So, what is everyone doing Saturday night? Oh that is right. We have FOOTBALL! The Baylor Bears welcome the Wofford Terriers to Floyd Casey Stadium in a celebration of everything that is right and holy in this world. Of course I am talking about the return of college football. The sun is brighter, the clouds are fluffier and everything just tastes better. Football is back.
In Part One, we took a look at the type of scheme the Terriers run on offense, and learned a bit about the Triple Option offense. In the second part of our preview, we take a look at how the team's matchup on both sides of the ball, some keys to the game, and the all-important score predictions from the BearsIllustrated.com staff.
Offense vs. Defense
Baylor O vs. Wofford D
The Baylor offense will have a distinct advantage in almost every game they play this year, and this might be one of the more extreme samples of this. The Terriers were 7th in FCS last year in scoring defense allowing 16.62 points per game. To compare to a team that Baylor faced last year, the Sam Houston State Bearkats allowed 21.47 points per game and finished in 29th place. Wofford also finished 9th in total yards allowed, giving up just 305.92 yards per game.
They were adept against the run (3.5 yards per rush) and against the pass (5.88 yards per pass). However, the Terriers lost all of their starting experience at the cornerback position, and that is one of their biggest question marks entering the season. When you are facing off against one of the more talented receiver units in the country, that question mark can just get louder and louder.
The Terriers are returning just 5 starters from last year, so this will be a newer defense for Wofford. The average weight of their front line just 267 pounds. They have a 3-man front, with a pair of 250 to 260 pound defensive ends. Their outside linebackers also do not have a ton of size as well, weighing just 230 and 225 pounds. The Bears offensive line (average weight is 314 pounds) and will have a significant size and strength advantage.
Baylor D vs. Wofford O
This is where the game will get interesting. Can the Baylor defense continue its momentum from the last few games of the year and be a good defense or do they fall back to their early 2012 performance? Also, can the Terriers offense confuse the Bears defense with their Triple Option attack? Average weight of Wofford OL is 297.4, so this is not a small offensive line.
I think that the depth and the vast improvement of our defensive ends will carry the defense. The Wofford Terriers new line has not seen anything like the Bears defensive ends. They have senior leaders who have seen this type of attack before in Chris McCallister and Terrance Lloyd. They have physical freaks of nature in Shawn Oakman and Javonte Magee who can swing outside and contain the edge. The Bears also have two of the best linebackers in the Big 12, who are very good at playing fundamental football and staying with their assignment.
If you had two pick to two best positions for the Bears (DE and LB) they also happen to be the two that you need to stop the Triple Option attack. This is the most talented Bears defense in the Art Briles era, in terms of starters and also the depth provided them. I
Fun Stats to Ponder
- The Baylor Bears are 9-1 in non-conference play over the past 3 seasons (only loss to TCU in 2010)
- Baylor is also 16-3 at home over the past 3 seasons
-Wofford was just 3-4 away from Spartanburg, SC last year, and was just 12-10 over the past 3 seasons.
-Baylor outscored 2012 opponents on average 44.5 – 37.2 (7.3 points). Wofford meanwhile outscored 2012 opponents 28.85 – 16.62 (12.23 points)
-Baylor averaged over 22 more penalty yards per game than Wofford in 2012 (58.7 – 36.38)
-Wofford finished second in FCS in rushing last year (4,546 total yards) and averaged 349.69 yards per game compared to Baylor's 231.7 yards per game.
-However, the Terriers totaled 663 passing yards in 2012, which was just 82 more yards than what the Bears gained in the West Virginia game alone (581)
Keys to the Game
1. Wofford's 3rd and short plays
The Terriers want to run the ball. That is just a fact, as you can see from their leading receiver last year having just 17 catches. They want to run the ball, but even more importantly run the clock. The clock is their best weapon and what the Bears should be afraid of the most. A running clock keeps the ball away from one of the best offenses in the country. Third down will be a key to making sure that the clock doesn't just drain the life out of the team and the crowd. Last year, the Bears were the second worst team in the country in stopping the opposition on 3rd down, getting a stop just under 47% of the time. Wofford on the other hand converted the 26th best rate of third down at the FCS level, getting a first down on 44.07% of their chances.
But if you look a bit closer at what the Bears defense was in the last three games of the 2012 season, there is hope for improvement. They improved from 47% to over 67% in their last three games. That is a TREMENDOUS improvement for any team. If the Bears can stop those 3rd downs at least 55% of the time, they should get the ball enough, and with enough time, to do some damage. If however the Terriers control the line of scrimmage and get those big third downs, they will hang around and put more pressure on the Baylor team.
2. Mass confusion in the backfield…for different reasons
Both Baylor and Wofford want to confuse you when they are on offense; they just do it in different ways. The Terriers use the triple option (as we discussed in Part One of our preview). They use an older offense that is just not as prevalent any more to get a really good handle on for the opposition. The Bears use play-action and the zone/read offense to do the same thing, just in a more modern way. But the big play is a key for both offenses as well. Wofford wants to get a defender, preferably a defensive back or linebacker all alone with two options to defend on the perimeter. That is when big plays happen.
The Bears want to get a safety sneaking up to defend something that isn't happening while Tevin Reese and the ball go streaking by his head. Confusion is the weapon for both of these offenses, just in vastly different ways. Whoever takes advantage of those incidents of defensive confusion will have a leg up in this one.
3. The Running game
Both of these offenses feature a running game that should be the focus of either team. The Bears have an All-American runner in Lache Seastrunk to go along with two All-Americans to run behind in Cyril Richardson and Spencer Drango on the left side of the line. The Baylor offense should also have more of a running base this year due to the new quarterback and what the talent of the team is. Wofford is just a running machine. They want to run the ball 95% of the time. They will get rushing yards, simply because that is what they do. However, how they get their yards will be more important for both sides.
If Baylor can hold Wofford to under 3.5 yards per carry and make them be a four down offense too many times, that will put them in favorable field position. If Wofford can make the Bears one-dimensional and stop the Bears explosive running game, they can try and slow down the Baylor attack and maybe hang around a bit longer. More than likely, both teams will have a substantial amount of rushing yards when it is all over, but keep an eye on the efficiency of those plays.
4. Quick start, and easy finish
The best way for either team to "get their way" is to start fast. The Terriers want to control the ball and keep running. That is a lot easier to do when you have the lead, or it is a one possession game. It gets a bit harder to do when you are down two scores with half of the first quarter left to go. Baylor meanwhile wants to get off to a fast start and make sure they keep the Terriers from thinking they can hang around in this one. That is when the underdog is at its most dangerous. Hanging around is not a good thing in this case. Put the game away with good drives that score 7 points on offense and get the defense back on the field with a lead.
5. Relax and play your game
The Bears are the big favorite in this game, no doubt. This is also the season opener, so you know that emotions and anxiety will be at a fever pitch for the players and the fans too. The Bears have to embrace that and use it. But they can't try and force a turnover or score a touchdown on every play. They have to relax and trust that their coaches are putting them in a position to succeed and to trust their teammates. You don't have to make every tackle or make every play about you. Just do your job. If the Bears come out with a good attitude and mind-frame, their talent and coaching should make this a big wins and a 1-0 start to the season.
Chris Bullajin, BearsIllustrated.com Publisher
The game may start out slower than everyone expects, but Briles and the Bears will likely go for the knockout punch early in this one. Getting ahead by 14 or 21 points is the key against a methodical slow tempo offense like Wofford. The Terriers will have major issues trying to play catch up if the Bears are successful at playing Baylor brand of football. The true test for the defense will be to stay true to assignments. For the offense, it will be patient and make sure to take advantage of opportunities for the big play. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk should have a big day on the ground, and Baylor receivers will get plenty of targets in this contest. Baylor QB Bryce Petty will have all eyes on him on Saturday, and if the Spring and Fall camps are any indication, he should be just fine. Baylor wins by 28.
Steve Brischke, BearsIllustrated.com Administrator
For the Bears to control this game and keep it their tempo, they need to come out fast. If this game is closer than 10 points at half-time, then the Bears will be more susceptible to having the game slowed by Wofford. If Baylor can build a lead however, it's likely Wofford will have to come out of their base gameplan to catch up. Talent, speed, and athleticism should carry the day for the Bears, but Wofford is a disciplined team that must be respected.
Kevin Barrera, BearsIllustrated.com Contributor
I think the Bears will try to come out and impose their will on Wofford. Look for Baylor to start quickly and give Petty a chance to gain some confidence. I think we will see a heavy dose of Lache Seastrunk, with some Glasco and Shock Linwood mixed in there. I'm also excited to see our WRs at work. Wofford is starting two new CBs, and as we saw a couple of years ago against TCU, its going to be a long day for the Wofford secondary. Our defense will make a statement early, stuffing Wofford on a couple of early 4th and 2 situations that deflates the Terriers. Baylor fans will get a glimpse of how good this team can be and the Bears will have great momentum going in to the Buffalo game.
Tim Watkins, BearsIllustrated.com Writer
Baylor 56-13To me, it comes down to the fact that the Bears offense is as good as any in the country. I think the reason why Wofford was able to hang with South Carolina is due to the fact of them being a defensive minded team. The Terriers took the USC strength and with their unique offense, mitigated it. The Bears strength is scoring, and scoring a lot. So what if Wofford scores a few times? As we have seen from the Bears, they don't mind an old fashioned shoot out (i.e. West Virginia in 2012, and Washington in 2011). But, Wofford is starting a new QB and a new stable of RBs in a very run heavy offense. That will spell trouble for them as the Bears go up quick and coast to an easy victory
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