I'm going to dispense with the necessity of a long introduction to jump right to the stats, beginning with a few 35,000-foot notes from this season courtesy of BaylorBears.com's cumulative stats sheet and Sports-Reference.com's 2014 Baylor profile page.
Baylor Team Summary:
|Passing||Rushing||Total Offense||First Downs||Penalties||Turnovers|
There are a few things worthy of note here:
- Baylor finished the season with 7559 total yards in 13 games, down from a program-record 8044 a year ago. That's despite running 64 more plays this season, or about 5 per game. Thus our yards per play average fell nearly a full yard from 7.5 in 2013 to 6.6 this season. The biggest reason for the fall this year? Rushing offense. Our ypc average fell exactly .9 this season, a 1-for-1 decline with our yards per play.
- On defense, Baylor allowed 4964 yards in 13 games, up from last year's 4684. That represents a .5 increase in yards per play. The big culprit there is our pass defense, which took a 700-yard step back this season (turns out allowing Tech to throw for roughly a million on us in JerryWorld hurt those stats). The rushing defense actually improved by 360 yards (from 1890 in 2013 to 1530 in 2014). Both years' stats include sacks, so keep that in mind.
- This probably won't come as a surprise to you given how our last few games finished, but Baylor was actually outscored in the fourth quarter this year 110-107. We continued our dominance of the first half, outscoring our opponents 371 to 145.
- This could probably go below with the defensive stats, but we finished the season with 37 sacks in 13 games, up from 32 a year ago. Somewhat surprisingly, our number of tackles for loss actually went down from 99 to 94. I did not expect that.
No, your eyes do not deceive you; Levi Norwood did not attempt a pass this season. But three others did, and all performed extremely well on the whole.
Bryce Petty finished his senior season 145 yards short of 4,000 despite missing the second half against SMU and all of Northwestern State due to injury. Even with a couple of subpar games by his standards, he improved his completion percentage from 62.0 to 63.1 on the season with several strong performances late. I would be remiss if I did not note that he actually threw 25 more passes this season than in 2013 and had two different games this year where he attempted more than 50 passes. For the sake of comparison, Nick Florence and Robert Griffin III had just one each in their entire careers (@ISU in 2012 for Florence, @OSU in 2011 for RGIII). I don't know what that means for sure, but I think it reflects a rushing offense that we already thought might not have been up to our usual standards.
For his career, Petty finished #2 in Baylor history in passing yards with 8195, #1 in passer rating at 166.0 over two seasons, and with a touchdown/interception ratio of 62/10 (62 being #2 in career passing touchdowns, as well). He's also #1 in yards per attempt for his career at 9.7. If he's not #1 in a passing category for Baylor, it's because he's #2 behind a Heisman Trophy winner in RGIII. The comparison between them isn't and never will be perfect since RGIII started from his second game as a true freshman while Petty had three years and change to prepare for his opportunity, but there you go.
As for Seth Russell-- as I've mentioned before both here and on Twitter, if he starts for the Bears in 2015, he will do so with significantly more experience than the guy I just lauded for two paragraphs. Revisionist history aside, I can tell you that there were a lot of questions about Bryce's ability to lead this offense heading into last season since we'd seen so little of him. There are similar questions about Russell, particularly with regard to his decision-making, but it's plainly false to say that Petty was in any way tested where Russell isn't.
The Running Backs:
I pushed this chart far enough to include Spencer Roth's stats only because if there is a list of Best Plays of 2014-15, his run is one of two that absolutely have to be on it for the list to make any sense.
On the season, sophomore Shock Linwood led the Bears in rushing yardage with 1252 (80 yards more than Lache Seastrunk had a year ago), a performance that, when combined with his freshman year, already has him at #9 on the all-time Baylor rushing list. He needs just 1542 yards over the next two years to jump all the way to #1.
Still, despite his lofty season yardage, Linwood's yards per carry fell nearly two full yards from a year ago (6.9 to 5.0). A lot of that is increased usage past what anyone probably thought he'd see, a significant part of which is attributable to Devin Chafin's absence for much of the season.
The good news? All three of Baylor's top rushers this season were sophomores or freshman, and they will be joined in 2015 by a 6-3, 240-pound 4* recruit named Terence Williams that redshirted this year.
The Wide Receivers:
DID YOU KNOW: this was the first time in Baylor history that two different receivers finished the season with 1,000 or more receiving yards? It's true. Even with Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams rewriting the Baylor record books in 2011 and 2012, the #2 receiver each year finished with exactly 957 yards (TWill in 2011, Tevin Reese in 2012). It's an arbitrary line to set, for sure, but it's still awesome to see happen, particularly since one of our two this year was a true freshman, and we'd never see that before, either.
Know what else is interesting? Corey Coleman led the Bears in receiving with 1119 yards on 64 catches, and he did it in 10 games. That makes extrapolating his stats over a full season pretty easy: if you assume he'd average the same number of yards and catches in 13 games as 10, he would have finished the season with 83 catches for 1454 yards (rounding down). Those are actually better numbers than Goodley had in his breakout 2013 campaign (71 catches for 1339 yards). Corey Coleman is good, y'all, and only a sophomore this year.
Freshman K.D. Cannon was the other receiving revelation for the Bears this year, finishing #2 in yards, #3 in catches, and #2 in touchdowns as a true freshman. Did I say he was a true freshman? Because he was a true freshman. He'll come back next year bigger, stronger, and maybe even faster after having spent another offseason with Kaz and company.
Better watch out for LaQuan McGowan in 2015, too, if only because he's huge and it's always important to know where huge people are in reference to yourself.
Baylor Cumulative Defensive Statistics:
There's not nearly as much to talk about here simply because the statskeepers aren't as good. That's why the chart below looks different than the others; it's taken from BaylorBears.com rather than Sports-Reference, which inexplicably can't be trusted for individual defensive statistics.
|44||Hager,Bryce||13||76||38||114||12.0||- 39||2.0||- 15||1||- 36||1||2||8||.||2||.||.|
|11||Young,Taylor||13||58||34||92||8.5||- 45||4.0||- 38||1||- 37||3||4||2||.||2||.||.|
|38||Brence,Collin||13||32||23||55||3.5||- 12||1.0||- 7||1||- 1||2||3||7||1||- 0||.||.||.|
|4A||Howard,Xavien||13||42||9||51||4.5||- 13||1.5||- 9||4||- 40||13||17||1||.||.||.||.|
|2A||Oakman,Shawn||13||38||13||51||19.5||- 89||11.0||- 73||.||3||3||9||3||- 0||3||.||.|
|56||Smith,K.J.||13||28||17||45||10.0||- 58||5.0||- 39||.||.||.||7||1||- 0||2||.||.|
|95||Blackshear,Beau||13||27||17||44||9.5||- 54||4.5||- 41||.||.||.||2||1||- 0||.||1||.|
|75||Billings,Andrew||13||26||11||37||11.5||- 38||2.0||- 17||.||.||.||9||.||1||.||.|
|20||Edwards,Aiavion||11||20||15||35||2.5||- 8||0.5||- 1||.||3||3||1||1||- 11||1||.||.|
|48||Blanchard,T.||13||20||11||31||2.5||- 7||.||1||- 0||.||1||1||.||.||.||.|
|92||Palmer,Jamal||5||6||8||14||3.0||- 8||2.5||- 8||.||.||.||2||.||.||.||.|
|5A||Campbell,Grant||13||8||3||11||1.0||- 15||1.0||- 15||.||.||.||2||.||.||.||.|
|90||Magee,Javonte||13||6||3||9||3.5||- 11||1.0||- 7||.||.||.||2||.||.||.||.|
|5B||Nance,Brian||13||3||3||6||0.5||- 2||.||.||.||.||.||1||- 0||.||.||.|
|93||Masumbuko,S.||13||3||2||5||1.0||- 6||1.0||- 6||.||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|Total..........||13||599||294||893||94||- 407||37||- 276||13||- 203||48||61||53||13||- 24||16||1||.|
|Opponents......||13||734||298||1032||60||- 225||24||- 152||8||- 67||44||52||25||5||- -3||10||3||.|
Sadly, 2014 marks the last time we'll get to see Bryce Hager's name atop our tackles list because everyone has to graduate, eventually. Hager finished his Baylor career with 322 tackles, 7 sacks, and 24 tackles for loss.
Speaking of tackles for loss, Shawn Oakman finished 2014 with 19.5, just .5 behind the season record for Baylor. His 11.0 sacks set a new season record that I can only hope he breaks decisively a year from now. As I mentioned above, the team as a whole finished with 94 tackles for loss and 37 sacks on the season.
Because I've been accused before of ignoring our special teams contributors...
Reminder: he was a freshman this season, as well.
Roth, unfortunately, was not. This is the last year we will be privileged enough to have Spencer "The Leg" Roth punting for us.
See anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.