Baylor: Why Our Pass Game Stunk!

I have an apology to make to Josh Heupel. While I stand by everything else I said about him, one thing I said right after the game turned out to not be true. I was very upset that we didn’t run the “double post” type of play action pass that we have had success with and that plays into Bell’s strengths as a passer (i.e. the only deep route he can really throw).

After breaking down the tape, the passing plays in the game plan were almost all really good! We even ran a few different variations of the double post sprinkled in throughout the game. Unfortunately, their corners played the post very aggressively and were intent on not giving us that route (which is exactly what I suggested we do against Baylor’s outside receivers). They gave us the fade route and corner route and the go route knowing that we couldn’t complete them. They knew that the double post is the only way we can complete a pass deep and so that’s what they focused on stopping.

So, other than a couple of questionable passing play calls (and one straight up terrible one) Josh can’t be blamed for the lack of success passing the ball. The blame goes almost completely to Bell. He had a terrible game and just doesn’t know how to read the defense and he doesn’t know when to make the pass. It’s bad. Ironically, though, the interception he threw isn’t really his fault. The fault goes to the play design and the play call. I explain more in the video breakdown below.

Making things worse, the few times we actually were able to get open and he actually was able to put the ball on the money our receivers dropped it!

In the video breakdown of the passing game I break down most of our passing plays in the game. Watch it below.

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Baylor: Why Our Run Game Stunk!

Sure, Baylor put their safeties up to stop the run and didn’t worry about the pass. But, is that the whole story? Actually, Baylor’s defensive gameplan is one of the most brilliant that I’ve seen in a while!

- They knew that almost all of our runs are from certain formations and certain personnel groupings and almost all of our passes are from the shotgun and from 3 and 4 receiver personnel. That allowed them to play the pass more against certain formations and defend the run more against the rest. If you’ll remember, this is an observation I made earlier in the year and pointed out that this makes us very predictable. I suggested that we run a lot more play action out of the run tendencies and more running plays out of the pass tendencies.

- They pressed the outside receivers with their corners, which is something we’ve seen the last few teams do. The safeties can then come up because they don’t have to worry about Bell completing any fade routes which is how you usually beat press coverage. Versus a 2 receiver side the OLB or NB would play just outside the box and reads run or pass. If it’s run he can run into the box, and if it’s pass he can drop back and play underneath coverage on the slot as the safety is covering him man to man but trying to stay on top of him.

Because the OLB is so far inside the slot receiver it’s impossible for the receiver to block him except for outside running plays. We could run the run bubble and if he comes into the box the QB just passes to the bubble screen. But the way we run it the OLB is close enough to the box that he can really play both. That’s why Baylor lines their receivers so wide, so that the OLB must choose to either line up to cover the slot or stay near the box to help with the run. I explain this with diagrams in the video breakdown below.

- The biggest reason they were able to stop our running game is that they were incredibly aggressive! They noticed that we never run any counter running plays. So they had their LB’s (and the safety that lines up inside the box) read the RB at the snap and wherever he starts running they crash that hole immediately! The DL then slants aggressively to the strong side of the formation. They don’t worry about gap control, they just try to aggressively get as many people into the designed hole as possible. And the slanting DL really messed up the blocking schemes making zone runs very difficult to read and block.

This means that if we tried to run to the strong side both the DL and the LB’s (and the safety in the box) would be slanting/scraping to the same side, something that’s usually a huge no-no! But, it meant we had zero chance of running past the LOS! With the LB’s being so aggressive it’s impossible for our OL to block any of them. By the time the linemen release upfield they are already out of position to make the block.

Normally this would be incredibly risky, because a good counter play would get enormous yardage. However, they know that our gameplan is literally filled with brand new plays each week and that we never put counter runs in there. So, they don’t have to worry about it. Besides, having the safeties up to help would be able to stop a counter play from getting big yardage anyway.

- I think our OL were shell-shocked and confused by what the defense was doing and were being dominated. I believe this led to them being less aggressive and on their heels. Their defense played with a ton of confidence and aggression while our line looked timid. Not a good combination!

- If that wasn’t condemning enough of our Offensive Coordination, there were some plays that just didn’t make any sense. Several times we run right at unblocked defenders. This seems to be a trend. Why on earth are we not blocking the players at the point of attack??? Either the staff is not preparing the players well enough or the plays are just horribly designed!

Below is the video breakdown of the running plays which will help explain all this and more.

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Baylor: How Baylor Countered Our Defense!

Baylor is a shining example of what an offense should be! Despite many fans calling Josh out for not being more “creative” (which is silly, since our main plays each week are always brand new), Baylor’s offense is extremely simple. They don’t have many plays at all. But, what’s important is that they know how to execute those plays and all those plays have a very specific purpose!

Regardless of how you try to stop their offense, they have a play to counter it. All the plays work together like a brilliant machine. This forces you to play honestly in every area of your defense. Your db’s can’t ever peek into the backfield or they will be toast! This means that you can’t get help from whomever is covering the receivers, and that puts you at a tremendous disadvantage. In fact, you’ll see running plays where the running back is past the line of scrimmage running down the sideline and our NB is still running with the receiver, eyes glued on him. That’s crazy! But, it’s what you HAVE to do.

They don’t have many route combinations they use, in fact they only used a small handful against us. But, they know how get receivers open with them regardless of the type of coverage, even though we know exactly what they are going to do! No play is wasted in their offense. They only use plays that have the highest chance of success.

So, whenever they go against a defense, you don’t see them throwing in a bunch of random plays hoping to find something that works. It’s procedural. They will eventually have success against you, as they go through their gameplan to discover what you are doing and once they do they already know exactly how to counter it.

To Mike’s credit, he forced them to go with their least effective options so we had the greatest chance of success. However, even their least effective option is still able to get yards and score points.

In the video below I’ll show you how they countered our defense and had success against it:

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Baylor: How Mike Stopped Baylor’s Offense!

Last week, I gave my suggestion for how to stop Baylor’s offense. It was very different from what KSU did, despite the common wisdom of emulating the only team who was successful in slowing them down. Surprisingly, Mike’s scheme is very similar to what I suggested (at least conceptually) and for the most part it worked very well! He even put Matt Dimon in at the 3 technique at times!

Breakdown of Mike’s Scheme:

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Baylor: 4 Things I Learned From Watching BU vs WVU

In case you weren’t aware, the WVU game is probably Baylor’s best offensive performance, scoring 56 points in the first half! So, I broke down all the offensive plays in that first half and there are 4 things I learned.

1. Their deadly passing game is almost entirely dependent on the defense biting on play-action. In the video below I go through and quickly show every non PA pass (and every PA pass where the defense doesn’t bite) so you can see that when the defense doesn’t bite on the run their passing game is average at best. There’s only two big passes, and they both come from a fade route on the WV corner where they have a speed mismatch.

Other than that, the only production they have is from the curl/comeback route which we can live with.

2. Their QB does not like to pass unless a receiver is wide open. He is very conservative, similar to Bell. On PA passes he will look to see if the primary receiver is wide open because of a defender biting on the run and if he isn’t insanely open he’ll either scramble or will pass to a hitch or comeback route to be safe. He doesn’t look comfortable going through reads or taking any kind of chances.

If we can stop the run while simultaneously not biting on any play-action (which probably means designating a safety or NB to come into the box before the snap much like I suggested in my previous video) then we will force them to go down the field passing the ball against their comfort zone. If we can cover deep enough to force comebacks and curls then I think we can hold Baylor to under 40 points (and even less if our offense can control the clock).

3. A single high safety doesn’t do much good. They don’t run many plays where a single safety in the middle of the field is of any benefit. And their receivers are so fast on the fade route that WV’s single high safety couldn’t get to the sideline in time to cover it. I’m sure our safeties are faster than WV’s, but I still have doubts. If we are only going to have one safety deep, he needs to pick a side of the field and have the other side play with a deep cushion.

If we try to press our corner on a side without a deep safety to help they will burn us!

4. They showed a play that really scares me! The TE lined up in the backfield as a FB fakes his block on the LB and just continues in the seam for a wide open pass underneath the safety. That will be almost impossible for us to cover if they run it against us. They can only really run it successfully once most likely, but that one play can be a game-changer if at the right time!

Watch the video breakdown and see for yourself! :)

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Baylor: Breakdown of Baylor’s Offense (vs KSU)

An in-depth 2 part breakdown of Baylor’s prolific offense and how KSU was able to limit them to half their normal point total.
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