Texas-Baylor 2010 Offense Preview: Bad vs. Worse?

I'll make this short and simple because our offense managed 21 points and three quarters of futility against the worst defense in the league and, for the year, has featured one of the great mail-it-in jobs of Longhorn history at the coordinator level, so predicting success against the 9th or 10th best defense in the league isn't something I can do with any confidence.

Philosophically, Baylor is trying to pair a gigantic front with an active back 7 to give them a combination of athletes that can stop the spread and the run game. Not a bad idea, but they don't have the quality of player to make it go right now and the result is a disjointed defense that's exploitable for any offense that operates with some precision and pace. Baylor is improved on defense - allowing 5.2 yards per play is considered respectable in snake handling country - but any legitimate team puts 38 on them without much concern.

DL

Huge DL. The tackles Taylor and Jean-Baptiste go 330 and 340+. Phil Taylor has played much better than last year's preseason hype egg-laying, but I wouldn't call him dominant, though I would call him sir if I met him in a dark alley. As you'd expect, they can be very disruptive in short bursts, but if you can maintain drives, they're not feeling so good on play #8, particularly rushing the passer. We've been murdered by backside pursuit in our running game all year, but these are guys that we can possibly bust a zone run on if they surrender to exhaustion and we can release on Baylor's LB crew. The two DEs are discrete in their functions - Elliott is a 245 pound pass rusher; Robertson is a 280 pound run stopper. Robertson isn't that active and presents no pass rushing threat (Britt Mitchell spared) but Elliott has 5 sacks on the year and must be accounted for. He's a good young player and very disruptive.

Based on what I just offered, you probably have a good sense how to attack these guys and where to focus our protection on 3rd down, but that also assumes you - 1. care or 2. try.

Neither is a given for us on offense.

LB

Antonio Johnson is a good player and Baylor is not shy about bringing him after the QB on passing downs. He's a very active guy who covers a lot of ground and it feels like he has been starting there forever. He's smallish. The other two - Coffey and Francis - are JAGs. They're OK. They're second and third on the team in tackles, but that's a function of how they funnel their defense more than their ability.

If DJ Monroe were on our team, I would try to get him isolated in space on some of these guys.

DB

In the two games I saw, TCU and Tech carved them up like a Christmas goose, but their overall numbers aren't horrible for the season. We have no ability to guess at the efficacy of our passing game because we are an offense without useful comparators as our game strategy and execution are basically unknowable. And unfathomable. Byron Landor is the leading tackler on the team and they have some experience back there. Good size across the board too, so there are no obvious physical mismatches to exploit. Or not exploit. Opponents are completing 63.7% of their passes against Baylor at 6.7 yards per attempt, so this is a group very much inclined to keep the receivers in front of them and make the tackle and avoid the big play. A pretty toxic combination when paired with GD's horizontal instincts.

If there's any consolation here at all, I won't have to hear broadcasters blowing former Baylor safety Jordan Lake as he works his way to another bullshit All-Conference team while giving up 70 yard touchdowns looking like a coach on the field.

Overall

Baylor has problems on defense despite some improvements from last year and they're being carried by an explosive offense. They surrendered 35 to TCU in the first half and most of the offenses they've played with a pulse have scored plenty on them, including Tech, Colorado, and KSU. Let me correct that - some of those teams don't have a pulse on offense and they still scored.

It doesn't matter. Our offense is fully capable of putting up anywhere between 10-38 points on Saturday and I don't really care to involve myself in the guessing game to figure out which it will be. Forecasting whether Greg Davis is going to put forth an effort has gotten old for me. We'll find out on Saturday. If we're terrible again, I'll shrug and go hit the heavy bag. If we don't, I'm stupid enough to start conjuring scenarios in which we can manage to win the rest of our games.

I can't wait to see what's in the mystery package! It's like Christmas in a dysfunctional home! Maybe it's a dead kitten. Maybe it's a pellet gun or some watercolors. Maybe it's pack of Marlboros. But I bet whatever it is will be exciting.

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