Overreaction Central - Baylor Vs. ISU

Bears lose their 4th straight game and fall to 0-4 in the Big 12. Not much to say good about that Bears fans. Overreact with us inside BearsIllustrated.com

Well, that didn't go well, did it? The Bears made mistake after mistake after mistake and left Ames, IA with their season goal of a 3rd straight bowl game being in critical condition. The Bears came out flat and played lousy on offense and defense. Not much to say good about the performance of anyone in that game, as they let Iowa State put up record numbers offensively. They turned Steel Jantz into the most prolific passer in ISU history, and a backup slot receiver into a 3-touchdown super star.

However, do not put all of the blame on the defense. They actually forced two turnovers (1 coming incredibly late, but it still counts), and only allowed 14 points in the second half. The held Iowa State to only 3.7 yards per carry, and actually got some decent penetration on a few plays to get 5 tackles for loss.

Still though, that is not to say they were good, just not as tragically bad as they were the previous three games. They still allowed a ridiculous 57% conversion rate on 3rd down (12 of 21) and allowed 5 passing touchdowns to a guy with only 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions coming into the game.

The Baylor defense made several changes to the lineup, some working out okay with others failing completely. With Byrce Hager struggling in coverage and missing gaps, Rodney Chadwick stepped into the lineup and played well. He had 8 tackles and got a big interception, the first Baylor turnover in 3 1/2 games.

The the other change was Chance Casey to corner back from his safety position with Mike Hicks coming back into the fold. Casey struggled terribly in zone coverage, and was completely fooled on the last touchdown pass of the game for Jantz. He finished with 10 tackles, but was no where neat close to defending any passes.

With Hicks coming back, there was hope it would stabilize the back end of the Bears defense, but after a promising first quarter, the secondary fell apart the rest of the game and allowed the struggling Iowa State passing game to tear them apart.

With as bad as the defense was, it is hard to be terribly disapointed with that unit allowing only 35 points. That is the 2nd fewest points allowed to an FBS team this year. If asked before the game if I would take 35 points allowed from our defense, I would probably say yes. The main reason is our offense, which let us down time and time again in Ames.

The Bears were uncharacteristically shaky on offense all night. They only scored 14 points in the first 3 1/2 quarters of game action. They had 2 turnovers (add a third from special teams) but also had 3 turnovers on downs. Nick Florence fumbled the ball on the first drive of the game at the goalline, and all three of the 4th downs they failed to convert were in Iowa State territory. Lets take a look at the three play calls to see what the Bears were thinking:

4th Down #1 - 14-14, 2 minutes left in half, Ball on ISU21 yard line, 4th and 3

Florence threw deep to Terrance Williams who dropped the ball, then Florence kept the ball on a zone/read play that went for no gain. On third down, Florence threw 7 yards to Levi Norwood who sat down in the open zone on a simple curl route.

The Bears lined up with no running back in the back field. They had success with quick slants all day, and that is what they called to the right, as Antwan Goodley runs a 4 yard quick slant. On the opposite side of the field, Norwood runs a curl route and sits in the open zone exactly as he did on 3rd down and was open for the first down. Florence never checks any other options, and forces the ball to Goodley low. Tough throw and catch, and the ISU defensive player breaks it up.

4th down #2 - 21-14, 2:45 left in 3rd quarter, Ball on ISU 18, 4th and 1

The Bears had two dropped passes on 1st and 2nd down, and then they gained 9 yards on a Florence rush after he was flushed out of the pocket on 3rd and 10. The Bears hurry up to the line of scrimmage and they do a zone-read play. They need a single yard, and Florence does the wrong read, as he keeps the ball, even with the defensive end right in his face. Florence fakes him out and goes back inside, but is tackled for a 1-yard loss.

4th down #3 - 28-14, 13 minutes left in 4th quarter, Ball on ISU 37, 4th and 13

The Bears were in desperation mode at this point, as their two drives were a punt, and the second failed 4th down. The Bears were put in a bad position on 1st down, as Cyril Richardson committed a holding penatly, and put the Bears behind the chains. On 1st and 21, the Florence completed an 8 yard pass to Norwood, and then threw incomplete to Norwood on 3rd down.

The fourth down play saw the Cyclones play back in coverage. With no options open, Florence ran timidly to the corner and gained 5 yards. A Baylor holding penalty would have brought it back any way and the Bears were 0-3 on key 4th downs.

In all three instances, Iowa State put Florence in a position to make a decision, and in all three, you can see he made the wrong one. The statistics will look flashy in the box score (31-51, 426 yards, 2 touchdowns), but Florence really struggled at times in this game to handle the pressure that the Cyclones put on him.

Players of the Game -
Offense - Terrance Williams - 13 catches, 190 yards
Williams was good for the most part, but even he struggled with drops in this game. He dropped a key long pass that would have put the Bears first and goal with the game still in doubt. He also dropped some quick passes that he would normally catch. Even with those drops, he was dominant, and led the Bears with receptions and yards.

Honorable Mention - Levi Norwood, Cyril Richardson's right foot

Defense - Eddie Lackey - 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss

With few guys that really stood out, Lackey was all over the field. He really played well sideline to sideline and made several plays, especially in the second half. He seems to be getting more comfortable and has played better, though he still struggles to challenge blockers well.

Honorable Mention - Ahmad Dixon, Rodney Chadwick, Aaron Horne's hands

Words of the Game:

Offense - Stressed
This looked like an offense that was stressed and knew that it had to score 40+ points. They did not play loose and have fun like they normally do. It did not help that their 2nd best receiver Tevin Reese went out of the game and was replaced by a walk-on. The offense succumbed to the pressure it seemed to me, to be perfect. They were anything but Saturday night.

Defense - Worst
This is one of the worst defenses I have ever seen, and probably the worst defense in a power conference. They are not good at getting to the passer, they struggle at wrapping up, they don't force turnover often anymore, and they are the worst 3rd down defense in FBS in the last 13 years.

Summary -
This could be the nail in the coffin for the Bears bowl hopes. The Bears needed a win to avoid having to get two upsets (in addition to a win against Kansas next week) to go to a bowl game for a school record 3rd year in a row. Baylor lost this game to a team that just played harder and better than them. Iowa State made the plays they had to make, and the Bears struggled terribly on the key plays of the game.

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