On Saturday evening (6:00 P.M., FSN), the Baylor Bears (4-3, 1-3) play host to the Missouri Tigers (4-4, 2-3) in Big 12 Conference action. Baylor comes into this contest off of a 24-59 loss last week at Oklahoma State.
Earlier this week, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about Baylor.
"Baylor is an excellent football team," began Coach Pinkel. "Art (Briles) has done an excellent job with that program. Robert Griffin III is a great player! He's a phenomenal talent. He has remarkable accuracy and judgment. He can run. He can buy time. He can extend plays. He's just matured into a really good football player. He has some great receivers around him, good skill people. They've stocked it up; a lot of people can make a lot of plays…………………………….. Their (offensive) numbers are staggering."
Baylor's staggering offensive numbers begin with their record-setting QB. Robert Grffin III 6'2" 220 holds 44 Baylor single-game, single-season, or career records. He owns 25 different school passing records. He is the engine that drives Baylor's nationally-ranked offense. The Bears lead the nation in passing efficiency (192.36), and are third nationally in total offense (560 yards/game). Baylor is on a single-season school record pace in several offensive categories, including points, total offense, yards/play, completion percentage, and passing efficiency. In other words, this is the best Baylor offense ever! And, Robert Griffin III, who is under consideration for the Heisman Trophy, and is viewed by the NFL as one of the top QB prospects in the nation, is Baylor's best-ever QB.
"(Robert Griffin III) is a great, great player," said Coach Pinkel. "He's a great athlete. He can make a lot of plays………………………………… He might be the best QB in the country!"
Griffin's 75% completion rate this season is second nationally, and his 190.69 passer efficiency rating, and his 10.24 yards/pass attempt each rank third nationally.
"The efficiency of their passing game is staggering to watch," said Coach Pinkel. "Their completion percentage, their short passing game, is absolutely outstanding! (Robert Griffin III) is very accurate. It is very well designed. As you are struggling with (defending) their short passing game, all of a sudden, they go up field, and go vertical a lot. They have guys that can run and make plays."
The guys that can run and make plays include three receivers with over 1,000 career receiving yards. Senior WR Kendall Wright 5'10" 190 is second in the Big 12, and fourth nationally this season, with 9.4 receptions/game, and 124.0 receiving yards/game. His 9 TD receptions rank fifth nationally, and third in the Big 12.
Junior WR Terrance Williams 6'3" 190 (4.3 receptions/game, 16.9 yards/reception, 5 TDs), and junior WR Lanear Sampson 5'11" 200 (3.6 receptions/game, 13.5 yards/reception, 3 TDs), have each joined Wright in the 1,000-yard club. Sophomore WR Tevin Reese (3.9 receptions/game, 15.4 yards/reception, 3TDs) gives the Bears a fourth quality receiving threat in the starting line-up, as they spread out the defense, literally, from sideline to sideline.
Missouri Defensive Coordinator Dave Steckel talked about the Baylor offense.
"They're stacked, athletically," said Coach Steckel, speaking of the Baylor offense. "They've got a great offensive line. Their quarterback is not only a (great) quarterback, but (he's) an athletic freak! They've got receivers that can really run, and stretch you down the field horizontally and vertically. And, they've got a really powerful, quick running back."
The powerful, quick running back is senior Terrance Ganaway 6'0" 240. He's averaging 5.2 yards/carry, and 94 rushing yards/game.
In looking at the Bears, it's obvious that they've positioned most of their best athletes on the offensive side of the football. As prolific as they are on offense, they've struggled defensively.
Baylor ranks near the bottom nationally in total defense, in scoring defense, and in turnover margin. Coach Pinkel described Baylor's defensive approach.
"They play good defense," said Coach Pinkel, talking about Baylor. "They keep everything in front of them, and they don't give up big plays."
Among Baylor's most productive defensive players are senior MLB Elliot Coffey 6'0" 235 (48 total tackles), sophomore NB Ahmad Dixon 6'0" 200 (45 total tackles, 1 INT), and a pair of defensive backs, in junior Mike Hicks 5'11" 195 (50 total tackles, 2 INTs), and junior Chance Casey 5'11" 185 (47 total tackles, 6 PBUs).
Baylor plays a four-three defense. Their base package includes their nickel back, Dixon, who often occupies the position of a traditional strong-side linebacker. From what I've seen, I'd say that Baylor is much better at defending the pass than they are at defending the run. As Coach Pinkel pointed out, the Bears do a good job of keeping plays in front of them.
On the season, Baylor has surrendered 5.6 yards/rushing attempt, and 7.2 yards/pass attempt. In conference games, those numbers have increased to 6.3 yards allowed/rushing attempt, and 7.9 yards allowed/pass attempt. In conference, the Bears are dead last, allowing 7.0 yards/play. It's an offensive powerhouse of a league, for sure, but Baylor's defense is on the opposite end of the spectrum from their prolific offense.
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
490.25 [11th]___ Total Offense____ 560.00 [3rd]
243.88 [12th]___Rushing Offense__ 203.71 [22nd]
20___________TDs Rushing__________ 14
246.38 [46th]___Passing Offense_ __ 356.29 [6th]
142.15 [37th]__ Passing Efficiency___ 192.36 [1st]
14___________TDs Passing__________ 24
34.38 [30th]____Scoring Offense____41.43 [9th]
382.50 [62nd]___ Total Defense__ 450.29 [108th]
132.13 [45th]__ Rushing Defense_ 205.71 [106th]
12________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 12
250.38 [94th]___Passing Defense__ 244.57 [90th]
130.68 [66th]__ Pass Effic. Defense_ 143.30 [98th]
13________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 21
24.75 [50th]____Scoring Defense__ 36.43 [115th]
+0.25 [43rd]__ Turnover Margin__ -0.71 [102nd]
8 / 5________ Fumbles/Lost_______19 / 11
7_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 4
8_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 6
21.96 [57th]___Kickoff Return Avg.__21.09 [72nd]
10.33 [36th]___ Punt Return Avg.___ 10.45 [34th]
39.60 [18th]___ Net Punting Avg.__ 31.71 [118th]
2.00 [53rd]______Sacks By_____ 1.71 [82nd]
1.50 [T-35th]___ Sacks Allowed_____2.43 [86th]
29:14 [72nd]___ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 28:46 [83rd]
36.6% [90th]___3rd Down Conv.__ 44.6% [39th]
61.5% [T-29th]__4th Down Conv._ 66.7% [T-16th]