Iowa State and Baylor square off this Saturday to kick off the Big 12 slate for both teams. So we went straight to Our Daily Bears to find out a bit more. So let’s get started.
1) The run game for Baylor has been very impressive and with three really good backs it’s going to be a tough thing for Iowa State to stop. What makes Jeff Grimes’ wide zone so successful for Baylor?
In the two years that Grimes has been in Waco running his scheme, Baylor has benefitted from an experienced, talented OL and having several good backs at the same time, led by Abram Smith (Baylor’s single-season leading rusher) last season. It also helped that Gerry Bohanon and Blake Shapen have both been able to throw well on the run and avoid turnovers, but it’s primarily the OL. It hasn’t hurt the Big 12 has traditionally been a more inside zone-oriented conference, so there is the newness aspect to it.
2) Blake Shapen hasn’t had a real great year passing the ball partly because he hasn’t really needed to do it. Is it because the run is so successful or is there something else out there that is bugging this Baylor passing attack?
We lost a lot of production at WR and are trying to break in three primary younger guys—Hal Presley, Seth Jones, and Monaray Baldwin—none of whom have carried the load as a #1 receiver before. Baldwin missing the BYU game hurt quite a bit since he’s the primary downfield threat, and Shapen hasn’t really gotten on track with anyone yet except Ben Sims, who is the leading returning receiver for the team. Considering an intended emphasis on the vertical passing game is the reason they chose Shapen over Bohanon in the offseason, it seems likely that the failure to throw the ball consistently so far is not because they just haven’t wanted to yet.
3) Give is a name on the offensive and defensive side of the ball that Iowa State fans may not know yet but will by the end of the game.
Defensively, TJ Franklin. With Cole Maxwell out, Franklin will get a lot of playing time and is a relatively unheralded part of the defense despite being a senior. If not Franklin then Al Walcott, who has slid into the Pitre role from last season. Offensively, maybe Seth Jones since we need receivers to step up and make plays, and he’s shown excellent hands. That’s assuming Richard Reese, the true freshman leading the team in rushing right now, is already known. If not, then it’s Reese.
4)What would you view as the biggest threat on Iowa State right now?
Has to be Xavier Hutchinson, right? Texas State had one guy—Ashtyn Hawkins—that made our secondary look silly at times and was their only weapon. They still managed to get him the ball 13 times despite us knowing that’s what they were going to do. Baylor will try to make Iowa State one-dimensional on offense by taking away the running game. Iowa State, in turn, will try to spread Baylor out. Hutchinson will be the primary beneficiary, and he scares me.
5)What does this Baylor team need to do to win this game?
Avoid obvious passing situations on offense. Against BYU, procedure penalties killed our offense by getting us behind schedule into situations where we needed to pass but, for whatever reason, did not feel comfortable doing it. Part of that was probably losing Baldwin in the second quarter. Another part was BYU’s defense, which is good (although Oregon made them seem less good). Regardless, we lost several drives in that game to penalties. Turnovers would do the same thing, as would inability to execute on first and second down leading to long third downs, which the offense has not shown the ability to pick up this season on the ground.
6) Prediction time. Who wins and why?
My official prediction will go up on Friday in our traditional thread, but I understand why Iowa State is favored to win right now and expect it to be a relatively low scoring affair where Baylor falls short. I have too many questions about the way we played on the road @BYU that need to be answered before I can predict a win. That may change by Friday, though!