If you just looked at the final score, you would think this game was pretty good for the Baylor Bears. Winning 48-23, you would probably assume that the Bears ran out to a big lead, and the Bearkats got some late scores to make it look better. We saw this formula against SMU in week 1. However, this game was pretty much the exact opposite of what that expectation would be. Let's dig in to the game a bit and find out how the Bears could look so bad in a 25 point win.
What happened in that first half???
The Bears ended the first half trailing 20-10 to Sam Houston State, after the Kats scored the last 14 points of the half. The Bears defense was being gouged by a triple option look and then throw through off of play-action pass. Kats were running all over the field, and the Bears had no answers.
Last year, the offense would have been going toe-to-toe, but even the machine known as the Art Briles offense could do nothing. The Bears could move the ball, but just could not finish in the redzone. A made field goal on their first drive, and then a missed one on their third allowed the Bearkats to get into a rhythm with their running game and start using play action to spread the field, when the Bears started to key on the run.
Three drives in a row of 74, 75 and 76 yards that took up over 12 minutes of the first half gave the Bearkats the lead and got the Bears offense completely out of whack, as they could just sit there. After those three drives,the Kats were up 20-10 and in complete control of the game.
So what were the Bearkats doing during those three offensive possessions. Simply put, they were knocking the crap out of the Bears defensive front, and the Baylor secondary was playing so soft, it was allowing tons of time and space for their passing game to work. Sam Houston State's offensive line had very little issues blocking the 3 or 4 rushers the Bears were sending, and with the soft zone, there was very little resistance to offer.
Outside of that, the Bears were just playing pretty flat. Little to no emotion or energy was apparent on the field. Also, pre-snap penalties were putting the Bears offense behind the chains, and put the Bears in tough 3rd downs. Baylor was just 1-6 on 3rd down in the first half.
So, what the heck changed in the second half???
To say that it was a quick turn around in the 2nd half would be an insult to quick. Check out the first five plays from scrimmage in the second half:
- Fist and 10 on the SHSU 20: Flanders, Tim rush for 1 yard to the SHSU 21 (Hager)
- 2nd and 9 on the SHSU 21: Bell, Brian pass incomplete to Diller, Trey (Johnson, Nick)
- 3rd and 9 on the SHSU 21: Bell, Brian sacked for loss of 4 yards to the SHSU 17 (Lloyd), fumble by Bell, Brian recovered by BU (Clemons-Valdez), Baylor for 8 yards to the SHSU 9 yard line
- 1st and 10 at the SHSU 9: Florence, Nick pass complete to Najvar, Jordan for 9 yards, TOUCHDOWN, clock 14:10
- 1st and 10 at the SHSU 25: Team rush for no gain, FUMBLE, recovered by Flanders, Tim at SHSU 1
Those 5 plays put the Bears back in control and got the defense's focus back in order. Sam Houston would have to punt the ball after that last play put them at 2nd and 34. While the Bears would still be behind 20-17 even after their next drive, the tone of the half was set, as Baylor would outscore the Bearkats 38-3 in the last 30 minutes of game action.
Baylor's offense never fully got on track, but the defense did its job well in the 3rd quarter. With the score being just 24-20, the Bears would explode for 24 points in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a 5 yard TD run by Glasco Martin after an electrifying 60 yard scamper by Nick Florence. The score would put the Bears up 2-possessions for the first time in the game, and the Kats would not get any closer.
Fun Stats of the Game
1. The Bears won. Honestly, that is about all I could come up with. 1 victory. Lets just move on, and hopefully in future weeks, this feature can come back. I might come back to this later in the week, but we will see. It was a win, that is all.
The Word of the Game
You probably read homerun, and think I am going to say the offense was great. I am not. In this case, I think this is a bad thing. Too many times, the Bears went for the homerun play, especially in the 1st half. A great example of this is the last drive of the first half in both games this year.
Against SMU, Florence threw the ball away several times after getting into field goal range, and settled for the three points. Against SHSU, Florence forced the ball up field trying to take advantage of a one-on-one matchup and threw an interception. I think the Bears tried to be too aggressive when they saw the one-on-one coverage on the outside, and they forced the ball too many times. They went for the home run when a few singles and a double would have been just fine.
The Bears defense came out in the second half and played a very different scheme than what Baylor fans saw in the first half. Coach Bennett drew up a much higher percentage of blitzes, and he also went to more man coverage in the backfield. He also moved his safeties up to give the Bearkats less room on their routes. Coach Bennett earned his salary at halftime as all of his adjustments worked well.
Key Play of the Game
I am going to nominate the blown-up 4th down attempt on the first play of the fourth quarter. Baylor was up 24-20 but the Kats had gotten the ball on the Baylor 9 after a long punt return. With the ball on the 1-yard line, the Bearkats rolled the dice and went for it on 4th down. As their quarterback Bell got the ball, the Bears defensive line got great penetration and caused Bell to stumble before he could do anything with the ball. The Bears would protect their 4-point lead and despite not doing anything with the ball, the would not allow another Sam Houston Touchdown.
Players of the Game
Offensive - Terrance Williams, 6 catches, 131 yards, 2 touchdowns
With his two touchdowns, including the one that winner, Terrance Williams is my choice for player of the game. He was one of just a few players who played well from the start, and had minimal mistakes. With 6 catches for 131 yards, Williams helped the Bears stretch the field and take advantage of the aggressive man defense the Kats played for most of the game.
Honorable Mention - Nick Florence, all 407 replay challenges....not
Defense - Demetri Goodson, 5 tackles, 1 interception
With tremendous coverage throughout the game, Goodson showed why he shot up the depth chart this spring. The senior corner in just his second career start showed up big, as he recorded a huge interception that led to a Baylor touchdown late in the 4th quarter to ice the game. Goodson has really shown a great ability to perform man coverage and with his great quickness, he can make plays on the ball.
Honorable Mention - Bryce Hager, Terrance Lloyd, Sam Houston State Center's left foot (thanks for the trip!!!)
Look, it was a win. It counts toward the 6 we need for a bowl game, and we dodged a MAJOR bullet. The Bears have a quick turn around after this game, and that might not be a bad thing. They will need to get the taste of that first half out of their mouths, and they will get a chance to do it in 6 days. As they say, an ugly win still counts as a win.
Overreaction Central - Baylor Vs. SHSU
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