After an injury to Gerry Bohanon, redshirt freshman Blake Shapen came in and performed exemplary, as Baylor (9-2, 6-2) knocked off Kansas State (7-4, 4-4). The Bears have now won four-of-five in Manhattan.
Bohanon went out with an injury in the second quarter. He appeared to grab his hamstring on the sidelines. I’m sure we’ll get more information from Dave Aranda in the press conference in a few minutes.
Shapen finished 16 of 21 passing for 137 yards, nearly all of which came when the game was still very much in doubt. He guided Baylor to two field goals. Shapen did an excellent job staying in the pocket. He picked his running spots well and gained 28 yards on one scamper.
To make the Big 12 title game, Baylor needs to win next week, and then get a bit of help. If Oklahoma State beats Texas Tech, then Baylor needs Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma. If we get those two outcomes, Baylor’s in the Big 12 Championship Game. If Oklahoma State loses tonight, then Baylor is into the Big 12 title win a win next week because either Oklahoma State picks up its third Big 12 loss, or Oklahoma loses and by virtue of the head-to-head loss to Baylor, the Bears are playing in the title game.
Here are some non-Shapen takeaways:
1) Let’s start with the defense:
Skylar Thompson on senior day isn’t a fun proposition. Deuce Vaughn is a monster in space. Outside of his 65 yard score, the Bears limited his big play ability most of the day, including one outstanding tackle in open space by Al Walcott, who later added a sack and an interception that allowed Baylor to ice the game.
Gabe Hall notched two sacks. Dillon Doyle tipped a pass to force a Kansas State punt. Jaron McVea had an open field tackle that led to a Wildcat’s field goal attempt. The ‘Cats missed. He also broke up a possible touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter.
2) Credit to Aranda for staying aggressive:
Aranda goes for it a lot. When I asked him earlier in the year, he mentioned that when he was a defensive coordinator he felt relieved when teams punted. So he wanted to avoid that outcome.
On 4th and 6 before halftime, Aranda had Shapen go for it, and he hit Drew Estrada on a rollout to get the Bears in prime position to score. The Bears ultimately kicked a field goal to make it 17-7 at the half.
Staying aggressive doesn’t work every team. Abram Smith failed to get the first down in the fourth quarter. Trestan Ebner also couldn’t stretch a pitch for a first down on the boundary. That’s okay. Over time the percentages say that staying aggressive works. And with Baylor’s defense playing well, field position wasn’t the most important thing. Having the ball with a chance to score was.
3) Tyquan Thornton has been wildly underrated:
He finished with five catches for 75 yards and brought in a 28 yard reception to open the half. Thornton has a good shot to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards this season.
Because Baylor’s offense doesn’t put up the counting stats it did under Art Briles, he will likely end up viewed below a lot of guys from that era (and many, like Corey Coleman were amazing). I hope he gets remembered with the best of any era though.
4) Credit to Isaiah Hankins:
We’ve had a lot of #CollegeKickers the last few weeks. Oklahoma couldn’t make a couple. Kansas State missed one to make it a one score game. Hankins went 2-for-2. Sure, the longest was only 28 yards, but Oklahoma missed a 28 yard kick today. Consistency matters.
Baylor’s last game of the regular season is next Saturday at 11 AM in Waco.