Get used to all this Big 12 offense

Thursday, October 23, 2008

BOULDER, Colo. -- Lamenting the demise of defense in college football? Get used to it.

Some coaches in the high-octane Big 12, with its ridiculously rich crop of talented young quarterbacks and four of the top eight teams in the country, say there's been a fundamental shift in the game and the pendulum might never swing back.

Five-hundred-yard games are becoming the norm.

"It's out of control. We're having to change the way we look at defensive stats just because everybody is scoring so many points," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "I remember the day when we would try to keep from scoring 60 points because we felt like that was really bad. And now you're seeing 70s.

"So, I don't know where it's going to stop, but people are just running up and down the field and scoring a lot of points. And it's fun for the fans, but those defensive coordinators are pulling their hair out."

The transformation isn't just taking place on college campuses. It's also seen on the recruiting trail across the country.

"I think it goes back to high school," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "They used to take all the best players, particularly here in Texas, they took all the top players and always put them on defense. And now, because of the emergence of the 7-on-7 that goes on all summer long -- it's like the AAU basketball -- they just keep playing and playing and playing. And those kids, they enjoy playing offense and scoring points as opposed to keeping people from scoring points."

There's still some stingy defenses around the country, but considering all the variations of the no-huddle spread offenses, are dominant defenses going out of fashion?

"I don't know, I think time's going to tell," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I mean, so many people are running no-huddle. When we started running it four years ago, I don't think there were five or 10 BCS teams in the nation running it. Now, everybody's running it.

"Will defenses catch up? They generally do. But there's not just a spread offense out there. You can run the option out of the spread offense, people are now running the I formation out of the spread offense. ... It's certainly, I think, great for college football."

Baylor coach Art Briles compared today's effectiveness of the spread styles to those of the veer offenses in the 1970s and '80s.

"I think there's a lot of similarities in what's going on, it's just become a more fast-paced game, and a lot of it's due to the [clock] rule restraints that we're under now," Briles said.

In the Big 12 and elsewhere, defenses just don't rule the day anymore.

"It doesn't gall me," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "It's just different challenges."

But this isn't Arena League Football just yet, he cautioned.

"I think at times even this year you'll see defenses that have their good days ... or periods of games that change games," Stoops said. "I don't think anybody ever has a stronghold for good on anything. Defenses will continue to match up and be able to handle it."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: