As much fun as we've had enjoying this big win over the Sooners, the season is only halfway complete and it's time to start looking ahead to Saturday's opponent, the Baylor Bears. Dating back to last season, Baylor's won three Big 12 games in a row, and sit tied with Texas atop the Big 12 South standings at 2-0 for the 2006 season.
How have the Bears accomplished their first 2-0 start in conference play since 1995? Let's take a look.
Gimme That Ball
Baylor's most impressive statistic to date is their 19 takeaways on defense - tops in the nation. Along with Missouri, Baylor is the only team in the Big 12 to have more interceptions (12) than passing touchdowns allowed (7).
The Bears depth chart is an odd one, listing two Cornerbacks, a Free Safety, an Outside Safety, and a "Rover." The rover acts as a safety-linebacker in a defensive scheme that focuses on taking the ball from the opponent. The real star of the group is cornerback C.J. Wilson who leads the team with four picks, including one returned for a touchdown.
The bottom line: Guy Morris has built this team to thrive on opportunistic defense that keeps them in the game. Ya think Texas might try running the ball 50 times Saturday? I'm thinking so.
Shawn Bell: Improved, Somewhat
Shawn Bell isn't going to win any conference awards, but he's doing some things no quarterback at his school has ever done. He's the first Baylor quarterback to complete a touchdown pass in eight straight games, as well as the first to throw for over 200 yards in eight straight games.
Despite Baylor's opening up of the playbook to a spread attack that passes 40+ times per game, Bell isn't performing at a level that can compete with Texas. His completion percentage is up this season, but his quarterback rating is hovering in the mid-120s. Too many interceptions (7 - he only threw 6 all last season), and not enough big plays are stunting the offense. That won't cut it against a defense like the one he's about to face.
On This Date In History
Lest we get too confident about ourselves here in Austin... remember, the game is on October 14th. Which is, of course, the day the Normans conquered England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. So, Baylor's got that going for `em.
Due For A Good Week?
The Bears are alternating good weeks stopping the run with bad weeks against the run. After opening the season allowing 98 yards rushing to TCU, they've allowed 147, 51, 140, 45, and 276 yards rushing in subsequent weeks.
Are they due to shut down Texas? Don't count on it. Nobody's slowed down the Texas rushing game to date. Texas is averaging a healthy 4.96 yards per carry on the season, despite taking a game off to rest stars Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles. Look for both tailbacks to get a heavy load of carries Saturday.
Still Searching For A Good Week
On the flipside, Baylor's yet to have a good game rushing the football. Note the difference between Guy Morris' spread attack at Baylor and that of Mike Leach at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders average 5.04 yards per rush, while Baylor's only picking up 2.15 each rushing carry. That's a gigantic difference, and has made Baylor exceedingly one-dimensional. Against good defenses, that's a real problem.
Texas will be fielding a good defense.