By Jeffrey Swindoll
If defense and special teams provided the spark for the Bears’ first-ever win in Norman, Okla., Coleman was the fireworks show.
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty has always been spoiled for choice with the elite receivers he can throw to. At the beginning of the season, it looked like freshman receiver KD Cannon would be the star of the show. Then, it was senior receiver Antwan Goodley who was expected to link up with Petty like last season.
Against the No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners in the No. 13 Bears’ 48-14 rout on Saturday, Corey Coleman did it all.
“It’s really a pick your poison scenario,” Petty said. “If you cover KD [Cannon] and cover Antwan [Goodley], then Corey is there. He’s had a great week. We just kind of dinked and dunked and took what they gave us. On the big shot down the left side [in the third quarter against Oklahoma], that’s what I told him, that kind of stuff sets up the deep ball. With him, he’s so passionate that he wants it now. You just have to sit him down and tell him this will set it up.”
OU took a 14-3 lead over the Bears in the first quarter. Baylor’s rushing game struggled and Petty missed a few open looks to his receivers. The Bears needed to get something going on offense, or else the game could get away from them before the first half was even over.
Just three minutes into the second quarter, Petty found Coleman two times in a row: an 18-yard pass that put the Bears in scoring range and a 33-yard shot to the end zone,to make it a four-point game.
With the help of Coleman’s performance, the Bears continued to run rampant in the second quarter. Coleman caught eight passes, totalling 105 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Petty ended the half on a high, completing four out of four of his pass attempts. The Sooners clearly had a predicament on their hands concerning the Bears’ passing offense.
Petty completed nine straight passes, five of which Coleman caught, in the opening drive of the second half. In other words, the Bears dared the Sooners to stop Baylor’s receivers, specifically Coleman.
“You just have to play fast and expect good things to happen with the receivers,” Coleman said. “It’s our job to get the ball and go win.”
Fueled by Petty and Coleman, that opening drive demoralized the OU fans in attendance at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. So much so that the fans proceeded to boo the Sooners’ poor defensive display to start the half. Baylor was up by three possessions in the second half on Oklahoma’s own field, and now the fans were turning on their home team.
Coleman was just the flag-bearer for the Bears’ dominant performance on Saturday. After the unorthodox “Ready for OU” comments following the Kansas game, Petty answered his critics with 32-of-42 passes completed and 387 passing yards, and perhaps found his go-to receiver for the rest of the season. Coleman accounted for more than half of the Bears’ total offensive yards in that game and leads the team in overall receiving yards on the season.
“[Corey] is freaky fast, but he’s also physical,” sophomore running back Devin Chafin said. “You don’t see that a lot in receivers — the combination of being really fast and really physical. I think that’s what sets Corey apart.”
Some of the best Baylor quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, each had a specific receiver they could link up with for the big plays on a consistent basis. For Griffin, it was Kendall Wright. Florence had a great on-field duo with Terrence Williams in the 2012 season.
Many times, the Bears’ receiving corps can be a five-headed monster. For a few seasons now, the Bears have had a solid group of three to five receivers that can make a play at any given time. If you cut one of those heads off, at least one of the others will take you down while your attention is on the other one. The Bears’ offense has seen that happen this year, Petty said.
Last year, Petty and Goodley were one of the best quarterback-to-receiver combinations in the country, but it hasn’t clicked that well between them this season, Petty said. Some teams got a very good picture of how lethal Goodley can be.
In a sense, those teams adjusted from last season and have focused primarily on cutting off Goodley. Consequently, those teams have made themselves more vulnerable for players like Coleman to tear them up if given the opportunity, Petty said. Goodley has had some big plays this season, but nowhere near the number that Coleman has had. Petty has completed more passes to Coleman than any other player on the team.
For his outstanding performance against Oklahoma, Coleman won the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week Award. It was a record-setting game for Coleman in receptions and receiving yards and could be the start of a deadly dynamic between him and Petty in the Bears’ defense of the Big 12 Conference title.