In some of my recent work-related absences (3 12-hour shifts in a row) Scipio has been cranking out some great reads.
Most recently he tackled the strange circumstances of Boise St. and Butler. One topic that always comes out of discussions on the "mid-majors" who have success regards how they would perform in a conference like the Big 12. One opinion that I've typically accepted and is popularized by afternoon radio guys like Geoff Ketchum is that these teams would be beaten down by a Big 12 south schedule where their lack of depth would see them break down while they can have success in a single shot with lots of preparation time.
Also working for them and against schools like Oklahoma St. is having to face both OU and Texas every season. Boise St. doesn't have such giants in their conference to get used to losing to while they are building the program. I can't help but think that even in seasons when the pokes have strong enough teams they struggle overcoming the mental side of beating Texas because it simply doesn't happen often.
The 2nd is a weak excuse though and the real challenge is from the first rebuttal to Boise St.'s national ranking. Could they sustain excellence against a schedule that challenges week after week? It's easy to buy in that they couldn't but I don't actually possess enough knowledge of their roster and the players they typically recruit to know the answer.
What we do know is that they have enough depth to sustain excellence year after year. They haven't relied on a few seasons with 1 or 2 standout players but have consistently put out strong teams. That suggests roster strength and player development that could weather the Big 12 better than has been advertised by figures like Ketchum. Does anyone think that they would have struggled to dominate the Big 12 North this decade?
We have also seen that they are strong playing against OOC teams in bowl games and on the schedule this decade. They are averaging a 12-1 season since 2002 with only season dipping below 10 wins (2005) that includes 2 undefeated seasons. They've beaten TCU twice in that stretch, Oregon twice, OU, and a 2-2 record vs. Oregon St.
In their 3 bowl losses in that stretch they lost by a combined total of 14 points. What could put to rest the depth argument by forcing them to win consecutive big game and give Boise St. a chance to win a championship? A playoff? Explain to me how that works...
Chris Applewhite's forecast of Garret Gilbert throwing into double teams after honest fronts stuff the new power running game is a gloomy possibility but I think, given the chance, this line can really punish in the running game. In fact, when given the chance, this line has been able to move Sooners in the running game the last 3 years. Hix, Huey,and Snow are all proven maulers and Allen and Mitchell might be great in that role as well. That Boise St. squad we just mentioned has been creating a power-running game and "six second play-action" opportunities year after year with a lot less size and talent then Texas will have in the trenches next year.
If there's one thing you need to take from Scipio's write-ups it's that next year's 2-back offense absolutely has to be referred to as the "Jack'N'Jill offense". Done and done.
Whiskey had his coach friend on again to address the outside and inside backers for a 3-4 defense in his schematic preview of Chip Kelly's defense. This should reinforce the needs and requirements of an inside backer for Texas next season and help explain Muschamp's frustration in trying to prepare his defenses for the very few power running teams Texas faces. Norton was a solid inside player but was often caught turning his shoulders against power teams. There are a lot of options inside next year with Acho Uno Ocho, Earnest, Norton, Allen and whoever steps up from the newcomers or Roberson.
In the ranks of departed stars of yesteryear, Earl Thomas has only seen his stock improve. His recognition, playing speed, and solid tackling make him a sure thing in the NFL. I could see him as a Free Safety, nickel back, Cover-2 corner, or even a strong safety like Sanders or Polamalu with potentially similar injury issues.