Things could be better in Austin after Texas dropped its last two games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Doing better begins by Steve Sarkisian’s team taking care of business on the road in Waco on Saturday as they visit Baylor.
The BON staff got together to discuss what to expect when Texas takes the field, keys to the game, and more.
The bye week came at a perfect time, offering Texas some time to regroup after blowing back-to-back double-digit leads. Sark said the team worked to rectify what led to those collapses, but just how much can Texas improve in this area mid-season?
Gerald — Sark called himself out a bit during his time with the press Monday, pointing to the lack of complementary football played in the fourth quarter. It seems likely that playing nearly 11 minutes in the fourth quarter is a big reason why the defense gave up 145 yards on the ground against OSU. It’s a similar story to the OU game. The defense was on the field for more than nine minutes and gave up 91 yards. I’d be curious to see the outcome of both of those games if the offense is able to sustain one or two more drives late. That is a completely fixable problem based on scheme and execution, but fixable and will be fixed are two very different things.
Seahorn — The bye week allows both a physical and mental reset for a team. It also provides a window for the staff to really attack some issues with the extra week of prep. I’m not sure how much better the team could get over the bye week, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out of it with some good energy and fresh legs.
Cody — Sark has mentioned the team’s psyche, and that’s a clear issue that needs to be addressed, but to me it comes down to scheme. They don’t start having down if the scheme and execution of said scheme are working. This staff should be able to pinpoint why things have stopped working — particularly offensively — after building those big leads. I don’t expect it to be perfect, but we could see a much better product on the field if they can find ways to respond back when coordinators adjust to what Texas is doing.
Cameron — Sark has alluded to the mental psyche of the team causing the breakdowns in the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State losses as well as the blowout loss to Arkansas. If it really is more about the mental than physical, I think Texas can get past their demons and finish the year strong. But if it’s more about the schemes and players, this might take a little bit to turn around.
Sark has mentioned the need for consistency in the wide receiver room, the secondary remains a question mark, especially at safety, and the offensive line largely remains a revolving door of able bodies. Of all the areas that most significantly need improvement from, which one(s) will we see that from on Saturday?
Gerald — I think the receiver room is probably the one that is ripest for change, just based upon some guys that may see the field more. Getting Kelvontay Dixon more snaps in place of an injured Jordan Whittington could pay dividends with his speed and route running abilities could give the offense a bit more runway late in the game. I don’t trust that there are enough capable bodies on the offensive line to really do much at this point in the season.
Seahorn — The offensive line has been a bit of an enigma, so I will say the secondary since the coaches seem willing to move some pieces around to get their best group on the field and cover up the sore spots.
Cody — By process of elimination, I’ll take the receivers. The OL is what it is, and the secondary is probably much of the same. If guys like Kelvontay Dixon can get some more action, it could make a pretty significant difference since it’s basically a one-man show right now. Texas simply needs more out of that room, so might as well try some other options.
Cameron — I think the two weeks of practice time will help the offensive line gel a bit more and develop some chemistry. It may turn into the team's best unit, but if Kyle Flood can’t get his guys to figure it out by Week 8...
Baylor will be Texas’ third ranked opponent in as many appearances and they’re the favorite. What about this Baylor team concerns you the most against a Texas team with its fair share of deficiencies?
Gerald — Baylor brings to Austin the top ground game in the conference and features a one-two punch of Abram Smith and Tresten Ebner — both of which sit in the conference’s top 10 for rushing yards. Based on the last two performances on the ground, Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t pounding the rock.
Seahorn — I’m mostly concerned about their ability to run the football and potentially shorten a game if the offense continues to go through lulls like we have seen. If that happens, it will put a lot of pressure of the offense to maximize on possessions and it will also mean the defense will have to be on the field for long periods of time.
Cody — As Gerald and Seahorn said, the ground game concerns me. Until we see that sustained success from the offense, it’s safe to bet the defense will spend some extra time on the field, and that impact will be magnified if Baylor is running through the Texas defense, which hasn’t been a tall task this year.
Cameron — How much time do you have? They have a great offensive line that wins the battle at the LOS, Gerry Bohanon is the most underrated QB in the Big 12, Trestan Ebner gives me nightmares, the defensive line gives me nightmares, they control the clock and win the field position battle. It’s the type of team you would build to beat Texas.
Texas wins if...
Gerald — The offense can sustain its pace across four quarters. Another offensive collapse in the fourth quarter could see Baylor pop a few big dagger runs late in the game and it would be the same book, different page.
Seahorn — The offense can sustain success over the course of the game without long lulls and the defense is able to keep a lid on Baylor’s run game.
Cody — Again as Gerald ad Seahorn said, the offense has to hold up its end of the bargain. You can’t become a complete disappearing act in the second half with one three-and-out after another. The offense has to win this game.
Cameron — They can get Baylor into third downs, get Bohanon uncomfortable as Oklahoma State did, and win the one-on-one match-ups between Texas wideouts and Baylor CB’s on deep balls.
Prediction: Does Texas snatch some much-needed momentum with a ranked win, or fall for their third straight loss?
Gerald — I honestly have no clue. Optimistically, I hope Texas can come out and put up some points and win 38-35.
Seahorn — I was hoping to be more optimistic about Texas’ chances this week, but the way the Oklahoma State game played out has left me concerned. I think the Bears come out on top in this 34-27.
Cody — Seeing is believing, so until I see the Texas offense not implode, I’ll have my doubts. Baylor wins, 31-27.
Cameron — I’ve predicted pretty much every game wrong besides Rice and maybe Tech. So I’ll help y’all out. Baylor 27 - Texas 21