When the 2013 season began, how many actually thought the Texas Longhorns had any chance of being in the running for the Big 12 championship? How many thought it would come down to one, single, win to at least control their own fate and a share of the title?
The Longhorns have come up with a 7-1 record over their last eight games including a lopsided win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the annual “Red River Rivalry” that shocked just about everyone in the college football world, a win that allowed head coach Mack Brown to keep his job to this point. Whether or not he remains at Texas is still yet to be seen, but there’s something even more pressing that needs your attention.
The Texas Longhorns have a shot at the Big 12 championship but they need to do one thing on Saturday afternoon – beat the Baylor Bears. Not the easiest task in the world, but the TCU Horned Frogs may have given Texas the game plan to give themselves a fighting chance.
The Bears are led by quarterback Bryce Petty and an offense averaging 634.4 yards per game. Want a number even scarier than that? At home, Baylor is averaging more than 700 yards of offense per game (715.2) while the Longhorns are giving up 410 yards of offense on the road this season.
Keys to the game (offense):
Case McCoy is going to need another Oklahoma type game if they’re going to stay within striking distance of Baylor when the fourth quarter rolls around. Good decisions, don’t force passes through the Baylor defense that is the best at home defense in the Big 12, giving up just 282.7 yards per game.
Take some shots down the field, keep Baylor’s offense honest. Senior Mike Davis and junior Jaxon Shipley have the speed and ability to stretch the field, but they’re only averaging less than five yards per catch. While there’s nothing wrong with taking what Baylor gives you, especially if you can watch what Texas Tech did to the Bears early on in that game, but use the strengths of your receivers to make some big plays.
Losing running back Johnathan Gray for the remainder of the season was a big loss for the Longhorns, so they’ll need to Malcolm Brown to step up exactly how he did against Texas Tech this past week, rushing for 128 yards on 27 carries. They need the running game to set up the passing game for this offense; they can’t expect McCoy to carry them for four quarters.
Keys to the game (defense):
It’s simple where Texas is concerned and it has everything to do with pressure on Bryce Petty. Don’t let him sit in the pocket and pick you apart with his arm. This is a quarterback who’s averaging more than 10 yards per pass (11.1) and 366 passing yards per game, the Longhorns need to make sure they are bringing different blitz packages to keep Petty on the run and not let him get into a comfortable groove.
That’s where defensive linemen Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed come into play, both have combined for 19 sacks so far this season. Jeffcoat had a season high 10 tackles this past weekend against Texas Tech including three for a loss while Reed added seven tackles of his own.
These two need to lead the charge defensively and make sure they create havoc against the Baylor offensive line and quarterback Bryce Petty. If these two start getting through the line, it’ll force Petty to know where these two guys are at all time and wonder if he’s going to get a face full of dirt every time he receives a snap.
Slow down the Baylor running game led by junior Lache Seastrunk and freshman Shock Linwood who have a combined average of 193.91 rushing yards per game. Seastrunk is averaging 109.11 while Linwood is averaging 84.8 yards per game. You can focus on Petty all you want, but Baylor can wear out the Longhorns defense with their two big running backs all by themselves.