By Shehan Jeyarajah
In a relatively short period of time, Baylor football has become nationally renowned for its explosive offense. Through the first four games, the Bears were averaging 781.5 yards per game, 70.5 points per game and beating teams by an average of 54.3 points per game. All of these marks led the country.
Baylor faced an unexpected challenge in its first road game on Saturday against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. The Bears managed to escape “The Little Apple” with a 35-25 victory, but one that looked different from the display of offensive fireworks in previous weeks.
After four straight games of 69 points or more, Baylor mustered 35 points against Kansas State. Granted, most teams would love to score 35 points in a game, but Baylor’s offense has loftier expectations when it comes to scoring.
After scoring 28 or more points in every first quarter this season, Baylor was held to seven points and only had possession for two drives. To put that into perspective, Baylor racked up 28 points and sustained five drives in the first quarter the previous week against West Virginia.
“It was just the nature of the game,” head football coach Art Briles said. “We had 58 snaps on offense so each one was real critical. We did try to go vertically down the field and did pretty well on a few of them. The nature of the game forced us to play this way.”
Three of Baylor’s five touchdowns came on quick-strike plays, but Baylor also had a touchdown on the opening drive that took 4:27 off the game clock.
The running game was not able to consistently balance the offense, and that led to Baylor punting six times throughout the game, including having one blocked.
“We were just not able to get our run game into a good rhythm against Kansas State,” Briles said. “They kept us out of it.”
Junior running back Lache Seastrunk struggled to move the chains in the first road game of the season in a hostile Kansas State environment at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
On his first rush of the game, Seastrunk fumbled for the first time this season. He managed to recover it, but it was clear that he was not as sharp against the Wildcats as he had been in Baylor’s previous four games.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Briles opted to give senior running back Glasco Martin the bulk of the carries over Seastrunk.
When asked about it, Briles dismissed the benching of Seastrunk.
“It’s just situational football,” Briles said. “We needed a grind-it-out drive and Glasco is our guy to do it.”
Junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley, typically a sure-handed receiver, dropped three passes, including two in the first half.
Senior receiver Tevin Reese dropped another pass. If the ball is caught on those three plays, perhaps the game plan for both teams changes drastically.
“I just knew we weren’t going to lose that game,” Petty said. “I don’t know if it was composure or what, but I think it was the confidence to know we have a really good team. I think we showed a whole new level of maturity last Saturday.”
Baylor still managed to score enough to put the game away.
In the waning moments of the game, Petty made the passes he needed to make, and Martin was able to break through.
While the offense seemed out of place in an Art Briles system, the conservative offense was likely a product of the tough road environment and early struggles in both the running and passing game.
Baylor will have an opportunity to reload the offensive firepower at 6 p.m. Saturday against Iowa State in the final homecoming game at Floyd Casey Stadium.
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.