Season Report Card: Baylor
While it fell short of a national title bid after getting walloped by Oklahoma State and then was upset by Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, we still should take a step back and appreciate the work coach Art Briles has done with what was a miserable program just a few short years ago.
Let’s break down Baylor’s report card from the 2013 season:
We knew the offense would be good, but there were question marks at the quarterback position following the departure of Nick Florence. Little did we know that Bryce Petty—who is oh, by the way, returning for his senior season—would step in and lead Baylor with the No. 1 offense in the land. The Bears averaged 52.4 points per game, off 618.8 yards (7.49 yards per play) and led the Big 12 in nearly every offensive category. They were dynamic at every position and were stout up front, throwing 59 points or more in seven games.
This is the area that has held Baylor back in recent years, but not in 2013. Baylor ranked 36th in the nation in points allowed (23.5 per game) and 28th in total defense, while holding opponents to just 4.8 yards per play (No. 9 overall). While the defense was good, it wasn’t great—the Bears did give up a combined 101 points and 1,153 yards to Oklahoma State and UCF—but was still a big reason why BU took home the conference title.
Special Teams: C
Baylor had a middle-of-the-road special teams, as they ranked in the lower half of the Big 12 in pretty much every category with close to no kicking game. But hey, when your offense scores 50-plus a game, you don’t really need a whole lot from your special teams—and Baylor proved that.
Briles coached his way to three more wins (BU won eight in 2012) in a year where Baylor was projected to finish fifth in the Big 12 by the media. His offense was arguably the best in the country and he’s cultivated the defense into one of the Big 12’s most physical units.
Everybody has a bad day at work every now and then, so we can let the Oklahoma State game slide. But getting beat by a team from the American Athletic Conference on a national stage isn’t worthy of a perfect grade—especially when you’re favored by 17.5 points. Still, it was an exceptional year and probably the best in school history for Baylor, which should be right back in the thick of things in 2014.
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