In his Monday press conference, Mike Gundy made an excellent point.
We haven’t paid any attention to the first three games,” Gundy said. “The last two is our breakdowns...I’m fairly certain that’s kind of who they are with the direction they’re going offensively.”
I know Baylor has a new head coach, lost some key players, and are in the infancy of the fallout from last year’s scandal, but that game should have been a blowout. The same goes for UTSA. Both of those matchups should’ve been no-brainers.
However, the offense struggled mightily in those first two games. Baylor was held to 22 first downs and 278 yards through the air against Liberty, while they were held to just 14 first downs and 137 passing yards against UTSA. The Bears struggled to find an offensive identity.
Then Baylor hit the road for the first time all season to face the Duke Blue Devils. The Bears had 263 passing yards and had three passing touchdowns. Compare that to the UTSA game were they only had 137 yards and a touchdown. Baylor also made a quarterback change starting with this game, opting for Zach Smith over Anu Solomon for the next two games.
While the first two games were abysmal by Baylor standards, a quarterback change has provided a small spark to a once-dormant passing attack. Maybe Matt Rhule and the players have gotten more comfortable with each other... maybe the pressure of Big 12 play has made them play better... Regardless, Gundy is right about this being a different football team.
A Baylor team that hadn’t won a game faced a 4-0 Oklahoma team in Waco and almost came away with a victory. They had 22 first downs to OU’s 20, they had 463 passing yards to OU’s 283, and dominated the time of possession. They looked to have gotten something going on offense and seemed to have finally found their groove.
Baylor had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to tie, but fell short as time ran out. Nevertheless, it was the first time Baylor appeared to have a pulse all season.
In their first Big 12 road game, the Bears continued to look like they might have gotten their rhythm. While it was still a double-digit loss, the Bears found success through the air once again. They completed 26 of 44 passes for 291 yards, 18 first downs and a touchdown. They still aren’t anywhere near the Baylor teams of old, but there’s obvious progress.
While Baylor still has yet to win a game, they’re getting better and better every time they take the field. Gundy is right in not underestimating them. This team looks to be getting better than their record shows, and they’re getting more comfortable as the season rolls on. Oklahoma State can’t afford to take the Bears lightly.