While many fans werenâ€™t impressed by the shutout victory last week against Kansas, the Longhorns accomplished the goal of heading into week 2 of conference play with an undefeated (Big 12) record. The Longhorns have been steadily improving every week since the BYU disaster, but with Baylor coming to town, Texas will have to be at itâ€™s best to have a chance at pulling an upset.
Heisman candidate Bryce Petty returned for his senior year to lead Art Brilesâ€™, no-huddle, quick-strike offense. The Bearsâ€™ offense runs out of the shotgun with a variety of one and two back looks, with the occasional 5-WR formation thrown in.
Other Offensive Notes:
– The effective running game of Baylor opens up play-action off zone-read where the QB and the line will give the look of the rushing play. Instead of the run, Petty pulls the ball and throws a quick strike to a WR.
– Baylorâ€™s offensive line pushes the â€œIllegal Man Downfieldâ€ rule in which blockers are not allowed to block 3 yards past the LOS before the ball is thrown.
Baylorâ€™s high powered offense gets most of the coverage, and rightfully so, but the Bearsâ€™ defense is actually ranked 6th in the country, giving up only 250 yards per game. The Bearâ€™s utilize a 4-2-5 alignment with four down linemen, two LBâ€™s, and five DBâ€™s.
Other Defensive Notes:
– While Baylor doesnâ€™t often blitz, they do line up close to the LOS which can seem like a blitz or delayed blitz, leaving areas of the field open.
– Baylor will overload a specific side of the field if they think a play is rolling that direction.
If there is one area that could be perceived as a weakness of Baylor, it would be in the area of field goal kicking. Baylorâ€™s field goal unit has attempted six field goals on the year, but has only made one (a 23 yard attempt), while missing from 35 (twice), 37, 42, and 52 (one of which was blocked).
Each of their other special teams units are average as their kickoffs tend to be short, their punts average 39 yards (but are high and donâ€™t allow for many returns), and both kickoff return and punt returns have netted little to nothing in regards to yardage.
Texas QB/WR/TEâ€™s v. Baylor DBâ€™s:
Swoopes and the Texas passing game have success on underneath routes which are available when a cushion is given by the secondary. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, Baylor plays an aggressive press defense, which limits quick passes within 5 yards of the LOS.
For Texas to be successful against the Bears, they will have to rely on Swoopes identifying one-on-one coverage and making good passes downfield â€“ something he hasnâ€™t done much in the teamâ€™s first four games.
Advantage: Texas RBâ€™s v. Baylor LBâ€™s:
Even though Baylorâ€™s non-conference schedule is full of weak teams, the Bears managed to hold rushers to 80 yards per game on 2.3 yards per carry. Texas and their two backs have had difficulty getting the ground game going, averaging 120.5 yards per game on 3.42 ypc.
Baylor has done a very good job of limiting the oppositionâ€™s rushing attack. Texas hasnâ€™t proven that they are good enough to overpower average teams, much less one of the top defenses in the nation. If the Longhorns want move the ball on the ground, they will need to use misdirection and take advantage of over-pursuit by Baylorâ€™s defense.
Advantage: Texas OL v. Baylor DL:
Baylorâ€™s defense has the ability to move around the pocket and put pressure on QBâ€™s. Led by DE Oakman, Baylorâ€™s defense is second in the nation in sacks per game (18 total for 4.75 avg) and is 6th in rush defense (80 ypg).
With the inexperience of the offensive line and the inability to move the ball on the ground, Texas will have its hands full against a very tough Baylor D-Line.
Advantage: Texas DBâ€™s v. Baylor QB/WR/TE:
The Baylor offense utilizes a quick, efficient passing attack that has, so far, controlled each game that they have played. Bryce Petty has been very good and the Bear offense is surrounded by great receiver talent that fits into Brilesâ€™ system.
Texas will have their hands full, but the area that Texas has had the most success on in regards to defense has been against the pass. The Longhorns give up only 140 yards per game (8th nationally) through the air and have only surrendered 2 passing TDâ€™s.
Texas wonâ€™t be able to completely limit Baylorâ€™s offense, but they have proven that they can slow down opponentsâ€™ passing games.
Advantage: Texas LBâ€™s v. Baylor RBâ€™s:
The biggest issue for Texas so far on defense has been their ability to stop well-executed rushing attacks. The zone-read has been problematic for the Horns, specifically when the QB keeps the ball.
The bad news for Texas is that the Bears have done a good job rushing the football, averaging 240 yards per game. The good news is that Petty (playing injured) hasnâ€™t been a running threat so far this year (80 yards on 13 carries).
Baylor hasnâ€™t used Petty much yet, but donâ€™t be surprised to see the Bear QB test the Texas LBâ€™s on the zone-read.
Advantage: Texas DL v. Baylor OL:
Bryce Petty has not been sacked through 4 games this year. Even though the Baylor offense is an extremely quick strike attack, that statistic shows just how effective the Bear offensive line is.
The Longhorns D-Line is the strength of the Texas defense. Texas DTâ€™s and Cedric Reed have seemingly had their way pushing through offensive lines. While the ground game gives the Texas defense problems, they have proven to be able to quickly close the pocket and create quick passes or turnovers.
The one area of advantage for Texas is on special teams. Baylor has been average in most areas, but Baylor being 1/6 on FG tries sticks out like a sore thumb. Will Russ and the Texas punt unit have done a tremendous job of pushing the field position advantage in Texasâ€™ favor along with the recent great play of Jaxon Shipley and the punt return unit.
The Longhorns will need to big contributions in special teams if they want to pull off a win against the Bears on Saturday.