ANALYSIS: Baylor's offensive struggles were a game in the making
So now that you've had a chance to digest Duke 34, Baylor 20, let's deal with what we know that the non-conference part of the season has finished.
The major points of the season that the Baylor community focused on were:
>The defense is pretty decent and may allow this team to stick around in games and may have to carry part of the season.
>The offense is going to be the bigger concern because of depth and overall talent issues with the offensive line and simply because a change in offensive philosophy from the wide open spread attack to a physical run it down your throat approach demands a different player.
That's how the last two weeks have played out and how the rest of this season is going to look. It's pointless to regurgitate the fact about no one coming off a redshirt season or the fact that too many freshmen are playing and recruiting misses have also caught up with Baylor football.
Those are the realities of this season. For better or for worse, whatever the record presents will be because there just isn't enough in the barn for this team to compete week in and week out.
What makes Saturday at Duke a little more frustrating is that this was a game where many thought - including your publisher - Baylor had no chance. Then the Bears score on their opening possession and keep this going to where it is a game going into the fourth quarter.
They're in it. But the elephant in the room is that the Bears hit three big pass plays that accounted for their offense. Zach Smith found Denzel Mims on a 44-yard toss to open the scoring. Smith and Chris Platt connected on strikes of 73 and 79 yards. Other than that, all of the other possessions fizzled.
Look at the fourth quarter. Baylor had four possessions and ran 15 plays and never advanced beyond its 36. The Bears netted one yard, turned it over on Smith's pick 6 and then eventually surrendered another three on Smith's lost fumble.
Turnovers kill, of course. But really, the three big pass plays covered up what was a pretty abysmal performance. You have every reason to be upset, angry and disgusted. The high flying attack for years is gone. It amassed 320 yards overall and again was dismal on third down at 1-for-12 (7-for-35 for the season).
However, the fourth quarter was in the making because the offensive line is the problem. Baylor's issues with the offensive line were already at a fragile state when spring football began. Of course, it worsened when Dominic Desouza left and then Josh Pelzel and Tanner Thrift retired.
Had health been with those two, then Ryan Miller and Xavier Newman aren't sniffing the two deep. They are like the rest of the linemen. They are going through a standard Division I strength and conditioning program. But they're not.
You respect what Sam Tecklenburg, Mo Porter, Ishmael Wilson, Patrick Lawrence and Blake Blackmar are trying to do. However, they're just not a fit. They were recruited or transferred in because they blocked for the spread. Now, they're asked to do something completely different.
So this is what Smith's afternoon looked like:
>Sacked three times
>Hurried nine times (there's more value in that)
>He was 12-of-34-3 for 263 yards and three touchdowns
>He also had to get rid of the ball when nothing was available downfield
He should be this team's starting quarterback for the next several games because he is the best option at this time. Healthy or not, Anu Solomon isn't. Charlie Brewer needs to keep his redshirt.
There is no fix to this offense. This is what it is. I'm willing to give every freshman a pass for all of 2017 because they are all put in a tough spot. Most of them should not be out there. Baylor needs bodies in the worst way. That's what it comes down to.
And now, the Bears are going to have to come up with something as Oklahoma at home next week and trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State are upcoming.
The shame of Saturday is that this was a great defensive effort, despite being on the field for 38 minutes plus for the third consecutive game. Duke, which is not a great team but a decent team, had the ball for 38:57.
Clay Johnston and Eric Ogor had a heck of a game. Deionte Williams was active and recovered a fumble. The third down defense was stellar as Duke was only 4-of-18.
The defense also covered mistakes in the first half. Duke missed a makeable 33-yard field goal and Henry Black came up with an interception in the end zone in the closing seconds. There was still enough gas in the tank in the fourth quarter.
What should concern the Baylor nation is the penalty issue. Maybe some were hmmm. But a couple of days after the fact, it really doesn't change anything. And people forget what they were. Baylor was flagged 11 times for 100 yards. You just beat yourself this way.
Others will return this season. JaMycal Hasty (knee), Terence Williams (shoulder), Grayland Arnold (arm) and K.J. Smith (shin splints...we think) will not wave the wand and the season will flip. That's what I told you in What was he Thinking when I was arguing for the QB change.
You don't plug guys in and think that changes instantly. It helps. That's it.
One thing I would remind everybody is something I tweeted earlier this week:
"Being a fan means that you endure ALL OF IT; no matter how great it is or how painful it is.''