Baylor fans, curious to your take. Without Lache Seastrunk, the Bears are 5-7 or worse. True or false?— David Ubben (@davidubben) December 6, 2012
It's the kind of question that is simultaneously fascinating and infuriating, because we're forced to try and examine what may have been; and in a game as complex as football, it's pretty much impossible to determine. Of course, that doesn't stop us from trying. My initial reaction was to answer in the negative. He's been fantastic. Amazing. But is he responsible for two wins? My immediate reaction was no. He's been a huge factor, but I couldn't say for certain that two wins were directly attributable to his performance in the game. In my mind and based only on recollection, it seemed to me that the defensive improvement we've seen since the Kansas game was more responsible for the wins than Seastrunk could be. But upon further contemplation, I wasn't so sure. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Seastrunk started seeing a significant increase in carries starting with the Kansas game. So, for the purposes of this exercise, the wins we're looking at are Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State (he carried the ball a combined total of five times for 54 yards and one touchdown in the other three wins). I think it's also safe to say that Baylor would have probably beaten Kansas without Lache. That leaves us with the current winning streak over Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. Here are his baseline stats for those games.
|vs Kansas St. 11.17.12||19||185||9.7||80||1||2||1||.500||0|
|vs Texas Tech 11.24.12||19||136||7.2||44||0||0||0||0||0|
|vs Oklahoma St. 12.1.12||16||178||11.1||76||1||0||0||0||0|
Pretty spectacular, considering that without his longest runs, he still has 105, 92, and 102 yards rushing in each game. His touchdown numbers skew low because he's almost always substituted for Glasgo Martin in goal line situations. But bare stats alone don't tell the whole story. The question is whether Baylor is a 5-7 team without him. I still say no.
I contend that the catalyst for this win was the defense. Nobody expected the Bears to come out and stop Collin Klein and the rest of the K-State offense. I stood and watched in disbelief when the Bears forced a turnover and three punts on four straight drives. Also key was how the Bears jumped out to an early lead on the Wildcats, forcing them to try and play our game instead of using their plodding, control-the-clock style of offense. It wasn't until Baylor was up 21-7 that Seastrunk had any kind of meaningful rushing yards. On the drive that put us up 28-7, he had 59 yards. He had 11 before that drive. His 80 yard run was nothing short of amazing to watch, but it sealed the game; it didn't win it for us. I don't think we lose this game without Lache.
This one is the hardest to quantify, in my opinion. Looking at most scoring drives, it seems like Lache is involved early on in the drive, then the ball goes in the air, then Glasgo gets the lion's share of the carries at the tail end of the drive. Again, I think the defense served as the catalyst for the victory in this one. For starters, the offense sputtered out of the gate. If it weren't for the huge fumble forced by Chris McAllister and recovered by Eddie Lackey, the game is 28-7 going into halftime, with Tech getting the ball back to start the second half. Equally huge was the quick strike by Nick Florence to Levi Norwood to put the Bears back within 7 going into half. Lache's biggest run (44 yards) came in the second quarter on the drive that ended on a failed 4th down conversion. We were playing from behind for most of this game, which meant we were putting the ball in the air quite a bit in the second half. I don't think we lose this one without him.
If we lose any games at all without Lache, it's this one. He was more involved in this game from the start, rushing for 48 yards in the first half. His longest run of the first half was 15 yards, but he provided nearly 7 yards per carry and was solid. He had bigger runs in the second half, and, of course, there's his unforgettable run in the fourth quarter. Every single quote I read about that run has the word "inspiring" attached to it in some form or fashion. With 5:30 remaining in the game and up by a touchdown, that run may not have been what we needed, but it certainly was the run we deserved. It was the difference maker in the game. Without it, perhaps OSU pulls even with the Bears and ultimately wins the game. I do know that the defense stopped them on our 40 on the next drive. To me, if any game is a loss without Lache, it's this one.
CONCLUSION, CAVEATS, QUALIFIERS
After looking into the numbers, I can't say for certain that we'd have lost any games without Lache Seastrunk. It's my personal opinion that we'd be no worse than 6-6 without him. But that doesn't do justice to his ability. There is absolutely no denying that Lache is a special talent, with game-breaking speed and ankle-breaking agility. Watching him run in person is something truly special and unforgettable. The real question to me isn't whether we would have lost more games than we did, but whether we would have won more games had we utilized him earlier. Mark will have more on that soon, I believe.
What do you think? How many wins would the Bears have without Lache Seastrunk?