Gameday Preview: Baylor

Gameday Preview: Baylor

Rebecca May, BA ’91, Life Member, is a Texas ex-pat living in Oregon while rooting for the Longhorns. An attorney by day, she blogs about college football by night as a regular contributor to gridirongirl. This post contains the opinions of one contributing writer; they do not reflect the views of the Texas Exes’ staff, board, or membership.

Greetings, Horns fans! Feels like this season just got underway. Time passes all too quickly when you’re focused on making it through each week to Saturday (or Thursday sometimes!) in order to get to the good stuff. What a journey it’s been—quite the roller coaster. Fun… but also makes you want to throw up.

Texas is coming off arguably its best game this season. Alright, I’ve got to include the Oklahoma game, too. So unexpected! But the unvarnished stomping the Horns handed to Tech is one to remember. Very balanced and straightforward, even with all the injuries. (Let’s pause to pour one out for Steve Edmond and his LACERATED LIVER.) This week brings probably the biggest challenge Texas has faced, both because of the opposing team and what’s at stake. And Texas has to travel to Waco, which is bad enough itself. That intangible home-field advantage goes to the Bears this weekend, and it will be a big one.

In case you haven’t heard, this is the last game ever at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor is poised to break a school record for wins. They even had to uncover the seats in the stadium, finally, because people in Waco are attending football games at last. And, let’s not forget, Baylor wants to win at least a share of a conference title for the first time in 19 years. That’s one heck of a dry spell, folks. So the Bears are feelin’ it. Their fans will throw dumb tortillas all over the field. They’ll make the “down horns” sign and also their strange, aggressive paw-hand thing. They will dance to “Jump Around” without irony, in a town where no one is allowed to dance. (House of Pain! What up, 1990s!) This game is as big as a bowl game to the folks in Waco. The oddsmakers know it, too; the Bears are 15.5 point favorites. The over/under is 71.5 points, which is a lot. Bet wisely, as always!

By this point in the season, we’ve all heard about Baylor’s vaunted offense. Lache Seastrunk is as scary a running back as Texas will face. He’s not tall, but he’s solid, and he’s fast. He makes defenders miss. He’s hard to bring down, and if he gets into the backfield, it’s usually lights out. He’s not the only offensive weapon, but he’s the most potent. Containment of Seastrunk is Job No. 1 for the Texas D. Is it possible? Well, he’s coming off a groin injury and is listed as “questionable,” although he played against TCU (just not at 100 percent).

Let’s talk about that TCU game for a minute. After the loss against Okie State, Baylor is definitely looking mortal. Three weeks ago, I honestly did not think the Horns had much of a chance against the Bears. But today? Yeah, there’s definitely a chance, especially if Texas brings the same kind of game they brought against Tech. TCU did not lose by much—three points. And for much of the game, TCU manhandled the untouchable Bears. The Baylor defense showed signs of weakness.

Baylor QB Bryce Petty has amassed more than 3,500 passing yards. With him under center, Baylor racked up 60- and 70-plus point games in the early part of the season. On paper, they continue to have the most prolific offense among FBS teams. But in the last couple of weeks, Petty has shown some vulnerabilities. He’s not a scrambling QB, the type that has given Texas fits. The read-option threat is still there, and Baylor runs the fastest offense in the country.

But Petty isn’t mobile. His big numbers rely on his O-line maintaining the pocket so he can pass at will. Collapse the pocket, and you remove Petty’s options. For me, that’s the key to victory. Respect Baylor’s offensive weapons, but limit them. Don’t be all things to all people, Texas D! Do what you did against Tech. Let Jeffcoat go all medieval on Petty. Let the (superior) Texas D-line wreak havoc with Briles’ game plan. Step 3: profit!

Fur rills, step 3 is for the Texas offense to have a clean, well-executed game. No costly or foolish mistakes. Stick with what works. That means the run game. That means that successful wheel route that McCoy can execute well. Don’t be afraid to take it to them early and often.

It may be a squeaker, but I think Texas walks in with some swagger, relishing the underdog role for the last time in this regular season, and walks out with a share of the Big 12 title.

Kickoff is 3:30 ET on Fox. Let’s give this season a proper send-off. Keep your horns up, and hook ‘em! Beat the heck outta Baylor!

Photo courtesy UT Athletics.


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