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Improvement Looming in Bennett's Second Season

Pretty much the same reaction of every Baylor fan to the defense last season, Elliott.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Pretty much the same reaction of every Baylor fan to the defense last season, Elliott. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
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For those of you that read my Baylor football preview, you know that my biggest concern with this year’s Baylor team is how the defense will be this year. This, accompanied with my anxiousness for the season to start, led me to do some research on how this defensive squad will be. Phil Bennett is going into his second year as the defensive coordinator for the Bears so I figured I’d check out how he did in his last defensive coordinator job from his first year to his second year. Before Baylor, Bennett was at the University of Pittsburgh from 2008-2010 as their DC. In 2008 the Pitt Panthers ranked 43rd in points given up per game with an average of 23 points per contest. In his first year, Bennett’s defense gave up 320.8 yards per game. In total for that year, the Panthers gave up 2,316 passing yards and 1,534 rushing yards.

These are numbers that would greatly be welcomed by Baylor who ranked 108th last year in points per game allowing an average of 35.7 points per contest. The 2011 Bears gave up 477.5 yards per game, along with a total of 3,346 passing yards and 2,384 rushing yards for the year. A bright spot in this though (Yes, a bright spot in the defense from last year) is that they recorded 16 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Oddly enough this was the exact same for Bennett’s 2008 Panthers. As bad as Baylor’s defense was, their number of interceptions did finish tied for the 18th best in the league.

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Something to look forward to is Bennett’s second year at Pittsburgh in 2009. His team jumped up to 21st in points allowed per game (43rd the year before) only allowing an average of 20 points per contest. The bad news is that both his defense’s yards per game and total passing yards increased. While individual statistics of players against his defense may have improved, all I care about is that points per game number and seeing that decrease makes me very excited to where this Baylor team could be in the upcoming season. Granted, the last thing I want to see is the amount of passing yards against Baylor increase, but if Bennett wants his defense to play more of a bend, but don’t break style, I’m all for it.

Lastly, not to get ahead of myself here, but in Bennett’s third year at Pitt, points per game, yards per game, and total passing yards, all saw pretty noticeable declines. It’d be nice if Bennett could do what he did in his third season with Pitt during his second season at Baylor, but as of right now I’ll take any improvements. The Baylor defense did get better rankings wise in 2011 as the year went on, so hopefully with a full season under his belt, and a defense that managed to get better as the year went on, Bennett can bring down the points per game and help out the highly powered Bears offense.

Oh, and I used Rivals for this, Mark doesn't seem too fond of 247Sports.