"They've converted to that Texas Tech offense," CB Ryan Palmer said Tuesday, "so it's going to be fun since they throw the ball a lot. It will be another challenge for us this week to go out there and play another good game."
It's Year Two of head coach Guy Morris' attempt install a pass-happy spread offense, along with the wide splits along the offensive front and a RB who gets more touches from receptions than from carries. Longhorn DBs certainly won't provide bulletin-board material by insinuating a downtrodden Baylor program, clearly on the way to its 12th straight losing season, serves as merely a tuneup for when the nationally-ranked Red Raiders come calling on November 10. Yet, there is no hiding the fact that CB Ryan Palmer is licking his chops at the prospect a facing a team that puts the ball in the air nearly 49 times per game in a scheme occasionally referred to as 'basketball on grass.'
"You really have to like this (offense)," Palmer told Inside Texas. "As a DB, you like to defend the pass. Then again, we have to defend whatever they throw at us. If they run the ball, we have to come up and get it. It's going to be fun playing the pass, but we know that's not all they're going to do. They're going to throw Zone Read in there, so we have to be prepared for whatever they throw at us."
The scheme has shown some signs of life after ranking 11th in the Big 12 last season in total offense and dead-last nationally in rushing. No one will confuse Baylor's passing game with Tech's aerial assault that leads the nation with 500.4 ypg through the air. The Bears are averaging 285 passing ypg (NCAA No. 19) but are little threat to run, averaging 81.3 rushing ypg (NCAA No. 111). RB Brandon Whitaker actually leads his team with 31 receptions, eclipsing his career-best 30 catches set last season. IR Justin Akers ranks second on his team with 26 receptions and first in total yards with 321. In fact, inside receivers account for 38.2 percent of Baylor receptions (68-of-178), 39.8 percent of receiving yards (795 of 1,995) and 40 percent of all TD receptions (six of 15).
"They like to sit in zones," Palmer continued. "We have to know our assignments so that when they sit down we'll be right there with them. They run a lot of what we call 'mesh routes', so we've come up with a defense to compete with that."
The Bears had to replace seven offensive starters and QB is unsettled with the status of starter Blake Szymanski in question. Szymanski was suffered a mild concussion in the fourth quarter of Baylor's 58-10 loss Saturday at Kansas. Midwestern State transfer Ryan Roberts saw his first action of the season against the Jayhawks after Szymanski went 18-of-33 for 119 yards including three INTs. Szymanski threw 14 TD passes during Baylor's four-game non-conference schedule (TCU, Rice, Texas State, Buffalo) but has just one TD reception during the first three games of the Big 12 season.
"I just know whoever is back there is going to be slinging it," Palmer concluded. "We've got to be on our assignments and ready to play."
Baylor is 3-4 on the season but is still looking for its first Big 12 win after three attempts. In fact, the Bears may go winless in league play this season since Iowa State is not on the schedule. Baylor must travel to Oklahoma and Kansas State while hosting Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
The 97th meeting between Texas and Baylor is set for 11:30 a.m. (CDT) in Waco. The Horns hold a 70-22-4 series lead and have not lost to Baylor during the Mack Brown era.
Texas Faces 'Red Raider Offense' in Waco
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