Baylor defeated Sun Belt opponent Texas State 42 to 7, and while the final score makes it look like Baylor won convincingly, there were frustrating moments where the Shapen had passes batted down at the line or the defense kept forgetting about Ashtyn Hawkins. Here’s a breakdown of what the stats say about the game — where Baylor excelled and where they struggled.
When Baylor was on offense
Big picture, Baylor did what they needed to do to win the game in the first three quarters, and the final period should be classified as garbage time (here on out every stat will refer to non-garbage time plays unless otherwise specified). Baylor’s success rate of 47% is just shy of the national average, but their 3.5 points per drive is excellent. When you remember that Baylor’s last drive to end the third quarter started (and ended) with a fumble, that PPD is even more impressive.
Baylor QB Blake Shapen had a quiet day through the air. His yards per completion (9.6), completion percentage (56%), and pass receptions for 20+ yards (7.1%) were all below average, relative to Baylor in 2021 and nationally. His performance was still better than last week against BYU, though, which might end up being the worst passing performance for Baylor in the last two years.
Baylor made significant improvements in pass protection from last week as well. Texas State had no sacks, and whether due to extra time in the pocket, receivers getting open, or different play calling, Shapen attacked deeper down the field. For the entire game, his average depth of target was 10.8 yards; it was only 6.7 yards against BYU.
The receivers did a better job holding on to the ball and picking up yards after the catch, too. Pro Football Focus credits them with 3 drops last week but 0 drops this week. In addition, their 5.5 average YAC for the entire game is over double their 2.8 YAC from last week.
Baylor’s running game was fantastic. It was highly efficient — 7.6 yards per carry is in the top 10% of all games played in 2021 and 2022 involving at least one FBS team — and explosive — 11.5% of rushes gained more than 20 yards, near the top 5% of all games. Those numbers don’t even include Baylor’s drive at the start of the fourth quarter (garbage time) that included with Richard Reese’s 52-yard touchdown run.
Credit begins with the offensive line. They averaged 3.6 line yards per carry and allowed a stuff rate of only 3.8% (definitions here). Both are in the top 10% of all games played in 2021 and 2022 involving at least one FBS team. Both are also significant improvements from earlier this season.
When Baylor was on defense
For some reason, ESPN doesn’t have play-by-play data for Texas State’s game against Nevada, so the below figures don’t include that game, either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This was a mostly dominant defensive performance by the Baylor Bears that can best be described as “bend, don’t break”. Texas State had 9 drives before the fourth quarter, and they only scored once. You aren’t going to win many games with a 0.78 points per drive or the accompanying 38% success rate.
On the less-than-stellar side, Baylor allowed a rather high completion percentage of 68%, and they didn’t create a lot of pressure in the backfield, recording a sack rate of only 3.1%. They also had only 2 pass breakups and 0 interceptions. TJ Franklin was a standout for Baylor with 5 QB pressures (roughly a third of Baylor’s QB pressures for the entire game).
Bobcat WR Ashtyn Hawkins had himself an impressive game with 13 receptions on 14 targets, 114 yards, and 74 (!) yards after the catch. He did most of his damage against Devin Neal (47 yards, 11.8 yards per reception, 32 YAC).
Despite their success, Baylor still held the Texas State to 8.3 yards per completion, which is the Bobcat’s lowest mark in 2021 and 2022, and it’s near the bottom 10% of yards per completion in the nation. They also kept Texas State to a mediocre 22% conversion rate on third/fourth down through the air.
Baylor’s run defense was similar to their pass defense, allowing a lot of small gains but limiting explosive plays. Baylor didn’t stop a lot of runs at behind the line of scrimmage, but they did limit Texas State to 3.5 yards per carry, and they didn’t allow a single run over 15 yards. Only Nevada did better with 1.7 non-sack yards per carry. Again, TJ Franklin was a standout for Baylor — PFF gave him the highest run defense grade for the team with a grade of 82.8.
Overall, Baylor played a near-complete game against an out-matched Texas State, but they will need to follow it up with an even better performance this Saturday against a solid Iowa State team in Ames.
Data courtesy of CollegeFootballData.com and Pro Football Focus. Calculations performed by author. All statistics exclude garbage time.