Football

Matching Up: Baylor vs. Texas Tech

We look at the match ups between two offensive-minded teams, Texas Tech and Baylor, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Match Ups

Texas Tech Pass Offense vs. Baylor Pass Defense
Texas Tech
QB Patrick Mahomes was clearly limited after injuring his knee against TCU. He lacked a bit of velocity on his passes and it showed. Granted, his overall stats were still pretty terrific, but being a dual-threat quarterback suits Mahomes just a bit better. At the press conference, Kingsbury alluded to the idea QB Davis Webb is ready to go that no matter who plays, Texas Tech will be fine. I would caution you to consider that Kingsbury errs on the side of caution when dealing with injuries. He’s never come out and said this, but it sure does seem that way and I also prefer that line of thinking. There’s no reason to break a kid for the sake of a win. The receivers had more drops against TCU than against Arkansas (which was bound to happen because they didn’t drop a pass against the Hogs) and it was everyone, from Grant to Davis to Washington and maybe even Sadler. And this brings up a good thought here, which is that if Sadler can’t go, then you’ll see Jonathan Giles play more. Still, I like these receivers against any defense in the country and maybe at some point Dylan Cantrell can get into the mix and wonder if the coaches could maybe plug him inside if Sadler is out for an extended time.
Baylor
I don’t think that Baylor has really been tested like Texas Tech might be able to test Baylor. SMU was able to pass a ton on TCU, but only had 160 or so yards against Baylor and then played Lamar, yes Lamar, and then Rice, who only averages 200 yards passing a game, so this is the first big test for Baylor. Baylor runs sort of a 4-2-5 with Travon Blanchard (6-2/205) as the safety/linebacker option. At cornerback is Ryan Reid (5-11/190) and Xavien Howard (6-2/200) and at safety is Orion Stewart (6-2/200) and Terrell Burt (5-10/185). The stats say that Baylor is terrific against the pass, but I don’t know that Baylor has played a truly pass happy team like Texas Tech, although SMU is close in that they do like to throw, but they ran the ball twice as much as they passed against Baylor (54 rushes to 24 passes).
ADVANTAGE: Texas Tech
Texas Tech Rush Offense vs. Baylor Rush Defense
Texas Tech
Seeing DeAndre Washington run as good as he is, I’m going to throw out the numbers and forget whatever the stats say. Against SMU, Baylor allowed 203 yards for just 3.8 yards per carry, which is really good. Texas Tech won’t run it that much, obviously, but Washington will get his yards because he always gets his yards. And this is one of those tough categories for me as I don’t think that Texas Tech will dominate an opponent against the run, but I do think that with Washington, they’ll be effective all year. I do wish that the coaching staff would figure a bit more out on Justin Stockton, who I think can be the heir apparent, but right now he lacks Washington’s vision. When Stockton does scoot, he scoots faster than anyone. I do wonder if the coaching staff would consider Demarcus Felton to spell Washington if it was needed.
Baylor
I probably don’t need to mention again that I think that Andrew Billings (6-2/310) is the key to the Baylor defense. If I had to pick between Billings or Shawn Oakman (6-9/275), I’d take Billings every time, simply because really talented and athletic defensive tackles don’t grow on trees and that’s Billings for me. Beau Blackshear (6-4/300) is paired with Billings at the other tackle while Jamal Palmer (6-3/250) is at the other end. Make no mistake, Baylor’s dominating performance against Rice was dominating. Rice ran the ball 45 times and only had 94 yards, so they just absolutely stuffed the Owls. I think running against Texas Tech will be tougher, especially with Texas Tech’s veteran offensive line. I should also add one more time, which is that Baylor is averaging, yes averaging, more than 10 tackles for a loss per game. They are getting behind the line and making plays, this won’t be easy.
ADVANTAGE: Texas Tech
Texas Tech Pass Defense vs. Baylor Pass Offense
Texas Tech
This is an incredibly tough task for Texas Tech and I think the thought here will be that Baylor is gonna get their yards, whether you like it or not. Texas Tech had an incredibly rough week last week against TCU, in particular Josh Doctson, and things won’t get any easier with Coleman on tap to defend against Baylor.  I don’t know how Texas Tech is going to handle the receivers, and I think that Lee and Coleman is especially problematic, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see much more of the same, which is throwing the ball deep so those defensive backs better get their head on a swivel. I don’t know what the best option here is and things, may not get better for Texas Tech in this game. Admittedly, Texas Tech plays the two toughest offenses two weeks in a row, so you can expect things to most likely be a bit better after this week.  I think the key for Texas Tech is just keeping the plays in front of them and now allowing the big explosive plays. Plus, as we all saw last week, Texas Tech has to be better on third downs, which is going to be tough because Baylor is terrific on third downs.
Baylor
Baylor is strong to quite strong in the passing area thus far, largely because Corey Coleman (5-11/190) is incredible and one of the better deep threats in the nation. Paired with KD Cannon (6-0/18) on the other side, it’s a tough match up for just about any team, although Cannon hasn’t been lights-out thus far this year. The under-the-radar guy has been Jay Lee (6-3/220) a big-bodied receiver who causes match-up problems. I think QB Seth Russell (6-3/220) has been okay, actually pretty good, but maybe some folks were expecting a bit more from him thus far. And the veteran offensive line has been really good, only allowing 4 sacks thus far, although Russell is a fairly mobile quarterback, which helps on those sack numbers.  The passing game is connected to the running game and as previously mentioned, Baylor hasn’t played the toughest competition and they haven’t fired on all cylinders (except against Rice), but despite that, they’re still an explosive passing offense.
ADVANTAGE: Baylor
Texas Tech Rush Defense vs. Baylor Rush Offense
Texas Tech
Baylor is one of the best running teams in the nation and Texas Tech is not good at defending the run. Pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things happening and it feels like this team does a pretty good job and then they’ll allow a big play, or they’ll have a decent half only to have the opposing team light them up in the next half. Still, I think this team is making strides and it is enjoyable to watch a more svelte Rika Levi work the middle and Breiden Fehoko is getting a baptism by fire. I thought it was interesting that the coaches moved Branden Jackson inside some against TCU, which means that Texas Tech used Marcus Smith, Keland McElrath, Demetrius Alston, Jackson, Levi and Fehoko all inside against TCU. I’m expecting similar results from the standpoint that Baylor will, more than likely, get their yards here and think that this group needs to focus on not giving up big plays and figuring something out so that opponents just don’t run the ball for an entire half without stopping them. Easier said than done, for sure.
Baylor
RB Shock Linwood (5-9/200) is one of the better runners in the conference and back-up RB freshman Terence Williams (6-2/215) is a different kind of runner in the sense that he’s much bigger than Linwood. LT Spencer Drango (6-6/320) is the key to the group, although Baylor has a veteran offensive line with every starter being a senior other than C Kyle Fuller (6-5/315) who is a junior. Baylor runs for nearly 400 (yes, this is correct) yards a game. It’s actually 380 or so, but that’s pretty close to 400 and they are first, yes, first in the nation in rushing offense by yards. So yeah, this could get rough for Texas Tech.
ADVANTAGE: Baylor
Texas Tech Special Teams vs. Baylor Special Teams
Texas Tech
It still feels like, after watching Texas Tech, that they are a team that is doing a good job on special teams. The punt returns isn’t great, but Texas Tech is top 35 in kickoff returns, 31st in net punting, 71st in punt return defense, although the one time that this team needed a stop on a kickoff return last week against TCU, they couldn’t make the play. In fact, I thought that last week, Texas Tech was okay, but as of this week, Texas Tech is 78th in kickoff return defense. The threat of Jakeem Grant on returns is significant and it would be nice to get Cameron Batson moving in punt returns.
Baylor
Baylor is terrible at kickoff return defense, so that could be an area to exploit, allowing 25 yards a return and they’re only 90th in the nation in kickoff returns. It seems odd that Baylor doesn’t have a guy that can run back a kickoff. Punt returns aren’t any better as they’re also 90th in the nation, but of the seven punts that they have had to punt, they’re 7th in the nation and have allowed zero yards. Chris Callahan doesn’t kick many field goals, so he may not be a real factor and the punter, Drew Galitz, is averaging 43 yards a punt.
ADVANTAGE: Texas Tech

The Tally

Usually, the deal here is that I add up everything and based on that, I feel like I have a decent sense of how the game will play out, but with this game, the Baylor offense is the best in the nation and you need to account for that. Yes, they haven’t played a high quality team yet, but statistically, they’re terrific. It doesn’t surprise me to see the spread at 15 or whatever it is considering how prolific the Baylor offense can be and they do have some dudes on defense that can play. Consider that Texas Tech is 5th in offense at 600 yards a game and that’s still 160 yards behind Baylor. Again, I realize the competition for Baylor has been less than stellar, but it’s still a ton of offense and a bit daunting for a team that just gave up 700+ yards to TCU.

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