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Last minute BON Round Table: Can Texas beat Baylor?

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Texas v TCU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Texas faces Baylor this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. CST on FS1.

The guy at BON discuss.

The meltdown is under way. Where are you currently on the Texas football disappointment scale?

Evan Kirschner: If a 1 is the 2000s Longhorns and a 10 is Charlie Strong losing to Kansas, I’m at about a 7.

Gerald Goodridge: If it’s a scale of 1-10, I’m sitting at like a 7. I wasn’t a playoff or bust guy, but losing the games to TCU and Iowa State in the way they did is incredibly frustrating. The offensive regression has been incredibly frustrating, especially given how Texas ended the season last year.

Wes Crochet: Definitely disappointed but also a little upset at myself for drinking more offseason kool aide than I would have liked. This team had realistic questions coming into the season and maybe we didn’t look at those close enough.

Curry Shoff: I’m in a constant state of disappointment regardless of outcome.

Baylor had a heartbreaking loss against Oklahoma last Saturday. Do you think it helps or hurts that Texas gets to follow that embarrassment?

E: I think it helps. That was a demoralizing loss that showed a bit of the blueprint for how to beat Baylor on wither side of the ball. I think Baylor on senior day vs Texas was always going go into the game with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, regardless of the OU game.

G: If you watched the postgame after OU, Brewer and Rhule both looked a bit rattled after the way that game ended, which feels like a hangover could be in the works. I also think that after catching grief all week, Herman and Company should have the team ready to go on Saturday.

W: I don’t think it really matters. Maybe it deflated Baylor a bit but these two teams usually get up for this game regardless.

C: I think it helps Texas — but I doubt Texas will capitalize.

In the last two games, the defense has trended in the right direction and the offense has trended in the wrong direction. Why is the offense struggling?

E: Play-calling is a major factor, as Texas has suffered slow starts and seems incapable at times at getting the ball into the hands of their best play makers. But also, Texas just faced two of the best defenses the Big 12 has to offer in K-State and Iowa State. That plays a major part into the equation, as well.

G: Play-calling has been questionable, at best. I think the offensive staff overthinks what needs to happen and over complicates things. Against Kansas State, Ingram was dealing so they went away from it late. Against Iowa State, Ehlinger was dealing in four-wide sets so they tried to get this the most-crucial first down of the game in a two tight end set.

W: The ones leading the offense want it to be something it can’t execute to right now. Instead of playing to the strengths, they’re playing to their desires.

C: What Wes said. Texas didn’t play to its strengths against Iowa State and it cost them the game.

Baylor has gotten a lot of praise this season, but didn’t really play significant competition until last week. What do you think of the 2019 Bears? Where does Texas match-up well against Baylor and where do the Bears have advantages?

E: The 2019 Bears feature a well above average defense and an average offense. To beat Baylor, Texas needs to win time of possession in order to tire out the defense, and play to stop the run and force Baylor QB Charlie Brewer to beat Texas with his arm. Baylor’s advantages lie on the defensive side of the ball, particularly with a veteran linebacker corps. They’re stout against the run and limit big plays and explosiveness.

G: I’ve thought for a while that Baylor was a bit of a paper tiger and their performance in the second half of last week proved that a bit. That being said, the Texas defense has been a king maker for the vast majority of QBs they’ve faced this year. I think the receivers for both teams have advantages over the defensive backs of the other, so I honestly anticipate a high-scoring affair.

W: Credit Baylor for winning all the close ones. Context tells us not blowing away many teams is being reflected in the polls. I see opportunity if Texas targets it’s outside receivers more. On the flip side, Baylor’s speed at WR is concerning.

C: Baylor is overrated as hell but that hasn’t stopped Texas from blowing it before. I expect Charlie Brewer to give the Texas secondary fits — and I think Ehlinger (if given the opportunity) can do the same.

Matt Rhule or Tom Herman. Did Baylor get the better coach or is it too early to tell?

E: I think it’s too early to tell, given that before this year Texas had by far the better resume. I think Baylor got a coach more suited for the rebuild they needed, given how Rhule runs that team with stern discipline and order. Meanwhile, I think Herman was a better fit at the time for what Texas needed out of a head coach. But it’s still too early to declare which one is better.

G: I think it’s too early to tell especially since Herman owns the head-to-head matchup. The on-field results for Baylor are there this year, so I think that this weekend will tell a lot. I’m not as low on Herman as many are, but I think Rhule has taken a program that was reeling and righted the ship in an incredibly short length of time.

W: Too early to tell though credit Rhule for trending up each season at Baylor.

C: Matt Rhule has done a better job — but I don’t think we know who the better coach is yet.

At 6-4 with nothing meaningful left to play for this season, do you think Herman & Co. can motivate Texas to “get up” for Baylor?

E: If he can’t motivate them to play against Baylor, then I can’t imagine how awful his post-game press conference and immediate fan reactions will be following the game. I think Herman has to get the Longhorns motivated for this game, or else some of his friends on his coaching staff are really going to find themselves on the hot seat next week.

G: I think there’s a difference between not having a championship to play for and having your pride to play for. I think there are a lot of guys on this team that are not ready to roll over and will come out with their hair on fire. If Herman can’t get his team up for this game, that will be the biggest indictment in my mind.

W: That’s the job of a coach and leader, and I’m fascinated to watch. Find a “why”, hone in on what could motivate these players, and coach to it. Will they? Hard to say yes with what’s been happening. I’d love to see it happen though.

C: It’s the last meaningful game of the season. If Texas lays an egg, it’ll be telling.

How many points will Texas need to score against Baylor to win on Saturday? Who should Texas rely on to create big plays on offense?

E: Baylor has played to the level of their opponents recently, kind of like how Texas has in the Tom Herman era. So I can really think of a few different scenarios where the scores can range anywhere from the high teens to the thirties, and Texas could still come out on top. But I think at a minimum, Texas needs 21 points to be in this game. To get there, they need to get the ball into Collin Johnson’s hands.

G: I think Texas needs to score 35 and I think they may be able to, especially with how vulnerable Baylor is on the ground. They’re averaging 146 yards allowed on the ground and because this is how it goes, one or both of the running backs will have a big game against Baylor after struggling late.

W: If you told me Texas scores 40+ in this game, I’d feel good guessing they won. Go with Mr. Reliable, Devin Duvernay. And get those other WRs more involved.

C: 40-plus.

Game prediction. Include a final score.

E: Texas needs this game more than Baylor does. I think Texas wins 24-17.

G: I think it’s a thee-point win for the good guys, 31-28.

W: Baylor 34, Texas 27

C: This is absolutely a game Texas wins before shitting the bed at home against Tech in front of 65,000 on Thanksgiving Friday. Give me Texas by 10, 45-35.

If Texas wins, can this season be salvaged? How bad do things get if Texas loses? What are your expectations for the rest of the season?

E: I think winning out would be the way to salvage this season, since that would likely give Texas two more wins over ranked opponents (Baylor and whoever we get in a bowl game) and put their season record at 9-4. There’s no way that record can be seen as any kind of improvement, and it shouldn’t be. Should Texas lose to Baylor, I think ultimately you’ll see some changes in the coaching staff, most likely at DC. I expect Texas to win this game, and beat Texas Tech next week to put us in line to play in either the Alamo Bowl or the Camping World Bowl.

G: If Texas can beat Baylor, I think they definitely can beat Tech and finish the regular season 8-4. Winning out and looking like an improved team would would be fine by me.

W: A win would be nice but until this staff shows it can approach games differently and adjust when needed, concerns will still be there. A loss would reaffirm what we’ve seen recently.

C: This season can either be a disappointment or a failure. The ceiling is disappointment.