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So... What Did We Actually Learn from the Depth Chart?

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NCAA Football: Iowa State at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully everyone has had a moment to catch their breath. The release of Baylor’s depth chart against Abilene Christian was met with more angst and consternation among fans than I’ve seen for something so insignificant. It’s mostly understandable; Baylor just came off it’s worst season in over a decade, and it came after years of consistent success. Plus, you know, scandal emotions. And finally, it being the end of the offseason, people are grasping for anything tangible, and the release of a pre-game depth chart is being grasped at and over-analyzed by famished football fans the same way video game or movie fans will dissect every second of pre-release trailers. That being said, even if I think most of the worry is unwarranted, there were some big-picture things to take away that I’ll try to parse through now.

In case you missed it, here is now-infamous depth chart:

Preface: Matt Rhule clarified in his press-conference that this depth chart was if he had to play this past Saturday. Thus, it doesn’t include guys who didn’t practice last week (but likely could have if a game was being played) but will practice this upcoming week.

Reading the Tea Leaves:

  • Even though Blake Lynch isn’t listed as a starter, I think his role has expanded. I personally love this “move” (more on the quotes in a moment). For most of the offseason I have been worried about Baylor’s linebacking corp. Specifically, Baylor lost Taylor Young, and I wasn’t sure if Baylor had the pure athletes + experience at the position. Teams are discovering that as long as you can teach your “safeties playing LB” to play with toughness, they are plenty big enough to play in the box. Lynch is listed as a backup, but I think he is going to play starter’s minutes. Specifically, when Baylor plays with its 3 down (3 DL) look, I think Lynch will be a mainstay, with both him and Henry Black on the field. I drew a rudimentary mock-up of what this could look like.

Baylor used a D similar to this a lot last year, and loves to play aggressive with its “OLBs.” Expect more of the same this year. Lynch provides more versatility the closer he is to the line of scrimmage, where he can be used to get after the QB and make plays in the backfield. Plus, this gets Chris Miller on the field.

  • OL two-deeps are almost worthless. In games, teams don’t operate by the depth-chart or really use a two deep. Especially for OL, if the LG gets hurt the team doesn’t say “OK who is the backup LG this week.” In reality, teams usually have 7 lineman who they want to play with; typically you’ll have a backup Tackle and a backup Guard/Center. Thus, the fact that there are so many young guys on the two deep of the OL doesn’t mean that much (unless several starters get hurt). The reality is that with Fruhmorgen healthy, the top 3 Tackles are Fruh/Malin/Lawrence. If other guys are playing Tackle, it’s probably a blowout or major injuries have hit. Same goes for G/C, the top 4 here are Newman/Teck/Beard/Blackmar.
  • Baylor is going to get its best DL on the field, regardless of position. Since the coaches and players have been raving about James Lynch lately, him starting at DE is a totally unsurprising move. Plus, Baylor is going to spend 40+% of the time in a 3-down look this season, so having bigger DE’s is the norm there.
  • Baylor’s CBs are going to be so good this year. Just you watch. I’m really high on Derrek Thomas.

Anyway, those were the major takeaways I had from the depth chart release. Let me know what y’all think and agree or disagree with!