After 3 games what have we learned so far from this Baylor offense? Has it improved from last season? Has it been average or dominant? Is it sustainable? Obviously the first 2 questions are easy to answer. The last, not so much. The game Saturday will be our first true test and should give us a barometer on the rest of the season. If, and that’s a very unlikely “if” in my opinion, but if we lose it won’t be the end of the world or even stop our chances at the Big 12 Championship.
Let’s jump into the Baylor offense overall first.
The difference between last year and this year is already massively trending in the right direction. Consider the stats for this seasons rushing offense after 3 games compared to last years rushing offense over the entire 9 games:
Avg Pts Per Game - 23 for 2020 vs 47 for 2021 (based upon rushing and passing)
Rushing Yds Total - 813 for 2020 vs 964 for 2021
Yds Per Rush Att - 2.7 for 2020 vs 7.2 for 2021
Rush TD’s - 8 for 2020 vs 11 for 2021
The passing game is projected to outpace last year and we are already averaging more Yds Per Game passing than last season. This offense is efficient and deadly, more of what recent Baylor fans are accustomed to. Now let’s break the offense down by position.
Quarterback - Strong Buy
Gerry Bohanon has been one of the best stories of the season to date. He is excellent in managing this offense, as he’s not mistake pron. So far he is averaging 221 yds per game in the air and 23 per game on the ground. With 5 passing TD’s, 0 interceptions, and 3 rushing, he is proving that he’s efficient throwing the ball (73% completion rate) and smart with his reads. He will just continue getting better with more snaps.
Running Back - Strong Buy
During the broadcast last weekend, Ryan Leaf put it best as he described Abram Smith and Tristan Ebner as Thunder and Lightning. The Wide Zone offensive scheme seems perfect for them. They are both patient in letting the play develop and finding the gap. Tristan darts through and Abram plants his foot and goes North/South with quickness and speed...add in a dash of brutality. Both are on track for 1,000 yard seasons. When you have a similar combo at backup with Taye McWilliams and Sqwirl (great seeing him get some reps last weekend) we don’t really have a drop off when they enter. Our running game is a nightmare for opposing defenses. Shout out to Gavin Yates, our fullback (yes, I said fullback), for giving us another offensive weapon in the running game. It was fun seeing Baylor use a fullback to score...I thought that position had become extinct.
Offensive Line - Strong Buy
This was the biggest question mark heading into the season. They’ve not only risen to the occasion, but smashed (see what I did there) through the glass ceiling. They are so much fun to watch as they road grade the defenses and dominate the line of scrimmage. The key to the Wide Zone is to take your defender whichever direction they are going while maintaining gap integrity. Most running plays we have holes so big even I could pick up a yard or two. Last year it was frustrating watching our O Line collapse on most every running play. Not this season. And these guys hustle! I love, love, love on how they release into the second level to get another block on a DB or LB after they’ve taken care of their assignment. PFF Power Rankings has 5 of our lineman in the top 50 with Khalil Keith and Jacob Gall leading the way ranked #1 and #3 in their positions. On the passing side, they have been excellent at keeping Bohannon clean. In the first 3 games while in the pocket, he has only been sacked once and hit five times. That’s how you take care of your QB. Think about this, our Wide Zone offense is brand new and the team is still learning it. I can only imagine what it will be like when we have it mastered. YUMMY!
Receivers - Buy
We’re not putting up gaudy numbers, but compared to last year it’s obvious that we are running much better routes and using sure hands. The receivers, particularly Sneed and Thornton, consistently put themselves in the right spot to receive Gerry’s spot on passes. Defenses have to respect every zone of the field now when they line up against us, which means there will be a weak spot we can take advantage of. Our tight ends are becoming an offensive weapon and new wrinkle in which opposing teams must now prepare for as well.
Special Teams - Buy
Ebner is one of the best returners in the Big 12. Kansas paid him the ultimate compliment by wisely kicking away from him as the game last weekend progressed. I imagine this strategy will be duplicated by other Big 12 teams. Isaiah Hankins, the true freshman, has been a nice surprise. After missing his first attempt, he has been money ever since. Against Kansas it looked like he misread the snap and short stepped the approach on one attempt, yet still drilled a 48 yarder right through the middle of the uprights. Warm fuzzies all around!
Turnovers - Sell
Nit picky on this one, but we can’t afford crucial turnovers as we get deeper into Big 12 play. Gotta clean those up and I’m confident we will.
Penalties - Sell
Too many are taking points off the board or killing good drives. Again, gotta clean those up and I’m confident we will.