Not the result we wanted, but still, the Baylor team that arrived in Waco today was a completely different group than the one that played against Texas State last Saturday. And yet, there are no moral victories in college football, and the Bears dropped their 6th game in a row to #12 Utah, 20-13.
The defense was stout and looked more 2021 than 2022. No one can question their drive in this game, but a lack of offensive consistency in the second half let the team down, forcing the defense to spend way too much time on the field, in what will be one of the hottest games of the season. Linebackers Matt Jones and Mike Smith looked stout, TJ Franklin was a terror on the line, and the secondary overall looked much improved, especially in one on one coverage. If this unit plays like this the whole season, the Bears will be in every game they play.
But, as much as we can be happy about the defensive improvement, the offense still has a long way to go if they want to compete with the best teams in the Big 12. They looked “good enough” in the first half, establishing the run and hitting some balls downfield, but were totally unimpactful in the second half, until the final drive of the game. They really forced the defense into a tough situation, only keeping possession for 24 minutes to Utah’s 36. That isn’t sustainable during an afternoon game in Waco in September.
The Bears struggled to establish a consistent passing game, with backup QB Sawyer Robertson making his first start. Robertson flashed some good play, but ultimately struggled to get into any rhythm with his receivers, throwing for 218 yards on 12/28 passing with two costly interceptions, including one with under 2 minutes remaining that led to Utah’s go ahead touchdown. He was able to connect on some deep balls, including a 47 yard strike with 1 second remaining to Hal Presley, setting up a last second toss into the end zone that fell incomplete, though there was some questionable defense that did look like interference. Alas, the referee kept his flag in his pocket, and the offense wasn’t able to create a miracle moment.
Utah dealt with their own backup QB issues, as starter Cam Rising was out for the Utes. Bryson Barnes played most of the game, but it was their running oriented QB, Nate Johnson who won the game for Utes. He led the drives that both tied and took the lead for Utah, and truly wore out the Bears defense. The Utah defense also deserves credit, they never wavered and did everything right to keep their team in it, giving their offense opportunity after opportunity to finally break through Baylor’s defense.
Next up the Bears have a game against Long Island, a team that shouldn’t provide much competition for Baylor, but throw that out the window as this Bears team is 0-2 and just needs to finally find that win column. Texas comes to town after that in what will surely be an emotional and hard fought game. Baylor has some improvements to make, but compared to last week, it appears they are moving in the right direction. Go win your next two and it’s a totally new season.