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Week 2 Position Grades for Baylor Football

NCAA Football: Baylor at Brigham Young Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

After a less than stellar performance in Provo by the Bears, let’s take a look at each position group and how we think they grade out. Cody Orr is our data man looking through the lens of how the numbers tell us each group did, while Joe Goodman prefers to go on the eye test alone. Let’s find out how we grade each group:



Joe: This was Shapen’s first start against a “real” opponent as QB1. Yes he played in the Big 12 title game, but he was still a backup and there’s always going to be a sense of playing with house money when you go into a game starting as the backup, you have absolutely nothing to lose. He also doesn’t have the cast of playmakers around him that he did in his few games last season. Going on the road, in this environment, would’ve been tough on anyone, let alone the guy being the true leader for the first time. I expect better in future games, but this is one to forget. Grade: D

Cody: Shapen unquestionably had his worst game as a Baylor Bear. His 137 passing yards and 64% completion percentage were below average, and he was sacked 4 times (2 of which PFF blame solely on him and not the offensive line). He didn’t stretch the defense by throwing deep (average depth of target was 6.7 yards) or scrambling. On the bright side, he didn’t throw any interceptions. Grade: D+

Offensive Line

Joe: The line has a bit of a different feel about them this season. Might just be something that will take a few games to get them back into a rhythm, but they don’t feel like the violent, gritty line we watched last season. The grades on them are still good, but the eye test is saying something is off. Too many penalties this week, but I did like that they seemed to get better as the game wore on and they were able to assert themselves. I think there’s some scheming that’s still being figured out to fit the strengths of the offense, and the line will get better as we find our identity. Grade: C

Cody: The offensive line did a decent job in run blocking and pass protection. About three quarters of Baylor’s rush yards can be attributed to the offensive line creating openings (131 line yards out of 175 total yards), and the national average is closer to 50/50. In pass protection, the line allowed only 3 QB hurries and 2 sacks (per PFF). Every lineman graded above 60%, with Byers and Gall grading at 85.8 and 84.4, respectively. Can’t ignore that every starting linemen committed a penalty, though. Grade: B-

Running Backs

Joe: After a season of having 2 go-to guys running the ball, we had to expect that there would be a period of transition. An early injury, and stout BYU defense limited the Baylor run game in Provo, but overall I think the backs did a fair job of what they were working with. Grimes will need to figure out who the true feature backs as we get deeper into the season, this is a position where a feel and rhythm matters and it’s tough to get that consistently when you are doing a RB by committee approach. Could’ve been better, but they weren’t all that bad. Grade: C+

Cody: Given the heavy offensive burden the RBs bore, I think they did OK. 3.7 yards per carry isn’t phenomenal, and 45 line yards is about half of what Baylor averaged per game last season; however, they did a good job picking up first downs (71% third/fourth down conversion rate), and Qualan Jones’ 2 TDs were the bulk of the team’s points. The backs also caught 4 passes for 24 yards. Grade: C+

Wide Receivers

Joe: This was the group I was most worried about this offseason. We lost a LOT of production out of this group, and I don’t feel like we have that alpha receiver that a QB can say “I’m just going to throw it his way, he will go get it.” We’ve had Wright, Reese, Coleman, Goodley, Thornton, and others who have fit this role over recent years. Do we have one in this group? Not right now, but someone may step up. Overall though, they didn’t do anything to make Shapen’s job easier on Saturday. Grade: F

Cody: The WRs had 67 total yards on 7 (wait...let me double check that number...yes, it’s correct) receptions. Seth Jones led all receivers with 5 yards after the catch. Were Baylor’s offensives woes all their fault? No — Shapen threw some uncatchable balls and may have missed some open targets — but they deserve a large share of the blame. Grade: F

Tight Ends

Joe: This should be the group that becomes Shapen’s safety blanket week to week, and they flashed on a couple of plays Saturday, but I just want to see more out of them. Our guys are big, athletic, and versatile, they need to make some plays happen. Overall the offense struggled though and this group wasn’t why the offense didn’t move the ball well. I’d be tempted to go with a B- here but the Sims penalty soured me a bit. Grade: C

Cody: Ben Sims led the team in receptions (4), yards after the catch (16), and receiving TDs (1). Drake Dabney added another 3 receptions. Combined, the TEs accounted for 46 receiving yards, which is ordinarily low, but on Saturday accounted for a third of the team’s receiving yards. The TEs were a mixed bag in run blocking. Kelsey Johnson had the second-highest run blocking grade on the team (75.8) per PFF and allowed only 2 pressures, but Sims’ untimely and unnecessary holding penalty at the end of the game was killer. Grade: C+


Defensive Line

Joe: They didn’t do great getting into the backfield, but I got the feeling we were doing everything we could to focus on stopping the run and keeping the QB in the pocket. Make them beat you through the air. We absolutely crushed BYU’s run game and I personally thought this was one of the toughest groups we saw on the field. Grade: B

Cody: Run defense was great. BYU was held to 3 yards per carry and had an above average 19% stuff rate. Pass rush was practically non-existent, especially in the second half. The defensive line registered no sacks and only 6 QB hurries per PFF. Grade: C-


Joe: I love our linebackers, and I thought they played a stellar game. They supported in the run game, and covered well in the passing game. This group is coached up so well and knows what they want to do. The only thing keeping them from the highest marks from me was the Doyle targeting call. It wasn’t blatant and we can argue all day about it, but it happened and even he admitted he shouldn’t have let it happen. He’s the defensive QB, gotta stay on the field. Grade: B+

Cody: The run defense was impeccable. BYU had no explosive runs and were limited to 23 non-line yards all game. In pass coverage, Al Walcott and Matt Jones recorded the only PBUs for Baylor, and Tyrone Brown had the highest PFF coverage grade on the team (71.7). Unfortunately, Dillon Doyle had the lowest coverage grade (48.0), allowed a team-high 41 yards after the catch, and was ejected in the second half for targeting. Grade: B

Defensive Backs

Joe: I’d call this group “meh”. They didn’t really do anything to drive me crazy, they gave up a few big plays but I expect that from college DBs. But they weren’t stellar and there’s some clear deficiencies with this group. They pass, but I’m not excited about what they did. Grade: C

Cody: Hill was held to a below average completion percentage (60%) and yards per completion (11.8), but the secondary allowed 5 explosive plays, registered no PBUs, forced zero interceptions, and committed 2 penalties. Grade: C+

Special Teams

Joe: Power was one of the best players on the field Saturday, sporting his fancy new single digit jersey. Other than that, a very poor performance. The return game was less than inspiring, and Isaiah Hankins didn’t just miss a PAT and a FG, he MISSED them. Power keeps them from failing, and the team did plenty to not win this as a whole, but both of those missed kicks could’ve resulted in a Baylor win. Grade: D

Cody: Isaac Power continued his dominance with 4 of his 6 punts inside the 20, an average punt distance of 42.7 yards, and only 3 yards returned. The return game was a net-negative as Craig Williams recorded an average 21.7 yards per return (less than what the team would have with a touchback). Isaiah Hankins missed an extra point attempt for the first time of his career and failed to connect on a 43 yard FG attempt in OT. Grade: D