There were 2 major questions about the 2013 Baylor Bears heading into the season. One regarded how effective first year starter Bryce Petty would be. Given his status as one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the country (by QBR), I think that has been adequately answered. The second revolved around the defense and whether they could continue the strides made in the second half of 2012. Tonight, we're not starting with Petty or the offense. We're starting with the unit that just held OU's offense to 10 points.
In 2011, Art Briles convinced Phil Bennett to attempt to do to Baylor's defense what he had done for Baylor's offense. The task that lay ahead of him was immense. Despite having an excellent track record as a defensive coordinator, he was often so frustrated by the lack of performance that he resorted to incredibly conservative, and ultimately ineffective, defensive schemes. Fast forward to the second half of last year, though, and you'll see a master plan that finally began to come together. A fast, deep, aggressive defense made up of great athletes that sacrificed size for speed and brought swagger (read: moxie, for you older for folks) to a formerly hopeless unit.
Oklahoma does not have an elite offense in 2013. But their offense looked helpless tonight; 41% of their points came directly or indirectly from a safety. This aggressive unit manned up 2 yards from the WR and were constantly flowing downhill towards Blake Bell/Trevor Knight and Co.
Now about that offense. I don't think anybody expected Baylor to substitute as heavily as they did on offense and seemingly purposefully slow their offense down. The results were decidedly...middling. They looked uncomfortable, unprepared for the aggressive man coverage that OU would bring to bear with their talented secondary. The hyper-aggressive OU linebackers were not punished deep, in part due to the physical battles that were allowed to be waged in the secondary.
Still, you can't keep a good man down. In this case, OU couldn't keep a great offense down. Baylor settled on an up-tempo rushing attack complemented by shallow and intermediate passes and quickly scored 21 points to take a comfortable 24-5 half time lead. Petty ended the night 13 of 26 for 204 yards plus 45 yards rushing and 5 total touchdowns. His 300 yard passing streak dies at 7; I think that's fair given his performance in the first quarter. Who knows how differently this game would have gone if Reese* played the whole game and Lee became the mistmatch against Sanchez that Baylor expected it to be. Regardless, I have good feelings about another streak getting started next week in Arlington.
I predicted that this game would be Lache's Re-Coming Out Party, with OU so concerned with stopping Baylor passing attack that they would be gashed on the ground. Right idea, wrong player. Injuries to Lache (hopefully minor) and Glasco (less hopeful here) meant that Shock Linwood was asked to carry the load...which he did to the sweet tune of 182 yards on 23 carries for a 7.9 yard average. Now we need to decide if Shock feeds off my continued DISRESPEK in saying that he's no Lache or if I can (admittedly belatedly) jump on the Shock train with everybody else tonight.
Goodley was held quiet for part of the night, yet still ended up with 80 yards on 6 catches and 2 TD's. Only two other WR caught passes - Levi Norwood and Clay Fuller - but in the end it didn't matter. There are other talented CBs in the conference, but I think that's the toughest secondary that we will face in conference.
It would be remiss of me to not at least mention the referees in this game. In what will likely be one of the 3 biggest games in the Big XII this year, the referees did not rise to the occasion. I'm uncomfortable with, but accepting of, the idea that the refs were going to allow a lot of contact in the secondary. It's also true that both the Bears and the Sooners were undisciplined (to downright sloppy) tonight. However, even the commentators noted that the refs were effected by the lobbying of Bob Stoops as the game progressed. It's quite disappointing that this lobbying appeared to work and the refs began calling the game in a manner that suited Coach Stoops. This is something that I feel the Big XII should review; if for no other reason than to stop the sidelines from turning into continuous zones for politicking.
Fortunately, it did not affect the outcome of the game. More importantly, Baylor's hype train will continue on to Arlington in 9 days as Baylor will be virtually guaranteed a Top 5 spot in the all-important BCS Polls 3 days from now. Check in tomorrow for more from our manager/leader/dictator, Mark Seymour.
*Reese appears to have a dislocated wrist. Given that Baylor is bowl eligible already, this should mean that we get to see Reese suit up one more time...
Art Briles says WR Tevin Reese has dislocated wrist. Hopes to be back for bowl game. Big loss.— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 8, 2013
As for Lache...
BU injury notes: Seastrunk's groin should be OK. They'll see how he looks tomorrow. Martin's knee getting an MRI tomorrow. They're unsure.— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 8, 2013
You know it's progress when Baylor students don't rush the field after beating No. 10 ranked team.— Jay F. Hicks (@jayfhicks) November 8, 2013
#Baylor S Ahmad Dixon on tonight's win: “Our attitude was, ‘Take no prisoners.’ And we went out there and played lights out.”— Jimmy Burch (@Jimmy_Burch) November 8, 2013
Baylor legitimately has one of the league's best defenses and their pass game did some damage against a very good Sooner secondary.— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) November 8, 2013
Oklahoma's offense has had issues this year, but Baylor's win is really all about their performance on defense. Kept in game, set up scores— Smart Football (@smartfootball) November 8, 2013
And lastly...NickPants does it again: