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NCAA Football: Utah at Baylor Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, we’ll grade Baylor’s position groups from the prior game. Here’s how each group performed in Baylor’s 20-13 loss to Utah.

Quarterback

Cody Orr: Back-up quarterback Sawyer Robertson had a rough outing against the stout Utah defense. At 12 for 28 for 218 yards, two interceptions, and one rushing touchdown, it’s a surprise that Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded him as well as they did with a 50.6 passer rating. Live it looked like some of the incompletions could be attributed to miscommunications with the receivers, so Robertson only deserves partial blame. Robertson also apparently injured his ankle halfway through the game, which surely affected his ability to throw the ball, but that’s just an explanation for the grade, not a reason to change the grade itself. Grade: D+

Joe Goodman: There has been a lot of hype around transfer QB Sawyer Robertson all offseason, and we got see his first real action as a starter on Saturday. It wasn’t a failure by any means, but there’s clearly still work to do in many phases of his game, the most glaring being his grasp of the offense and relationship with receivers. These are things that are tough to blame him for, as Shapen has surely been the focus of the coaches and the starting receivers will work much more closely with the named starter. These are fixed with time and reps. But, Robertson missed some throws, and the playbook was clearly limited with him behind center, which limited the Bears offense as the game wore on. Add in his injury and you have a great explanation of the stagnant offense in the second half. He passes, but he has some work to do. Grade: D+

Running Backs

Cody Orr: Once again, Dominic Richardson was the more productive running back with 14 carries for 77 yards while Richard Reese pitched in 7 carries for 21 yards. Both contributed in the passing game with two receptions each for 31 combined yards. Overall, their 0.02 EPA (expected points added) per rush is middle-of-the-pack...just like their performance. Grade: C-

Joe Goodman: Richardson looked stellar in the first half, but an injury early in the second half clearly hindered his ability to close out the game. Freshman phenom Richard Reese has really struggled to get back to his 2022 form in the first two games, but some of that may be on his line. Still, he’s been outperformed 2 weeks in a row now. The running game couldn’t save the second half offense from the backup QB limitations, so we can’t grade them highly. Grade: C

Offensive Line

Cody Orr: Moving pieces around on the line helped a little bit, especially for Campbell Barrington who posted an 89 overall offensive grade. They protected Robertson enough to avoid any sacks, and he did have time to attempt some downfield shots. In the run game, they all scored above average on PFF. Allowing 41% of runs to get stopped before gaining at least two yards isn’t great, though. Furthermore, they still had a false start problem, especially in the first half. Grade: C

Joe Goodman: This group made maybe the biggest improvement from week 1, where they were a clear F grade. The running game was better, and the QB had a bit more time, including some downfield passes. I’d call them average this week, with hope to see some high grades coming. Grade: C

Wide Receivers

Cody Orr: PFF attributed no drops to Jackson Jr, Presley, Burton, or Baldwin. However, to drop the ball, you have to keep running long enough to give yourself a chance to catch it. I may be misremembering, but I recall two instances where a receiver looked like they slowed down to a leisurely jog at the end of their route and missed a possible touchdown by a couple feet. Grade: C-

Joe Goodman: I’m still not sold on this receiving core. I don’t see much explosiveness. We have a couple players who can win 50/50 balls but we need someone to consistently threaten deep with their speed to really keep defenses on edge. They did make some big plays for the team, but as I mentioned in the QB note above, they definitely weren’t on the same page with Robertson at times, and that fault lies with them as well as the QB. Hal Presley is stepping up, and Jackson looks the part of a good college WR, but I’m still left wanting more. Grade: C+

Tight Ends

Cody Orr: Drake Dabney was the only tight end to record a reception, and he was only targeted twice. In terms of blocking, Dabney had a respectable 64.8 overall grade on PFF and allowed only one QB pressure. Kelsey Johnson and Jake Roberts also saw some time and scored in the 50’s in PFF’s overall blocking grade. Grade: C+

Joe Goodman: Tight Ends are supposed to be a core part of this offense, and we just didn’t see them on Saturday. I know blocking matters, but I didn’t see anything visually that told me they were really moving the needle. We need more offensive production. This may be because of having a backup QB in the game, but I would’ve expected Dabney to be a much bigger safety blanket, and he wasn’t. Grade: D

Defensive Line

Cody Orr: First, the good news. TJ Franklin, Gabe Hall, and Trey Wilson all had a sack, and they were a big part of Baylor’s 11% havoc rate, which is in the upper half of FBS teams. And while Bryson Barnes was under pressure, he could only complete a single pass. Now, the bad news. Franklin had three missed tackles, and the team’s defensive run stuff rate (percent of rushing plays that gain no yards) of 16% is only better than 2% of FBS v FBS performances. 2%! That’s practically skim milk! Grade: C-

Joe Goodman: This might be the toughest grade from me. I was highly impressed by the motor our D Line showed. They were all over the place, and wreaked havoc on multiple occasions. But, there were way too many times where they would get near a player with the ball, and then looked like they thought the game was two hand touch. Be the toughest guy on the field and finish your tackles. If they hadn’t had the missed tackles, I’d likely have given them an A, but they didn’t. Grade B-

Linebackers

Cody Orr: The linebackers were also a mixed bag this week. Matt Jones and Mike Smith Jr. both led the team with eight tackles apiece, though Jones also had a team-high five missed tackles. In coverage, Jones was only targeted twice and allowed no receptions, but Smith Jr. gave up a team-high four receptions on five targets. Neither were attributed a sack on PFF. At JACK, Kyler Jordan had Baylor’s lone takeaway with a clutch interception. Grade: C+

Joe Goodman: I really liked what I saw from the LBs, but tackling was definitely an issue. Still, Matt Jones and Mike Smith look the part of what we need inside, and they definitely looked like leaders and had a fire we didn’t see in week 1. I’ll forgive some of these missed tackles, but it really has to get cleaned up. Grade: B

Cornerbacks

Cody Orr: The cornerbacks were easily the strongest unit for Baylor against Utah. Caden Jenkins and Chateau Reed had most of Baylor’s snaps, followed by Carl Williams IV and Isaiah Dunson. The four of them were targeted a combined three times per PFF, and only Williams IV allowed a reception. Did it help that Barnes was off-target most of the night? Probably. Might there be instances of the corners being so out of position that a safety had to help out late and get “credited” with the target/reception? Also possible. But from the raw stats, they were near-flawless. Grade: A

Joe Goodman: Cody nailed this one. Stellar in one on one coverage, and made it very difficult on the Utah QBs to do anything deep. Wonderful progression from week 1 to week 2 from this group. Grade: A

Safeties

Cody Orr: With the absence of Devin Lemear, DJ Coleman stared alongside Devyn Bobby. Corey Gordon Jr. held down the STAR position. None of the three safeties had any quarterback pressures, and they allowed a long 44-yard run that led to Utah’s first points of the game. Coleman had a respectable 72.3 coverage grade on PFF, but once again Devyn Bobby was near the bottom of the team. Gordon Jr. was also picked on in coverage, allowing three receptions on four targets, and had only a marginally higher PFF coverage grade than Bobby. Grade: C-

Joe Goodman: I think we have something special in DJ Coleman, and he saved the overall grade from this group from me. We were talking about him multiple times during the game and after. Kid is a great DB. Now if we could get the rest of the group up to the level he played we’d have a great unit. Grade: C

Special Teams

Cody Orr: Isaiah Hankins went two for three on field goals, hitting from 24 and 34 yards out but missing from 44. Jack Stone had four kickoffs and only one returned for 24 yards. Finally, Palmer Williams redeemed himself from last week with four punts for an average of 46.5 yards, including a long of 51 and one inside the 20. Grade: B

Joe Goodman: If we had made that extra field goal the whole dynamic of the game changes, but 44 isn’t an easy one for a college kicker, so I can’t blast Hankins too much for the miss, just would’ve really loved to have had it. Overall, not a terrible showing. Grade: B

Statistics courtesy of ESPN, Pro Football Focus, and GameOnPaper.com.