Keys to the Game: Baylor

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STOP THE RUN

Baylor’s ground game is the most potent and balanced attack that Texas will see this season. BYU and UCLA generate most of their offense through their athletic quarterbacks, but Baylor’s star running back Shock Linwood can tear up an offense entirely on his own.

The shifty redshirt sophomore has scored seven touchdowns and reeled off some long gains running between the tackles. Fellow running back, redshirt freshman Johnny Jefferson, is more than capable of picking up the slack when Linwood needs a breather.

A Texas defensive line that is missing a star, senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson, may want to counter Baylor’s ability to run up the middle by crashing the defensive ends inside. An overemphasis on the inside runs, however, will invite redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty to tuck and run past the defensive ends.

Petty missed one game with a spinal injury, but his 47 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Iowa State last week showed he is not afraid to take a pounding.  

LOCK DOWN CORNERS                                                                     

Texas has struggled to stop the run this season, so Longhorn defensive resources should be focused on neutralizing the ground game. With all the attention up front, the cornerbacks — senior Quandre Diggs and junior Duke Thomas — have to shine in man coverage while the safeties creep up for run support. 

Petty has been endowed with a magnificent fleet of receivers, including senior Antwan Goodley and redshirt sophomore Corey Coleman, both of whom had over 100 receiving yards in their season debuts against Iowa State.

Baylor uses its effective ground attack to open up the screen game, where Coleman excels, meaning the Texas corners will have to prove that defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has cured their open-field tackling woes.

Texas’ linebackers have not proven they are fast enough to control the perimeter, so Diggs and Thomas will have to fight off blocks to help neutralize Baylor’s stretch runs. 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SWOOPES’ ATHLETICISM

The Longhorns’ porous offensive line has proven incapable of providing any surge ahead of its running backs, junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown.

Opposing defenses have also been sitting close to the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop the run and take the short routes away from inexperienced sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.

Offensive play-caller Shawn Watson attempted to open the field for his quarterback by calling more deep passes, but Swoopes’ accuracy simply is not good enough to make the vertical passing game a real threat against Baylor.

Fortunately, Swoopes is athletic enough to draw the defense’s attention away from his running backs. Watson, however, has been hesitant to call plays that take full advantage of Swoopes’ athleticism.

What yards Swoopes has picked up with his feet have mostly been off of scrambles and broken plays, rather than designed runs that force a defense to readjust its game plan.