Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
Now that I've had over 12 hours to digest, here are my thoughts on last night's game. More positive than you probably expected, I think.
(3-3, 0-3) Rank: NR/NR
Austin, Texas • Attendance: 101, 353
(5-2, 2-2) Rank: RV/RV
- Baylor lost another conference game last night in which we scored 50 points and had over 600 yards of total offense. In two conference losses to West Virginia and Texas, we've scored a combined 113 points and yet lost by 13. Last night, we rushed for 250 yards, threw for another 350, had more first downs and total yards than our opponent, held them to "only" 14 points in the second half, and nearly came even in total time of possession (29:29 to 30:31) for the first time this season. We also forced more punting situations (5) than we took (3). If I told you everything in the preceding two sentences before the game, you would definitely assume we won, right? We didn't. Why? Ultimately it was because of two turnovers that came at the absolute worst possible times. First, Nick Florence threw his tenth interception of the season as we drove to take a 35-28 lead. When Texas scored after that pick, six points was as close as we'd get the rest of the way. Second, Glasco Martin fumbled when Baylor trailed 49-43 as we drove to retake the lead. If you put a gun to my head and asked why we lost, it was those turnovers.
- That said, the only reason those turnovers mattered as much as they did was the atrocious play of our defense. The final real play of the game was indicative of the entire night. After Briles chose (for whatever insane reason) not to try what I would call a real onside kick, Texas faced a third and one that would decide the game. If they got it, they'd win. If they didn't, we'd probably get the ball back with the chance to win. They needed one yard, and we needed to stop them from getting that one yard. To do so, Baylor lined up in our base defense with 4 down linemen, linebackers six yards off the ball, and safeties behind that. On the penultimate play of the game, when we knew they were going to run the ball, we went with the same defense that had already given up 248 rushing yards to that point. Of course they got it.
- I say that play was indicative of the game because we absolutely refused to change what we were doing. Our coaches had to know they were going to run the ball. It's the only thing that makes sense given what they'd done for nearly four full quarters. But instead of stacking the line and giving ourselves a chance, however small, to stop it, we went with our base defense. We'd just taken a time out, so it's not like we were rushed. We chose to line up that way. That choice is indefensible. The worst part was that we made that choice all night. Once again we played soft coverage on basically every third down, even when we sent extra rushers. Once again we gave up an astronomical percentage of conversions. Once again our defense failed to get off the field when it needed to.
- Texas had the ball 8 times past the 50 yard line. They scored 7 touchdowns on those 8 possessions. Not only did we not force any turnovers last night, we gave up touchdowns on all opposing possessions but one once they reached the fifty. When I say that field position doesn't matter for our defense, this is one of the reasons. We are so poor defensively that the only thing kicking it deep does is pad the opposing offense's stats. They're going to move the ball and they're going to score when they do.
- Focusing on the positive, aside from the interception last night that I don't even think was his fault, Nick Florence was amazing against the Longhorns. He very nearly willed us to victory. The offensive gameplan clearly called for him to run more than we're used to, and he responded with 11 carries for 69 yards (8 negative) and 2 TDs. That's on top of 352 yards on 30/41 passing. He completed passes to eight difference receivers, including all three running backs we used in the game, and should have had another TD to Terrance Williams to end the first half. He was as good last night as he was bad against TCU a week ago, and he's one of the primary reasons our offense hasn't missed a step this season.
- One of the other reasons is Terrance Williams (Terrence Williams), who is, quite simply, the best receiver in the country. Through 6 games this season, he has 47 receptions for 1013 yards and 9 TDs. If he doesn't win the Biletnikoff this season they should retire the trophy altogether. Most of the country has played 7 games already and he's the only one over 1000 yards receiving. He's on pace to absolutely destroy Kendall Wright's single-season record from last year in receiving yards and has three games in a row now with more than 160 yards receiving. It's almost unbelievable how good he has been.
- The future is now at the running back position after last night. Lache Seastrunk has been freed. After getting a mostly symbolic start probably designed to trick Texas' defense, Seastrunk ended the game with 7 rushes for 56 yards. Those numbers don't jump out unless you actually watched the game. Seastrunk brings something-- a hunger-- to the position that Jarred Salubi just doesn't have. Every carry could go the distance. Every time he touches the ball, he's looking to get yardage however he can. He's not the bruiser that Glasco Martin is, but his talent is undeniable. He needs 15 carries at the minimum against Iowa State this week. Glasco also had an outstanding game with 15 carries for 82 yards and a TD. He also seemed genuinely distraught on twitter after the game, going so far as to say it was entirely his fault. It wasn't, Glasco, even in the slightest degree.
- Because of the aforementioned players, Baylor had by far its best rushing game of the season last night against Texas. We wanted to see that and we got it. If we can build on that success going forward, it will make our offense even more dangerous since you can't just key off Florence. Loved the running game last night overall, especially when Glasco started juking people.
- Apparently the plan on the "onside kick" to end the game was to pooch it relatively short and let our fast guys go get the ball. This approach is probably a reaction to the rule change allowing fair catches on kicks bounced off the ground. I don't see how this tactic has any greater chance of success than the dribble kick straight up the middle, but that was the goal. Briles says we simply didn't execute on the kick like we did in practice.
- Several players made their 2012 debuts last night on defense for the Bears, including true freshman Jamal Palmer and redshirt freshman B.J. Allen. Devante Davis also played, but Tyler Stephenson did not despite being listed second on the depth chart behind Joe Williams going into the game. With the way Williams played after the first defensive series of the game, I am at a loss to explain why Stephenson didn't see time. Darius Jones played almost the entire second half after K.J. Morton went down to an injury, the extent of which is not known at this time.
- Watch the postgame video again with the short portion from Art Briles. Does he seem exasperated to you? He does to me, but I'm not sure. It's hard to read him sometimes.
- After the first play of the game when he went 84 yards to the house, Daje Johnson gained a grand total of 6 yards the rest of the way on 6 carries. If only we'd been able to stop Joe Bergeron (19 carries for 117 yards and 5 TDs) the same way. Bergeron mauled us all over the field. We absolutely could not stop him.
- We gave up 3 sacks and 8 tackles for loss last night. Those are not good numbers.
- Finally, though many obviously disagree with me about kicking field goals since things obviously went well, I don't understand fully our offensive decision-making. We know we need touchdowns, not field goals. One of those field goals came at the end of the first half, when we should have had a touchdown on third down, and I could be persuaded to excuse that decision. I don't excuse the fact that we sat on a time out at that point we could have easily taken to allow them to review the play. You don't get to carry timeouts over the half, so what's the harm in taking it? That seems like a mistake made out of haste. Another came on fourth and 18, one play after Lanear Sampson made a great catch in the endzone and was forced out of bounds. That one is ok, too. The final one, however, came on fourth and one at the UT 25 down 49-40. Did we really think we couldn't get one yard? I know UT took a timeout to plan against us, but our offense can get one yard. Get the TD there and the game is 49-47. Then a field goal wins you the game if the margin stays the same.
- I'm not going to lie to you guys about how the season looks from here. With games remaining at Iowa State, vs. Kansas, at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas State, in Dallas for Texas Tech, and vs. Oklahoma State to end the season, we need 3 wins to get bowl eligibility. If I was ranking them in order of descending winnability at this point, I'd go KU, ISU, OSU, Tech, OU, and KSU. We either need to take the next two and get to 5-3 or steal one against a top-10 team later in the year. It doesn't look good.