By Daniel Hill
The Baylor football team is at a pivotal moment in its season. A three game losing streak and zero conference wins have left the team searching for its identity. A frustrating 56-50 loss at the hands of the Texas Longhorns on Saturday has left the team scrambling for answers.
With a 3-3 record and six games remaining, it’s safe to say that Baylor is searching for confidence.
“I mean we are just trying to fight on every down and get better, watch the film and learn from our mistakes,” senior defensive tackle Gary Mason said. “It’s kind of hard because we are kind of getting them down on first and second down, but we have to get off of the field on third down.”
How can one football team have such a competitive disparity between the offense and the defense?
The Baylor offense is No. 3 in the nation in total offense by averaging roughly 574 yards game. To put it lightly, the Baylor defense has struggled. The defense is No. 120 nationally in yards per game by allowing 553 yards. When an offense delivers 50 points, it should result in a victory every time. Baylor’s poor showing defensively against Texas is inexcusable.
“We didn’t answer,” junior nickel back Ahmad Dixon said. “It’s as simple as that. We had plenty of opportunities to get out on the field and make plays, but we didn’t. We didn’t answer. For instance, when Nick [Florence] threw the interception, they got the first down on the third down. It was something that we worked on all week and we just can’t let the things we worked on go out the window. That’s the main thing about our defense.”
The Baylor defense might not ever figure out a solution to stop opponents from gaining yards, but the defense can work on forcing turnovers.
“We have to just put more pressure on the quarterback, as a defensive lineman, that’s what I see because when we put pressure on the quarterback, it forces them to make mistakes,” Mason said. “It takes pressure off of our defensive backs. It makes them able to make more plays on the ball.”
When Baylor wins the turnover battle, it wins the game. In Baylor’s three wins this year it is plus-six in turnover margin. In all three of its losses, Baylor is minus-nine in turnover margin.
For the first time ever under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the Baylor defense has failed to earn a takeaway in three consecutive games. The recent sting of three consecutive losses hasn’t extinguished the hopes of Baylor football for this season.
“We can’t pout about it,” senior receiver Lanear Sampson said. “We still have half a season left, and we just got to keep pushing. You can’t let these three games determine your season.”
The sledding gets tough for the final six games. This Saturday, Baylor has to travel to play a tough Iowa State team in a hostile environment. Then Baylor gets a slight reprieve to face the 1-6 Kansas Jayhawks in Waco for homecoming. In Baylor’s final four games, it will face three straight top 25 teams in Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech. Then Baylor finishes the season with a shootout against Oklahoma State, who boasts the No. 1 offense in the nation.
It won’t be easy and it might not happen, but hope is not lost for a bowl game this season.
With the potent, high-flying offensive attack, Baylor is capable of winning any football game.
Unfortunately, the Bears are also capable of losing any game they play because they possess the worst defense in all of college football.