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Texas' troubles, Mahomes' deep throws stand out in first week

Welcome to the weekly Big 12 stat crunch, where we’re taking a deeper statistical look at what’s going on in the conference. Three things that stood out after Week 1:

1. How bad was Texas’ offense?

Not to beat a dead horse (steer) on this Texas offense, but anyone still questioning why Charlie Strong changed playcallers this week should take a closer look at Texas’ last three losses.

Add up the losses to TCU, Arkansas and Notre Dame. In Shawn Watson’s last three games as playcaller, Texas averaged 3.1 yards per play and 1.8 yards per rush. The offense had gone three-and-out on 21 of its last 40 drives.

Total production: 20 points, 27 first downs, 26 punts.

The regression of the passing game is hard to overlook. Before this three-game stretch, Tyrone Swoopes had arguably the best start of his career, throwing for 305 yards in a 21-point road win at Oklahoma State. In his three starts since, Swoopes has a QBR of 34.0. He’s gained 20-plus yards on just three of his last 82 pass attempts.

Hard to ask Jay Norvell (and, presumably, Jerrod Heard) to get all of that flipped in the 17 days before Texas enters Big 12 play.

2. Mahomes ready to take off

It’s easy to see why Kliff Kingsbury went with Patrick Mahomes as his starting quarterback, and not just because he lit up Sam Houston State’s defense on Saturday.

Since Nov. 15, when he made his second career start against Oklahoma, Mahomes ranks No. 1 in the nation in passing (436 yards per game) and No. 1 in completions of 20-plus yards (28). He’s thrown 18 TDs and three interceptions in his last four starts, a ratio that ranks fifth-best in FBS over that span.

Add in his rushing production and Mahomes has accounted for 1,863 total yards since Nov. 15. Only Marcus Mariota beat that number.

During that four-game stretch, Mahomes has emerged as a fearless deep-ball machine. Nobody has thrown more 20-plus yard passes. Mahomes has even tried six throws of more than 40 yards. The result: four completions, 210 yards, four TDs.

The kid has a cannon, and he’s just getting started.

3. The Kansas disadvantage

We’ve spent a decent amount of space on this blog discussing the roster problems that David Beaty inherited when he arrived at Kansas. But here’s one more way to put their numbers disadvantage in perspective.

Going into their season opener, Kansas’ returning players had a combined 103 games of starting experience. If you don’t count quarterback Michael Cummings, because he’s out for the season, that number drops to 91.

Why is 91 a problem?

Kansas State’s roster had the second-fewest returning starts going into this season at 216. West Virginia had the most at 321. The league average, excluding Kansas, was 275 returning starts.

So put it this way: The average Big 12 team has three times more experience than Kansas.

A total of 12 players made their first career start for KU in the loss to South Dakota. Being more than 20 players under the scholarship limit is a big issue. But the guys who are there simply haven’t played much.