After yet another wild Saturday of college football, which coaches stood above the rest and gave their teams the biggest advantage? Find out in our Week 12 FootballScoop Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week - Art Bries, Baylor: In his fifth season in Waco, Art Briles continues to transform the DNA of Baylor football. Briles' team earned its first victory over a No. 1-ranked team, and first sub-.500 team to beat a BCS No. 1, and did so by 28 points. Baylor controlled the game for all 60 minutes, scoring first, constructing a 28-7 lead and, when Kansas State pulled within 35-24, ripping off 21 straight points to put the game out of reach. Kansas State, which had imposed its will physically on 10 straight opponents, was dominated at the line of scrimmage as Baylor out-rushed the Wildcats 342-76. Phil Bennett's defense also forced Heisman Trophy front-runner Collin Klein off his game as he threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but needed 50 passes (and 23 incompletions) to get there, with a season-high three interceptions.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Michigan: The Wolverines didn't do anything spectacular in their 42-17 win over Iowa, but this award honors their methodical demolition of the Hawkeyes defense. The Wolverines' first six drives of the game went as follows: 12 plays, 70 yards, touchdown; seven plays, 79 yards, touchdown; eight plays, 85 yards, touchdown; seven plays, 87 yards, touchdown; 11 plays, 81 yards, touchdown; and six plays, 60 yards, touchdown. That's 452 yards on 51 plays (8.86 yards per play) of unrelenting execution from Al Borges' offense. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner got the start and completed 18-of-23 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and an interception while rushing nine times for 37 yards and three more scores. With regular starting quarterback Denard Robinson nursing a wrist injury, Michigan utilized him at running back (13 carries for a team-leading 98 yards) and wide receiver (two catches for 24 yards).
Defensive Staff of the Week - Stanford: Not since Chip Kelly's first game had Oregon been held to 14 points or less, a span of 50 games. In fact, the Ducks came in to Saturday night riding an NCAA-record streaks of 13 straight games of 40 points or more and 23 straight games of 30 points or more, but none of that mattered in Stanford 17-14 overtime win in Eugene. Over four quarters plus overtime, Stanford held Oregon under its 2012 first quarter scoring average. Derek Mason's defense forced Oregon to punt eight times, matching a season high and held the Ducks to a season-low 405 yards of total offense. Stanford committed three turnovers, but the Cardinal's defense limited Oregon to no points off those takeaways.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - LSU: Trailing 35-28 in the fourth quarter, a sputtering LSU offense faced a long field ahead of it until Odell Beckham returned an Ole Miss punt 89 yards for a game-tying touchdown. "Everyone had their block, everyone had their man and everyone covered their assignments," Beckham said following the return. Beckham's score completely swung momentum of the game as LSU would eventually win the game, 41-35. Drew Alleman nailed two-of-three field goal attempts and, despite another Les Miles coming up empty on another gamble, made all three of the extra points he actually attempted. Brad Wing boomed five punts for a 44.8-yard average with three pinned inside the 20, and the special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey's coverage units did not allow Ole Miss any significant returns.
Call of the Week - Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: It may not have resulted in a win, but Oklahoma had no answer for Holgorsen's decision to play wide receiver Tavon Austin at running back. Austin, who had carried the ball 14 times for 103 yards thus far this season, rushed 21 times for a school-record 344 yards and two touchdowns. Coupled with his four receptions for 82 yards and his eight kickoff returns for 146 yards, Austin's 572 all-purpose yards were school and Big 12 records and came just six yards shy of tying the NCAA record.
After dropping their last four straight games after a 5-0 start, Dana Holgorsen talked to the media yesterday about their struggles on the defensive side of the ball.
The Mountaineer defense ranks 110th or worse in pass efficiency defense (119th), total defense (110th), scoring defense (117th), and pass defense (120th). The Mountaineers have allowed at least 34 points in seven of their nine games this season.
"You gotta be there 100% of the time if you want to play good defense, it's got to be all the time. You can't say we played good defense with the exception of seven or eight snaps...which they scored on."
"We're having a hard time getting through to our guys, which is coaching, that we have to play like that all the time. That's the challenge." Holgorsen explained.
This weekend they'll have their work cut out for them as they take on an Oklahoma offense that ranks in the top 16 nationally in passing offense (15th ), total offense (16th), and scoring offense (13th).
Oliver Luck hired Dana Holgorsen to be coach in waiting at West Virignia on December 22, 2010...and we all know the rest. By all accounts this has been a home run hire for Oliver Luck...but was if it wasn't...
Did you know that a week before hiring Holgorsen, Oliver Luck offered the same "coach in waiting" position to Mike Haywood? Haywood was just completing a highly successful second season as head coach at Miami (Ohio) when Luck called and offered him the future reigns of the West Virginia football team.
As luck would have it (yeah, I did that), Pitt called Haywood within minutes of Luck's call and Haywood chose the Pitt job.
So (work with me on this one), if Haywood had accepted Luck's offer and hence Dana not left Oklahoma State after the 2010 season and remained offensive coordinator for the 2011 season with Weeden and Blackmon (and others) we have to assume several programs would have rolled out the red carpet for him after the 2011 season. Perhaps he would have gotten the nod at Southern Miss to replace Larry Fedora (another highly successful offensive coordinator coming from Oklahoma State). Anyone think the Southern Miss fan base wishes they had Holgo on the sidelines in Hattiesburg right now?
"Sometimes it's better to be Lucky than to be good."
The hype video that the Mountaineers watched before taking the field against TCU was really good, and very well done. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to stop the Horned Frogs from putting together a strong fourth quarter and successfully converting the two point conversion in double overtime to escape with the win.
There's one line that flashes on the screen that's worthy of pointing out on it's own, which was a great analogy for how the Mountaineers entered the game (coming off two straight losses).
"A season is like a flame and any flame can be put out. But at any moment it can be reignited."
Including their 70-63 shootout win over Baylor back in week four of the season, West Virginia gave up at least 45 points and 400 yards of total offense in four of their next five games. They've dropped their last three straight, but co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson saw some major improvement against TCU Saturday.
After losing in double overtime on Saturday to Gary Patterson and his TCU staff (39-38) when they decided to go for two and the win instead of kicking the extra point to head into triple OT, Mountaineer co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson noted that they made some changes that allowed them to be more sound defensively throughout the game. At halftime Saturday, they had held the Horned Frogs to just seven yards rushing.
"We tried to get guys on the field that we knew we could trust, and guys that have shown that over the past two weeks." Patterson added that they also cut down on coverages a little bit, and put more emphasis on fundamentals like timing up their blitzes during the week.
Patterson noted that their focus now turns to keeping players spirits up and showing them where they have improved and the importance of playing a full sixty minutes. Their remaining schedule of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Kansas leaves no room to overlook anyone.
"You've got to build on the positive. College football has no time to sit and dwell on this one, you have to figure out a way to win next week." he said.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by the end of Saturday's game against Kansas State, 30 different West Virginia players had seen the field on defense.
A third of those players didn't even have a year of game experience under their belt, as six true freshman, and four additional redshirt freshman saw the field.
Kansas State came into the game ranking 108th in passing offense with 179 yards per game and lit it up through the air with 333 yards passing against a Mountaineer pass defense that ranked dead last in pass defense when the final buzzer sounded.
The Mountaineers have given up at least 45 points in the past four straight games, and are allowing opponents to complete nearly 69% of their pass attempts.
"We've tried everything. Maybe that's our fault as a staff. We've tried to cover up our deficiencies. Then we tried to do other things to give them the ability to mix it up."
The variety of different offenses that they've seen in the first seven games (Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech just to name a few), have provided the staff a unique challenge to prepare for each week. Kansas State is pretty multiple and will utilize designed quarterback runs, while Texas Tech is going to spread you out and try to shred you from the pocket.
"We're searching right now. We're searching, but every week is different. One week it's Kansas State, next week it's Texas Tech. You're running across different problems every week."
This bye week will be important to get things sorted out, as the offenses that they'll see moving forward will continue to present some problems. Next weekend they'll get TCU at home, followed by Oklahoma State on the road and then Oklahoma at home.
With another full slate of games ahead of us tomorrow, here's what we'll be keeping an extra close eye on throughout the day.
LSU at Texas A&M (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is an opportunity for a statement game for Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense (tied for sixth nationally in total offense, 7.09 yards per play) faces John Chavis' second-ranked LSU defense. If Texas A&M pulls out the win, it will be because quarterback Johnny Manziel (24 touchdowns through six games) found a way to solve an LSU defense that has surrendered just 13 scores this season. These programs have met 50 times previously, although Saturday will be the first meeting in College Station since 1995. Texas A&M wants to re-kindle this rivalry, but the only way to to do that is with a win.
Rutgers at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network): Raise your hand if you knew this was a battle for the top spot in the Big East standings. Steve Addazio has led Temple to a 2-0 start in the Owls' return to the Big East despite ranking last in the league in total offense and total defense. Addazio's team relies heavily on the run (2.1:1 rush-pass ratio), while Rutgers ranks second nationally in rush defense at 60.8 yards per game and 2.25 yards per carry allowed. Both of these teams' success lies in forcing turnovers (Rutgers leads in the nation in turnover margin, Temple is No. 12), so whoever can carve out an advantage in that area will likely win the game.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (12 p.m. ET, FX): A year removed from winning the Big 12 championship, Mike Gundy's team is still trying to sort out exactly what it is. The Cowboys lead the country in total offense by a wide margin, nearly 34 yards per game over No. 2 Baylor. But their most impressive win to date is over Louisiana - Lafayette, and they come into Saturday off a 20-14 win over 1-5 Kansas in which the Jayhawks outgained OSU 398-371. Paul Rhoads' team will try to make this game close and low-scoring. Iowa State is 19-1 in Rhoads' tenure when holding teams under 24 points, and 3-21 when giving up 24 points or more. Iowa State is also 10-6 under Rhoads in games decided by a touchdown or less.
South Carolina at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mark Richt and co. will be rooting hard for the Gators, as a Florida win essentially sets up a winner-take-all matchup for the control of the SEC East at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. Meanwhile, a South Carolina win means Steve Spurrier's team will just have to get by Tennessee and Arkansas to clinch a trip to Atlanta for the second time in three years. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series while limiting the Gators to just 26 combined points.
BYU at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This game will likely play out like seemingly every Notre Dame game this season - gritty, close and low scoring. Both of these squads rank among the nation's top seven nationally in scoring defense, allowing just over 22 points per game combined. Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to put a peacock-sized feather in his team's cap as a win would put the Cougars in a great position to finish 2012 at 9-3 and a top 25 ranking. On the other sideline, all that's on the line for Notre Dame is keeping intact its first 7-0 start since 2002 with a primetime showdown at Oklahoma on the immediate horizon.
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Bo Pelini's struggling defense faces perhaps the most diverse attack in the Big Ten. Any hopes either team has of playing for the Big Ten title likely dies with a loss on Saturday. Expect Nebraska and its Big Ten-leading scoring offense to try to outscore Northwestern, while the Wildcats will attempt to exploit the Cornhuskers' penchant for turning over the football (No. 104 nationally in turnover margin. Oh, and there's this:
The last time Nebraska played Northwestern in Evanston, Al Capone was there for the game ... bit.ly/VjnCjI
Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET, FOX): Bill Snyder's tough-as-nails bunch travels to face West Virginia in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium. The last time Dana Holgorsen's team played at home it lit up Baylor for 10 touchdowns. A Kansas State victory puts the Wildcats firmly ahead of the pack in the Big 12, while a loss for West Virginia ends the conference and national title aspirations that seemed so promising just one week ago. West Virginia's highly publicized offense is more productive of the two but Kansas State's is actually more efficienct, churning out 0.65 points per play to WVU's 0.58 points per play.
Florida State at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Consider this a referendum for two young coaching tenures. Both teams need wins to stay in the hunt for the ACC Championship but, most importantly, both teams need a win over each other. Al Golden is looking for his first victory over FSU, while a loss by the Seminoles means nothing short toppling Florida can make this season a success. Jimbo Fisher's team dominates the ACC statistically, leading the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. They also place second in the ACC in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech, but possess the conference's best yards per carry average (6.28).
Baylor at Texas (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Texas returns home reeling after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. Mack Brown's teams traditionally play their best football following Oklahoma, going 13-1 immediately after the Red River Rivalry. Baylor carries in a two-game losing streak of its own, surrendering a total of 17 touchdowns in losses to West Virginia and TCU. Baylor leads the nation in passing offense with nearly 400 yards per game faces a Texas defense that has allowed Big 12 quarterbacks to go 65-of-101 for 903 yards with eight touchdowns against two interceptions. The numbers aren't much better for Texas' rush defense as opposing Big 12 offenses have carried 133 times for 810 yards (6.1 ypc) for 10 scores. Solace for Texas comes in the fact that Baylor brings in a defense ranked among the bottom four nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Expect an old-fashion Big 12 shootout that lasts deep into the night.
Washington at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks): After a 3-0 start Rich Rodriguez is still searching for his first Pac-12 win. Washington is also looking for its first victory since the upset of Stanford on Sept. 27. Scott from our staff will be on hand in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @FootballScoop for his observations of the game.