Helping us preview this week's Sooner football match-up with the Baylor Bears are the folks from Thee Bears, a blog site completely devoted to Baylor athletics. Let's get to know our opponent a little better!
CC Machine: After the losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M the last two weeks what is the pulse of the Baylor fan base right now.
TB: Humans naturally have short memories, so I would venture to say that the average fan is pretty down after two straight weeks of losing. However, the die-hards are still very excited about playing OU and the season as a whole. We are very frustrated at last week's game against A&M, but OSU had a much better team and we can accept that loss. That was our first time all season to lose back-to-back games. The last time BU's first back-to-back losses were in November was probably during the George H. W. Bush administration.
CC Machine: Is there a love/hate relationship with this team when comparing the offense and defense?
TB: Love/hate does not even begin describe it. In defense of the defense, they have had some very untimely injuries to key players, and had to dig deep into the roster to fill those positions. It has been good experience for some of our true freshman, but the results just have not been there. On the positive side, they have played well enough to get us into a bowl game, which was the ultimate goal this season. Brian Norwood's seat is hot, but I would be very surprised if he were gone after the team goes to a bowl for the first time since 1994.
CC Machine: What is at the root of the struggles for the Baylor defense?
TB: At the root, in my mind it is an inability to get off the field on 3rd downs. Offenses convert on 3rd downs 42% of the time (#87 nationally), which is a momentum and crowd killer when at home (OU is #29 at 36%) . In addition, like always, it is a combination of personnel and scheme. Brian Norwood (DC) continues to play the defensive backs 8-12 yards off receivers when it is 3rd and short, which doesn't help. We were making steady improvements on fundamentals (arm tackles, swarming the ball, etc.) but it seems like we have been on the decline since OSU (expected) and A&M (players thought they'd won at half time apparently).
CC Machine: Robert Griffin is only one of three quarterbacks in the Big 12 to crack 3,000 passing yards but he's also tallied up over 500 rushing yards. If the game is on the line do you trust his arm or his legs more?
TB: Most definitely his arm. While he does have 628 yards on 121 rushes for the season, he seems to do everything possible to throw the ball. This is sometimes very frustrating from the stands. We have seen him run out of bounds for no gain or even losses instead of turning it up field when he first starts to scramble (or even just throwing it away). So far he is averaging 11 carries per game, whereas in 2008 he averaged close to 15.
CC Machine: Talk about what it means for fans and the program to end the bowl drought.
TB: It is HUGE for recruiting and fans. The program (and this season specifically) feels like Scott Drew's basketball team during the 2008 season. That season, the basketball team left much to be desired in many games (CJ's missed free throws in OT at OU still hurt), but over-all the season was a huge success. It was our first NCAA appearance in like 20 years, and rejuvenated the fan base for men's basketball. It also gave recruits another reason to look at Baylor, which is where this season's football success will help the most. It is a much easier sell as an "up-and-coming" team when you prove you truly are an "up-and-coming" team.
CC Machine: Give us a score prediction
TB: My heart: BU wins 42-35
My brain: OU wins 45-31