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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Our Daily Bears

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A look at this week's coming opponent from our SBNation sister-site Our Daily Bears

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The season marches on, and due to a last minute save by our guest this morning, so do the Q&As.  This week I had the pleasure of talking with Prashanth Francis, Editor over at Our Daily Bears, about the upcoming massacre game taking place in Waco this weekend.

 

RCT: I know expectations for Baylor were high coming into the season, but everyone seems to be talking about West Virginia, Kansas State and TCU now. Has the emergence of these teams caused you to revise your expectations for the season?  If Baylor doesn't win the conference, who do you think takes it?

 

PF: Before the season started, there seemed to be a general consensus among the analysts and statistical projections that the Big 12 would be a two horse race between Baylor and OU. I think the general expectation among Baylor fans was that Baylor would win their non-OU games and had a fighting chance (or better) at OU. Even then, many Baylor fans were worried about the trip to Morgantown, where WVU plays demonstrably better. While much of the early season confirmed it, even then there were signs that the conference would feature a number of good teams.


It's interesting how much that's changed. I think it's good for the conference, but we'll need the College Football Playoff Selection Committee of the United States of America of North America of Planet Earth to take notice of that and reward the eventual winner - especially if they only have one loss.

Baylor's loss has caused me to revise my projections to a 10-2 season; this isn't just because of the loss, but because of warning signs that were seen in other games that were made abundantly clear in the loss.

RCT: In case you hadn't heard, the Royals made the World Series this year, and this fact has kept a lot of our readership from paying attention to what has happened elsewhere in the conference.  Who are the biggest playmakers on either side of the ball for your team?

PF: Yes, congratulations to all of the Royals fans! Heck of a season; I know most Baylor fans were pulling for y'all. The Baylor-Texas Rangers fans welcome you to the group of fans that have recently lost to the Giants in the World Series. We meet on Tuesdays in a bar any bar and oh why oh why oh...I digress.

On offense, the most important player is still QB Bryce Petty. He's been inconsistent this year, especially in relation to last year. While some of that is definitely related to the pain from a couple of fractured bones in his back, at this point I think more of it has to do with him not working within the Baylor/Briles offensive system and taking what the defense gives them. Senior WR Antwan Goodley will likely be featured as he seems to be getting the lion's share of the targets, but RS Soph Corey Coleman and true freshman KD Cannon are the young, highly recruited talents to keep an eye on.

On defense, the player with the most potential and most draft buzz is 6'9", 280 lb DE Shawn Oakman. He was great early in the season, but has faded a bit late. More impressive lately has been DT/NT Andrew Billings, who absolutely wrecked shop against WVU. MLB Bryce Hager is Mr. Dependable that gets everybody in the right position.

 

RCT: The upset by West Virginia was obviously big news around the nation.  What would you say was the biggest cause of the meltdown?  Are there any strategies the Jayhawks can take away to give us a chance to keep it close this week?

PF: It's hard to say what the biggest cause of the meltdown was. On the one hand, it was tied 27-27 in the 4th quarter. On the other, Baylor created 3 turnovers in the first 16 minutes of the game, but struggled to turn those into points. Part of it was clearly the referees, who called a bunch of early, horrific/borderline (depending on your colors) fouls on our DBs that affected the way they could defend.

Even in light of this, I doubt you will find many Baylor fans who will say that the 'Eers didn't deserve to win that game. Despite getting some pressure on Trickett, they were unable to hold their All Everything WR Kevin White and the passing attack at bay. More surprisingly, the 'Eers actually had some success running the ball, where Baylor had previously been pretty strong (18th in yards allowed per game, 34th in S&P+).

As to how much can be mimicked by Kansas is more difficult. Despite some improved talent at RB and WR, I don't think Kansas' OL will be able to match up with Baylor's DL and that talent gap likely makes for a long day at the office for the Kansas Offense.

There are definitely some schematic ideas that could (and should) be used, though. WVU brought a lot of pressure and Petty did not handle it well, frequently locking into his primary read instead of finding his hot reads. WVU paired that with relatively close coverage on the WRs and were able to limit the big plays, especially in the 4th quarter. Add in Baylor's own rushing attack performing inconsistently against LBs attacking the LOS pre-snap, there is a model for how you can slow or stop this Baylor offense. Kansas' defense, especially their pass defense, hasn't graded out that badly this year and Ben Heeney is a bad, bad man.

 

RCT: Both teams are coming off a bye.  After such a stunning loss, do you think the bye was helpful, or would you rather have played immediately the next week?

PF: The bye undoubtedly comes at a great time for Baylor. They've played 4 of their last 5 games on the road and the home game was the insanely paced TCU game. They could use the rest.

More importantly, they've lost their starting RG and RT in the last 2 games and the bye week will be particularly important to get that side of the line sorted out. They have first year starters at LG and C, so experience is suddenly an issue. At the same time, the likely replacements come from a group of 3-4 guys who have all gotten playing time this year, so it isn't a complete disaster (yet). If I were Kansas, I would force Baylor to show me not only that these replacements can play at a Big 12 level, but that they can play as a unit in handling twists, stunts and blitzes.

 

RCT: Finally, just how bad do you see the inevitable blowout being?  I'm on record as saying Baylor wins 91-3, so feel free to go crazy here.

PF: I'm looking forward to this game to see how the aforementioned reworked OL performs. If it's up to par, then I expect Baylor will be able to rush effectively as the game goes on and for Petty to have enough time to connect on a enough big plays to put the game away. I actually picked Kansas to cover the 36 point spread because that's an insane number of points for a conference game. Also, because even though I think Baylor will get out to a 36 point lead at some point, there will likely be garbage time points involved.


My one hesitancy in picking Kansas to cover the spread comes from the Texas Tech@TCU game last week. If TCU is playing to pump up their MOV and Baylor feels the need to keep pace, well...cover your eyes and ears and think of Kansas Basketball.

Kansas 17, Baylor 51
Thanks to Prashanth for stopping by. Don't forget to check out my answers to questions from Our Daily Bears readers.