Baylor has a lot of off-field issues, but through four games this season the Bears sure don’t have many on-field issues. It’s been a pretty easy non-conference schedule, but Baylor has put up nearly 550 yards per game (303 through the air, 245 on the ground) and 42 points per game (24th in the nation).
Seth Russell has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 13 TDs, so locking down the pass will be a primary concern. With Baylor’s spread offense, that responsibility falls on just about every defender, but Kamari Cotton-Moya will have to lead the way.
Cotton-Moya is a tackling machine and his 25 solo tackles leads the Big 12. He’s one of the most experienced players on the team with 21 career starts and first on the team in career tackles with 147. As a co-captain and team leader, defensive stops are going to have to come from him. And when Baylor scores, he’ll need to rally the rest of the defense for the next round on the field.
The good news is that the Iowa State defense had a field day last week, especially the secondary with four picks. The bad news is that was against San Jose State’s backup QB. Seth Russell and Baylor are on a different level. Baylor has found success with big plays for years now, and Cotton-Moya will be vital in trying to prevent the number of big plays given up.
Cotton-Moya hasn’t been a ballhawking or heavy-hitting turnover machine in his career, but preventing the big play will go a long way toward success against Baylor. Winning the turnover battle is important in any football game, and even moreso for an upset-minded team. But it’s hard to predict where turnovers will come from. It’s not hard to predict that Cotton-Moya will routinely be in the right place at the right time.
The entire defense will have to have a big game collectively for Iowa State to have a chance this weekend, but for that to happen, it’ll likely have to start with Cotton-Moya’s solid play.