OSU-Baylor: Defensive Pressure Point

The Cowboys secondary will have to be on its game Saturday night when Jordan Sterns, Ramon Richards, Ashton Lampkin (pictured above) and the others go up against the Baylor passing attack.

On Monday, with our Offensive Pressure Point we focused on the perimeter as the red hot Oklahoma State receivers including James Washington, Jhajuan Seales, Chris Lacy, Jalen McCleskey and Austin Hays attacking a Baylor secondary that has not been tested yet, has been banged up some, but still has Davion Hall and Orion Stewart, who have combined for three interceptions in the first three games.

The Cowboys are averaging 360.3 passing yards per game and Baylor is averaging only allowing 97 yards a game. It's a great matchup, but this plays out the other way as well. Baylor has not needed its passing offense as much in the first three wins over Northwestern State, SMU, and Rice, as the Bears have run for an average of 282 yards.

The passing of Seth Russell and the pass catching of K.D. Cannon and the rest and with this game adding suspended receiver Ishmael Zamora (suspended for cruelty to his dog) has been more of a side show as Baylor has passed for 275.3 yards a game.

If you're Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer then you are counting on Baylor having to use the passing game, in part, because you hope your defense can do a decent job of stopping the run and also because you hope that your offense can put Baylor in a come from behind mode for the first time this season.

"Just look at what they've done the last few years," Gundy said of Baylor and their attack on offense. "Their scheme is that they’re going to try to pound the football. They're really good at it. As soon as you dip down there and watch it, they're going to try to throw it over your head. The guys that have played there in that system have been very accurate at throwing deep balls."

"They want to run the football. The alignments and all are getting them to where they can run the football because they get numbers outside the box," added Spencer. "What they do is you have to show them what you're doing pre-snap, so they have an answer. [The spread] clears up the read for the quarterback and you can't go in and out with a lot of disguises because if they catch it, you'll never get there to stop the run, or double-up someone on the pass - it's a dilemma."

The Bears have speed on the perimeter as Cannon is a long ball threat as well as the dangerous receiver that catches the hitch or the now and then breaks a tackle or two and creates a track meet on the back end. Baylor will play the Cowboys receivers aggressive at times with a 4-press coverage and even in cover zero with no deep safeties behind a blitz up front.

Guess what, Oklahoma State will do the same at times. One of those corners, Ramon Richards, has been beat deep like he was on the post by Weah in the second quarter last Saturday, but Richards has also gambled and come up big with two interceptions in the last two games.

Spencer says Baylor has been consistent with the what they do even through all the changes and controversy of the off season.

"It's what we've been seeing [the last few years]. They've put [KD Cannon] in a different spot now, he's in Corey Coleman's spot and they have this Chris Platt kid who wears No. 14. He's a fast kid who took over Cannon's spot from last year," Spencer explained. "But the pace, the tempo - maybe they haven't gone as fast as they've gone before - but that's what I'm expecting. A lot of similarities, but I've had similarities every year and they've still racked up big points on us, so it's not an answer, there is just a familiarity to it."

In his press conference on Monday, acting Baylor head coach Jim Grobe said he will now start running quarterback Seth Russell more. The neck injury of last season is healed and Russell, who likes to run has confidence in his health, in his offensive line, and in himself to know when to take chances and when not to. Spencer is not surprised, he kind of forecast it. 

"You'd like to say they're not running him as much, and kind of taking care of him, but he's pulling it down and taking off," Spencer said. "He's a fast kid. I think they're saying, 'Hey, you're healthy. We're doing the same thing we did last year.'"

The Cowboys have good players in the secondary, experienced players like safeties Jordan Sterns, Tre' Flowers, Derrick Moncrief, and young pup and big hitter Kenneth Edison-McGruder. They have Richards, Ashton Lampkin, transfer Lenzy Pipkins, and Darius Curry at the corners. The question is, do you feel lucky? How aggressive do you get?

"When you're spread with four [receivers], your corners are going to be on an island unless you're playing a three-deep zone, but then you’re soft on the corners," Spencer explained of the automatic decision. "You just have to realize if you play it safely, you give up hitches, or you can be more aggressive and stop some things, but then you're taking the chance of them throwing it over the top."

Kind of damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Of course, making plays can make all coaching decisions look good at the pressure point on the perimeter.

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