Photo by © Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Baylor Football

The stat that mattered against the Iowa State Cyclones

November 13, 2018
2,712

On a brutally cold day in Ames, the Baylor Bears fell to the Iowa State Cyclones, 28-14.

Coming off of an exceptional Homecoming game last weekend, the Bears were confident and riding high. Even though the Cyclones were ranked 22nd in the country, the Bears seemed prepared to find their first Big 12 road victory of the season. 

© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
Two Baylor players were ejected against Iowa State on Saturday.

With temperatures in the high-teens and low twenties, both teams knew it was going to be a miserably cold day. Without argument, it was the coldest game of the year for the Bears and one of the coldest of all time. Therefore, it took a bit to get used to the conditions. In games like these, it is very difficult for players to keep their hands and feet warm to throw, catch and, yes, kick.

Despite the conditions, the Baylor offense came out rolling. The Bears threw for 359 yards and ran for 146 for a total of 505 yards. The total numbers were significantly better than Iowa State as the Cyclones totaled 355 yards with 230 yards threw the air and 125 on the ground.

Making up the overall performance, Baylor had several impressive individual performances as well.

Sophomore Charlie Brewer, before he was ejected on a comeback-attempting drive, had 288 yards while completing 26 of his 36 passes for two touchdowns. He added 12 rushes for 72 yards on the ground.

Senior receiver Jalen Hurd hauled in five passes for 81 yards and also picked up 46 yards on the ground on eight attempts.

Defensively, senior safety Verkedric Vaughns had his best game of the season with 13 total tackles. Before Saturday’s game, Vaughns had not get tally more than seven tackles in a game this season.

With the review of the box score and given the exceptional performances from some of Baylor’s top players, it is entirely acceptable to be confused as to how the Bears were able to not turn the ball over and dominate the Cyclones by 150 yards but still end up losing the game by two touchdowns.

With all of the antics of the interesting referees of this game put aside, how did the stats not line up with the scoreboard? To put it bluntly, the Bears’ offense could not capitalize when it mattered most.

The stat that mattered this week came at the end of those drives. In the game the Bears converted only 29 percent of their opportunities in the red zone. More specfically, on their seven trips inside the Iowa State 20-yard line, the Bears scored only twice.

“We were at one point the number one team in the country in red zone efficiency,” Matt Rhule said. “I think we could figure out what exactly the problems were. We got down inside the 10-yard line, and we got a hold and that derailed the rest of the drive and we false start. We just can’t beat our self but again that is what we did.”

Just cut it loose from the very beginning, relax and have fun, and see what happens. When we do that, we’re a really good football team.”
- Matt Rhule on fixing red zone issues in time for TCU game.

In the first half, even though they moved the ball well with each opportunity, the Bears missed out on all three of their red zone opportunities. On their first drive, the Bears lost their positioning because of a holding penalty and a sack. On the following two drives, the offense stalled, forcing Connor Martin to take chip shot field goals. He missed both from 31 and 29 yards out

After half the Bears found success, capitalizing on their first two trips to the red zone as Charlie Brewer led back-to-back touchdown drives that kept the game within reach. The Bears would return to the red zone twice with Jalan McClendon at the helm after Charlie Brewer’s ejection. On both of those opportunities, the Bears turned the ball over on downs and did not attempt a field goal while trailing by multiple scores.

It is clear that the Bears had a major issue in this game that made it incredibly difficult to take down one of the best teams Iowa State has had to offer in a long. In a game they needed to execute at a high level in all areas, they did not.

Moving the ball consistent rate in this game, Baylor was able to out-gain the Cyclones by a sizable margin. The difference, however, was that the Cyclones were able to capitalize when it mattered, and the Bears were not.

“I think sometimes when we got in the red zone early in games we just make mistakes,” Rhule said. “That’s showed up a couple weeks in a row. I think the message for our guys this week is, don’t worry about this and that, just go play. Just cut it loose from the very beginning, relax and have fun, and see what happens. When we do that, we’re a really good football team.”

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The stat that mattered against the Iowa State Cyclones

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