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Final Grades: Defense

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NCAA Football: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line C: The grade might seem a little low, but at the beginning of the season I think most fans would accept it. Replacing multiple NFL draft picks and seniors is never easy and at times it showed. The Bears defense was gashed plenty of times; TCU went for 247 yds on the ground, OSU for 261, and Texas Tech posted over 200 yds. Obviously, the pass rushing took a step back as well. As a whole, the unit accounted for 8 sacks, with William Bradley-King posting 3.5 of those. The three starters that were assumed to start, T.J Franklin, Gabe, Hall, and Chidi Ogbonnaya never materialized. Though T.J Franklin took a step forward in his game from 2019, the other two rarely saw the field.

It was always going to be a rebuilding year for this group, and thankfully the outlook looks much better in 2021. Baylor recently landed LSU transfer, Siaki Apu Ika, and the hope is that Josh Landry (underrated 2020 season) continues to develop, while Gabe and Chidi return healthier next year.

Linebackers: A-: I went back and forth between a B+ and A- final grade. It’s hard to fathom how a 2-7 team could have position group receive such a high grade, but the Baylor LB unit deserves it. To use a basketball phrase, they were “stat stuffers.” The LB unit got just as many (8) sacks as the defensive line, posted 3 interceptions, and had 29 TFLs between them.

Unlike pretty much every other position group, there was no drop-off from the 2019 performance. With Terrel Bernard announcing his intent to stay for his senior season, and Abram Smith gaining valuable playing time this past season, the future looks bright.

Secondary B-: I think the play from the secondary was either boom or bust this year. On the plus side the Baylor safeties combined for 6 interceptions, while the defensive backs picked off 3 passes. Christian Morgan and JT Woods played extremely physical and always packed a punch when they helped in run support. And for the first time in years of watching Baylor football, I saw an actual corner blitz get home and result in a sack. Those were the good aspects of the secondary play in 2020. On the negative side of things, there was still too much undisciplined play. It’s college football and so of course we saw broken coverages where opposing players were running wide open. But worse was the poor angles that ended in rushing touchdowns. If you’re in the defensive backfield, it is not expected of you to put a guy on his back when you make a tackle, but rather to just simply bring the ball carrier down. It’s not the fault of the secondary when a running back gets to the 3rd level, but you must take pride in being the last line of defense.