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Big 12 Defensive Props: Redzone Defense Matters In This League

We’ve got a newbie at the top of the list this week. Guess who…

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Last week we saw a slew of favorites seal their wins with D. This week, we start off with a team that pulled off the upset by holding a high-powered offense to 31 points at home.

I give a shout out to teams, players, position groups or units that had a particularly outstanding performance the week prior. Let the ESPN talking heads say what they will – plenty of non-Big 12 teams out there that would trade their best bubble gum cards for some of these defenses.

Let’s throw some praise to those who got it done on Saturday. Here they are, from best to least best. Props to…

Iowa State: Tackling And Red Zone D

Iowa State’s defense you say?

Joel Lanning received all the attention playing both ways, as he should, but I want to focus on someone else: Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock, whose name is a few consonants shy of Founding Father John Hancock. Hancock played a large part in the American Revolution, where a group of startup underdogs overcame great odds to defeat a traditional power with a history of grand victories. Sound familiar?

With Iowa State’s first string quarterback out, trying to keep pace with the Sooners into the 50s was never going to be a winning formula. The Heacock defense stepped up.

The key to their success? Before Saturday, Oklahoma was averaging .703 points per play. Against Iowa State, OU managed a meager .450 points per play. A third of a point may not sound impressive, but string that out over 70 plays and you’re looking at a difference of about 17 points.

In a game decided by a touchdown, the Cyclone defense did a great job of making the Sooners drive the ball down the field and didn’t let 15 or 20-yard gains turn into 40 or 50-yard highlight reel touchdowns. Iowa State tackled well enough to prevent those big scoring plays and made timely stops with their backs to their own end zone. The result? A field goal, a missed field goal and a fumble recovery in the Cyclone’s territory.

Maybe the Cyclones didn’t play outstanding defense, but they did play winning defense and held the Riley Raid offense to 31 points at home. Next up, Kansas at home. It’s not always easy to catch fictional blue birds, but it’s got to be easier when they’re wearing shoes, right?

Texas Tech: Dominant Defense In The AM

There are those who would say that the Red Raiders don’t deserve props just for taking care of business on the road. Yeah, well there’s something to be said for taking care of business. The Red Raider defense made it clear that they were wearing their football pants, not their pajama pants, in the early game in Memorial Stadium.

If it wasn’t for Nic Shimonek throwing an interception on his side of the 50 yard line and a blocked Texas Tech punt, Kansas might have gotten shut out in the first half of their loss on Saturday. Texas Tech’s defense came up with two fourth down stops, two three-and-outs and an interception in the first 16 minutes of the ball game.

That translated into Kliff Kingsbury’s team being up 28-7 with 13:06 left in the half.

There will be plenty of talk about the offense in this game. When the D is constantly getting the ball back to the O in good field position though, it can be downright scary.

This week Texas Tech gets to go to Morgantown for another morning game. Coach Dana Holgorsen will be awake for that one, having not slept at all because his offense only found the end zone thrice last Saturday.

Better make sure Dakota Allen’s on the bus.

TCU: The Jekyll-And-Hyde Pass Defense

Sometimes you don’t have to get all the stops, you just have to get enough stops.

The Horned Frogs gave up two long TD passes of 64 and 76 yards in the third quarter because of bad safety play over the top. On many of his throws, though, Will Grier had trouble connecting with the guys in gold pants.

TCU held Will Grier to his lowest completion percentage so far this season at 55.6 percent and the incompletions were enough to get West Virginia off the field on third down. The Nick Orr interception in the third quarter, moreover, set the TCU offense up with good field position in Mountaineer territory.

Then the Kenny Hill TD pass on the next play pushed it to a two score game. In a game where TCU got 14 points off of two turnovers, that pick arguably won the game for Gary Patterson’ bunch.

This week the Horned Frogs go to Manhattan, Kansas in a game that will give the winner purple jersey bragging rights for a year.


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