College football: What’s a defensive coordinator to do?

To: Football purists everywhere.

Re: Scoring in the college game.

So how do you like all the points, now that 40 is the new 30? The old days when yards were precious and the punters stayed busy are deader than rotary dial phones. The touchdowns are now coming at us faster than campaign ads, or maybe you missed West Virginia beating Baylor 70-63. Not one game in last spring’s Final Four had that many points.

Feeling disoriented? There’s more.

The highest scoring year on record was 2007, with its 28.4 points per team per game. Twenty-four times that season, someone hit at least 60 points. It’s already happened 23 times this season, and we’re only through five weeks. The scoring average in 2012, by the way, is now 30.6, and climbing.

Used to be, scoring 50 points seemed a special feat. College football saw that 70 times before getting out of September.

We’re accustomed to seeing offensive carnage in early mismatches, when the Savannah States of the world drop by to pick up their paychecks. Conference games are supposedly tighter affairs.

Forget that now, as fast as you can say Georgia 51, Tennessee 44.

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“The world,” Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday, “is changing out there.”.

The defensive coordinators just had a worse weekend than the U.S. Ryder Cup team. So imagine you’re Manny Diaz, the Texas defensive honcho trying to decide what to do against West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who threw eight touchdowns and only six incompletions last week.

“I’ve been down there three times and he’s got his door closed and he’s under the desk,” Brown said Monday on a teleconference. “It’s been hard to communicate with the defensive staff so far . . . They’re just sick.”.

You can blame the Big 12 for some of this. They cross the end zone in that league like New York City pedestrians cross a street. There were 11 touchdown plays in the conference last weekend of more than 40 yards.

The highest scoring average back in record-setting 2007 was Hawaii at 43.38. Eleven teams have a higher average than that at the moment in 2012, including five — fully half the membership — in the Big 12.

Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia go 1-2-3 in the nation in scoring at 55.57, 54.25 and 53.

We know what you’re thinking. The universe is askew when Baylor scores 63 in a game and drops out of the rankings. Or West Virginia can be a top 10 team with a 106th-rated defense.

One factor is how deftly quarterbacks are shredding defenses across the land. In 2007, three quarterbacks had a passing efficiency rating higher than 160. In 2011, there were eight. Currently, there are 20.

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Four of the top five ratings dwell in the Big 12 — Smith, Texas’ David Ash, Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh and TCU’s Casey Pachall. Together, they have 48 touchdown passes, and only four interceptions.

No wonder Kansas coach Charlie Weis talked of numbers “you can’t even fathom . . . It’s kind of scary.”.

And it’s everywhere. The passing yardage per game in 2007 was a record 233.1 a team. So far this year, it’s 244.9.

Diaz came from beneath his desk long enough to discuss what is goingon.

“What offenses are doing now with the way they’re spreading out the field, they are creating one-on-ones down the field. They’re putting everybody in a run-pass conflict. What they’re doing is putting great athletes in a position where if a tackle is missed, it goes all the way.”.

Admit it, the shootouts are entertaining.

But if purists bemoan a certain breakdown in fundamentals, they might have point. Tackling is to football like bunting is to baseball; a dying art.

`There’s a lot of poor tackling across the country,” said Brown, who mentioned 12 missed tackles by his defense in a 41-36 win at Oklahoma State.

“There’s a lot of people trying to strip (the ball), trying to knock a guy down instead of tackling him.

“It’s a concern to all coaches . . . We’re seeing heads down, we’re seeing guys lunge.”.

And then they’re seeing guys score touchdowns.

But if you’re hankering for an old-fashioned scoreboard, there is an answer. The Big Ten has become a piñata for critics with a lack of speed and sizzle, but at least they still know how to tackle on most days. Ohio State beat Michigan State 17-16 Saturday, and they would not have broken 40 if they played until Tuesday.

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Maybe part of the Big Ten’s problem outside the league is its teams are built to win games just like that.

In the Big 12, 17-16 is a nice first-quarter score. Better learn to like it.

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