Baylor hosted the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday night in what turned out to be a scary game for the undefeated Bears team. The Bears snuck out with a 17-14 victory over a rebuilding Mountaineers team, leaving many fans questioning if Baylor’s success thus far has been a charade.
In the spirit of Halloween, we’re going to take a look at a few key aspects of Baylor’s performance and rate how scared the Bears should be moving forward.
Special teams proved to be an issue on Thursday night for the Bears. There was RJ Sneed’s fumbling a punt return, which handed the Mountaineers incredible field position after a defensive stand. Even the punting was not ideal, as Baylor’s Isaac Power booted seven kicks away but never landed one inside of the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Most devastating of all was West Virginia’s 95-yard kick return touchdown, which came immediately after the Bears scored a hard-fought touchdown on the other end. The play would end up evening out the score, effectively taking away the touchdown Baylor had just earned.
These mistakes, however, are not typical of teams coached by Rhule. Overall, Baylor has actually been very good on special teams this year. The Bears lead the entire country with five blocked field goals on the season to go with another blocked punt. Yes, there were issues on Thursday night, but the game seemed to be more of an anomaly than showcase an identity.
Scary Level: Low
QB Charlie Brewer
Brewer played one of his most confusing games of the season on Thursday night. Looking at his passing numbers, it seems like he may have had one of his best games to date. Brewer threw for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns, only missing a receiver six total times. So then why did the Bears finish with only 17 points?
For how great he is at throwing the football, Brewer has a bad habit of sensing phantom pressure in the pocket. Even when no one is near sacking him, Brewer has a tendency to panic and try to use his legs. Although he is a good athlete, the QB oftentimes tries to escape pressure using his feet, which can turn into big losses if the defense is faster than him. This is evidenced in his team high 19rush attempts on Thursday night, which averaged out to only 1.3 yards per carry.
Against a formidable defensive front like TCU, Brewer must have better pocket awareness and be willing to throw the ball away when the play breaks down. If he doesn’t adjust, the Bears’ season could be at stake.
Scary Level: High
What happened to the Baylor offensive line on Thursday?
An O-line group that has been praised consistently by virtually every fan this season looked completely lost against West Virginia. To this point in the season, the Bears’ offensive front had looked like one of the best in the conference, but when lined up against stud defensive linemen Darius and Dante Stills, the group looked overmatched.
In what completely changed the complexion of the game, the Mountaineers stuffed the Bears’ rushing attempts on the goal line for four straight plays, which led to a turnover on downs. The West Virginia defenders simply outmatched the Bears, finishing with eight sacks on the game.
But there isn’t too much reason to panic yet.
Firstly, many of those sacks came from Brewer’s bad pocket presence and his stubbornness when it comes to throwing the ball away. It’s hard to block for a QB that does not stay in the pocket regardless. Secondly, the Stills brothers are a nightmare for any offensive line to match up against, both possessing NFL level talent and confidence. The Mountaineers may end up having the best defensive line talent the Bears see all season. And lastly, it is just never smart to bet against Matt Rhule. Rhule, former O-Line coach for the New York Giants, will work hard with the offensive front in practice this week to ensure a repeat game does not happen.
Scary Level: Moderate to Low