Coming off the bye week we have to wait all day for our Sooners to play in Waco this evening. That means lots of football watching and lots of football talking. So why not talk a little OU/Baylor? Joining us to discuss tonight's Top 25 showdown is Mark Moore of Our Daily Bears.
CCM: Baylor is coming off an overtime win against the Kansas Jayhawks who have been the worst team in the conference and are now facing Oklahoma at home. Will last weeks nail-biter prove to be a motivator for the Bears to bring their "A" game or does it hurt them heading into this week?
MM: We talked a little on the podcast about the potential for a game like the one Baylor had against Kansas to basically go two ways. Either the team can see it as a wake-up call that galvanizes them into greater preparation and focus, or it can shake their confidence to nearly lose to a team they were supposed to soundly destroy. Given the comments that I've read/heard from the most vocal team leaders for Baylor, I don't think confidence is an issue. I believe that winning a game like that after playing just pitiful football for three quarters will motivate them to fix their mistakes and make sure they don't get embarrassed like that again.
CCM: Oklahoma has struggled in the past against running quarterbacks who have the capability to consistently complete passes . What must Oklahoma do in order to disrupt RGIII"s rhythm as well as contain him?
MM: You have to break the pocket and get RGIII on the run while also denying him the edge. I'm sure that sounds easier than it actually is considering Griffin's incredible physical gifts, but you have to treat him as a QB who throws first but has the ability to run, rather than where he was as a freshman when he wanted to run first and only threw when he had to. Griffin is obviously dangerous when he escapes the pocket, but I would argue that his biggest weakness is holding on to the ball too long in that situation. Sometimes he'll take a sack or run out of bounds for only a minimal gain where something bigger could have been had if he risked it.
CCM: Kendall Wright poses a major threat to Oklahoma's secondary. He seems to be Griffin's favorite target and will go to him early and often. With the defense knowing this, who else should we expect Griffin to target and how much TE involvement will Baylor employ?
MM: To take the last question first, it seems like Baylor typically only goes to the TEs on short designed plays straight off the line. For all of his accuracy and skill, RGIII is still not being asked to make many complex reads, so he often doesn't get to a point in the pocket where he'll look to the TE in a normal situation. They will, however, go straight to a TE off the line if he's not covered or a LB is playing far off the ball. They really like to do this in the red zone and more often than not, the target is Jordan Navjar, the transfer from Stanford. As for other Griffin's other targets, it really seems like his favorite non-Wright receiver has become Tevin Reese, a lightning bug speedster that Baylor often lines up in the slot. I'd like to see Lanear Sampson get more involved down the field, but it's often Terrance Williams that gets the call on deep passes outside the hash marks.
CCM: On the defensive side of the ball the Bears have been solid against the pass (4th in the Big XII) but have struggled heavily against the run. With Oklahoma's current injury situation how do you see the Bears game planning against the Sooner offense?
MM: I think there is probably a lot of noise in those passing statistics. In two of the three Baylor losses (A&M and OSU), the opposing teams were able to throw early and often against our defense. A&M in particular found success using Ryan Swope against our safeties, a tremendous mismatch. I'm becoming more comfortable over time with Joe Williams and KJ Morton at the corners, and I know Tyler Stephenson came back last week from an injury and is working himself back into shape, but with Chance Casey going down for the year and it being Mike Hicks and Sam Holl at the safeties, I think you'll see more passing against Baylor's defense than you probably expect. My hope is that Baylor can keep itself in the game and force OU to at least try to pass because that means you're not gashing us on the ground to death with a lead.
CCM: Score prediction? Tell us how you see it going down in Waco on Friday night.
MM: I love my Baylor Bears and I have the utmost faith in RGIII to move the offense, but special teams and defense are still a real concern for this team. Your offensive line against our defensive line is a huge area of concern for me, and I'm not confident that our defense can hold OU under 35-38 points. So my prediction at this moment is 38-28, OU.