Thursday, January 31, 2013

Morning Six Pack: January 31, 2013

Mmmm… Thirsty Thursday. What better way to slake that desire than these six college football stories from around the country.

Alabama sets dates for A-Day, homecoming

The University of Alabama has determined the A-Day Game will be April 20, while homecoming for the 2013 football season will be Oct. 5.

Blakely departs Auburn's already thin backfield

Auburn running back Mike Blakely has left the team and an already thin backfield.

C-USA splits new teams evenly among divisions

The six new schools in Conference USA will be split evenly among the two divisions next football season.

SEC, Big 12 talk possible scheduling agreement

The Big 12 hasn't made any secret of the fact that it's looking to create a partnership with another conference, hoping to boost its nonconference scheduling, television profile and other interests. But what leagues that it might be in discussions with, other than the ACC, have officially been a secret.

Mizzou and Arkansas State Agree to Football Series

The University of Missouri has wrapped up its search for a final opponent for its 2013 football schedule, as Mizzou and Arkansas State University have agreed to a home-and-home series, with games in 2013 and 2015.


Moving to a 3–4 scheme can ease the burden of finding enough viable bodies inside by reducing the number of tackles on the field at any given time from two to one. It also means more speed on the field in the form of an additional linebacker, another tweak in response to the spread-friendly tendencies of Big 12 offenses. For the past several seasons, Oklahoma has increasingly replaced the third linebacker in a traditional 4–3 set with a fifth defensive back, essentially turning the base defense into a 4–2–5. If the transition to a 3–4 philosophy sticks, it will probably look more like a 3–3–5, with the nickel position manned by a hybrid safety/linebacker who can hold up against the run. Who exactly that will be this fall is an open question.

But the shift is also a response to the defense's collapse over the second half of the season. Through eight games, the Sooners led the Big 12 in both yards and points allowed, having held Kansas State (24 points), Texas (21) and Texas Tech (20) to season lows on the scoreboard. Over the last five, though, it was a different story, with OU yielding 34 points to Baylor, 49 to West Virginia and 48 to Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks in November -- all shootout victories, thanks to the Sooners offense -- and 41 points to Texas A&M in a blowout loss in the Cotton Bowl.

The trip to West Virginia was arguably the worst defensive effort in school history, resulting in a staggering 778 yards of total offense (458 rushing) by the Mountaineers, the most ever allowed by an Oklahoma defense; on the same night, WVU wide receiver Tavon Austin alone racked up more all-purpose yards against the Sooners (572) than any FBS player in any game in more than a decade. In the bowl game, Texas A&M went off for 633 yards of total offense, a Cotton Bowl record, the vast majority from the arm and legs of quarterback Johnny Manziel.

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