This week, Mark Seymour of Baylor’s SB Nation blog, Our Daily Bears, answered a few questions about BU. The Bears are one of just two undefeated teams left in the Big 12... Will that remain true after today’s game?
Onto the questions...
Kevin: Despite all that's gone on during the off-season, Baylor is currently the 6th best team in the nation when it comes to total offense at 549 yards per game. Has anything notable changed scheme-wise from the Briles era to the Grobe era? Or is the offense humming because it's virtually the same as it has been the last few years?
Mark: Scheme-wise, I haven't noticed anything drastically different from the Baylor offense of the Briles era. It is being run by his son, after all, with his players everywhere. It's also difficult to distinguish relative inefficiency from tempo/scheme changes so far this season, since despite being 6th in total offense, I'm not sure many Baylor fans are truly satisfied with the offense's performance so far. The offensive line is a particular concern, since the rushing offense has struggled somewhat, and with KD Cannon out for the next couple of games, we'll need big performances from Ishmael Zamora and Chris Platt, like we got against Oklahoma State.
Kevin: What went right and what went wrong for the Bears in their first true test of the season last week against Oklahoma State? (A 35-24 Baylor victory.)
Mark: Right -- Seth Russell and his receivers finally got on the same page with the return of Ish Zamora. Baylor's big-play offense was huge in that game. Wrong -- We couldn't get off the field on third downs and gave up more than a couple egregious conversions. Overall, the defense played well considering they were on the field for more than 100 plays against a quality offense, but the game would have gone even better had we been able to stop OSU on third downs. Credit to Gundy and his crew, especially Mason Rudolph, for that. Also included in the "wrong" category was our special teams, which directly contributed to OSU's first touchdown and did not look good on returns for basically the entire game.
Kevin: Are there any newcomers making an impact on either side of the ball?
Mark: He's not a newcomer, per se, but Patrick Levels (a senior) has been a revelation at LB so far this season after being used sparingly in his first few years at Baylor. Our depth issues on the defensive line have forced true freshman Bravvion Roy to step into the rotation at defensive tackle, and Verkedric Vaughns has played well at corner opposite Ryan Reid (when he's been healthy). On the offense, Zamora is probably a less-known on-field quantity, so he might qualify as a newcomer. I'd keep a close eye on Levels (#21) on defense. He's a missile off the edge, and Baylor likes playing him and Travon Blanchard together even though they play the same position.
Kevin: Is there anything about Iowa State that concerns you for Saturday's game? Perhaps the Bears will get caught looking ahead to - Kansas - or something...
Mark: I mean no offense when I say that I haven't actually watched that much of Iowa State this season, but from what I have seen, it's clear that the rebuild is happening and a much more exciting brand of football is on its way; you just don't have the players yet. Even still, Iowa State looks faster on defense, and given our depth issues defensively and the fact that we've moved to a 3-man front, I'm concerned Mike Warren will pound us.
Kevin: Prediction time. First, give us your score for the game and how it'll come about. Second, predict how the rest of the season will go for BU.
Mark: You can check out my full prediction for this game over on ODB. I actually haven't gone on record about the season prediction. So much is unknown for this team and/or dependent on health; for example, if Seth Russell goes down, we could lose 3 or 4 games we might otherwise win. If, on the other hand, we can stay mostly healthy (which we couldn't do a year ago), we have the starters, at least, to compete for the Big 12.
Kevin: BONUS QUESTION - I got scolded for not asking this question for our TCU Q&A, so I'm bringing it back. It's a question that we at WRNL take very seriously. FMK: Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Anna Kendrick. GO.
Mark: My fanbase may take offense to this kind of a question (lighten up, people!), but I'd probably go Watson, Kendrick, Lawrence, in that order. I could be convinced to switch the first two around.
Thanks to Mark for answering our questions. Best of luck to Baylor today.