The Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears aren’t what they were last year, but today presents one of the most intriguing matchups on the college football schedule. Here to give us some insight on the opponent is Cody Orr of Our Daily Bears.
1. Baylor’s defense isn’t what it was last year, but the group has looked better the past two weeks. What seems to have changed as of late?
Last year, Baylor trusted their secondary to win one-on-one matchups and felt comfortable blitzing a safety or LB in creative ways to get pressure on the QB. This year, Baylor’s has played a lot of zone coverage with both safeties back to help out the younger corners. At the beginning of the year, teams were still able to hit receivers against the soft zones. The last two weeks, Baylor defenders have played much more aggressively and with tighter coverage. Either KU and Tech’s receivers are just that much slower than WVU and Okie State’s, or Baylor’s corners are beginning to play with more confidence.
2. Speaking of the defense, which player on that side is most likely to make a difference on Saturday?
Al Walcott (#13), Pitre’s replacement at the STAR position. Walcott can blow up a screen that looks perfectly blocked, and play tight coverage against a slot receiver. He only has one interception on the year, but he “dropped” multiple INTs earlier this season while playing with a cast on his hand.
3. On the other side, freshman running back Richard Reese has been the star of the show. Other than being very, very fast, what has been the key to so much success early in his career?
Reese has excellent vision for a true freshman, and the wide zone scheme hinges on RBs finding the hole that appears and shooting through it. He’s not the fastest or strongest RB on the team, but he has the tools to thrive in our scheme.
4. The mood of the remaining Big 12 schools is a lot better now that it was last summer. What seems to be the vibe amongst Baylor fans regarding the future of BU athletics and the conference?
Baylor fans are very optimistic for the future of BU athletics and the Big 12 in general. Basketball season is just around the corner, and we think we have a MBB team that can win another national title. The WBB team should be competing for the conference title, too. Thinking about the future of the conference, there’s a question of surviving versus thriving. When Texas and OU announced they were leaving for the SEC, the focus was on surviving. Somehow, the otherwise ineffective Bob Bowlsby was able to add four of the best G5 schools to the conference — schools that can compete in both football and basketball — and Brett Yormark led the conference to a media rights deal better than what the conference had while Texas and OU were still members. So now the question is no longer can the Big 12 survive; it’s how much will the Big 12 thrive. The conference is able to be aggressive in future expansions with a weakened Pac-12 and relatively shorter deal with ESPN and FOX. The Big 12 can legitimately position itself as the premier basketball conference and the third best football conference, top to bottom. In some years, a top-two football conference. That’s not a bad outcome if you ask me!
5. Who is your favorite Baylor Bear of all time?
If you ask an older Baylor fan, they’ll probably say Mike Singletary (rightfully so). Most younger fans would lean towards RG3. Personally, my favorite is Bryce Petty. While RG3 is more talented, Petty led the team to two Big 12 Championships and really cemented Baylor’s place as a leader in the conference.
6. Who is your favorite Oklahoma Sooner of all time?
Mike Stoops. Thanks for that 2014 defense, Mike!
7. Amongst the new Big 12 schools, which do you think you will grow to hate the most?
Houston, without a doubt. Primarily due to proximity (I’ll probably forget that UCF is in the conference), partially due to a shared history. As a former Houstonian, I can also foresee a lot of unearned chirping from UH fans.
8. How do you see this one shaking out? What’s your score prediction?
I honestly think this can go either way. Both teams can think of recent losses and say, “if that version of our team shows up, we lose”. Hopefully we get the best of both teams, and it’s a back-and-forth affair. I predict Baylor wins, 31 to 28 , recognizing that homer bias is good for 3 points.