When you start thinking about the cause and effect as to why the Oklahoma State defense was looking like it was stuck in quick sand at the start of last Saturday's 35-31 win at Iowa State you could guess that it might be the switch to natural grass but it wasn't. The Cowboys are as fast on grass as they are on turf.
It could have been a lot of things but the best guess is that after two weeks of defending over 200 plays (97 vs. Texas Tech and 110 vs. TCU) the defense may have been a little leg weary. It's always a concern of head coach Mike Gundy, who is well known for lightening practices late in the season. Heck, sometimes early in the season too.
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is like most coordinators in that he wants his squad to see as many reps of the upcoming opponent as possible.
"I think we won't lighten the load more than we always do," Spencer said of this week. "Once you get past the halfway point in the season, you alter things a little bit, so it's just normal. We do change a little bit and we've always been able to function fine."
Honestly, Spencer felt that last week some of the first half problems that saw Iowa State gain over 300 yards and score 24 points to lead 24-14 at half came because defenders didn't have their eyes right, they weren't making the right reads.
Baylor is a beastly team on both sides of the football and on offense creates a misconception in that you think the Bears throw it every down with the quarterback, now talented Jarrett Stidham, and all those flashy receivers including Corey Coleman. The truth is that Baylor runs the ball two-third of its offensive snaps and throws it about a third. Against the schedule they've played and with some less than competitive games that can be skewed.
"It's based on situations. Of course, if things are working, they're going to stick with it," Spencer said of the Bears powerful offense that leads the Big 12 is scoring offense (54.8), total offense (637.9 yards), rushing offense (292.2 yards), but is fourth in passing offense (345.7 yards). "Sometimes they get way ahead in the game so they'll run the ball more.
"I think, like everybody, they want to be balanced. They like to throw when you think they're running, and run when you think they're throwing. Their offense can do either. It's the same philosophy you see out of most teams, except they've got a guy who has a great arm. They don't have the runner that some teams have, but they do have a lot of different gap schemes that a lot of teams don't do that can create other gaps to give them lanes to run through."
One big difference in Baylor now from the first seven games and season starting quarterback Seth Russell is the quarterback run game. Russell was a huge compliment to running back Shock Linwood but with him out because of a hit on a run play and even Stidham nursing a sore back from the OU loss last week, Baylor is more one dimensional in the run offense.