The Take Away: How Good Was Texas’ Defense Against Baylor?

Moral victories are things Texas fans have yet to become accustomed to. The Texas faithful will mope about with their heads hung low, complaining about how awful the offense looked and bad the play calling was. After all, a loss is a loss, and there’s no victory to be had, right?

Well, not necessarily. It’s also important to look at what those on the losing side did correctly, and to expand upon that. Saturday’s loss to Baylor had one such glaring positive for the Longhorns.

Texas’ defense played superbly.

Here’s how good Baylor’s offense is: Despite scoring a pedestrian 28 points against Texas, the Bears still rank first in total offense in NCAAF, averaging over 590 yards and 51 points per game.

In Saturday’s game, Baylor gained 389 yards and their offense accounted for only 21 of their 28 points. Since 2010, Baylor’s offense has scored less than three touchdowns only once, in last year’s 41-17 drubbing by Oklahoma State.

However, in that game, Baylor turned the ball over three times. Texas didn’t have such luck, forcing zero turnovers Saturday.

To put it simply, Texas made Baylor’s extraordinary offensive machine look incredibly ordinary.

And the majority of the damage came via Texas’ secondary.

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Despite the Texas defense keeping Baylor's No. 1-rated offense in check, Shock Linwood rushed for 148 yards. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Despite the Texas defense keeping Baylor's No. 1-rated offense in check, Shock Linwood rushed for 148 yards. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Before the season began, Baylor QB Bryce Petty was seen as a potential Heisman candidate. Last season, Petty threw for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and completed 62 percent of his passes while averaging an NCAA-best 11.7 yards per attempt.

Though Petty’s knack for avoiding interceptions continued against Texas, the senior QB only completed 7 of 22 passes for 111 yards, amounting to a dismal 8.2 QBR and the worst game of Petty’s college career.

In 2013, when he finished seventh in Heisman voting, Petty never threw for less than 200 yards in a single game, and threw for less than 300 only twice (one of those games coming against Texas).

Baylor made the right adjustments, kept the ball on the ground, and Texas’ defense appeared tired by the start of the fourth quarter. And considering the offense’s inability to keep the ball for long stretches in the second half, the defense’s fatigue was understandable.

In the fourth quarter, Baylor ran the ball on 21 of their 25 plays, including nine straight rushes that resulted in a touchdown on their first drive. In the end, the fourth quarter accounted for 114 of Baylor’s 278 rushing yards.

After what could only be considered a dismal 2-3 start to the season, Texas’ defense still ranks 21st overall in college football. A fair mark considering a list of opponents that’s included BYU, UCLA and Baylor, teams with “high-powered” offenses.

Considering coach Charlie Strong’s experience as a defensive coordinator, Texas’ newly refined defense is no doubt a result of Strong’s emphasis on that side of the ball. And, as we’re now firmly in conference play, the defense will have their hands full every Saturday from here on out, including another big test this week against Oklahoma.

Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address:

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