Using time of possession for drives that resulted in touchdowns, it took Big 12 teams an average of 2 minutes and 22 seconds to get in the end zone last year.
That might look like an old man’s pace after this season. For those teams that weren’t running the an up-tempo spread offense, they are now, as they try to keep pace with the offensive prowess of Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Still, some are skeptical if the pace of college football can even get much faster.
“I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that you can do to go much faster, to be honest with you,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “You still have to be able to get lined up yourself and officials to get in place and still snap the ball.”
And while Stoops has his doubts, if there is a so-called speed limit for college football, the Big 12 is going to try its best to break it.
The number of offensive plays run by Big 12 teams in 2013:
1,136 Texas Tech
987 Oklahoma State
903 Iowa State
891 W. Virginia
What makes them faster in 2014?
Baylor is loaded at wide receiver. No matter who is on the field, there’s no lack of speed streaking down the sidelines. It helps that quarterback Bryce Petty returns with a year of experience under his belt where he recorded 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Iowa State is going no-huddle under new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. The Cyclones plan to up the pace but keep it simple. Wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and running back Aaron Wimberley are expected to make big plays on the outside.
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis “fired” himself from offensive coordinator and brought in John Reagan. The Jayhawks are going at a faster pace this season, which they hope highlights the dual-threat ability of quarterback Montell Cozart.
Kansas State has been a run-first offense in the past. However, there’s a chance that the aerial attack could take precedence with quarterback Jake Waters and high profile receiver Tyler Lockett who finished last season with 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Oklahoma is hoping quarterback Trevor Knight carries over his success from the Sugar Bowl where he was named the Offensive MVP. The Sooners showcase a new crop of running backs and wide receivers this year, but the experienced receiver Sterling Shepard is expected to lead the pack.
Oklahoma State wants Tyreek Hill, who recently won the Big 12 indoor title in the 200 meters, to get 15 to 20 touches per game. Coach Mike Gundy expects him to play multiple positions offensively. Running back Desmond Roland and wide receiver Jhajuan Seales add threats for a Cowboy team hit hard by graduation (eight returning starters).
TCU coach Gary Patterson, known for his defense, hired a pair of new offensive coordinators to speed things up. Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie are going to help the Horned Frogs score points to keep up with the opposition. The Horned Frogs return many of their top running backs and receivers from a year ago.
Texas coach Charlie Strong emphasized his team’s need to find playmakers at the wide receiver position that can turn what seems like a five-yard gain into a 30-yard key play. No matter who steps up on the outsides, running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray expect to finish this season with big numbers.
Texas Tech is overflowing with quick, shifty receivers for 2014. Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez expect to start on the inside while Reginald Davis and D.J. Polite-Bray or Devin Lauderdale line up on the outside. Davis Webb has had an entire offseason to practice as QB 1 for the Red Raiders after he finished last season with 2,718 yards and 20 touchdowns.
West Virginia looks to showcase its versatility with a stable of running backs ready for the season to start. That depth should help quarterback Clint Trickett and the wide receivers not feel so much pressure to produce on their own.
Big 12 offensive coordinators
The top five quarterback-wide receiver duos in the Big 12:
5. David Ash
and Jaxon Shipley
4. Trevor Knight
and Sterling Shepard
3. Jake Waters
and Tyler Lockett
2. Davis Webb
and Jakeem Grant
1. Bryce Petty
and Antwan Goodley
“It will be a faster wide receiving crew, which will help. At times I thought we had to play within a box. We’ve got to be able to take the top off, and I think with some of these younger guys, they haven’t played as much, but they can really run.” — Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
“We’re not smart enough in Ames and even though it has several nicknames that would indicate that, that we’re going to go out and outsmart other coaches and other teams, we want to be simple where our kids can execute at a high rate of speed.” — Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
“I think anytime you have a mobile quarterback, which is really not the way that we’re suited to last year, until Montell started playing, okay, you’re playing 11-on-10 football. Because if the quarterback is never going to carry the ball and is not a threat to the defense, and they don’t have to worry about him, they’re plus one as far as numbers go.” — Charlie Weis, Kansas
“The style of ball that exists in the Big 12, although very exciting style of play, you’re going to end up taking more snaps. So when (defensive) guys get tired, you better be able to replace those guys with guys that go in and perform at a very high level,” — Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia