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  1. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Buffalo - Defense

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    Defense

    With 9:31 left in the 3rd quarter of the third game of the season, the Baylor Bears had just tried an all out blitz on a play where Buffalo ran a slip screen in the middle of the field (the perfect play against this blitz) which ended the streak the defense had been able to sustain of giving up no touchdowns as the Bulls’ wide receiver, Devon Hughes, crossed the Baylor goal line for a 41-yard score. This streak is an amazing accomplishment for a Baylor defense that has been highly criticized in previous seasons. Since mid-season of 2012, the Baylor defense has been improving by leaps and bounds. The 2014 edition is a young group, replacing 7 long-time starters. The players that are carrying the load for this defense are part of solid recruiting classes sought by Coach Phil Bennett, his staff, and Coach Briles that were courted to become a more athletic unit with good size. To this end, it appears that these leaders have accomplished this purpose. This group of defenders is a very impressive group.

    The Bulls didn’t get their first 1st down until the score was 21-0. The score at halftime was 35-0. The Bears had the Buffalo quarterbacks under tremendous pressure the entire game. It is a testament to the toughness of the Buffalo QBs that they were able to find ways to move the football, eventually.

    Defensive Line

    The Buffalo Bulls’ offensive line was very affectionate to the Baylor defensive line. They were hugging them tightly most of the evening. Of course, it’s not holding if they don’t call it. You’d like to see the Bears’ defenders be able to beat the hold a little better than we saw on Friday. A defensive lineman needs to be able to create extension and execute release moves. Too often, the Baylor defensive line allowed the Bulls to engulf them in big bear hugs.

    Shawn Oakman (2) got the first sack of the evening when he executed a speed rush around the Bull left tackle. He probably went a little wide, but when the quarterback started to scramble Baylor’s big defensive end got the angle he needed to close the deal. Shawn is a real force working flat down the line of scrimmage from the backside. He is so long and so quick that he can flatten down the LOS and make the play on anything that is run inside the tackles. Shawn ended the game with a sack and 2 tackles for a loss.

    Jamal Palmer (92) got the second sack of the evening when he drove deep into the backfield and then came under the tackle when the QB tried to escape the pocket. Palmer has a terrific redirect.

    KJ Smith (56) demonstrated superior quickness and the ability to change direction when he quickly diagnosed a screen, jumped outside of the receiver, turning the play back into the waiting arms of Brian Nance (15) and Taylor Young (11). Brian had another big play in the 4th quarter when the exchange was botched. The ball bounced around a while, but it was Brian Nance that found a way to corral the football. Brian showed good ability to work down the line of scrimmage and run the play down from the backside.

    Javonte Magee (90) demonstrated excellent agility when he came flat down the line of scrimmage, playing off a block by an offensive lineman, and made a quality tackle on a zone stretch in the 1st quarter. Magee got a tackle behind the line of scrimmage (a 2 yard loss).

    Andrew Billings (75) got double team backwards by the stout Bull offensive line, but he made it tough on them. On the opening drive of the second half, the Bulls tried to cut Andrew and the big defensive tackle step over the block and got great pressure on the Bull quarterback. It was a marginal late hit on Licata (the Buffalo quarterback), but it did result in a personal foul penalty. On the next play, Buffalo ran right at Andrew. Billings stuffed the guard and the running back at the line of scrimmage, despite the fact that the offensive line had the big DT wrapped up tightly. Andrew didn’t flatten out quickly enough and allowed the running back to beat him into the hole late in the 3rd quarter.

    Beau Blackshear (95) over penetrated and then allowed himself to be held when they ran an inside zone just past his 3 technique alignment. The 3 technique cannot allow the offense to single block him and run off tackle. He must make that play. Beau got a heck of a sack when he just drove the Bull offensive lineman all the way back into Licata. At that point, Beau just wrapped up the Bull QB.

    Byron Bonds (96) looked very quick on a tackle behind the line of scrimmage where he drove deep into the backfield, took a tight turn around the lineman, and ran down the ball carrier. Byron really got taken for a ride when the Bull guard got under his pads and drove him several yards, opening a hole for the running back to get a quality gain late in the 3rd quarter.

    While several of the backup defensive linemen made quality plays during the contest, it should be noted that the big offensive linemen from Buffalo began to push the 2nd group defensive line around fairly well in the late 3rd and early 4th quarters.

    Linebackers

    Bryce Hager (44) appears to have been able to pick up where he left off last year in making plays. He continues to be able to run through blocks and sift through the traffic to find the ball carrier. He is an excellent tackler, too. It was Bryce’s coverage that allowed the Bulls their first 1st down of the evening. Hager went for the ball instead of making the tackle. It’s that kind of decision that contributed to many of the big plays that the Bulls were able to achieve on the evening. Bryce got a pass batted down on a pass rush when he timed his jump perfectly and the ball banged off of the shoulder pads. It almost resulted in an interception. Bryce missed a tackle on the tight end when the tight end beat him with a quick upfield move after the catch. The Baylor middle linebacker couldn’t get his feet up under him and the tight end just ran through the tackle. Bryce picked up a tackle for a loss late in the 3rd quarter on 3rd and short, denying the 1st down.

    Aiavion Edwards (20) did a great job of redirecting off his blitz and running down the Bull quarterback after a short gain on a 1st quarter scramble. Midway through the 2nd quarter, Aiavion got matched up with a fleet running back on a wheel route. Aiavion was slightly beaten, but showed enough speed to run with the back and get hit on the helmet with the ball as he closed on the desired receiver. Aiavion had one awful play. The Bulls ran off tackle and Aiavion came unblocked and looked eye-ball to eye-ball with the Bull running back. Aiavion stuck his feet in the ground and reached for the tackle and came up with air. The Bull running back took this play the distance when Aiavion had an opportunity to stop it at the line of scrimmage. Aiavion just seemed to lean on the back instead of wrapping up and tackling him. Football is a collision game – you have to be willing to hit to play.

    Taylor Young (11) continues to push Aiavion at the Weak Linebacker position. Young is a good tackle with excellent quickness. He is a gritty player that overcomes his lack of height with toughness. During the contest, Taylor came up with 7 tackles and was credited with a ˝ a tackle for a loss. Taylor missed a tackle on a stretch play late in the 3rd quarter. He went low and didn’t come up with the legs.

    With Raquan Davis (19) and Kendall Erlich (16) in game late in the 4th quarter, Buffalo was able to rip off another big gain right by and through these two backup linebackers. They used poor angles and tackling technique on the play.

    Collin Brence (38) does a very good job of working off of coverage and getting in on the play when the offense attacks the edges. In man-to-man, Collin did a great job of tracking a shallow cross and making the tackle all the way on the other side of the formation for a short gain. Collin and Jamal Palmer met at the quarterback, forcing a errant throw on 3rd and 4 in the 3rd quarter. Collin had 7 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries in the game.

    Travon Blanchard (48) continues to make plays at the nickel linebacker position. Blanchard gobbled up the ball carrier for a “tackle for a loss” on a stretch play when the Bulls left him unblocked.

    Secondary

    Already in this young season, Xavien Howard (4) has made several exceptional plays at the field corner position. Xavien is a big corner with excellent speed and redirect ability. He has very good ball skills. This means that he is able to track the ball very well and has excellent hands that allow him to make interceptions. Also, Xavien has been able to create this tight coverage without most of the holding and interfering that we saw last fall from the corners. Xavien has demonstrated himself to be a very solid tackler when offenses choose to throw the ball short and in front of this coverage. When the Bulls finally did try to throw deep against Xavien, the big corner played the man and the ball perfectly. Xavien got his hand in between the hands of the receiver and deflected the deep ball away. On the evening, Xavien had 2 passes deflected.

    Ryan Reid (9) made a big mistake on the Bulls’ opening drive of the game. Reid jumped the bubble route, thinking that Buffalo was going to try for the safe play. Reid was badly burned on a stalk-and-go that should have gone for a touchdown. Thankfully for the Bears, the receiver dropped the ball. Later in the 1st quarter, Ryan totally missed a tackle on a 3rd and long that most defensive backs would have made. Reid appeared to try to go too low and dropped his head, missing the tackle. When Ryan works his technique, he is quality cover man and makes decent tackles on receivers. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ryan and the safety to that side (Stewart) were beaten on a skinny post that was dropped, again. Late in the 3rd quarter, Ryan was tested down the Baylor sidelines. This time the short side Baylor corner was really up to the task. On this 4td down play, Reid capped the route and ran the receiver out of bounds, while the ball landed harmlessly out of bounds.

    Terrance Singleton (24) was beaten on a back-shoulder fade for the last Bull touchdown. Singleton appeared to have good coverage, but didn’t react quickly enough to the change of direction. Terrance seemed to lose his footing much like we saw several of last year’s corners do on similar plays.

    Orion Stewart (28) has been very solid in coverage. When he is asked to cover inside receivers or running backs that release to the short side, Orion has been able to keep close coverage and make quality tackles. Orion was the leading tackler for the Bears, with 9.

    Terrell Burt (13) did a great job of tracking a ball that had been deflected at the line of scrimmage. Terrell thought he had an interception, but a big tackle from Buffalo plastered the safety and separated Burt from the ball. Burt got double-teamed on the slip screen for a touchdown the Bulls ran when the Bears tried a zone blitz on 4th and 4. Oakman was the dropping defensive lineman, but he didn’t even come close to making the play. Burt had the over-the-top coverge on the flea flicker. Even though the ball hung in the air a long time, Terrell was not able to make a play on the ball. Xavien Howard was close to the play, but he stumbled and was a non-factor.

    Taion Sells (26) looked a little weak in coverage when he allowed a significant gain on an out route midway through the 4td quarter. He’s got to be able to redirect and close on the ball better than this. Chance Waz (18) saved a touchdown late in the 4th quarter when the linebackers didn’t make the play at the point of attack.


    Overall


    When the game was still in doubt, the Baylor defense dominated a decent offense. The unit played with quality intensity and effort. There have been times in the past where the defense didn’t seem to rise to the occasion like they do so well when the play in Waco.

    In addition, Coach Bennett was very aggressive in the early second half when he sent everything but the kitchen sink on a 4th down, giving up a touchdown on a slip screen. The other two touchdowns were scored against mostly second line players. There have to be concerns that the second group of defensive linemen, linebackers, and secondary had so much trouble stopping the Bulls. The tackling was not very good in the second half and the coverage was much softer.

    On the other hand, the Baylor defense is the top defense in the Big XII at this point of the season. They have given up only 27 points in three full games.
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  2. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Buffalo - Offense

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    Baylor vs. Buffalo
    September 12, 2014

    The Baylor Bears took their high-flying offense and swarming defense to the northern border of the country when they played the Buffalo Bulls in Buffalo, New York. A good crowd of about 400 loyal Baylor supporters accompanied the Bears (and got a look at Niagra Falls). The Bears were the first ranked team to UB Stadium and were greeted by a “black out” crowd of 24, 714. The atmosphere was very festive as the locals were hoping that their team might make a statement against the Bears on the nationally televised (ESPN) broadcast.

    Instead, it was the Baylor Bears that did the statement making. The Bears tied the record (set against WVU in 2012) for most points scored in a road game, earning the 63-21 win. Friday night’s game marked the return of Bryce Petty (14), who threw four touchdown passes for 416 yards, completing 23 of 34 passes in three quarters of work. The Bears finished with 669 yard of offense, making 27 first downs. The win pushed the Bears’ record to 3-0, which marks the first time in program history that the Bears have been able to win their first three games for four years in a row. The Bears have outscored their opponents 178-27 through these first three games.

    Offense

    In the first quarter of Friday night’s game, the Bears gained 269 yards while limiting the Bulls to just 27 yards of offense. “Starting Fast” has been a mantra of the Baylor program since the day Coach Briles first set foot on the Baylor campus.

    Offensive Line

    On the opening drive of the game, the Baylor offensive line appeared to be much more crisp and cohesive than they had in the two previous contests. There still seems to be a few issues with pad level and recognition of the structure of the defense (which indicates who each man should block and how they should block them). Pad level contributed to Kyle Fuller (55) getting beaten by the Bull nose tackle on the opening play, resulting in a negative play. Fuller has to bend his knees and hips more and get his feet moving much quicker to block that kind of nose tackle attack. Troy Baker (75) got beaten inside on a later play in the drive resulting in a short gain, while the rest of the offensive line had driven their men 3-4 yards off the line of scrimmage. On the goal line, TreVon Armstead (41) and Spencer Drango (58) appeared to have a miscommunication on how they should block a 7 technique (inside alignment on the tight end), which resulted in a short gain. But for the most part, the Baylor offensive line dominated the Bulls from the opening whistle – “Start Fast.”

    Blake Muir (73) lost a drive block on the opening play of the second series, which resulted in a short gain on a “Dart” play. But great pass protection on the next play allowed Bryce Petty to complete an 89 yard touchdown pass. The third series was a much better example of the type of blocking the Baylor fans have come to expect out of the Baylor Line. The guys were getting a body on a body on each and every running play, providing good pass protection, and (on the touchdown run) ripped a huge hole in the Bull defense on a “Dart” play for the easy score.

    Scheme-wise, the Bulls were trying to limit the ability of the Baylor running backs bouncing outside by keeping the outside flat defender in the support position, rather than dropping him. This left an unblocked defender. It seemed that, at times, Coach Montgomery and Coach Briles were willing to not take advantage of defensive looks that might dictate a pass in games that might be closer for the opportunity to continue to develop the toughness in the running game. With the Bulls choosing to play a “stop-the-run-first” defense, it is of little doubt that the Bears could have passed almost every down, at will, scoring touchdown after touchdown, if they had so chosen. Even when the quarterbacks scrambled it was only because that internal clock told them that they had been in the pocket too long, not because of any pressure exerted by the Bull defense.

    Kyle Fuller, the center, seems to really be struggling with being able to develop movement in the interior. While he has a tendency to be a little high, he is, also, having trouble getting his hips engaged and his feet moving. Fuller has good feet, but he can’t get them engaged if the defender is continually playing with their pads under Kyle’s. It was interesting to see that Tyler Edwards (62), the senior, came into the game with the first offensive line in the second quarter. Usually, Coach Clements works all of these guys as a unit. At this point, I don’t know why this substitution was made (injury, equipment, or performance). Edwards blocks with a very good base, but he doesn’t possess the ability to move his feet as quickly as Fuller has (at least potentially). To Kyle’s credit, it was his block on the nose tackle that Seth Russell (17) read on the quarterback draw that resulted in a 31-yard touchdown run.

    Up until this fall, Spencer Drango was almost always able to get a drive block going and sustain it for most of the play. This fall, coming off of the back surgery of last fall, it seems that Spencer has lost a little bit of that hip flexibility that allowed him to sustain those blocks. His base seems to have narrowed slightly, making it easier for defenders to twist the big Baylor left tackle and allowing defenders to escape. While Troy Baker (75) has been slightly better on his drive blocks, he, too, is struggling with sustaining balance. It seems that both of these two big tackles (highly regarded by many, including this writer) are still trying to round their game into 2012 shape.



    Backs

    Shock Linwood (32) continues to demonstrate that he is a consistent back that will fight for positive yardage on every carry. He has a low center of gravity and runs with surprising power for a back his size. He has had a little trouble breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage this fall, but when he breaks through to level two he has been very difficult to tackle. Shock carried the ball for a team high of 20 carries, totaling 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry against the Bulls. In addition, he had a nice catch on a ball thrown just a little too high on the Bears’ first drive. For Baylor’s 3rd score of the 1st quarter, Shock to the ball right up the middle, splitting defenders and streaked into the end zone, demonstrating excellent burst and speed along the way. Shock ran tough all night. After one exceptionally tough run in the 3rd quarter, two of the 5 or 6 Bulls that took a shot at Shock got up very slowly holding their heads and adjusting their facemasks. That’s when you know a running back is tough.

    Johnny Jefferson (2) continues to improve as a running back. He is very quick in getting to the edge. On the sweep/read play, Johnny is able to get into the alley between the looping tackle’s block and the inside receiver very quickly. While he doesn’t seem to be quite as explosive as Lache Seastrunk, he does almost none of the dancing in the holes and backtracking we saw from Lache when Seastrunk was a young running back. Johnny carried the ball 11 times for 52 yards and 1 touchdown. He ended the evening with a 4.7 yards per carry average.

    The Bears might be missing the big, fast body of Devin Chafin (28) as the physical balance in the backfield to the two compact runners, Linwood and Jefferson.

    While there might have been some concern that Bryce Petty had lost some velocity on his throws as a result of his injury sustained on the 3rd play from scrimmage in the season-opening SMU game, the senior signal caller laid all of those questions to rest when he repeatedly scorched the cool Buffalo air with tight spirals that zipped accurately to the waiting hands of the Baylor Bears’ young receiving corps. Petty’s passes were almost unfailingly on target and he didn’t throw an inaccurate pass until the Bears were already leading 21-0. Against the man-to-man, single safety coverage, Bryce continued to zip passes to receivers that were running free against defenders struggling to match the speed of the receiver. Because of almost unbelievable protection provided by the Baylor Line, Bryce had the luxury to stand back and survey the defense seeking open receivers. Gone was the tendency that was seen in the SMU game to rush throws (probably due to the discomfort he felt because of his injury). Petty was poised like a surgeon on Friday. On Bryce’s first pass of the evening, he double-clutched and threw a laser-like rifle shot (even though he was completely flat-footed because of the double-clutch) 40 yards in the air to a fairly tightly covered Baylor receiver on a deep post. That told anyone who was concerned that the Petty arm strength was back. Gone was the problem of overthrowing the deep ball, too. From the first pass to a streaking KD Cannon (9) for an 89 yard touchdown, Bryce was as on target on the deep ball as he has ever been. Most of the deep receivers didn’t even have to adjust, the ball was just perfectly fitted on their hands. On the evening, Bryce made all the throws and would have been able to post a phenomenal completion percentage had his young receivers been able to catch every catchable throw. Bryce showed the ability to throw lasers on the run, too. Throwing on the run puts more stress on the lower torso, but Bryce showed no ill-effects of the injury on a tight spiral to KD Cannon on the Bulls’ sidelines. Bryce even carried the ball a couple of times, just to keep the defense honest.

    Seth Russell (17) came into the ball game on the first drive of the 4th quarter. He air mailed a sideline route, throwing high early on is one of his trademarks. A few plays later, Seth ripped a pass down the vertical seam to Lynx Hawthorne. It takes a strong arm to get a ball into this seam that quickly. Seth is a very rugged runner for a slender player. In the Buffalo game, the “ugly” Seth Russell surfaced again, when he missed his connection on a handoff with Johnny Jefferson. Seth’s game has improved immeasurably in the last year, but he still seems to have those moments when he loses concentration on the little things that must be done well automatically. The Bears were absolutely fortunate that this did not result in a turnover. By the way, I do not believe for a second the “on-air” explanation offered by the broadcast team (that it wasn’t going to effect the game, anyway). If this was the true response of the Big XII replay crew, I would expect Walt Anderson to suspend that entire team immediately. Given an opportunity to redeem himself, Seth took a quarterback draw right up the middle for a 31 yard touchdown run on 2nd and 27.

    Probably just to prove stuff happens, the backup backup (Chris Johnson – 13) fumbled and exchange with Silas Nacita (31) late in the 4th quarter.

    Receivers

    The young receivers, for the first time this fall, might have shown their lack of game experience. Lynx Hawthorne (7) and Davion Hall (16) dropped perfect passes from Bryce Petty because of having a slight lapse In concentrating on the football all the way into the hands.

    Davion appears to be rounding into a quality blocker. It was Davion that drove his defender completely off the field when Petty popped up and hit KD Cannon for a quick screen. Davion is a very physical player for one so young. He could become a dominating blocker before he is through at Baylor.

    Lynx Hawthorne had a very good game, sans drops. Hawthorne does a great job of finding the holes in the coverage and was a very good ball carrier on the slip screen. He picked up a first down on 3rd and 8 in the 3rd quarter with a good block by Jay Lee and a lot of tough running by Lynx. While he missed an easy catch, Lynx showed his ability to out-fight the defenders for the ball several times, most obviously on a crossing route mid-way through the 2nd quarter. Lynx doesn’t seem to mind going across the middle. He seems to have taken on the role that we saw Levi Norwood (42) occupy prior to the senior’s wrist injury. Lynx had a very productive night, totaling 7 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

    Jay Lee (4) is really rounding into the versatile receiver Baylor fans might have remembered Lanear Sampson being. Lee is very good at the stop routes on the sidelines and has become a deep threat, too. Jay totaled 9 receptions in the game for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jay’s touchdown at the 5:09 mark of the 3rd quarter was spectacular. Petty threw the ball wide because of the underneath coverage, but Jay was able to reach wide and snag the ball. Then the big wide receiver quickly turned upfield and dove for the end zone, just crossing it ahead of the pursuing Bull defenders.

    KD Cannon (9) is the most explosive receiver playing for the Bears right now. With 10.3 speed in the 100-meters, KD is running by the coverage before they really can get their hips turned. His releases have been very successful and seem to be the quality you’d expect from a much more experienced player. KD does a great job of going up and getting the ball at its highest point, which will serve him well in the conference play to come. KD made a great catch in traffic in the middle of the 3rd quarter. He caught the ball between four black-shirted Bulls. KD had 6 catches for 189 yards (31.5 yards per reception) and 1 touchdown (89 yards). This young man is getting so good that it is difficult to see how he can be kept on the bench when the injured players return.

    TreVon Armstead really had a less-than-satisfactory day blocking. Several times he failed to get movement at the point of attack when he was asked to wrap around down blocks on the play side. He completely whiffed on one run in the middle of the second quarter when it appeared at just making contact would allow Johnny Jefferson to go for big yardage. TreVon had a hold early in the 2nd quarter because he didn’t keep his feet moving on the block when Jefferson bounced outside.

    Overall

    There have been many concerns about the quality of the place kicking by the Bears. For the record, I will not back off of my comments made previously about Chris Callahan (40), the red-shirt freshman kicker. Having watched him in spring and fall camp practices, I can tell you that I have only seen him miss one kick in practice. This young man is very accurate. In my opinion, what we have seen is a case of the “shanks.” Right now, Chris has a little (or perhaps more than a little) loss of confidence. An action that he has totally honed over years of practice has just recently become something that he doubts. As a result, he is overthinking every kick and analyzing every technique associated with that action. This results in aiming, looking up, and other various problems with which my golf game is acquainted. In the long run, I have no doubt that Chris can conquer these demons and become the kicker he is destined to be. While Kyle Peterson (46) is a decent kicker, Chris Callahan is certainly superior to the backup.

    Baylor has scored 30 points or more in 32 of its last 35 games and has scored 40 points or more in 28. The 63 points on Friday marked the 8th time in 16 games that the Bears have gone 60+ since 2011 – that marks leads the nation. Baylor has gained 500+ yards in 12 of 16 games since 2013, including 9 games with 600+ yards during that time. By the way, Baylor is the most successful FBS-team in Texas since 2011 with a winning percentage of .762 (32-10).
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  3. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Northwestern State - September 6, 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    For the second week, the Baylor Nation collected at brand new McLane Stadium in Waco and the Baylor faithful went home happy once again. Winning for the 21st time in 22 outings at their home stadiums (since 2011), the Baylor Bears tallied 70 points in 5 of their last 9 home games. In addition, the Baylor defense continues to keep opponents out of the end zone, giving up only two field goals to the visiting Demons.

    Baylor played without last year’s Big XII Player of the Year Bryce Petty, All-American wide receiver Antwan Goodley, and starters Corey Coleman, Clay Fuller, Levi Norwood, and TreVon Armstead, not to mention dazzling sophomore running back Devin Chafin. Even with that kind of fire power on the bench, the Bears are not without explosive talent available. This became very obvious very quickly on Saturday night.

    Offense

    Offensive Line

    The starting offensive line of right tackle Troy Baker (75), right guard Desmine Hilliard (67), center Kyle Fuller (55), left guard Blake Muir (73), and left tackle Spencer Drango (58) played the better part of 3 quarters and acquitted them admirably. After a slightly shaky start with their run blocking these big guys began to get movement and accumulated 265 yards on 50 rushing attempts for a 5.3 yards per carry average on the evening which accounted for 5 rushing touchdowns. On the evening, the Bears only lost 4 yards total on their rushing plays. While some of the explosive rushing plays Baylor fans may have seen in the last few years might have been missing, the consistency of the Baylor rushing attack was impressive.

    The pass protection continues to be impeccable. There were times where the quarterback could have taken several seconds longer to survey the field (he just didn’t have to). There were only a couple of times where the Demons were able to break a defender free to get a shot at the quarterback. But the Bears always seemed to have an answer for each one of these efforts.

    While the overall effect of the offense was the appearance of finely tuned machine, there were individual efforts that could have been better. The problem with quality pad level seems to still be an issue. Part of it might be that the Bears have to block a lot of 6’ to 6’2 defensive linemen. Surprisingly, tall offensive linemen can have trouble getting great movement against a stout, well-coach, fire hydrant type of defensive lineman. It seems that the offensive line has seen more than their fair share of this type of player over the last couple of weeks.

    More troubling is the tendency of most of the linemen to have a little trouble “sticking” on their blocks. What you want to see is a solid base with quality foot movement in a balanced, sustainable body position. It seems like the many of the offensive linemen are getting over-extended as they are able to get movement. When you get over-extended, even the slightest movement by the opponent can result in loss of a quality fit for your block. This results in linemen losing contact and staggering away from their block. Spencer Drango had quite a few of these early in the game. Desmine Hilliard had some problems with this, as well.

    Kyle Fuller is having trouble developing quality movement at the snap of the ball. He seems like he is a little high and isn’t really engaging his feet and hips in the block. Against nose guards, it is critical to get some quality movement in the center of the offensive line to give the backs the ability to choose their cuts more easily.

    All of these problems began to disappear by the middle of the 2nd quarter when the size and talent of the Baylor offensive line began to take a serious toll on Northwestern State. From that point, the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage and the running backs were able to break off 5 yard gains consistently. By the time the fresh backups came in at the end of the 3rd quarter, the Demons’ defensive line could not protect them. The fight had gone out of them.

    Backs

    Shock Linwood (5 this week, but regularly 32) is finding out what it is like to be the number one running back. Last year, he usually had the luxury of coming into the game after the opponent had been rendered soft by the pounding of 3 quarters of Baylor football. This year, he is featured when the defense is at its strongest and toughest. To be sure, Shock has had plenty of opportunities to run through quality holes, but the top running back doesn’t always get the best creases. Shock has had to earn every yard with tough, physical running. Shock did get featured in several opportunities to demonstrate his receiving ability. The Bears found that a delayed flat route, looking like he was picking up the outside rusher, was very effective. Linwood did a great job of selling the fact that he was going to be a blocker and then he slipped into the flat for a quick pass over the top of the free rusher. Shock had a tough night carrying the ball. He got 11 carries for 34 yards (3.0 yards per carry) and one touchdown. He, also, had 2 receptions that totaled 53 yards.

    Johnny Jefferson (2) spelled Shock Linwood early and often. The speedy running back is a quality slasher with surprising leg strength. He did a very good job of finding small holes and exploiting them for good yardage. Johnny biggest mistake was the fumble toward the end of the 2nd quarter when it appeared he had an opportunity to possibly score. It appeared that Jefferson broke through the 2nd level and was about to open up the jets when he was unexpectedly bumped on the arm that was carrying the ball. The loose ball went down to the Northwestern State 4-yard line where the Demons recovered. Johnny must protect the ball better than this. One of the most interesting drives of the evening was the “Johnny Jefferson Drive.” On that series starting at the Northwestern State 49-yard line, Johnny carried the ball all 11 plays. There was no substitution, even when Johnny appeared fatigued. On the drive, Johnny sealed the deal with a 1-yard touchdown, running over the Demon linebacker at the goal line. On the evening, Johnny was the leading ground gainer for the Bears with 108 yards on 20 carries, one fumble, and one touchdown. Johnny averaged a healthy 5.3 yards per carry.

    Silas Nacita (31) came in for mop-up duty and was very exciting. Silas does a very good job of finding daylight and is very difficult to bring down, despite his size. He runs with a lot of heart and is a very effective back. Silas scored 2 touchdowns in the late moments of the game, complimenting his 14 carries for 104 yards – a 7.4 yards per carry average.

    Seth Russell (17) had a terrific evening, feasting on the out-matched secondary of the Northwestern State Demons. In one half of work, Bryce Petty’s backup threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns. He was a very respectable 16 for 25 throwing on the evening. In addition, Seth accounted for a 3-yard touchdown carrying the football. Seth was very consistent. Coach Briles pointed out that the Garland-product had only missed two reads on the evening. This appears to be a significant improvement over what Baylor fans have seen in the past. One of the talking points that Coach Briles has stressed in the aftermath of this week’s game is that the level of competition was not severe and many of these reads and openings won’t be there when the opponents become a little tougher. When Seth misses, he tends to miss high. This is a real concern because the defensive backs are usually in the best position to catch the overthrown ball.

    One of Seth’s misreads was on the goal line with the score 7-0, 1st and goal. Seth appeared to anticipate that the defensive end might follow Shock Linwood into the interior. The defensive end fooled Seth and tackle the Baylor quarterback for a 2-yard loss. On the other hand, Seth was able to use his sub-4.5 40 yard dash time to outrun the entire defense to the corner of the end zone a couple of plays later.

    One of the best things that Baylor fans saw from Seth was the ability to throw a quality long ball. Almost every deep effort hit the receivers totally in stride and right on the money. This created big offense for the Bears for most of the first half.

    Chris Johnson (13) came in for Seth after halftime. Because of the score, Chris was mostly relegated to handing the ball off to Johnny Jefferson and Silas Nacita. He did a quality job of this. In addition, he had one very good carry that went for 11 yards and threw 3 passes for 3 completions and 17 yards.

    Receivers

    The Baylor receivers must have licked their chops when they saw that the Demons had chosen to play them in Man Free coverage. The Bears exploited this coverage early and often in the first half. The fleet receivers just ran past the slower defenders at will.

    KD Cannon (9) was the star of the receiving corps on Saturday. His first catch, a 50-yard pass play, was his most outstanding play of the evening. Cannon was fairly well covered on a vertical route down the Baylor sidelines. Russell under threw the ball (probably intentionally) to Cannon’s backside shoulder. KD did a great job of elevating and catching the ball at its highest point. He eluded the defender and raced into the end zone. That wasn’t to be the last highlight of the evening for KD. Just a few moments later, KD was hit in full stride by Seth Russell as he went vertical from the inside receiver position and easily outraced the defender to the end zone. The two play drive consisted of two KD Cannon pass receptions. Right at the end of the first quarter, KD and Seth Russell connected again on a 42-yard touchdown pass. On the evening, KD caught 6 passes for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wow! KD’s 223 yards is 2nd on the Baylor all-time receiving yards in a game list (and the true freshman got all of those yards in the first half).

    Davion Hall (16) continues to be a very steady receiver. This true freshman caught 4 passes for 78 yards and 1 touchdown. Hall is a quality target and has excellent speed. He got an opportunity to show off that speed on his 57-yard touchdown reception late in the first half. In a stacked receiver set, Davion came off as the second receiver and just ran by the defender that had tried to jam the first receiver. The defender never had a chance.

    Jay Lee had a beautiful touchdown reception with 2:13 left in the half. Russell hit him perfectly as he ran by the defenders from the inside receiver position on the NSU sideline. True freshman Jordan Feuerbacher (85) caught 2 passes for 15 yards. Lynx Hawthorne (7) caught two passes for short yardage.

    Overall

    The Bears probably could have scored 80+ points (that might have satisfied Mrs. ftblbob5), but Coach Briles pulled back on the offense in the second half. The Bears chose to grind it out on the ground for most of the second half. It was a good demonstration of power by the Baylor offensive line and the running backs.

    The Bears’ schedule will get tougher from here. It will be interesting to see if the Bears can maintain this level of production against deep and more physical opponents. This week’s game is a Friday night game in Buffalo. The Bulls are probably hoping for a little revenge. It will be a nationally televised game on ESPN. Go, Bears!
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  4. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. SMU - Defense

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    The Baylor Bear defense produced one of this program’s most dominating performances in years on Saturday against the SMU Mustangs. On the evening, they allowed only 7 first downs (one of them on a penalty), held the Ponies to -24 yards rushing, and a total offensive production of 67 yards for the entire game. Even the presence of George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, could not help the Ponies on this evening. The Ponies had a total of 65 snaps and managed on 67 total yards – Wow!

    The Bears were attacking on every snap and swarming to the ball all night long. This group of young men is a very quick and agile group of players. These guys play with a hunger and desire that most good defenses possess. There was hardly a time where the SMU QBs could survey the field to pick out a receiver. Almost every time the Pony quarterbacks tried to throw, there was a Baylor Bear right in his face. It will be interesting to see if the Bears can bring this intensity each week, whether on John Eddie Williams Field or on some opponent’s sod.

    Defensive Line

    Leading up to the game, most people close to the Baylor football program thought that this might be the best Baylor defensive line in years (probably since Santana Dotson and Marcus Lowe prowled the turf in Floyd Casey Stadium). Based upon the performance of these young men on Saturday, it appears these young lions are well on their way to making this a reality.
    On the second play of the game, Shawn Oakman (2) was left unblocked when the SMU tackle fanned to pick up an outside blitzer. The big 6’9”, 280 pound defensive end was in the face of the Pony QB immediately forcing a too-quick throw that fell harmlessly incomplete. This was to be a foreshadowing of what it was going to be like for the Pony quarterbacks all night long. Quite often, Shawn was just able to use a speed rush to get around the over-matched Pony offensive tackle. Shawn led the entire defense with 6 tackles (this total indicates how few plays anyone on the defense actually got in the game), 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 quarterback hurry. He was the Big XII defensive player of the week. That’s a pretty good game for a defensive end.

    With just a little bit of time left in the 1st quarter, one of the second team defensive ends made his appearance on the field. No sooner had the ball been snapped than KJ Smith (56) was credited with a sack on a speed rush coming around the same offensive tackle that Shawn Oakman had been abusing previously. KJ showed terrific speed when he came off of his rush and ran down the SMU running back that had slipped into the flat just ahead of him. This was a very impressive play.

    Jamal Palmer (92) has an explosive first few steps that usually get him by most average linemen. He has the best, most dynamic get off in the program. He is like lightning off the snap. Jamal was right behind his buddy defensive end in production. Palmer had 5 total tackles, a ˝ a sack and a quarterback hurry. I love the luxury that Coach Phil Bennett now has to be able to pull a player off the field when he gets a silly personal foul (like Jamal Palmer) did on a late hit on the SMU QB on the Pony sidelines. In the past, Coach Bennett might not have felt confident in the player he might have to send on the field. There was no hesitation this time.

    The combinations of Beau Blackshear (95), Andrew Billings (75) and Javonte Magee (90) on the interior are imposing to any defense. These guys locked down the interior on run plays and provided excellent push in front of the QB on pass plays. Blackshear and Billings were abusing the interior offensive linemen for the Ponies. These guys drove them back into the backfield time-and-time-again. Beau got 1 ˝ sacks for 13 yards in losses and a quarterback hurry. Beau’s sack at the end of the 3rd quarter was huge. Andrew Billings got 2 sacks and a quarterback hurry. Just after Russell throwing the interception, it was Andrew that knifed in and threw the SMU running back for a 5 yard loss on 1st down. Javonte is a terror whether he is playing defensive end or defensive tackle. He is the second most imposing figure on the Baylor defense and creates havoc wherever he is positioned. In slightly limited play, Javonte was credited with 2 tackles, but 1 ˝ sacks.

    While it wasn’t only the defensive linemen, the Bears totaled 9 sacks and they losses were the equivalent of what the Ponies’ offense gained in the entire game. That’s impressive. Another thing that was very impressive is the way the defensive line reacted to the screen game of SMU. It was obvious that Coach Bennett had stressed stopping the screens to his upfront guys. On almost every screen, at least one (and usually more) player on the defensive line recognized screen and pealed back to defend the play. This is not easy to recognize, especially when you have been able to run by the offensive linemen for much of the game.

    Linebackers

    On the opening play from scrimmage, SMU tried a quick screen. The defensive line took the bait and streamed in after the quarterback. A couple of Pony offensive linemen got out in front of the running back and it appeared SMU might have something going for it. Bryce Hager (44) knifed in between those linemen to be able to grab one leg, holding on until help arrive. This play resulted in a 1 yard gain. On another screen pass, Bryce came in as the second man on the tackle (Beau Blackshear already had the running back by the leg) and punched the ball out of the Pony’s arms. This fumble set the Bears up in terrific field position.

    On the first series, SMU tried a double screen. This is a play where they have a screen set up to go to either side. The QB chose to go with his first read. Aiavion Edwards (20) ran through the interference and made the play for a short gain. This is normally a very hard play to defend, but Edwards was right where he needed to be. Edwards was right on the spot when Bryce Hager knocked the ball out of the running backs hands on a 1st quarter screen pass. Aiavion scooped up the ball and returned it to the 6-yard line of SMU. Aiavion had one significant breakdown early in the game. The Bears were on an all-out 7-man blitz and Aiavion came free in the middle of the play. SMU ran a draw and had one of its most significant gains of the day. Aiavion violated one of the foundational fundamentals of linebacker blitz play: never pass a back that might have the ball. Aiavion realized too late that Line had the ball.

    Backup Will Linebacker, Taylor Young (11), looked like he was shot out of a cannon when he stunted around the right outside and sacked the quarterback for an 8-yard loss late in the 2nd quarter. This young man has speed to burn and he is a quality tackler.

    It appears that the depth chart is not set in stone at the nickel linebacker position. Collin Brence (38) and Travon Blanchard (48) alternated possessions and each had a good evening of making plays. Travon did a fine job of fighting through the perimeter blocks to make a quick play on a bubble screen. In the Big XII, the bubble screen is one of the biggest challenges for Nickel Linebackers. A little later, Travon snuffed out a draw play for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Collin Brence made a quality 3rd down stop on a quick out, far short of the line to gain. In fact the average distance the Ponies faced on 3rd down on the evening was over 10 yards. That’s tough to make up in one play. To further amplify the SMU troubles, the Ponies were 4 of 18 on 3rd down conversions and 0 for 4 on 4th down conversions. They never crossed the Baylor 33-yard line.

    Overall, the underneath coverage by the linebackers was excellent. They were heavily assisted by the fact that the linebackers knew that the SMU quarterbacks were not going to have much time to make a decision. But the linebackers did a very good job of identifying potential receivers in their area and jumping on them quickly.


    Secondary

    One of the major by-products of having a consistent and relentless pass rush from the guys up front is that it makes it possible for the defensive backs to lean heavily on the first route break by the receivers. This leads to the kind of coverage we saw on Sunday. It was great to see the Baylor secondary playing tight coverage without all the grabbing and interfering. As these young guys get more and more comfortable, you should be able to look for them to feel better about attacking the ball in the air.

    Orion Stewart (28) and Terrell Burt (13) were quick to break on inside receiver routes and made sure tackles. When asked to play 2-deep coverage, Orion proved to be highly capable of covering his half of the field on the deep ball. On a 3 and 8 in the 3rd quarter, Orion made a great break on an out route, tackling the Pony receiver short of the first down.

    Halfway through the 1st quarter, SMU tried to go vertical on Xavien Howard (4). Xavien read the intent of the route all the way. He got over the top and then locked out the receiver from getting vertically by him. If anyone was going to catch the deep ball on that play, it would have been Howard – but the QB overthrew everyone. Ryan Reid (9), Terrance Singleton (24), and Chance Waz (18) all had solid games.

    By the way, I apologize for the lack of material on the secondary, but they just weren't tested.

    Overall

    What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It will be intere3sting to see if the Bears can maintain this intensity and hustle in the future, especially on the road. As the conference schedule nears, the Baylor defense needs to continue to play hungry, because tougher tests than the anemic SMU offense loom in the future.
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  5. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. SMU - Offense, Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    Backs

    Shock Linwood (32) is the number one running back. He is a slashing, downhill runner that packs power into a smaller frame. His strength is in his ability to see the small holes and exploit them at full speed. When Shock got this opportunity (like on the first run of the game), he ripped off 8-10 yards with ease. Plays like Shock’s first touchdown highlighted his explosiveness in the hole. The problem was that he didn’t see these kinds of running lanes often enough. Shock demonstrated he is a threat both inside and outside throughout the game. His blitz pickups were very solid. He’s not a big guy, but he hung in there very well against the linebackers of SMU. I would prefer he not turn his head on contact when picking up these linebackers. Another by-product of having a back like Shock as your leader is that Shock will sell the run with a great fake every time the read doesn’t give him the ball. Often, you see backs ease up quickly when they don’t get the ball. This tips the defense even when they might have been fooled initially. His fake was very instrumental in Petty’s first run. One criticism of his running technique might be that he seemed to be leaning forward a little too far, which caused him to become out of balance. The biggest mistake by Shock was stretching the ball out for the goal line which led to a fumble at the lip-of-the-cup and a touchback for SMU. Shock just can’t make that kind of mistake, again.

    Devin Chafin (28) is a quality backup who might ultimately be better than Linwood. For what it’s worth, the fact that Devin got the 2nd series of the game at running back might mean that we could look forward to an alternating running back possibility. Of course, this might be put on hold because of the high ankle sprain suffered by Devin in the SMU game. High ankle sprains usually take at least 4 weeks to rehab. Most take 6 weeks. In addition, high ankle sprains are toughest on running backs. It is not unheard of for a running back to not fully recover from a high ankle sprain for a full 8 weeks. After watching the video, it appeared that Devin didn’t get the full squash on the ankle from the heel like many high ankle sprains, so it could be hoped that his rehab might be shorter. On Devin’s first play (3rd and goal-to-go from the 3), the sophomore back didn’t sell the idea that he was going to lead block well enough to force the linebacker to start to engage him. This meant that when Devin tried to run by the linebacker to the flat, the linebacker easily picked him up, forcing the quarterback to throw it away. It didn’t appear early on that Devin was getting the kind of blocking that Shock was seeing. As a result, Devin began to hunt and peck or dance at the line of scrimmage. This is not what he does best. If the hole isn’t available, Devin would probably best be served to quickly slide to the nearest edge and use his speed to outrun converging outside linebackers.

    After both Linwood and Chafin had been given two series a piece, Johnny Jefferson (2) made his Baylor debut. Jefferson is a lightning quick red-shirt freshman with home run ability. Johnny does a very good job of seeing the blocks and making quality cuts. Johnny quickly demonstrated that he could slash around the edge when a guy like Drango could seal the defensive lineman inside. When he get s to the edge of the box, he crosses those white lines across the field very quickly. When he is paired with Seth Russell in the backfield, the speed factor really multiplies. Do you run to the edge to stop Johnny or stay at home to keep Seth from going right up the middle you just left? Johnny was called for a “chop block” when he went to cut a blitzer. Just as Johnny sunk the cut block, Desmine Hilliard wheeled outside to pick up the penetration. Without knowing the protection call, I can’t tell whether Johnny should have known Hilliard was going to come back to this defender or not. The old standby for backs is, “When it doubt, block them.” Johnny looked great on a dump off from Petty to the right flat. Jefferson streaked down the home sidelines for 16 yard gain.

    Silas Ascita (31) came in late in the 4th quarter and demonstrated great balance and a big heart. Silas gives it all he’s got and then some. He has very quick feet and good strength. Silas capped the scoring with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to move the score to its eventual conclusion. It may be that his role might expand if Devin Chafin’s injury lingers. Looking at the depth chart, it is either expand Ascita’s role or take the red-shirt off of Terence Williams.

    Bryce Petty (14) was the story of the game, but not for the usual reasons. The injury to Bryce’s back (two fractures of his traverse processes) put concerned expressions on most of the Baylor faithful all night long. From what I understand about this injury, it is a fracture of a part of bone that serves very little functional purpose. While these fractures do produce significant pain, they don’t really mean that there is any danger of long-term damage. The major factor in performance is dealing with the pain. It was this factor that caused Bryce to struggle to one of his least successful performances in his starting career. While going 13 for 23 for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns coupled with 2 rushes for 21 yards and 1 touchdown might be a decent night for most people, for Bryce Petty this is well below what Baylor fans have come to expect. Bryce was in obvious pain for most of the evening. It appeared that he might have injured his back on the first carry, taking a hit to the back as he was going to the ground. From that point, Bryce found it increasingly difficult to get the legs and the backside into his throws. His arm angle began to flatten out and his accuracy decreased significantly. There were several instances where it was obvious that Bryce was in a lot of pain, enough pain that he couldn’t throw like we know he can.

    On the other hand, if the doctors cleared him for play, I would have found it very difficult to take Petty out of the game in the first half. Even though Bryce wasn’t able to throw like we have seen him throw, the Baylor QB was still very functional. When he was able to really set his feet and throw, Bryce was usually very good. It was when he was asked to make the quick sets after reading whether to give or pass that Petty struggled. He, also, struggled with any play where he was force to maneuver in the backfield and reset to throw. To their credit, the offensive line gave Bryce terrific protection throughout the first half and Bryce could have shredded the Pony defense had he been healthy (IMO).

    Other factors that raise concerns are: (1) the fact that Bryce continues to overthrow receivers that have clearly beaten their defenders. One of the biggest rules of thumb for my quarterbacks was never overthrow an open deep receiver. If a defender is beaten, the receiver always has the upper hand if it becomes a jump ball. If you overthrow an open receiver, it’s just an incompletion.
    (2) An ailing Bryce Petty will not pose ANY run threat. Much of what the Bears do is partially based upon the possibility that the QB might keep the ball. Even though a completely healthy Bryce Petty is not a huge run threat, the fact that he might keep the ball causes defenses to account for him. With this injury, defenses will have more of an option to disregard Petty entirely.

    Seth Russell (17) came in for Bryce in the second half. Seth continues to be like the “girl with the curl in her forehead.” “When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid.” What Seth does best at this point is read the stretch option. With speed backs like Johnny Jefferson and Shock Linwood streaking to the sidelines threatening to run in the empty alley between the wide out and the power scheme on the inside, Seth is a major threat to keep the ball behind the lead blocking guard. If the defensive end just hangs outside a moment too long, Seth will be gone off tackle for a sizeable gain. But even this scheme is not immune from Seth messing it up. On one occasion, Seth chose to keep the ball despite the fact that the end squeezed and ran right into two Mack trucks disguised as SMU football players. Seth has a strong arm, but he still tends to force throws. He threw into coverage on the outside several times and he forced a throw into the middle of the deep zone after he had been scrambling around in the pocket – a real no, no. On the goal line, Seth reached the ball out and was only saved from a fumble by the fact that he was already declared down. On another run, where Seth had made two or three terrific moves, he continued to wave the ball about despite the fact that he was in the middle of 3 or 4 Ponies. Seth must improve on his reads and ball security if the Bears have to depend upon him to lead them for the next game or two.

    Chris Johnson (13) came in to engineer the last drive. Chris is a work in progress. He has obvious favorable qualities, but he must become consistent. He was fortunate when he forced a ball into coverage that it went through the defenders hands and into his own teammates hands (for a sizeable gain). His run late in the game for a first down was an excellent piece of football. He showed surprising speed and appears to be a real run threat.

    It is a truism that the most popular player on the team is the backup quarterback. But it might be even more true that the most popular backup on the team is that 3rd stringer that gets in the game when the opponent is pounded into a pulp and makes a couple of quality plays.

    Receivers

    TreVon Armstead (41) had a quality night as the tight end. He was a quality blocker that really brings a pop. He is an ex-offensive lineman, so his blocking technique is very solid. But he is, also, very agile and appears to be able to make all of the blocks Jordan Najvar made for the Bears over the last couple of years. Armstead got his first touchdown catch of his career and proceeded to make one of the biggest bonehead moves of all time. Upon catching the ball, TreVon threw the ball like a discus just over the heads of all of the Golden Wave Band and off of the wall behind them. Obviously, this drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Several coaches visited with TreVon when he got to the sidelines. I’m sure that TreVon got a little extra conditioning for that selfish act. In my opinion, it is unacceptable to be so selfish that you put your own temporary delight above the good of the team. I understand he is a young player, but I’d have him pushing the tackling dummy 100 yards all by himself after that kind of stunt. Later, TreVon was featured on a very well designed play. Baylor had been releasing the running back to the flat for most of the evening. On this occasion, TreVon was on the side of that release. Shock Linwood going to the flat drew the linebackers and TreVon release behind Shock where the linebackers were no longer.

    Jay Lee (4) had one of his best games as a Baylor Bear. For most of the evening, the Baylor QBs utilized Lee when he was getting soft one-on-one or 3-deep zone coverage. Jay beat this look time-after-time. He did a great job of driving the defenders deep and then coming back to the ball. He showed none of the lackadaisical characteristics that hampered his performance in years past. He was very physical and did a great job of getting into the end zone on a short catch turned into a 12-yard touchdown reception in the 3rd quarter.

    Levi Norwood (42) was his usual reliable self. He had a great 45-yard punt return that set the Bears up with a 1st down on the 4-yard line. In addition, he provided 4 catches for 26 yards. The fact that Levi has been found to have broken wrist is a major blow to the Baylor receiving corps. Norwood is majorly important to moving the sticks and the ball game. Baylor will miss his versatility.

    Lynx Hawthorne (7) had more receptions in this game than he had in total previously. Hawthorne is a very good inside receiver and will become even more important with the injury to Norwood and the continuing injury to Corey Coleman (1).

    The two true freshmen: Davion Hall (16) and KD Cannon (9) were surprisingly very consistent in their debut. You’d expect true freshmen to make glaring errors. But these two young men performed like seasoned veterans. Cannon ignited the stadium when he gave a slight nod to the inside, freezing the SMU safety, and sprinted by the defender for a beautiful 46-yard touchdown. Davion Hall looked very physically strong going up for the ball and getting extra yardage after the catch. Like Jay Lee, Hall took advantage of the softer coverage on the outside and racked up 7 catches for 86 yards.

    The fact that Antwan Goodley (5) ended the game with no receptions and major quad contusion is really concerning. The All-American receiver is a vital cog in the Baylor offense. All Baylor fans hope that Antwan’s stay in the training room is short-lived.

    Overall

    While the offense didn’t really meet previously held standards of performance, it just might not be quite as critical that the Bears’ offense score every time it has the ball given the opening performance of a Baylor defense that gives every indication of being a very strong unit. Obviously, Baylor fans want the offense to continue to perform well. Baylor is Wide Receiver U. We will find out in the coming weeks if they can support that claim with performance. With several of the best wide receivers in the country out for at least this week’s game, if not longer, it will be interesting to see if the offense can sustain even close to the level of performance we have come to expect from the Baylor Bears.

    Couple this with the fact that the Heisman-candidate quarterback, Bryce Petty, will be nursing very painful fractures of the transverse processes and it is easy to see that the Baylor coaches and players have their work cut out for themselves in preparing for a very good FCS team – Northwestern State of Louisiana. Go, Bears!
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