After 3 games what have we learned so far from this Baylor defense? Has it improved from last season? Has it been average or dominant? Is it sustainable with our schedule becoming much more challenging the rest of the season? With the hype for the defense before the season and most everyone coming back after a being pretty good last season, how are we trending in real time? Some are disappointed as we haven’t been flashy and getting 5 sacks while holding teams to negative yards per game. This of course is an over statement, but I’m still amazed when I hear many express concern that the D isn’t playing as well. Certainly these numbers will shift a bit after Saturday, but I still think we will control Purdy and the vaunted ISU offense.
Let’s jump into the Baylor Defense overall first.
The only reason I don’t list it as a strong buy yet is that the data set is too limited and the opponents have been subpar. Let’s compare the stats after 3 games to the first 3 games last season.
Avg Pts Per Game - 22 for 2020 vs 11 for 2021
Rushing Yds Total - 462 for 2020 vs 351 for 2021
Yds Per Rush Att - 3.5 for 2020 vs 3.5 for 2021
Rush TD’s - 7 for 2020 vs 2 for 2021
Passing Yds Total - 640 for 2020 vs 333 for 2021
Pass Yds Per Completion - 10 for 2020 vs 8.3 for 2021
Total Yds - 1,102 2020 vs 684 for 2021
Avg Yds Per Game - 367 for 2020 vs 228 for 2021
We do have a head to head from last season in Kansas. Granted they’re still Kansas, but I think the team we faced last Saturday is better than the team KU fielded last year and UT should be on notice. Here’s the Kansas comparison stats:
Pts - 14 for 2020 vs 7 for 2021
Rushing Yds Total - 169 for 2020 vs 109 for 2021
Yds Per Rush Att - 3.9 for 2020 vs 3.3 for 2021
Rush TD’s - 2 for 2020 vs 0 for 2021
Passing Yds Total - 159 for 2020 vs 57 for 2021
Pass Yds Per Completion - 8.4 for 2020 vs 7.1 for 2021
Yds Per Play - 4.3 for 2020 vs 4 for 2021
Total Yds - 328 2020 vs 166 for 2021
So, the reason why I have our D at a buy is because they are doing what they should do and dominating on that side of the ball.
Now let’s break the defense down by position.
DEFENSIVE LINE - BUY
Critics point out our lack of sacks and creating turnovers means that the D has taken a step back. If you understand our first 3 opponents and how we game planned for them you would know that the D pretty much did what it should do. Each team had a duel threat, scrambling QB and the goal was to set the edge, contain the QB and control the line of scrimmage. Rewatch each game and you will see that is exactly what we did. We probably didn’t show all of our fronts or blitz packages either, as there was no need. I’ve been particularly impressed with TJ Franklin on the edge, while Chidi Obgbonnay has done a good job of filling in and subbing for Apu Ika while being a stop plug against the run. Speaking of Ika, we should see him being dominate against ISU as his conditioning has improved. Our best rusher, Garmon Randolph, played for the first time last weekend and the rust should gone as he should shine. The ISU O Line are no cupcakes as they have 2 legitimate preseason All Conference picks. But, they haven’t faced a D Line like ours yet and that includes Iowa.
Linebackers - Buy
Terrell Bernard and Jalen Pitre are going to be, well, Terrell Bernard and Jalen Pitre. That means trouble for opposing teams as they play with violence, speed, and intelligence. Bernard quietly leads the team in tackles, while Pitre has been his disruptive self. What’s interesting is that Dillion Doyle is tied for second in tackles (with Pitre of course) and is playing faster than last year. Our 3 linebackers being 1 and 2 (tied) in tackles is a great sign that the D overall is doing their job and freeing up our LB’s.
Secondary - Hold
I really haven’t seen enough from the secondary to have a strong sense of how they will do against the more talented QB’s we’re going to see the rest of the way. JT Woods has been very good and is playing at an All Conference level. It should be noted that KU respected Raleigh Tajada so much that he might as well have been sitting on the bench as they didn’t throw one pass his direction the entire game. Yep, the entire game.
Turnovers - Sell
Nit picky, but with the games looming ahead an opportune turnover could make the difference between a W or L.
Penalties - Sell
Clean ‘em up as we’ve already had points taken off the board or keeping opposing teams drives alive. There is no need for this! Btw, JT didn’t commit PI which was called and set up KU’s only score...so, I don’t count that one.
Overall our defense is in good shape and I don’t think we’ll regress, but keep getting better. I expect the stats will trend upwards some, but that’s to be expected with the remaining opponents and I don’t think it’s any cause for concern.
Sic ‘em and let’s throttle ISU. I’ll be dropping my game prediction tomorrow on twitter @BearNTex. If you don’t have twitter, you should for fun sports tweets (BU fans have a great sense of humor). If you don’t follow me, why? lol