erase that. A Thanksgiving night disastrous loss to TCU might have repercussions on the recruiting trail in the future, and the Longhorns weren't ready to play 60 minutes with Kansas State, who ran away in the second half. The bowl win over Oregon State was Texas' best win of the season, but in a season in which Texas hoped to be back, it simply wasn't enough. Nine wins doesn't cut it at Texas. GRADE: C+

More Big 12 report cards:

Season report card: Oklahoma State

January, 16, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Oklahoma State Cowboys.

OFFENSE: You have to grade this unit on a curve. No other team in the Big 12 had to deal with this kind of injuries to the most important position on the field, quarterback. Wes Lunt was hurt twice (head, knee) and J.W. Walsh magically returned from a season-ending knee injury after missing a handful of games. Ultimately, the man who began the season as the third-stringer, Clint Chelf, was probably the most consistent quarterback on the roster, and mixing in Walsh's short-yardage package was fantastic. Running back Joseph Randle led the Big 12 in rushing by 300 yards, which is a testament to him and the offensive line, which was great again. Josh Stewart proved to be the team's No. 1 receiver, though Blake Jackson and Tracy Moore were a bit underwhelming. Dealing with those quarterback issues and finishing fourth nationally in total offense is pretty amazing. GRADE: A+

DEFENSE: Oklahoma State forced more than three turnovers in a game six times in 2011. This year, the Pokes did it just once, in the bowl game against Purdue. That was kind of the story for this defense, which will be coached by Glenn Spencer next year after Mike Gundy let veteran coach Bill Young go at the end of his contract. Giving up 59 points in a penalty-filled loss on the road to Arizona gave reason to believe this might be a long year for this unit, but Oklahoma State actually gave up fewer yards per play this season than it did in last year's Big 12 campaign. The cornerbacks were a huge disappointment this year relative to expectations following 2011's huge year, and there wasn't a huge standout on defense in Stillwater this year. Calvin Barnett and Daytawion Lowe had good years, and Alex Elkins and Shaun Lewis were solid at linebacker, but didn't get much notice in a super deep position across the Big 12. Oklahoma State dominated the Big 12's lower-tier offenses like TCU, Iowa State and Kansas, and played well against Texas Tech, but it did little to slow the elite offenses in the Big 12. GRADE: B-

OVERALL: You knew the expectations would be lower for this team after losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon alone, despite all the returning talent on defense. Winning five of six Big 12 games in the middle of the season with the lone loss coming to K-State set this team apart and made it clear they would again be an upper-tier Big 12 team, but the losses to Oklahoma and Baylor down the stretch kept them from truly exceeding the reasonable expectations. Oklahoma State can feel happy about a solid year that will build toward a big opportunity in 2013, and Gundy gets a pass for making 2012 the first season in his eight years in Stillwater that he didn't equal or surpass his win total from the previous year. That's what happens when you win 12 games and then lose the best parts of your offense. Kidding aside, kudos to the Cowboys. GRADE: A-

More Big 12 report cards:

Season report card: Oklahoma

January, 16, 2013
We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Oklahoma Sooners.

OFFENSE: The year got off to a rocky start out in El Paso, with the Sooners needing late touchdowns from Brannon Green and Damien Williams to break away from a near upset to the Miners. After another ugly game against Kansas State full of costly turnovers, the Sooners hit their stride. It all started with 41 points on the road against Texas Tech in a stadium the Sooners historically struggled in, but a 63-point outburst in the Red River Rivalry had Oklahoma fans thinking big again. Landry Jones was still continually unappreciated, but he helped win shootouts down the stretch against Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, and carried the Sooners in a tough game against TCU. The streakiness hit a bad spot in the Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M, which costs them in my grade. The running game was OK, but not outstanding outside of some long runs from Williams, but credit Jones for developing chemistry with a whole new unit of receivers. This was a gutsy finish from the offensive line, too, which dealt with a ton of injuries this year. Lane Johnson, Gabe Ikard and Ty Darlington all played well down the stretch. GRADE: A-

DEFENSE: The memories of 500-yard outings from Tavon Austin and Johnny Manziel are fresh in their minds, but this defense wasn't as awful as some believed. The linebackers were quiet this year in Mike Stoops' well-publicized scheme that stressed gap responsibility and freed up Tony Jefferson to make well over 100 tackles and leave for the NFL. Before Nov. 10, Oklahoma had given up more than 24 points just one time, and that team (Notre Dame) played for the national title. The end of the season wasn't as rosy, and the Sooners gave up 34, 49, 48 and 41 points. It was a bad finish, but Oklahoma did fix its problems stopping the deep ball from last year. That's something, and it helped Oklahoma win eight consecutive Big 12 games, which is no small feat. GRADE: B

OVERALL: Bob Stoops has gone a postseason crusade making it clear mediocrity isn't enough, but this really is a tough balance. Oklahoma's won 10 games in three consecutive seasons after a disappointing eight-win campaign in 2009, and won at least a share of a Big 12 title in two of the last three seasons. Oklahoma hasn't been to the BCS since the 2010 season, but they've won a whole bunch of games, just not enough to come anywhere close to the national championship game, which Stoops set as a standard early in his coaching tenure in Norman. Oklahoma's season ended ugly, but all three losses were to teams in the top 11 this year, and A&M might have been the hottest team in the country to close the year. This was an unsatisfying year in Norman, but how unsatisfied can you really be with a share of the Big 12 title? GRADE: B+

More Big 12 report cards:


Season report card: Baylor Bears

January, 9, 2013
We're going to go back and grade each Big 12 team's season in the coming weeks, and we'll start at the top of the alphabet with the Big 12's hottest team: The Baylor Bears.

OFFENSE: Art Briles and the Bears maintained all spring that the offense wouldn't lose a step without Robert Griffin III. It sounded far-fetched, and though it didn't translate to wins, Baylor wasn't blowing smoke. The Bears finished the season No. 2 in total offense, the same spot as last year, and averaged more than 572 yards a game, about 15 fewer than a year ago.

The Bears averaged 45 points a game last year, and this year, it was about 44. Nick Florence turned the ball over more than the Bears would want him to, but he finished second in the nation in total offense. Receiver Terrance Williams led the nation in receiving yards and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Fellow receiver Tevin Reese proved himself as a deep threat and the offensive line was one of the Big 12's best, led by Cyril Richardson. The Bears would have gotten an A-plus if they'd ridden Lache Seastrunk from the start of the season, and their record might be a little better, too. Still, his big finish makes 2013 very, very exciting for this offense. GRADE: A

DEFENSE: Just like last year, the story of the Bears defense was a surge in turnover margin that led to big wins and a great finish to the season. Baylor was minus-11 in turnover margin in its first four Big 12 games and lost them all, forcing zero turnovers in three of those games. In the 4-1 finish in Big 12 play, the Bears were plus-10 in turnover margin, forcing at least two turnovers in every game.

Baylor's defense really turned heads with fantastic performances against Kansas State and UCLA, holding both teams to just 362 yards of total offense, the two lowest totals all season. Those were the Bears' two biggest wins of the year, and the defense was the catalyst for both. You can't hide from giving up 800 yards to West Virginia, more than 550 in a loss to Iowa State and 560 in a narrow win over Louisiana-Monroe. But this unit showed some potential, despite more rough games than memorable ones. GRADE: C-

OVERALL: If we're grading the first half of the season, the Bears looked like they might not beat anybody and a bowl berth looked like an uphill battle. If we're grading the second half of the season, Baylor might have been the Big 12's best team. Ultimately, it's got to come somewhere in the middle. Still, though, relative to expectations, Baylor overachieved. It won 10 games a year ago and looked like a fringe bowl team to begin the year. Winning eight games and closing with a bowl win over a ranked, favored Pac-12 team was impressive. GRADE: B+