After bringing down Terence Williams in the open field to force a 3rd and 8, DeShon Elliott intercepted Baylor quarterback Zach Smith’s second pass attempt of the game, returning it 43 yards for his second pick six of the season. The Texas defense then capitalized on that momentum and kept the Baylor offense on its heels.
It all started with the run defense, as Texas silenced the normally-potent Baylor ground game.
Heading into Saturday’s contest, the Bears averaged 134 rushing yards per contest, led by freshman running back John Lovett’s 426 yards. Texas regularly brought the ball carrier down in the backfield, to the tune of 10 tackles for loss totaling 54 yards.
Lovett finished the game with just eight yards on five carries, averaging 0.4 yards per touch, while Baylor could only manage 0.8 yards per rush.
This defensive pressure, combined with Baylor penalties, forced the Bears to play behind the chains throughout the game. On 21 of the Bears’ 75 offensive snaps, they had to gain more than 10 yards to reach the first-down marker, a feat the Texas defense only accomplished 19 times in the previous three contests.
Putting Baylor at long distances allowed the Texas defense, and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, to focus on the pass rush.
Orlando regularly dialed up cornerback blitzes, as well as utilized the Lightning Package to bring in converted linebacker Breckyn Hager at defensive end opposite of Malcolm Roach, Malik Jefferson and Gary Johnson at linebacker, and John Bonney as the sixth defensive back
Jefferson once again showed why he was one of the most-coveted players in the 2015 class, flashing his closing speed and playmaking abilities on both long and short-distance downs, finishing with eight tackles and two sacks.
He finished the game with eight total tackles, including six solo tackles which brings his season total to 54 — the fourth-most in the country.
All of the pressure up front created opportunities for the Texas defensive backs to clamp down on the Baylor receivers. Cornerback Holton Hill drew the matchup against Denzel Mims, who averaged 117.75 yards in the four previous games, and held the talented wideout to just 42 yards on four catches.
As Texas heads into the final four weeks of conference play, the defense must keep this production if the Longhorns want to reach a bowl game for the first time in three season. Texas next faces the No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs, a team that makes few mistakes in the passing game.