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  1. Baylor vs. UCF - Fiesta Bowl Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    Because of a busy Christmas schedule, I am attempting to write this preview as we bounce across the Texas sky on our way to Phoenix on the Baylor charter out of Love Field in Dallas. It’s great that this is a flight full of Baylor Nation, though the turbulence and the early hour have quieted the crowd significantly. We are looking forward to a great BCS Bowl experience in the Phoenix area and a Baylor victory over the 11-1 University of Central Florida Knights.

    The Knights are a very impressive team that has navigated their schedule with a lot of grit and determination fueled by excellent play in the clutch by experienced leadership and youthful talent. The Knights have been at their best in the tight, closely fought games where it was critical to make plays down the stretch that would determine whether or not they won or lost. In almost all of these circumstances, the Knights have been able to rise to the task at hand and succeed where other teams might have wilted and failed. This is a gritty team in the vein of a Kansas State or TCU where they hope keep the ball away from the opponent; to play quality defense and be able to control the clock and the ball with a balanced offense that stresses both the run and the pass.

    UCF Defense

    Obviously, the UCF defense has the biggest challenge in trying to stop (or at least slow down the potent Baylor offensive attack. The Knight defense utilizes a 4-man front with to inside linebackers and a Nickel linebacker that is similar to the Bears’ Bear Backer (a linebacker/strong safety hybrid). They run an umbrella coverage as their base alignment with two deep safeties and corners that can play both support and deep coverage roles. They are an athletic unit but don’t seem to possess the overall team speed of teams like OU, TCU, or OSU.

    Defensive Line

    The Knight defensive line is a solid unit that has no superstars, but does a quality job at every position. They are decent against the run and pass, but don’t appear to possess any athletic pass rushers in the unit. They are very good at maintaining their rush lanes in their pass rush, leaving modest throwing windows for the quarterback setting up in the pocket.

    The defensive ends (Miles Pace - #44, 6’2”, 242, RSo and Thomas Niles - #69, 6’2”, 270, RSo) do a quality job of maintaining outside leverage and work to contain the ball on both runs and passes. They are not dynamic players, but they do a workman-like job of maintaining leverage against the blocker and working to flatten out perimeter runs. Against the pass, they are effective outside rushers but don’t possess that elite speed to run by most D1 tackles. Niles appears to be the more productive of these two.

    The defensive tackles (Demetris Anderson - #94, 6’2”, 303, RSo and E.J. Dunston - #95, 6’2”, 302, Sr) are solid run stoppers that do a good job of maintaining the line of scrimmage. They work very hard at keeping blockers from being able to reach level two. This hard work enables the play-making linebackers to run downhill to the ball. Probably because these guys aren’t dynamic pass rushers, they do a great job of maintaining their rush lanes in their pass rush. This causes the pocket to collapse on quarterbacks, even though they aren’t usually able to get a sack. E.J. Dunston is definitely the more productive tackle and will be a real handful for the Baylor offensive line.

    The outlook for the Baylor offensive line against this unit looks pretty good. The defensive line is a good, but not great collection of athletes. The Baylor offensive line should have a distinct advantage in both the running and the passing game against this unit.

    Linebackers

    The All-Conference middle linebacker for the Knights, (Terrance Plummer - #41, 6’1”, 234, Jr.) is a stud. He is a very productive tackler and is a decent ballhawk in the passing game. This guy has excellent size and good speed. He is a physical player that is able to run though blocks to the ball carrier and still be good enough to take on offensive linemen, when necessary. He is pretty good in coverage, but he is very effective when asked to blitz. He is a “moose.” He brings a real nasty quality to the defense (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). He is a running, hitting machine. He certainly earned the All-Conference honors.

    The WLB (Troy Gray - #57, 6’1”, 210, Jr) for the Knights is a solid contributor. He doesn’t possess the physical nature of his running buddy, but does a quality job of playing this position. He has been productive on the blitz and is a quality downhill player. He is supported by Justing McDonald (#34, 6’2”, 197, Fr) who appears to be a really talented young man, just inexperienced.

    The Nickel linebackers (Michael Easton - #15, 5’1’’, 197, Jr. and Sean Maag - #31, 6’1”, 194, RSr) are very effective in coverage and run support. These guys make plays on perimeter screens and keep good leverage on the ball. They will test the Baylor receivers that attempt to keep them from getting to the screen receiver.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if UCF attempts to run a “muddle” defense where the players mill around prior to the snap and then try to get to where they need to be just prior to the start of the play. Since UCF has had 3+ weeks to prepare, I think that they might try to utilize some of the aspects of the OSU and TCU game plans that make it more difficult to get pre-snap reads on alignments and blitzes. Baylor has seen these looks previously, but it doesn’t keep them from being effective, at times. It will be interesting to see if UCF chooses to cover or bring pressure. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Knights will chose pressure because of the relatively ineffective pass rush of the front 4.

    Secondary

    The UCF secondary possesses two All-Conference performers (one at safety and one at corner). They are a solid unit, but I don’t think they have any coverage players at the level of Stanley from OSU or Verrett from TCU. In addition, the renewed threat of Tevin Reese will make it at least slightly more difficult to defend the Baylor receiving corps (if Tevin can return to a functional level or better).

    It will be interesting to see how quickly the officiating corps is able to spot the ball and allow the Bears to get the next play underway. Remember that the Big XII has been working with an extra official (the “A” or alternate official) all season whose primary job was to get the ball spotted for play as quickly as possible and to monitor allowable substitution. In the Fiesta Bowl, the Bears will be playing with the umpire doing the spotting of the ball. This will definitely slow down the process between the plays – how much is to be seen.

    The secondary is manned by cornerbacks, Jacoby Glenn (#12, 6’, 174, RFr) and Jordan Ozerities (#38, 5’10”, 191, RJr). Glenn is very talented and made All-Conference this season. The safeties are Clayton Geathers (#26, 6’2”, 207, RJr) and Brandon Alexander (#37, 6’2”, 191, Jr). Geathers is a tackling machine. He is a true strong safety and brings it every play. He’s very impressive. Both of these guys have decent, but not exceptional speed.

    Teams like Louisville were very effective in their passing game. The coverage is good, but not air-tight. Look for the Bears to be able to effectively work at the intermediate route level, making occasional vertical attempts at big plays.

    Overall

    I expect the Bears to be very good at running the football on Wednesday. With Lache Seastrunk (25), Glasco Martin IV (8), and Shock Linwood (32) all relatively healthy for the first time in several weeks, the Baylor running game should be able to pound the ball at the over-matched UCF defensive front. Because the Knights will probably be struggling to stop the run, they will have to resort to additional personnel being brought into the box to increase run support. This will open the Knights up to vertical passes that will be quick score threats.

    If the Knights defense can control the running game of the Bears, then offensive success becomes a more difficult proposition. If I have under-estimated the relative strength of the UCF defensive front, the Bears will have a more difficult time moving the football. I don’t expect this.

    UCF Offense

    The matchup between the Baylor defense and the UCF offense has to be the most troubling for the Baylor Bears. UCF’s offense is very balanced, with an NFL-caliber quarterback as the trigger-man and two NFL quality running backs to beat the defense into submission. Baylor has had the most trouble with a quarterback that is highly accurate and still has a good enough running game to keep the defensive front occupied. The Knights are the prototype of this style of offense.

    O’Leary has made no secret about the fact that he will be trying to control the ball and the clock against the explosive Baylor Bears. He wants to keep the high-energy, past-paced Baylor offense on the sidelines as much of this contest as possible. The Knights will be huddling all night long and snapping the ball with just a few seconds left on the play clock. With the quality running game and possession passing game, the Baylor defense will have a real challenge to limit the 3rd down conversions of one of the nations’ best offenses at succeeding on 3rd down.

    Offensive Line

    The Knight offensive line is the strongest where the Bears are the least experienced. The Knights possess two All-Conference guards – twins Jordan (#63, 6’3”, 310, Sr) and Justin McCray (#64, 6’3”, 310, Sr) – that are very physical and extremely talented. These two mean-spirited young men will be matched up with the Baylor defensive tackles that have no player more experienced than a 20-year old sophomore and have two 19-year old true freshmen in their two-deep. These twins are really good. It is this matchup that will determine the effectiveness of the interior running game of the UCF Knights. If Beau Blackshear (95), Andrew Billings (75), Byron Bonds (96), Trevor Clemons-Valdez (98), and Suleiman Masumbuko (93) can stand up to the experienced execution of these two road-graders (plus their talented running mate at center – Joey Grant - #55, 6’2”, 285, RSo), then the Baylor defense should be able to be very successful. If the Knights can get quality movement against these two defensive tackles, the Bears will have great difficulty getting off the field.

    One matchup that appears to be clearly in favor of the Baylor Bears is the duel of the Baylor defensive ends against the left tackle (Torrian Wilson, #72, 6’3”, 308, RJr) for the Knights. This young man is a large human being, but he doesn’t appear to possess the kind of quickness and agility necessary to pass protect against the likes of Chris McAllister (31), Jamal Palmer (92), Terrance Lloyd (11) and Shawn Oakman (2). The Bears should be able to bring quality pressure on the quarterback from the blind side of the UCF signal caller. It will be interesting to see if UCF utilizes tight ends and/or running backs to chip or stay in to double –team defenders matched up with the big tackle. The other tackle (Chris Martin - #70, 6’5”, 303, RSr) is a solid contributor for the Knights.

    UCF uses a tight end or H-back (Justin Tukes - #84, 6’5”, 257, Jr) with 3 receivers most of the time, so expect Lloyd and Oakman to lineup to the strong side (the tight end side) of the ball most of the game. Both of these guys have been extremely good against even the best tight ends they’ve seen this fall. If these guys can maintain that level of performance, it should be difficult for the Knight running backs to get outside to the tight end side.

    Running Backs

    These two UCF running backs (Storm Johnson - #8, 6’, 215, RJr and William Stanback - #28, 5’11”, 205, Fr) are a very, very good tandem of backs. They are physical runners that protect the ball effectively and make excellent, vertical cuts for positive yardage. These guys are jitter-bug runners. They pound the ground when they carry the ball. Look for the Knights to try and get Johnson 25+ carries, with Stanback carrying the ball 10 or 11 times. They will be a very tough test of the Baylor tackling.

    If Bryce Hager (44) is able to play, it would be a real benefit to the Baylor defensive cause because he is a bigger, more physical run-stopper. If, as expected, Bryce is not able to play, it will be critical for Brody Trahan (15) to duplicate his performance against the University of Texas where he played his best and most physical game of his Baylor career. The ability of Eddie Lackey (5) and Brody to play downhill and meet the challenge of tackling these two physical backs is critical to the Baylor defensive success.

    Quarterback

    Blake Bortles (#5, 6’4”, 230, RJr) is a terrific quarterback. This guy is the best quarterback the Bears have faced this season. He is an elite, NFL-ready quarterback that is very accurate, but still possesses the arm strength necessary to fire the ball vertically downfield. Coupled with a quality receiving corps, he should be a major challenge to the Baylor secondary coverage. With 3+ weeks to mend, the Baylor secondary should be as close to full speed as they have been in several weeks. This should make them noticeably more effective on Wednesday. That’s good – because the passing game of the Knights will be a real challenge.

    The Knights are very good off of play action, they protect the quarterback effectively in dropback, and they attack the short, intermediate, and deep levels with equal effectiveness. This quarterback can make all the reads and throws. He throws in the middle and to the outside with equal effectiveness. He is very well coached and will be as good as anyone the Bears have seen at sniffing out where the blitz is and hitting the appropriate hot receiver.

    Receivers

    The Knight receiving corps is very good. For the most part, they possess receivers with excellent speed and size combinations. They should be larger than all of the Baylor defensive backs and run will-coordinated routes with precision. They have good hands and protect the ball effectively after the catch. These guys have made phenomenal plays in the clutch. When the chips are down, they have come through multiple times this season. While they might not have one receiver that is as good as a Terrance Williams, they are a quality receiving corps as a group. Couple this receiving corps with a quarterback that can deliver the ball and you know that the Baylor secondary will have to play one of its best games. J.J. Worton (#9, 6’2”, 211, RJr) and Breshad Perriman (#11, 6’2”, 209, So) are backed up by Jeff Godfrey (#2, 5’11”, 190, Sr), Josh Reese (#19, 6’, 184, RJr), and Rannell Hall (#6, 6’1”, 196, Jr). All of these guys are very good receivers and will be a severe test for the Baylor coverage group.


    Overall

    The concern has to be that UCF will be able to maintain possession of the ball by converting 3rd down after 3rd down, keeping the ball away from the explosive Baylor offense. The worst case scenario has to be if the UCF offense can keep moving the ball downfield, converting possession after possession into touchdowns while monopolizing the time of possession, this could be a game like we saw in Stillwater. This kind of offensive execution by the opponent would put a premium on making the Baylor possessions pay off in touchdowns. If the Knights can control the ball with that kind of effectiveness, this probably won’t be a game where the Bears are going to see a lot of possessions.

    This won’t be a game where UCF is able to or even wants to “big-play” the Bears. The Knights are going to rely on their ability to convert their 3rd downs at the same success rate as they have been able to maintain all season. On Wednesday night, this will be one of the most important success factors in the contest.

    I am looking forward to watching this contest in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. I anticipate a successful outcome for the Baylor Bears and hope to see a return of the big-play attack that the Baylor Nation has grown to love. If the Baylor defense can meet the challenge of this effective offense, then it should be an evening that the Baylor faithful enjoy a lot.

    Bears win, 50-21. Mrs. ftblbob5 wants 80, like always.
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  2. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Texas - Offense

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    The Bears secured its first-ever Big XII title and 3rd undisputed conference title in school history. The victory over Texas was the Bears’ 10th straight home win going back to the loss to TCU on October 13, 2012 when the Bears had 6 turnovers. The 11-1 record is the first time in school history that the Bears have won that many games in a season. As Coach Art Briles said, “It’s a reality now. We are Big XII Champs.”

    Even with a lackluster 2nd quarter, the Baylor offense returned to a level close to its season average with 508 total yards of offense, 29 first down (13 rushing and 15 receiving – 1 by penalty), 221 yards rushing and 287 yards passing. The Bears were 6 of 7 scoring in red zone chances. The Bears defeated the University of Texas for a 3rd time in 4 years.


    Offensive Line


    The starting offensive line was Kelvin Palmer (77) at left tackle, Cyril Richardson (68) at left guard, Stefan Huber (54) at center, Desmine Hilliard (67) at right guard, and Troy Baker (75) at right tackle. This was Troy Baker’s first start since he had his knee surgery. The starting tight end was Jordan Najvar (18). During the game, Coach Clement alternated Pat Colbert (69) in at tackle to spell Baker and Palmer.

    For most of this game, it was a quality (if not dominating) performance by the Baylor offensive line. For the entire 1st quarter and most of the 2nd half, the Baylor offensive line moved the line of scrimmage on almost every play. Backs were able to find quality holes (multiple ones, sometimes) and the quarterback enjoyed almost flawless protection. The first pressure didn’t come until Kelvin Palmer got beaten on a good inside move by Jeffcoat which produced the Texas sack.

    The thing that really stood out was how much movement the interior of the line (the guards and center) got on almost every play. When the Bears ran the read scheme (which asks the line to block the defensive linemen and not go downfield (because it is a read of give or pass, in most instances), the line did a quality job of creating running lanes for the fleet running backs. Richardson, Huber, and Hilliard got excellent movement on most of these efforts. These guys were very good at picking up the MLB at the second level and getting good leverage on the UT defensive tackles on these plays. Palmer, Baker, and Colbert were uniformly effective at getting up to level two and cutting off backside pursuit. Baker got beaten once on an inside move and Palmer just missed a block on a pursuing linebacker that could have freed the back for a huge gain. Most of the times that these read plays didn’t go for quality yardage it was because of safety support or because the backs chose to go outside, where there was no blocking.

    Baylor ran a lot of power scheme where the center blocks back and the playside guard and tackle block inside. The backside guard pulls around to the playside where he is looking to kickout the first defenders outside the down block or wrap up to level two and block the playside linebacker. This scheme was very good to the Bears.

    The Bears used a fold scheme against Texas that asked the guard to block out on a 4-technique (a player on or inside of the tackle) with the tackle pulling quickly inside the out block (this is called “folding”) and up to the linebacker. This scheme produced quality holes on several occasions for the Bears.

    The pass protection was terrific. When the Bears went to a straight drop back protection, the Horns got almost no pressure on the quarterback. The Baylor offensive line was almost impenetrable in those situations. There was one time in the 1st quarter that it appeared that there was a total miscommunication up front in the leverage or even type of protection that was called. On this play, the line blocked almost no one. To his credit, the quarterback scrambled out of the pocket to his right and threw the ball away (and passed the line of scrimmage) saving the possible sack. Once, Richardson got beaten on a cross-the-face stunt from an outside shade to the inside gap on play action. You could see the All-American guard almost physically kicking himself after that play. But for most of the afternoon, the Baylor quarterback could stand back in the pocket secure in the thought that he would be protected regardless of how long it took for the receivers to get open.

    Jordan Najvar (18) caught one pass for 8 yards on the opening Baylor drive of the game. He had a chance at a touchdown pass when Coach Montgomery sent the big tight end through the line, looking like he was on another lead-blocking mission. Instead of blocking the MLB, Jordan ran right by him and into the end zone. Because he was so wide open, the quarterback tried to lob the ball to Najvar and the pass sailed over Jordan’s head. Jordan continues to be deadly in blocking, whether it is as a lead blocker or if it is on the perimeter. Several times, Jordan provided excellent running room on the edge, whether it was a sweep/read or a bubble screen.


    Backs


    It was a bitterly cold day. On days like this, it is difficult to maintain control of the ball when you take hits right on the ball. For the most part, the Baylor backs did a good job of protecting the ball.

    Glasco Martin IV (8) was the starting running back on Saturday. Glasco carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards and 1 touchdown. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry on the afternoon. In addition, Glasco had one very important reception of 25 yards on 3rd and 11. Glasco is a north-south runner. The senior back is a real load, at 6’, 220+ pounds. But he still manages to be able to hit edges of defenders, running through arm tackles, and be able to make quality vertical cuts for additional yardage. One of the biggest plays of the game was Glasco’s only reception of the year. Martin went in motion toward the Texas sidelines and run a go route up the sidelines, trailing behind the wide receiver. When the wide receiver couldn’t split the two deep defenders, the quarterback came down to Martin, who had just beaten the coverage by the UT MLB. The ball was perfectly thrown and Glasco caught the ball for a first down on a critical 3rd and 11 conversion. The best run of the night had to be Glasco’s run on the last Baylor touchdown in Floyd Casey Stadium. After the touchdown had been rubbed out on Morton’s “pick-six,” the Bears steamrolled the Texas front and ran a power scheme right up the middle. The blocking was so effective that Glasco was not even close to being touched as he sped into the end zone. Palmer and Hilliard got particularly effective blocks on the play. At that point, the celebration was on and the stands got a little crazy – it was a blast. Over the entire afternoon, Glasco had a lot of terrific 4-yard gains where he ran vertically, getting everything possible out of the play. This physical-style of running is critical to the consistency of the Baylor offense against good defenses. When the Bears got the ball back, trying to run out the clock, it was Glasco that just pounded the UT defense into submission with physical run after physical run to never give the Longhorns the ball again (in fairness, Shock Linwood did get the last carry).

    Lache Seastrunk (25) had 15 carries for 78 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry average (despite having 14 yards in losses on his carries). Seastrunk is a phenomenal running back with the ability to stop and start on a dime. He utilizes a terrific jump-cut often, which leaves defenders tackling air. Lache continues to frustrate when he is not able to make quick quality decisions as to where to take the ball. He is still a little too much of an east-west runner at times. But his explosive ability makes it necessary to keep giving the Temple product the ball as often as possible. Lache’s best run of the day came off of a power scheme to the left. Lache followed the blocking of Desmine Hilliard (who turned up quickly when the defensive tackle to the playside stretched) and split the defenders and rocketing into the secondary for a 17-yard gain. Lache and the quarterback had a miss judged exchange which almost created a big Baylor turnover. Thankfully, the Texas MLB juggled the ball and gave it back to an alert Clay Fuller (23). Lache had a couple of quality runs back-to-back on the Bears’ 2nd possession of the second half. On the first run, Lache was very patient and followed his blocks very well. On the next, the speedster bounced the run outside and down the UT sidelines for another first down. On the next play, Petty gave the ball to Lache on a sweep/read. Lache followed his perimeter blocks very well and ended the run with the exclamation point of running over the UT safety (Thompson) at the 20-yard line – Wow!

    Shock Linwood (32) carried the ball 3 times for 14 yards. Devin Chafin (28) had 2 carries for 5 yards.

    Bryce Petty (14) threw the ball 37 times and completed 21 passes for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was sacked 2 times. Even with the hard, cold, heavy ball, Bryce threw tight spirals that were mostly very accurate. He showed excellent composure in the pocket most of the game and did a very good job of reading the defense – distributing the ball to the appropriate places. Bryce still has a tendency to throw high when he feels pressure. This is something he needs to correct as soon as possible. Bryce made a bad read on a wheel route by Norwood late in the 1st quarter. The UT coverage bailed and the receiver decided to pull up at about 8-10 yards deep. Bryce threw deep up the rail and was lucky not to have this pass intercepted. One thing that I have noticed is that defenders have a hard time catching the high velocity throws of Bryce Petty. Several times this year we have seen defenders drop what appeared to be sure interceptions (to my mind) because they aren’t used to the spin and velocity of the throws off the rifle arm of the Midlothian product. In addition, Bryce carried the ball 10 times for 32 yards. No one is ever going to confuse Bryce with RGIII, but his ability to carry the football for quality gains forces the defense to leave a man on the backside of the zone/read to defend that possibility. It forces the end to stay at home on the sweep/read and allows the speedy backs to get outside.

    Bryce got a little too cute on 3rd and 1 against a blitz look when he visually checked out of a quarterback sneak to a hot throw to the inside receiver. The problem with this was that Bryce couldn’t (or didn’t) let the backs know that he was going to do this. As per their usual work, the running backs ran right into the back of Bryce, trying to push him forward for a first. This made it impossible for Bryce to make the quick throw for the 1st down.


    Receivers


    It was a difficult day for receivers because the ball is so heavy and hard. Gloves certainly make catching the ball on cold days like this a little easier, but it’s still a difficult chore. Overall, the Baylor receivers certainly dropped several passes that you would expect them to catch. But they caught a lot more than they dropped and made a few terrific catches on a day of difficult conditions.

    The leading receiver for the Bears was Antwan Goodley (5) with 8 catches for 114 yards and 1 touchdown. For the last two weeks of the season prior to this game, Antwan had been going up against two of the toughest cornerbacks in all of collegiate football. While the UT corners aren’t bad, they aren’t quite good enough to cover a receiver like Antwan man-to-man all over the field. Antwan resurfaced in the Baylor offense and had a terrific day. Antwan really did a good job of driving off the coverage and coming back to the ball on intermediate routes. On a Petty rollout, the ball was thrown a little too far inside and behind Antwan as he came back to the ball. Antwan did a terrific job of turning both hands back to the ball and coming up with a difficult catch. Early, it appeared that Bryce might have been trying too hard to get the ball to Antwan because we saw several passes forced into double coverage. Coach Montgomery lined up Antwan in the backfield as the H-back and ran him on a wheel route out of the backfield. This puts UT in linebacker coverage on a player like Antwan. Antwan fumbled at the end of this play, but Jordan Najvar bailed him out with the recovery. At times this fall, Bryce has tried to thread the needle vertically a little too fine. On a critical 3rd down on Baylor’s first possession of the 2nd half, Bryce led the vertical seam by Antwan just a little more inside and away from the Longhorn defender trying to under-cut the route. This adjustment resulted in a critical conversion and a gain of 21-yard gain. On the play, Coach Montgomery motioned the back out of the backfield to Antwan’s side, creating an adjustment in coverage by the safety and opening the throwing lane for Petty. On that same drive on a 3rd and 12, Antwan beat tight coverage coming back to the ball on an out route. He immediately turned upfield for additional yardage. This was a big-time play. The most phenomenal catch of the day (and probably the biggest momentum shifter of the day) was the one-handed catch of a quick slant on 3rd and 9 that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown catch. This catch would have been a terrific catch on a 70-degree day. To make this catch on a windy 24-degree afternoon was awesome. This changed the tenor of the game and the Bears were on their way to a Big XII Championship after this capper of a 77-yard drive on the opening possession of the 2nd half.

    Corey Coleman (1) caught 5 passes for 78 yards. Corey has really come around late in this season. He still has issues to work out with Bryce Petty, as evidenced by the back shoulder fade that missed badly on Baylor’s first drive. But, later these two figured this combination out and hooked up for a significant 25-yard gain. Corey did a great job of fighting through a hold by a UT corner to force a defensive pass interference call on the first possession. I have little doubt that Corey would not have tried to get back to the ball earlier this season, but he’s learned that if you don’t fight to the ball, you don’t get the call – experience. When Bryce chose to throw a quick in-breaking route to Corey (and left the ball a little too close to the safety), Coleman drove hard on the ball and came up with the catch even though he had to be thinking that he might take a big hit from a Longhorn. Again, this is something we might not have seen earlier in the year. Corey did a great job with that little toss pass on the jet sweep. Coleman did a great job of utilizing the perimeter blocks and gaining 32 yard on the play.

    Levi Norwood had 4 receptions for 36 yards and 1 touchdown. One of the best catches of the day was a play that didn’t score. Norwood went up between two Longhorn defenders to catch an inside receiver fade, but the contact of the defenders rode the Baylor receiver just out of bounds. This was a terrific catch, gained by catching the ball at its highest point between tough defenders. Levin does a very good job of coming to meet the ball on intermediate routes where he finds holes in the coverage zones. He is a terrific possession receiver on plays like this. On most of these possession receptions, Levi’s first reaction is to get vertical after the catch. This is a great habit. Levin had a clear drop on Baylor’s 1st possession of the 2nd half. Levin got his touchdown when Bryce Petty went under center at the 6-yard line. Coach Montgomery sent the running back in motion and the Texas secondary got totally confused about which defender was supposed to stay with the back. This left Levi completely alone and Petty just rose up and hit Norwood on an easy pitch and catch.

    Clay Fuller caught 2 passes for 26 yards. Clay’s 24-yard reception on a vertical seam just in front of the safety demonstrates the mental toughness this receiver possesses. The ball was thrown high and Clay reached up, getting his fingers on top of the ball to secure the catch just before he was collapsed upon by 3 Longhorn defenders. Jay Lee (4) had a drop on 3rd and 13 that would have come up a couple of yards short. Jay is still struggling to become as consistent as he could be.


    Overall


    The 20-point victory left the Bears as the number 1 offense in the conference with a 624.5 yards per game average and an average of 53.3 points per game. The Bears were the 2nd rated passing team in the conference, trailing Tech by only 392 yards (despite the fact that the Red Raiders attempted 272 more passes than the Bears). The Bears were the number 1 rushing team in the conference (rushing for 352 yards more than OU, who was 2nd). On the season, Baylor was 2nd best in turnover margin at +11. According to the BCS rankings, the Bears are the 6th rated team in the nation, the highest ranking at the end of the regular season the Bears have had in the BCS-era.

    Levi had another one of those moments when he demonstrated more courage than brains. He tried to stop a bouncing punt from being able to be downed inside the Baylor 5-yard line, but didn’t make the pickup cleanly. Luckily, the ball went out of bounds. This lapse in judgment could have been fatal for the Baylor cause.

    Most troubling was the fact that Aaron Jones missed a 35-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter. Missing the 49-yard field goal earlier was unfortunate, but Aaron has to be more consistent on his shorter efforts. On the other hand, Aaron did make field goals of 22, 42, and 28 yards on the afternoon. Aaron extended his NCAA record for career PATs made to 270. Aaron has now made a school-record 185 consecutive PATs and broke his own school record for PATs in a season with 78 this season (which set a NCAA single-season mark for a perfect PAT season, passing Louisville’s Art Carmody – 2004). In addition, Aaron’s 12 points scored in the game brought his total points in a career to 447, moving him into 2nd place all-time in NCAA career kicking points (he’s 19 shy of tying the record).

    It’s the end of Baylor’s regular season. The Bears finished a program best of 11-1 and have qualified for a BCS bowl game for the first time in program history. Mrs. ftblbob5 and I are looking forward to travelling with the Baylor Nation on the chartered flight and cheering our Bears to victory in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 1, 2014. It will be a great way to start off the New Year. Go, Bears!!!
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  3. Fiesta Bowl Ticket Available

  4. Mack is staying, shaggy is losing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hometown Bear View Post
    Great reads....lots of symbols instead of words gloriously describing everyone that can be blamed! Many calling for death, boycotts and burning things down...greatness considering most of the posters over there have less than $50 of Walmart gear invested in the Horns...

    The only thing I find surprising is that their anger hasn't turned towards blaming/trashing Baylor yet, while believing all they have to do is pick up the phone and Briles will ditch Waco for the 40 acres...
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  5. Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Texas - Defense

    Quote Originally Posted by ftblbob5 View Post
    Game Analysis: Baylor vs. Texas – December 7, 2013

    On a frigid 24 degree afternoon (with a significant wind chill factor), the Baylor Bears closed out Floyd Casey Stadium in style as they defeated the University of Texas, 30-10, in front of a stadium record crowd of 51,728 to claim their first Big XII Championship in football and ending the regular season with a program best record of 11-1. The victory gave the Bears the Big XII’s slot in the Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl against the University of Central Florida Knights, to be played on January 1, 2014 in Glendale, AZ at the University of Phoenix Stadium and first-ever BCS bowl game appearance.

    The game became the defacto Big XII Championship Game when OU defeated Oklahoma State in a game that was wrapping up just prior to kickoff. When the score was posted on the scoreboard a great cheer went up throughout the stadium because the stakes of the game to come had just become worth a lot more.

    The first half was a defensive struggle in which the Bears moved the ball effectively between the 20s, but couldn’t find a way to get touchdowns. Baylor settled for 3 field goal attempts, making one and Texas tried two field goals, having one blocked. Texas was very successful at moving the football on the ground in the first half. Baylor had a strong 1st quarter, but fell victim to too many mistakes in the 2nd quarter. At the end of an entertaining, but largely unproductive first half, the score was tied, 3-3.

    What happened in the second half is a tale that will go down in Baylor history.


    Defense


    The University of Texas came into Saturday’s game having lost only one conference game. While Texas had been able to run the football effectively in the 1st half, the Baylor defense was completely dominant in the second half of the contest. On the afternoon, Baylor allowed only 12 Longhorn first downs (and one of those was by penalty). Texas was only able to muster 217 yards of total offense during the contest. They averaged 1.6 yards per pass attempt, throwing 34 passes and completing only 12 for 54 yards. Case McCoy (the Longhorn quarterback) had 2 passes intercepted. The Longhorns only ran 69 plays in the entire contest (Baylor ran 92). Texas was 2 of 17 on 3rd down conversions (1 of 2 on 4th down conversions) for a paltry 11.7% success rate. The Bears forced the Longhorns into nine 3-and-outs. The Longhorns had to punt 9 times.


    Defensive Line


    The starting defensive line for this last-ever game in Floyd Casey Stadium was: Terrance Lloyd (11) and Chris McAllister (31) at the defensive end positions and Andrew Billings (75) and Beau Blackshear (95) at the defensive tackles.
    In the 1st half, the Bears did a lot of slanting (like they have in most games). Texas did a great job of getting a body on a body and locking up the defensive linemen. The backs would watch for which player on the front 4 would get cutoff and that is the hole where Brown and Bergeron would attack. This was very successful for the Longhorns early in the game. In the 2nd half, the Bear defensive line played a lot more base technique where they simply tried to whip the offensive lineman in front of them. This strategy was much more successful for the Baylor defense. The defensive line dominated the Longhorn offensive line for most of the entire 3rd and 4th quarters.

    The defensive tackles stood up to the Longhorn offensive line very well. The best thing they did was to maintain their rush lanes better than we have seen in past weeks. When DTs stay in their rush lanes and collapse the pocket around the quarterback, the signal callers feel pressure, even when the offensive line might be doing a decent job of blocking their individual assignments. We saw more of this type of pressure on Saturday than we have seen on previous outings.


    In the second half of the game, Andrew Billings (75) was dominant. Conjuring up visions of Phil Taylor, this true freshman from Waco High School dominated the more experienced guards and center for the Longhorns, driving those players backwards time after time. Andrew ended up the afternoon with 6 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss. But his contribution was much more than just tackles. At the beginning of the game, it was Andrew that was doing the best job of holding the line of scrimmage against the fresh offensive line of the Longhorns. In addition, Andrew was very good at getting off of the blocks. Later, Andrew changed the line of scrimmage on almost every play of the 2nd half. The push he got against UT was phenomenal.

    Byron Bonds (96) showed a little more agility and quickness on Saturday than we have seen recently. He did a great job of coming off of his pass rush to purse a screen pass that might have been able to get loose, had the big true freshman not shown such hustle.

    Texas chose to utilize a lot of 2 tight end offense (or tight end and an H-back) or a tight end with a fullback blocking opposite the tight end in the first half. This ties down both defensive ends and keeps the defense from being able to squeeze down on the weakside by getting 7 quick blockers at the line of scrimmage on the snap of the football. Early on, the two starting defensive ends had real trouble getting off the blocks of the Texas tight ends and tackles. The Baylor ends did a good job of holding the line of scrimmage and did a quality job of turning the ball back inside. But when the ball was being run just to their inside, these senior ends weren’t able to get off of the blocks to make the plays and the Longhorn ball carriers (Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron) just ran right by them. As always, Terrance Lloyd was able to do a great job against the run when it went away from him. Terrance does a very good job of working flat down the line of scrimmage tracking the ball carrier until he sees the cutback. Then Lloyd explodes into the ball carrier for a minimal gain. In fact, the first real setback for Texas was caused by penetration gotten by Terrance Lloyd which forced the ball carrier to backtrack. When he reversed his field, Trevor Clemons-Valdez (98) and Byron Bonds (96) were right there to tie him up, getting the Horns off-schedule. On the next play, Terrance tied up two blockers on a sweep, freeing the linebacker to run deep into the backfield, tackling the ball carrier for a loss. The very next play with a blitz coming, the Longhorn line left Terrance unblocked on a pass. Terrance got right in the face of Case McCoy (the Longhorn quarterback), forcing an off the back foot, much too early throw that went over the receiver (who was choosing to run a stop route) and into the very alert arms of K.J. Morton (8) for the first Longhorn turnover of the contest. On the next possession with 3rd and 4, Terrance executed a perfect zone drop from his defensive end position to the short side and got in the way of an out route that would have been a first down. Terrance’s perfect dropped forced the throw to be wide and out of bounds, forcing Texas to punt.

    Chris McAllister, for some reason, had a much more difficult time early in the game of getting off of blocks, whether on the playside or the backside. He had great difficulty winning his matchup. Chris is still as good as the Bears have when it comes to taking on kickout blocks by the fullbacks. Chris plays these blocks with great leverage and strength, stuffing the blocks of even the best fullbacks. This ability squeezes the hole and gives the linebackers a lot less area to cover. In the 3rd quarter, with a 3-man rush, Chris made the mistake of coming inside on his pass rush (a big mistake in a 3-man rush), allowing McCoy to get outside for a scramble. Luckily it was 3rd and 17 and the Texas quarterback came up way short of the line to gain because of great pursuit from the linebackers. In the 3rd quarter, Chris was a little slow to recognize a quick reverse and got beaten just to his outside for a sizeable gain.

    Jamal Palmer (92) was productive with 3 tackles, getting the only Baylor sack of the afternoon, and a quarterback hurry. Jamal does the best job of any of the Baylor defensive ends when it comes to turning the corner on a speed rush. He has more speed and quickness than the other Baylor ends and puts real pressure on the opposing tackle to move his feet. As his strength continues to improve, he will develop better moves to take advantage of the tackles that sell out to get outside and deep to stop his speed move. Like Terrance Lloyd, Jamal is very good at working down the line of scrimmage when the play goes away from him. Jamal is so fast that when he makes these plays it is often for a loss. Jamal got caught lying on the ground a little too long when he came over the top of the Longhorn running back on 4th and goal in the 3rd quarter. Palmer got great pressure on the QB by diving over the back, but then assumed the ball had been thrown. By the time he got back up on his feet and rushed the QB, McCoy had scramble left and thrown back for a touchdown. On the next drive with 3rd and 5, Jamal never gave up when McCoy scrambled away from the big Baylor defensive end. Palmer was rewarded with a sack when the Texas QB couldn’t find a target.

    While Shawn Oakman (2) didn’t make many plays on defense, he did use his height and wing-span to block the first field goal attempt by Texas. It appeared that the big defensive end got some good push on the guard and then just jumped up, blocking the lower than usual kick, keeping the Bears in the lead at that point. Later, he was penalized for jumping on the backs of the offensive linemen. This penalty isn’t seen very often, but it is a safety issue to eliminate linemen from coming down on blockers that are engage, perhaps hurting the unsuspecting blocker.

    Coach Bennett must have felt that Texas would try to attack the Baylor corners with quick outs and stops. Because of this, he utilized the defensive ends in dropping for curl to flat coverage. The Baylor defensive ends were very effective in this tactic and forced McCoy to go to other routes or throw the ball away on numerous plays. This ability plus the dominance of the defensive line and linebackers against the Texas running game in the second half turned the game in the 2nd half.


    Linebackers


    The starting linebackers were: Eddie Lackey (5), Brody Trahan (15), and Sam Holl (25). Brody was starting his 2nd consecutive game in place of Bryce Hager.

    On the first couple of possession for Texas, both inside linebackers were displaying a tendency to do too much lateral work, rather than play downhill. This provided the Texas backs with excellent opportunities to cutback on the fast-flowing Baylor linebackers.

    The All-Big XII first team linebacker, Eddie Lackey (5), was the leading tackler for the Bears on Saturday with 13 total tackles, 2 tackles for losses, 1 pass broken up, and 1 quarterback hurry. On the 3rd possession, it seemed like Eddie got the feel for the Texas attack and stopped working so much laterally and began to play downhill. This made a tremendous difference in the performance of the entire Baylor defense. Eddie had coverage on the Longhorn running backs who worked short routes in the middle of the field. Lackey did a great job with this coverage, eliminating what might have been easy; short throws for the struggling Longhorn quarterback. Eddie did a good job of spying on McCoy, as well. On the 4th and 3 in the Baylor end of the field after the Bears had missed on a fake punt, it was Eddie Lackey that came up to force McCoy to throw instead of run for a 1st down. McCoy threw incomplete, giving the ball back to the Baylor Bears. Taking advantage of Terrance Lloyd occupying two Longhorn blockers, Eddie ran a great angle and made a tackle on Daje Johnson 4 yards deep in the backfield late in the 1st quarter. One of the best hits of the day was when Eddie Lackey met Malcolm Brown right at the line of scrimmage when Brown was going full speed. These two trains hit head on and bounced off of each other. Eddie recoiled and led the way on driving the Longhorn back for only a minimal gain. By the way, it was Eddie Lackey that made the last clearing block for K.J. Morton (8) when he intercepted the screen pass and took it toward the end zone.

    Brody Trahan (15) had a very good game, totaling 7 tackles. Brody was very good in coverage on the Longhorn backs all game long. He is very quick when working to the flat, which narrows the windows for QBs and WRs to connect with each other. Brody needs to improve on his tackling in space, but he hasn’t had nearly as many game reps as most of the other defenders. When the 2nd quarter started, it seemed Brody began to get the feel for how he needed to attack the line of scrimmage to find the Texas running backs. From that point, Trahan was much more effective. In fact, Brody really started playing downhill in the 2nd half. He did a great job of taking away a cutback and forced a hold on the Texas tackle, rather than let Brody make the tackle. Brody made a great one-on-one tackle on Brown when the Longhorn running back caught an option route in front of the Baylor linebacker. This play easily could have gotten away for big yardage. Both Brody and Eddie Lackey were very effective at jamming vertical releasing receivers for the Horns. This makes covering them in the secondary much easier.

    Sam Holl (25) continues to be a very solid player for the Bears. Sam had 4 tackles, 1 for a loss, 1 pass broken up, and 1 quarterback hurry. Sam did a good job (when not locked up in coverage) of playing outside-in on off-tackle runs. He is very good at closing the grass between his alignment and the point of attack. Sam made two very important plays early in the game doing just this. One thing that Sam does very well is recognize which player has the ball on a zone/read pass. He gives a good look to the back, but if the QB keeps the ball, Sam can get right in the face of the QB in a heartbeat. Earlier in the game, Texas had been able to get Daje Johnson loose on a quick toss jet sweep. When the Horns tried that again, Sam shot across the line of scrimmage and got a quality tackle for a loss on the play. Sam almost had an interception when he was covering a wheel route up the Baylor sidelines, but the ball fell just out of his reach.

    From the 2nd quarter to the end of the game, the Baylor linebacking trio dealt out a severe beating on the Texas running backs. This was a well played game by the linebacking corps.


    Secondary


    The starting secondary was: K.J. Morton (8) at short side corner, Demetri Goodson (3) at wide side cornerback, Terrell Burt (13) at cover safety, and Orion Stewart (28) getting his first start at down safety in place of the suspended Ahmad Dixon (6).

    One of the obvious adjustments seen in this game had to do with cornerback coverage. In games past, the corners made a lot of contact with receivers. This drew several pass interference penalties. In the game against the Longhorns, the Baylor corners seldom made more than incidental contact with the receivers. Because of this, Baylor fans didn’t see the shower of penalty flags for pass interference that has plagued the Bears for most of the year.

    The ineptitude of the Longhorn passing game certainly helped the Baylor coverage, but the Bear defenders were “Johnny-on-the-spot” for most of the afternoon. They were in tight coverage on the Longhorn receivers forcing the Horns to be very precise with their passing game – which the Longhorns could not accomplish.

    K.J. Morton (8) returned from his injury with a terrific game. K.J. had two interceptions (one that went for an apparent touchdown that was called back to the 3-yard line due to an excessive celebration penalty – I still haven’t figured that one out, yet) and 2 passes broken up to go along with his 3 tackles. I have watched the interception of the screen pass over and over. I have come to the conclusion that the official mixed up the number. I’m almost sure the penalty was supposed to be on K.J. for dragging his feet. I could find nothing that Ahmad did when the ball was at the 3-yard line (which is the point of the foul according to the official that called the penalty). K.J. was very effective at coming up in support on the short side runs. He was a very sure tackler on the big Longhorn running backs. In addition, K.J. was very aggressive in his coverage on the short and intermediate routes thrown in front of him. When the Horns tried a fade to Sanders against Morton, the senior defender didn’t panic and the pass fell incomplete – against good coverage. When K.J. was beaten down the Longhorn’s sidelines, he didn’t panic. He continued to run with the receiver, never making contact, and the ball hit him in the back of the head – good defense (remember, there is no face-guarding in NCAA football). K.J.’s interception on the screen pass was a terrific reaction to the ball and the play. K.J. caught the ball in full stride and was never really threatened on his return. As I said earlier, I think the official just called the wrong player’s number. In addition, in that situation (the play would obviously win the game and the conference championship for the Bears) it was a ticky-tack call.

    Demetri Goodson (3) had one of his best games. This senior defender has struggled in recent weeks, but on Saturday the former Gonzaga basketball player was terrific. He played tight coverage without making contact with the receiver. He had a couple of terrific passes defended. His batting down of the pass in the Baylor end zone was as good of a play made by a Baylor defender on a well thrown ball as we have seen this fall. On a swing pass to the running back that beat the linebacker, Demetri did a great job of getting off of the block by the receiver and came up and made a quality tackle. Demetri and Burt did get beaten badly by Davis on a post move early in the 2nd quarter, but McCoy and Davis could not make the connection. The next time the Horns tried this post play; Demetri had a golden opportunity to intercept the ball, but couldn’t make the catch. When Johnson got loose on a toss jet sweep, it was Demetri Goodson that did a great job of using the sideline as an extra defender and forced the speedy Longhorn out of bounds. In the 3rd quarter, Demetri was slightly beaten on a go route down the Longhorn sidelines and toward the Baylor end zone. Instead of panicking (like ahs occurred in the past), Goodson maintained his coverage forcing it to be a perfect throw and catch to Sanders to beat him (and as we all saw on Saturday, the Longhorns are far from perfect throwing the football).

    Terrell Burt (13) had 3 tackles and a pass broken up, playing with pain, again. When Malcolm Brown broke through the forcing unit right up the middle late in the first quarter, it was Terrell Burt that rodeoed the big Longhorn running back and saved a touchdown. The cover safeties job is to be able to matchup with the inside receivers and the tight ends man-to-man in blitz situations. Terrell had just this kind of coverage responsibility when the Horns ran a big receiver on a square-out. Terrell’s coverage was tight and it appeared that the smallish Baylor safety was able to get his hand on the arm of the big receiver and cause the incompletion. Terrell’s coverage was terrific on the play. This is tighter coverage than we have seen from other Baylor cover safeties in the past on this difficult route. On a similar play, in the 3rd quarter, Terrell undercut the out route and forced a throw that was too high to be caught.


    Orion Stewart (28) got a high ankle sprain (very painful and debilitating) very early in the 1st half. This freshman continued to play (because Ahmad Dixon was not available) with a lot of heart. He couldn’t really run, but he still had 4 tackles during the 1st half. He showed a lot of toughness and heart. Orion is still not a great tackler when he has to support forward. He does a great job of hitting receivers working vertically or hitting receivers he is defending.

    Ahmad Dixon’s (6) return to the field in the 2nd half seemed to spark a much more aggressive attitude in the Baylor defense. People just seemed to be running at 78 rpm rather than 33 rpm (if you know what that means). Ahmad didn’t have to make many plays, but his presence seemed to be a big lift to the Baylor team.

    Basically, the only thing the Horns could get in the passing game off the tough Baylor defense was a few intermediate routes against the corners and a few dump off to the backs or wide receiver screens. The Bears took away everything else.


    Overall


    This game was probably the best defensive effort of the season. When the Bears attempted a fake punt, the defense was asked to stop the Longhorns on a short field – mission accomplished. When a big punt return and a 15-yard penalty gave Texas the ball on the Baylor 11-yard line, the Baylor defense forced a field goal. When a personal foul on the field goal gave UT a 1st and goal, it took a miracle 4th and goal scramble play to finally score a touchdown for the Longhorns. You’d have to grade the defense pretty well in that backed up situation. When Baylor was backed up and had to punt, giving the Horns the ball just across the 50-yard line, the Bears’ defense came up with the game clinching interception on a screen pass. Add in all the 3-and-outs and forced punts and you get one heck of a defensive effort.

    There are just a few items I feel I need to mention about this year’s defense. Baylor’s defense has 17 interceptions this season while allowing only 19 touchdown passes to be thrown against it. The starting defensive unit has given up only 27 touchdowns this season. Baylor has had 95 tackles for losses, which is 1 shy of the Baylor football program record set in 1978. Baylor has 32 sacks, which is 8 shy of the program record set in 1992 and tied them for 2nd in the Big XII with TCU. Baylor’s defense has forced 92 punts, the most in program history (8 over the previous record of 84 set in 1980). Baylor has held opponents to 7 for 28 (25%) on 4th down conversions; it is the 2nd best percentage in FBS this fall. You might be surprised to learn that Baylor had the 2nd best overall defense in the Big XII (7.7 yards per game behind OU) and had the best yards per play against average in the conference (only 4.5 yards per play gained against Baylor – the next best was TCU with 4.8 yards per play). The Bears gave up the fewest 1st downs (tied with OU at 213, but Baylor gave 31 of those away on penalties). And the Bears were the 2nd best in the Big XII in Red Zone defense to OSU. Probably in a surprise to many, the Bears were the best in the conference in pass defense efficiency with a rating of 106.0, allowing just 46.9% of the passes thrown against them to be completed. The Bears were the 3rd best rushing defense, behind TCU and OSU, giving up 136.2 yards per game.
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