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Defensive Preview: Baylor

The Texas offense looks to exploit an inexperienced and underperforming Baylor defense this Saturday

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Ray Carlin, USA TODAY Sports

While the Baylor offense has taken steps forward in 2018, the defense still finds itself struggling mightily. The Bears do not have a lot of depth and are relying on players who simply should not be seeing the field this early in their career. Nevertheless Matt Rhule has to work with what he has — a few decent upperclassmen and a lot of players still trying to put everything together. Baylor has been gashed on the ground and through the air, and Texas is coming off a victory resulting in the firing of a defensive coordinator. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Baylor defense:

Defensive Line

Baylor’s defensive line is anchored in the middle by NT Ira Lewis, who is in his 3rd season as a full-time starter. Lewis will serve as a good challenge for Zach Shackelford, who has struggled in the past with big and effective nose tackles. James Lynch is the Bears best pass rusher, tallying 4 sacks through the first 6 games of 2018.

As a whole, the Baylor defensive line has been productive against inferior competition and has been dominated by superior competition. Against Oklahoma and Kansas State — arguably the top two offensive lines in the Big 12 — the Bears allowed huge chunk plays in the run game, while their pass rush was also neutralized.

Linebacker

After watching previous games, it’s not hard to conclude that Baylor lacks quality linebacker play. This unit is small, struggles against the run and can’t defend in space. Former WR Blake Lynch, who played with Kris Boyd at Gilmer, made the switch from WR to defense this season, and the 210-pounder now finds himself at linebacker. Middle linebacker Clay Johnston has had a quiet season, failing to record a TFL thus far.

The linebackers and defensive line share equal blame with how poorly Baylor has defended the run. The Bears linebackers are not being helped out by the defensive line, but they also need to improve on plugging holes and diagnosing plays.

Defensive Back

Two weeks ago, Kyler Murray threw for 432 yards on just 17 completions against the Baylor secondary. The big plays are there for the Texas offense. The Bears are very young at corner, with sophomores Harrison Hand and Raleigh Texada both seeing the field along with freshman Kalon Barnes. Temple graduate transfer Derrek Thomas is the most experienced of the group, but quite frankly has had a rough season.

Safety Chris Miller is the team’s leading tackler with 34 and will be used to help slow down the Texas rushing attack. Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey are likely licking their chops watching film this week. Devin Duvernay should also get a fair share of looks down the field as Texas tries to take the top off the Bears’ defense.

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Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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