With Baylor fans still basking in the glow of a new football season being started with a victory over former conference rival SMU, I thought we would take a deeper look at how each position group for the Bears performed and give them a grade corresponding with their performance. You might have seen this bit before elsewhere, but trust me, I came up with it all on my own.
Quarterback – 24-35, 393 yards, 4 touchdown, 32 rushing yards
Nick Florence got the bulk of the stats and threw for almost 350 yards in just 3 quarters of action. Petty also came in and led the Bears on a scoring drive, throwing a perfect pass to Darryl Stonum for a 37 yard touchdown. No turnovers between the two quarterbacks, and really, nothing that was even close to being intercepted. The two took no sacks and led a very efficient game-plan for the Bears.
GRADE - A
Runningback – 180 yards rushing, 26 attempts, 2 touchdowns, 8 rushing yards
Jarred Salubi got the start and led the Bears with 13 rushes and 91 yards gained. Glasco Martin also got double-digit carries with 10 for 50 yards. Both players scored a touchdown. Lache Seastrunk got in the game late, and had an electric run for 34 yards, but only had two other rushes for just 5 yards.
All three players did not have a single rush for lost yards, and there were no fumbles. The running backs did not record a catch, but were part of a pass protection unit that allowed zero sacks on the day. That along with averaging almost 7 yards per carry will get you in the good graces of your coaches.
GRADE – A-
Wide Receiver – 24 catches, 377 yards, 4 touchdowns
The Bears had six receivers catch a pass, with all catching at least 2 in the game against SMU. Terrance Williams led the way with 7 catches for 138 yards, while Lanear Sampson caught 5 balls for 69 yards including two touchdown catches. The Bears struggled on a few bubble screens due to missed blocks by wide receivers as well. There were no major drops or bad plays from the receivers. It was a workman like day for the starters and the backups were able to get some good playing time in.
GRADE – B+
Tight End – 2 catches, 16 yards, 1 touchdown
The increased involvement in the passing game did not materialize in this contest, as Monk and Najvar were held to just 2 catches, with one of those being a touchdown. While the Bears did not involve them in the passing game plan very much, both blocked very well to setup runs to the outside, and all sealed their defenders well when asked to.
GRADE – C+
Offensive Line – No sacks allowed
The Bears had two new starters on the outside as they moved their returning tackles inside to the Center and Guard position. However, it was tough to spot any downgrade in their performance, as the Bears line allowed no sacks and very few quarterback pressures all day. Both quarterbacks had plenty of time to make their throws. The pass protection on the many play-action plays and deep crossing routes was exceptional.
GRADE – A-
Defensive Line – 10 tackles, 2 passes deflected, 4 quarterback hurries
While the Bears started with a 4-man front, the bulk of the game action saw them with just a three man front, with Nick Johnson and Trevor Clemons-Valdez getting the bulk of the time in the middle. While Johnson did not get any tackles, he did a good job of occupying blockers for the linebackers. I was very happy with the two guys in the middle.
On the outside, the Bears were able to get very little pressure, and I was a little surprised they listed 4 quarterback hurries for the lineman. Terrance Lloyd had three of them to go along with 2 tackles. Against the run, the Baylor ends did their job, but too many times, Garrett Gilbert had all day to find a receiver. Luckily for the Bears, he just missed them mostly.
GRADE – C
Linebackers – 28 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception,
Bryce Hager was our defensive MVP and led the Bears with 14 tackles. He was all over the field and even had a forced fumble to his credit. The other starters (Lackey and Ahmad Dixon) also had nice games and combined for 17 tackles. The 3 linebackers were all in the top 4 tacklers for the Bears, a great sign especially in run defense.
Lackey also was on the receiving end of the biggest play in the game, a ricocheted interception on the goal-line that he ran back to the 20 yard line.
GRADE – B+
Cornerbacks – 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 forced fumble,
For the most part, I thought the corners did a good job of keeping the Mustang receivers in front of them, but late in the game, Joe Williams was beaten deep twice to allow touchdowns. Also, Demetri Goodson struggled with locating the ball on several deep passes, including on one play he was called for pass interference. A solid game for the corners, but one that could have been much better.
GRADE – C+
Safeties – 21 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry, 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 1 touchdown
Any time you can get two turnovers, including one for a touchdown, you are going to get a nice grade from me. The Baylor safeties, Mike Hicks and Sam Holl, might have played their best game together as Bears. Both were involved in the run defense, and both made plays in the passing game. While Hicks still struggles a bit in coverage, his impact in the running game cannot be questioned. Coach Bennett also dialed up some blitzes with him, including one where he deflected a pass on his way to the quarterback.
At this point, Holl is much better in pass coverage, and had a few nice plays on receivers. He also had some tremendous hits that will make the SMU players sore till later this week.
Specialists – 1-1 Field goals (44 yards), 5 touchbacks on 7 kickoffs, 4 punts for 43.2 net yards (3 inside 20 yard line), 4 punt returns for 56 yards (14 yards per), 3 kickoff returns for 58 yards (19.33 yards per)
It was a solid game all-around for the Bears special teams. No turnovers and no bad mistakes that allowed SMU to have great field position. Aaron Jones hit his only field goal, a non-gimmee from 44 yards away. Levi Norwood also almost broke a punt for a touchdown, but had to settle for a 37 yard return to give the Bears a short-field.