Offense vs. Defense
When Baylor has the ball
This will be one of if not the best defenses the Bears have seen this year. While they don't have possibly the best defensive player in the Big 12 active for them in end Devonte Fields, they still have a tremendous secondary and a defensive scheme and game plan designed by Gary Patterson. This is a defense that does a great job of pressuring the quarterback and forcing mistakes. TCU is trying to be the first Big 12 team in Nebraska in 1996 to lead the conference in both categories and they are tied with Baylor in sacks and just 1 interception behind Oklahoma State. They are also fifth in the nation in tackles for loss with 90.
This is a defense designed to not only take away what you do well, but to destroy what you struggle at for big losses or turnovers. They are 23rd in rushing yards per game allowed, 60th in passing yards allowed, and 41st in points allowed per game. Where they make their mark though is on turnovers (7th in the country with 27) and tackles for loss (3rd with 90 or 8.18 per game). Baylor will have to take care of the ball and not let TCU get too many negative plays for the Bears attack.
When TCU has the ball
The TCU offense will be looking at a very familiar defense as the one they see every day in practice plays a similar style to the Bears. With a 4-2-5 defense, the Bears focus on speed and making plays with as many tacklers to the ball carrier as possible. However, unlike in practice, there will be no red jersey protecting Casey Pachall from the Baylor pass rush, which leads the Big 12 in sacks. The TCU offensive line has been the weak point for this team, despite having 3 seniors starting.
Eric Tausch is the man with the most starting experience, but he has not been nearly as good as some Frog fans were anticipating. The TCU line has not had a single player start every game at the same position, though Tausch has started every game. They have had 6 different lineups start a game this year, which is part of the reason for the struggles in the trenches.
TCU has also seen turnover in the backfield as well, with B.J. Catalon being the third starting running back, and the Frogs having to start two different quarterbacks. Their entire offense has been filled with a rotating cast of characters pretty much, and the results bear that out.
Fun Stats to Ponder
- Baylor is looking to win 3 Big 12 road games for the first time in program history - the Bears have only won 2 Big 12 road games in a season one time previously (2010).
-Baylor's 661.6 yards per game number is on track to be ahead of Houston's NCAA record of 624.9 in 1989 and the program record of 587.08 in 2011.
-Baylor has completed 29 passes for 40 yards or longer this season, including 19 for TDs.
-Over 40% (41.2) of the players to see action for TCU are sophomores.
-TCU is 61-13 under Gary Patterson at home
Keys to the Game
1. No Stillwater Hangover – You can pretty much just circle this key and forget about the rest if the Bears don't get over their loss last week to Oklahoma State. Simply put, they cannot let the Cowboys beat them twice. This is all about a gut-check. Do the Bears want to get down on themselves after missing out on their national championship aspirations, or take control of the rest of the year and make it arguably the best in Baylor history?
2. Start Fast – Three games in a row, the Bears have gotten off to a slow start. The offense has started off slowly in each game, with the Bears struggling to get into the endzone early. Against Oklahoma, it was the 5th drive of the game where the Bears finally punched it in. In the Texas Tech game, it was more of the defense starting slow, allowing three long drives for touchdowns to put the Bears in a 20-6 hole. Of course against Oklahoma State, it took the Bears over a half and 12 drives to finally score a touchdown. Baylor needs a quick start from both sides of the ball to help them get back into sync.
3. Establish the run game – The Baylor running game ran into a brick wall against Oklahoma State, averaging by far a season worst 2.6 yards per carry on 36 attempts. They have seen their rushing yards per attempt fall from 6.95 against Kansas with a full complement of runners to 4.72 against Oklahoma with Shock Linwood being the go to guy. It did rebound against a terrible Texas Tech defense the next week (5.96) but that was fool's gold. The Baylor offense becomes quite easy to stop when they are limited to just the passing game, and OSU was able to do that with just their front 6 or 7 defenders.
While the TCU linebackers are not nearly as strong as Oklahoma State's, their front four might be better than the Cowboys. Baylor's offensive line will have to attack the big bodies up front for TCU and open up lanes for whichever runner is back there. This will open up the play action attack that is the strength of this Baylor offense.
4. Limit Boykins – Simply put, Boykins shredded the Bears last year in Waco in by far his finest game as a quarterback. This year though, he is the backup quarterback, wide receiver, running back and pretty much everywhere else they need the sophomore. As the starting quarterback for a dismissed from the team Casey Pachall, Boykin's second career start was against the Bears and it was a doozy, accounting for over 300 total yards and 5 touchdowns in their 49-21 win in Waco. This year, he won't get that many chances to touch the ball, but the Horned Frogs will try and get him in matchups to take advantage of his skills. Expect to see him at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Boykin is the only athlete in the nation this year to have a 100-yards rushing, 100-yard receiving, and a 200-yard passing game.
5. Find another deep threat – Since Tevin Reese went out of the game against Oklahoma and was lost for the rest of the regular season, the Bears offense has simply not been nearly as explosive. Against Oklahoma, the Bears did not have a single play from scrimmage that went over 40 yards. Against Texas Tech it was a little bit better, with a 58 yards play to Levi Norwood, but that was a screen pass that Norwood took to the house, not a deep ball.
Antwan Goodley had several chances in that game to get a big play deep, but only caught one of them for 48 yards. In the Oklahoma State game, Clay Fuller caught a ball on a streak patter for a 53 yard gain, but outside of that single play, Baylor only had 3 receptions for more than 25 yards. That is simply not what Baylor had done earlier in the year.
With Tevin Reese out of the lineup, defenses have been able to easily roll safety help over the top to whatever side Goodley lines up on, and Baylor has simply not had any of their other wide receivers step up and stretch the defense. Can Corey Coleman, Robbie Rhodes or Clay Fuller do that for the Bears offense?