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Baylor Football

GameDay Thread: Baylor (1-1) on the road again to face Texas (2-2)

October 23, 2020

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With three weeks between games, Baylor returns to action with a road contest against the Texas Longhorns on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in a game that will be aired on ESPN. 

Baylor vs. Texas Primer


Baylor (1-1) missed out on non-conference games against Louisiana Tech and Houston before finally opening the season against Kansas way back on Sept. 26. The Bears followed that victory up with a loss to West Virginia in Morgantown a week later on Oct. 3.

After the second game of the season was completed, Baylor then went through an off week and then saw their homecoming game against Oklahoma State postponed until Dec. 12, giving the Bears a total of three weeks between games.

Baylor now heads to Austin to face the Texas Longhorns (2-2) who have placed twice as many games the Bears. Though Tom Herman’s club is struggling in different areas, they know more about their identity than Dave Aranda’s team does about their own. 

The Longhorns lead the country in scoring offense at 49.5 points per game, but are also giving up a whopping 36.3 points which ranks 64th nationally out of 77 active teams heading into the weekend. Take away a dominating victory over UTEP and the Longhorns are giving up 47.3 points in three Big 12 games while scoring 46.3 of their own.

Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads the Longhorns in passing and rushing yardage and has scored 21 touchdowns in the four games. 

As for Baylor, the highlight of their team comes at their defensive front seven. Juniors Terrel Bernard and Jalen Pitre have combined for 39 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in two games. As a team the Bears have racked up 6.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss. 

Baylor’s Defense Against Sam Ehlinger Will Be Key

Written by Craig Smoak

It’s been a while since Baylor football has seen any action. Three weeks to be exact. 

And for the first time since a COVID-19 outbreak forced Baylor to shut down football activities following a loss to West Virginia in Morgantown on Oct. 3, there’s finally some positive vibes amongst supporters of the Green and Gold and buzz from the Bears who will take the field on Saturday.

“I would say there's probably a little bit more excitement [than normal], just due to the fact that we haven't played in a while,”  Baylor senior quarterback Charlie Brewer said ahead of the Bears’ road trip to his hometown of Austin. “Everyone's kind of eager to get back on the field and go play.” 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Baylor junior Jalen Pitre has 18 tackles and 4.0 tackles for loss in two games this season. 

Despite the lack of practices, according to senior linebacker Jalen Pitre, Dave Aranda’s coaching staff did a good job sending them workouts and materials to keep players prepared for their eventual return.

“And now that we're back it’s just, you know, wonderful to be back out there with our teammates, practicing again, and being able to hit each other,” Pitre said. “So, it's been fun with practice on Sunday and Tuesday, it's been real fun.”

On Saturday, Pitre and his teammates can finally hit someone on another team. Their challenge? A 2-2 Texas squad hoping some team meetings and two weeks to recover from their heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma will be the ticket to cooling down Tom Herman’s hot seat.

And the even hotter university debate over “The Eyes of Texas.” 

Despite the negative press, the Longhorns enter this weekend as the No. 1 scoring team in the country at 49.5 points per game. Five total overtimes, short fields and some timely scoring two weeks ago can skew the numbers a little offensively, and they do, but when left unchecked or given opportunities like short fields, new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense can rack up points. 

In their last outing, a key in the Longhorns’ failed comeback bid against the Sooners was senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s running ability, especially in the final quarter of regulation. The Westlake alum ran for 112 yards and four scores in Dallas two weeks ago while completing the comeback to send the squads into overtime but fall short in overtime miss out on a miracle win. 

Through four games, Ehlinger has thrown for 1,200 yards with 16 TD and four interceptions, but has only completed a little over 50% of his passes with six touchdowns and three interceptions in UT’s two consecutive losses. 

According to Pitre, the Baylor defense is aiming to make Ehlinger beat them with his arm rather than his feet where he has been the most dangerous.

 “I would just say always keeping your eyes on him”, the hybrid defender said when asked about containing Ehlinger. “You know, when you're rushing, being aware of where you're rushing, not getting too far up field, and … not creating lanes for him. That’ll make him stay in the pocket and have to throw the ball a lot more.”

Through two games Baylor’s defense ranks as one of the tops in the country, but there is no denying it does have some questions about their secondary depth entering Saturday. So while the Longhorns don’t boast the flashiest receiver corps—and definitely no one on the level of Collin Johnson or Devin Duvernay this time around—they’ll still provide a stiffer challenge than anything Baylor has faced in their last two contests.

Not only are Joshua Moore, Tarik Black, Brenden Schooler and Brennan Eagles all capable pass-catchers, but running back Keontay Ingram has also caught 10 balls out of the backfield and Bijan Robinson has added another five receptions while tight ends Cade Brewer and Jared Wiley are still getting some occasional touches. 

Outside of focusing on Ehlinger’s role in the run game, Pitre is certain the defense will ultimately rely on what’s led them to success the last two seasons: toughness.

“I do think Texas’ offense is very skilled and they do a lot of great things well, but from our standpoint of things, I think the most important thing is us just being tough. Us getting to the ball and putting our hat on it”, he said.

“There might be a couple of mistakes, but we're gonna depend on our brothers to be right there to help us out. So I mean, I would just say running to the ball and being tough when you get there is the biggest two things.”

Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Ehlinger is the leading rusher for the Longhorns in attempts (50), yardage (242) and touchdowns (5) in 2020.

Aranda got an up close and personal view of Ehlinger last year in LSU’s 45-38 victory in Austin. That night, Ehlinger was 31/47 for 401 yards passing and four touchdowns to go along with nearly 20 carries for 60 yards and a fifth score.

“When the looks aren’t there or things break down, he makes people pay,” Aranda said. “He did that [to] us when we played them last year, and so a lot of respect for him … he reminds me of the guy we have. Just competitors and just guys that you have to respect when you see them because they go about it the right way.”

To beat Texas on Saturday, Baylor will have to avoid beating themselves with penalties and mistakes. The Bears will also need a better showing from their offense. 

But most importantly, and most obviously, it’s about containing Ehlinger. And that comes by playing as one on defense.

“We’re going to have to play team defense versus him,” Aranda said to SicEm365 Radio’s David Smoak. “It's going to take 11 guys.”

Baylor vs. West Virginia Prediction

Written by Sam Bradshaw (S11)

The lack of practice time and uncertainty of who will actually be on the field for Baylor is a massive question mark.   Without that I would likely predict a Baylor win but that missed development and possible missing personnel tips the game the other way.

Baylor 20, Texas 27

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