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Official Baylor vs. SMU Preview/Prediction Thread

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vs.
RV/RV BAYLOR (0-0) vs. NR/NR SMU (0-0)
Sept. 2, 2012 | 5:35 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Floyd Casey Stadium (50,000)

TV: FSN
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes | Preview from BaylorBears.com

The time has come, ladies and gents, to put your prediction on the record for the first game of the 2012 season! You've seen my first look at the SMU Mustangs. You can look at the depth chart for SMU from page 6 of their press notes. The story stream about this game is up and ready to go on SBNation DFW, complete with TV listings and a short game preview. The best preview of all is available at the link above from BaylorBears.com. I've posted a few more thoughts below the jump for your perusal. You're ready.

So what's it going to be? Hit the jump and cast your vote on the outcome of the game in the poll before giving your predictions, however detailed they might be, in the comments. Don't worry, we won't be keeping score or anything as we go through the season to find out who is the best predictor ... no, we definitely won't do that. It's all for fun here.

It's difficult to write a true "preview" for this game like the ones Therm did so capably last season because, at this point, last season is just about all we have to go on. I could post the most advanced predictive statistics from 2011 I can find and have them basically mean nothing; both teams experienced significant losses after last season and go into this game with questions aplenty. As always, however, there are a few things to talk about.

  • According to June Jones, Garrett Gilbert has been on campus at SMU for all of 3 weeks. Their offense is going to be as run-oriented as any we've seen in a long time. They are going to try to pound us with Zach Line. Then they're going to try again. And again. And again. With our problems on the defensive line, I'd consider that a bit of a problem, but...
  • SMU's depth chart includes 3 true freshmen in the 2-deep on their OL. On the surface, having a starting unit of (L-R) junior, senior, redshirt freshman, senior, senior looks pretty good, but 4 of those 5 starters are new this season and have little to no actual experience. Their entire line combines for 36 starts, all of which are limited to the right side in guard Blake McJunkin and tackle Bryan Collins. GET READY FOR THEM TO TRY TO RUN TO THE RIGHT SIDE.
  • According to Phil Steele, SMU returns only 10 starters from 2011. 7 play defense. Even with last year's leading WR, Darius Johnson, among the returners on offense and June Jones' probable desire to air it out, we will not be facing an explosive offense as we have come to appreciate the term. This is as good a chance as our defense could hope for to gain confidence and experience early success.
  • Should we be able to stop the run on first and second down, don't be surprised to see a hybrid 3-4/3-3-5 look on third downs. I say "hybrid" because the plan is for safety Sam Holl to move to LB alongside Bryce Hager, Eddie Lackey, and Ahmad Dixon and bring on an extra DB. An argument can be made that it is a 3-3-5 in personnel and a 3-4 in likely alignment. Whether the extra DB is freshman Terrell Burt or one of the more experienced players like Chance Casey and Josh Wilson is something we'll find out together. The key to this approach will be to both allow more options for blitzing linebackers without losing DBs in coverage and give opposing offenses a different look to prepare for on third downs. The primary goal will be to force teams to run more on passing downs, something we didn't do well at all last season. Teams passed on us because they knew they could. The secondary goal is to improve on the 109th-ranked defense last season in adjusted sack rate. This is one way to make that happen.
  • In case you needed more evidence of the pace factor I talked about in my running game post this morning, check out the statistical profile for Baylor done by SBNation's Bill Connelly. Look at "adjusted pace" under offense. Baylor's wasn't only above average, it was well above average. Faster than Oregon, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Houston, the four other owners of the top-5 offenses by S&P+ in CFB last season. The only teams with a higher pace in the Big XII last season were Oklahoma (known for it) and Texas Tech (because they almost never ran the football).
  • Looking again at Bill's numbers, Baylor's defense was at its worst last season in the second and fourth quarters, respectively. It wasn't exactly good in quarters one and three, but it was better in each to the tune of almost 20 ranking spots. That, to me, indicates fatigue resulting from both a lack of depth and the adverse effects of our own offensive pace. We can't change the latter, but hopefully, though improved defensive recruiting, we can show improvement in the former in 2012.
  • Don't be too upset about the loss of Kaeron Johnson from the defensive line. No matter what people might tell you, he was not the linchpin to this defense. He's only started 1 game in his career and had 5 total tackles as a Bear. Obviously, I'd rather have him than not, but we didn't lose a 4-year starter on the eve of the season. I don't think this loss will disrupt our defense nearly so much as the injuries to Tuswani Copeland and Tyler Stephenson did last year simply because we had the entire fall to prepare. Trevor Clemons-Valdez and Suleiman Masumbuko will be fine.
There's a lot going on here and I'm sorry it's so disjointed. Here's what you came to see, my predictions for this Sunday's game:
Baylor wins 38-21.
Florence passes for 289 yards and 3 TDs.
Corey Coleman catches a pass.
Salubi runs for 85 yards and a TD.
Glasco gets 65 and another TD.
Seastrunk dances his way to 55 yards running and receiving.
ODB favorite Javonte Magee gets the first sack of his Baylor career in the second quarter.