In the last three years of Big 12 play, the best cumulative records belong to Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Each has gone 20-7.
Over that time period, the Bears have been the league’s best rushing team (239 ypg), the Sooners are second (228) and Kansas State is fourth (167).
There is a strong correlation there.
At his spring football news conference, Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads said his team must run the ball better and his focus was on the offensive line.
“We want to be better at knocking people off the ball,” Rhoads said. “When we want to create our own space (in the run game), we want to be able to do that. We are trying to find our right five to get that accomplished.”
Offensive coordinator Mark Mangino – who tutors the tight ends – echoed Rhoads’ comments.
“We want to be an offense that can run the football and we’ve got to be more physical on the offensive line,” Mangino said. “Our coaching staff on offense has invested a lot of time studying our offensive line. The offensive line has gotten more of my attention than any other aspect in the off-season.”
When Mangino was the head coach at Kansas, his first team averaged 126 yards rushing. A year later, the Jayhawks improved their run average by 39 yards per game and went to the Tangerine Bowl. Mangino’s best KU team – the 2007 Orange Bowl club – ran for 189 yards per outing, the highest mark in his tenure there.
In a league with a pass-first reputation, it’s interesting to note the better running teams have won the most games.
The mission is well defined and spring practice is an opportunity to improve in this critical area.