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Trench Warfare: Buffalo

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Baylor tested its chops on the road for the first time this season. Did the Baylor blockers rise to the occasion?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor got to test its mettle on the road for the first time this season and cruised out of Buffalo with a 63-21 win.  The Baylor offensive line and tight ends played no small role in that win helping the team earn 669 yards of total offense.  Let's break down their performances against the Bulls.

As a reminder, this is how I score the players:

When run blocking, did the player (1) block someone (2) create solid initial contact and push the defender back and (3) did they sustain their block?  When pass blocking, did the player (1) block someone (2) create solid initial contact and maintain the pocket and (3) sustain their block?  If they did all three then the player was awarded a score of "1".  If they blocked effectively enough to keep the defender away from the play but not well enough to earn a full point, then they were given a half point.  If they missed a block or got beat by the defender, they were given a "0" (zero).

Live ball penalties are assessed against the offending player reducing their initial score by minus one (i.e. an initial score of "1" will be reduced to "0" (zero).  Dead ball penalties were assessed to the offending player on the following play.

Here are the grades:

PLAY DRANGO MUIR FULLER HILLIARD BAKER TE's GAIN
RUN 0.5 0.5 0 0.5 0.5 1 0
PASS 1 1 0.5 0.5 1 34
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 4
RUN 1 1 0.5 1 0 1 4
RUN 0.5 1 0.5 0 0 0.5 1
RUN 1 1 0.5 0.5 0.5 1 5
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 0.5 7
RUN 0 1 1 1 0 0.5 2
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 End of 1st series (TD), McGowan in at Fullback
RUN 1 0 1 1 0 0 2
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 89 End of 2nd (TD)
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 21
RUN 1 0 1 1 1 0
RUN 1 0.5 1 1 0.5 0.5 6
RUN 1 1 1 1 0 24 End of 3rd (TD)
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 7
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 8
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 16
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 11
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 1 1 1 1 1 1 11
RUN 1 0 1 -0.5 6 False Start on Muir, Holding on Armstead
PASS 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 22
PASS 1 1 1 32 End of 4th (TD), Colbert in at RT and Broxton in at RG for last 4 plays
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC Edwards came in for Fuller for one play
RUN 1 0 0 1 1 1 2
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 9
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 0.5 0.5 1 0.5 1 0 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC End of 5th (punt)
RUN 1 1 1 0.5 0.5 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 12
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC
RUN 0.5 0.5 1 1 5
RUN 0.5 0.5 1 0.5 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 17
RUN 1 1 1 1 15 End of 6th (TD), Edwards in for Fuller for whole series
PASS 1 1 1 37
PASS 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 INC
PASS 0 1 INC End of 7th (Missed FG), Edwards at LT, Broxton at LG, Colbert at RT
RUN 1 1 3
RUN 0.5 0.5 1 0 End of 8th (half), same substitutions as before
RUN 1 1 0.5 0 1 0 2
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 INC
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 INC End of 9th (punt)
RUN 0.5 1 0 1 0 0.5 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 17
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 10
RUN 0 1 1 1 0.5 0.5 1
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 7
RUN 1 0.5 0.5 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 18 End of 10th (TD), Colbert in at RT for last two plays
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
RUN 1 1 1 1 0.5 1 21
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
RUN 1 1 0.5 0.5 1 1 5
PASS 1 1 0.5 1 1 3
PASS 1 1 1 1 1 14 End of 11th(TD), last series with all starters

Here are the results:

VERSUS BUFFALO
DRANGO MUIR FULLER HILLIARD BAKER TE's TOTAL
Average Score 91.4% 87.9% 84.8% 91.7% 80.8% 81.3% 86.3%
RB Score 82.7% 75.0% 77.1% 83.3% 66.7% 60.5% 74.2%
PB Score 100.0% 100.0% 93.5% 98.4% 98.1% 100.0% 98.4%
Run Block Errors 2 3 3 2 5 3 18
Pass Block Errors 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Penalties 0 1 0 0 0 1 2
RUN BLOCK SCORE
GAME DRANGO MUIR FULLER HILLIARD BAKER TE's TOTAL
SMU 67.6% 75.7% 66.2% 71.6% 64.9% 60.0% 67.7%
NWSU 86.8% 65.8% 71.1% 65.8% 71.1% 73.5% 72.3%
BUFFALO 82.7% 75.0% 77.1% 83.3% 66.7% 60.5% 74.2%
TOTAL 77.2% 70.7% 68.6% 68.7% 68.0% 66.8% 71.4%
PASS BLOCK SCORE
GAME DRANGO MUIR FULLER HILLIARD BAKER TE's TOTAL
SMU 90.2% 85.4% 90.2% 89.0% 91.5% 88.9% 89.2%
NWSU 80.0% 85.0% 90.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 92.5%
BUFFALO 100.0% 100.0% 93.5% 98.4% 98.1% 100.0% 98.4%
TOTAL 85.1% 85.2% 90.1% 94.5% 95.7% 94.4% 93.4%
GAME TOTALS
GAME DRANGO MUIR FULLER HILLIARD BAKER TE's TOTAL
SMU 79.5% 80.8% 78.8% 80.8% 78.8% 73.7% 78.7%
NWSU 87.9% 72.4% 77.6% 77.6% 81.0% 82.0% 79.8%
BUFFALO 91.4% 87.9% 84.8% 91.7% 80.8% 81.3% 86.3%
TOTAL 83.7% 76.6% 78.2% 79.2% 79.9% 77.8% 81.6%

Many fans were questioning Art Briles' decision to play Bryce Petty so soon after a back injury and were worried that he might take a hit that could worsen his injury or end his season altogether.  Luckily the o-line had a near perfect day pass blocking and Petty was (mostly) untouched all night.  Spencer Drango, Blake Muir, and our TE's (Tre'von Armstead and Gus Penning) all graded out at 100% in pass pro with Desmine Hilliard and Troy Baker grading at 98.4% and 98.1% respectively.  Kyle Fuller graded out at a very respectable 93.5% and but did have the only missed pass block between the starters.

This achievement was mostly due to the three man pass rush Buffalo decided to throw at Baylor most of the time but when Buffalo did blitz they found a sturdy wall of blockers.  The only time Petty got hurried was a jailbreak blitz when we had three 2nd stringers playing with the first team late in the first half (Tyler Edwards at LT, Jarell Broxton at LG, and Pat Colbert at RT).  This was also when Fuller earned his miss pass block.

The coaches were liberal with the substitutions once it was clear that the Bears were just too much for the Bulls.  It started with Broxton and Colbert coming in for Hilliard and Baker respectively for the last four plays of the 4th touchdown drive of the game.  They both played well as Baylor gained 60 yards and a TD while they were in.

Edwards relieved Fuller at center for one play in the next series and then replaced him entirely for Baylor's 6th possession of the game.  When Edwards was in, I saw much more movement in the middle of the line which helped the Bears earn 26 yards and a rushing TD on just four rush attempts.

The difference I observed between Fuller and Edwards' run blocking was their feet.  Fuller would often stop moving his feet once contact was made and would get stood up by the defender.  Edwards' feet would keep churning after contact which allowed him to get more push against the nose guard.  Stopping your feet after contact is sign of poor technique and a lack of lower body strength.

Another interesting surprise was that Fuller took a lot of reps with the 2nd stringers after Petty and even Seth Russell were done for the night.  If Fuller can't improve his technique and strength soon, I wouldn't be surprised if Edwards supplants him as the starting center sometime this season.

Despite recording the lowest rushing output of the season, the Baylor blockers were able to improve on their run blocking on the whole.  Muir and Hilliard both rebounded well after very subpar performances against NWSU.  Hilliard especially looked closer to the road grader we all expected of him to be.  He was much more aggressive, attacking the defense and moving defenders off the line of scrimmage.  With Muir not showing the capacity to be the mauler Cyril Richardson was Hilliard needs to be that guy we can depend on to get defenders out of the way and open holes for our RB's.

Thanks for reading and Sic em Bears!