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OU vs. Baylor Matchups
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How do Sooners compare to Bears?
How They Match Up is a regular feature in each weekly issue of Sooner Spectator during football season...
Oklahoma running game vs. Baylor run defense
OUâ€™s running game fell flat against Texas because Adrian Petersonâ€™s sprained right ankle limited his ability to plant or cut side-to-side. It did, however, show signs of life late against Kansas thanks to Donta Hickson and Kejuan Jones. The offensive line may have settled some, but still lacks consistency. OUâ€™s shotgun running game without Peterson remains a work in progress. Through five games, OU ranked sixth in the Big 12 and 50th nationally at 158 yards per game.
Baylor FS Maurice Lane started the year with a team-high 44 tackles (fourth in the Big 12) in the Bearsâ€™ first five games and has climbed to sixth on the schoolâ€™s career tackles list. LBs Jamaal Harper and Colin Allred are fast and active and cancel run gaps well. BUâ€™s run defense ranked sixth in the Big 12 through five games, allowing 109.2 yards per game.
Oklahoma passing game vs. Baylor pass defense
OUâ€™s Rhett Bomar took a step back against Texas, but says he grew from a 12 for 33 outing. Although he got too excited and skipped several throws, the overall weakness in the Sooner passing game was team-wide: dropped passes, missed blocks, bad throws. There were improvements against Kansas, as Bomar looked especially good in the fourth quarter. But the young receiver corps needs to pick up speed. A healty Travis Wilson will help, along with the emergence of Malcolm Kelly.
LB Colin Allred, DE Montez Murphy and DT M.T. Robinson (three sacks each in five games) are pass-rush threats. Baylorâ€™s pass defense ranked fifth in the Big 12, 32nd nationally, by allowing 185 yards per game going into last weekâ€™s Nebraska game, and had the leagueâ€™s top INT-TD ratio (7-4). Defending the pass â€” BU was seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense â€” has helped Baylorâ€™s defense rank 15th nationally overall.
Oklahoma offensive line vs. Baylor defensive line
The Texas game finally saw some continuity up front for the Sooners. Chris Bush moved to center to replace Chris Chester (knee), J.D. Quinn got all the snaps at right guard and Kelvin Chaisson played the whole game at left guard. Chris Messner played virtually every snap at right tackle instead of Branndon Braxton. However, UT held the Sooners to just 2.6 yards per snap. That improved against Kansas. Brett Rayl did a solid job subbing for an injured Davin Joseph.
DT Corey Fordâ€™s absence due to knee injury has hurt the Bearsâ€™ depth. DTs M.T. Robinson and Michael Gary and DEs Marcus Foreman and Montez Murphy have played well while starting all five games and were the primary reason for Baylor allowing just 4.2 yard per play (fourth in the Big 12). Backups Quincy Jenkins and Vincent Rhodes are young and inexperienced.
Oklahoma special teams vs. Baylor special teams
The Sooners got a 52-yard field goal from PK Garrett Hartley against Texas, the teamâ€™s longest ever against the â€™Horns and his career best. Hartley has been excellent on kickoffs, with eight touchbacks against Kansas State and Texas. Punter Cody Freeby continues to boom long kicks, but still needs better consistency. The Sooners lead the Big 12 in covering kickoffs (12.9 yards per return through five games).
Baylor punter Daniel Sepulveda is the nationâ€™s best, winning the Ray Guy Award last season and ranking sixth nationally with a 45.9-yard average on his first 20 punts this season. PK Ryan Havens last week led the Big 12 with 11 FGs (on 15 attempts). The Bears also cover kicks well (16.8 per return) and are among the Big 12's best at returning kickoffs (22.3) and punts (14.1).
Baylor running game vs. Oklahoma run defense
RB Paul Mosley surpassed 100 yards twice in Baylorâ€™s first four games (averaging 85 yards per game) and scored the game-clinching touchdown at Iowa State for the Bearsâ€™ first Big 12 road win. Mosley and Brandon Whitaker combined for 171 touches through five games without a fumble. Baylor started the year averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and 147.8 yards per game (eighth in the Big 12).
Oklahomaâ€™s defense gave up 203 rushing yards to Texas, but that includes an 80-yarder on which four players forgot to tackle. Stopping the run remains the teamâ€™s greatest asset. Against KU, the Sooners surrendered only 97 total yards, including just 11 on the ground. Dusty Dvoracekâ€™s return from an arm injury is complete, and LBs Zach Latimer (46 tackles through six games) and Rufus Alexander (53) may be forming the leagueâ€™s best tandem. DEs Calvin Thibodeaux and C.J. Ah You have excelled.
Baylor passing game vs. Oklahoma pass defense
Baylor QB Shawn Bell has matured into a complete passer in BUâ€™s system. He hit 61.1 percent of his throws through five games and averaged 190 yards per game. Bell throws too many interceptions, however (four). WR Shaun Rochon led the team with 23 catches but averaged just 7.6 yards per catch. WRs Trent Shelton and Dominique Zeigler are big-play threats, and TE Jason Smith can surprise.
The Soonersâ€™ two true freshman safeties â€” SS Reggie Smith and FS Nic Harris â€” remain in the lineup, although Lewis Baker is sharing time there, as well. Both freshmen have experienced the highs and lows. CB remains something of a project. One week, D.J. Wolfe plays well, the next week itâ€™s Chijioke Onyenegecha, the next itâ€™s Eric Bassey. Marcus Walker is still trying to get back after another leg injury. OU gave up 250 yards per game, 89th nationally, in its first five games. Those numbers improved greatly after the KU win, during which the secondary excelled.
Baylor offensive line vs. Oklahoma defensive line
The Bears didnâ€™t take a huge hit when C Justin Blaylock went down with a knee injury against Texas A&M. He was replaced by Glen Oskin (6-5, 279), who started last season. LT Evan Stone (6-5, 288), LG Lequalan McDonald (6-5, 337), RG Yancy Boatner (6-4, 309) and Nick Pace (6-3, 295) clear the way for 4.8 yards per play and 352 yards per game.
Texas exposed some weaknesses in the Sooners, but the Longhorns have one of the nationâ€™s best offensive lines. Even so, OU held UT 103 yards below its season average. DTs Carl Pendleton, Cory Bennett and Remi Ayodele do a good job holding up the point of attack, freeing up DEs C.J. Ah You (20 tackles, 5 for loss) and Calvin Thibodeaux (15, 6). DT Dusty Dvoracek is still defeating double teams.
Oklahoma coaching staff vs. Baylor coaching staff
Under strength coach John Williams, the Bears have made seemingly impossible strides in strength and conditioning. That helped the Bears with four of its first five games. Guy Morriss is shaping his team into his own personality â€” intense, yet loose. Every Baylor assistant has been in Waco at least two seasons.
In 14 previous meetings, Baylor has never beaten Oklahoma. That probably wonâ€™t change this year. OUâ€™s coaching staff was thoroughly shocked after its first loss to Texas in five years, so count on them to configure a way to get things turned around for at least most of the rest of the schedule.