Thursday, January 12, 2012
Season report card: Baylor
By ESPN.com staff
We're offering up grades for each team in the Big 12 after their seasons conclude, so here's a look at how the 10-3 Baylor Bears graded out in 2011.
More report cards:
OFFENSE: Well, this one's pretty simple. The Bears had a Heisman winner at quarterback, and the Big 12's leading rusher in the backfield. Robert Griffin III threw to Kendall Wright for 1,663 yards and 14 scores, which led the Big 12 and ranked third nationally.
Griffin's 37 touchdown passes and six interceptions were among then nation's best ratios and he finished behind only Wisconsin's Russell Wilson this season, joining Wilson to break the FBS passer rating record that stood before the season.
The Bears ranked second nationally in total offense and fourth in scoring offense and led the nation by three with 12 plays longer than 60 yards.
Not much else to say about this group.
DEFENSE: This group, though? Not exactly strong. The numbers tell plenty of the story, and anyone who watched the Bears' 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Baylor racked up 777 yards of offense, but gave up 620. That's how it's been all year for the Bears, who became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points.
Baylor's defense struggled just about everywhere, and finished the season 116th in total defense. That's inflated by a fast-paced offense that maximizes the number of plays per game ... but it's not inflated that much. This defense wasn't very good this year. It has a collection of good athletes, but DC Phil Bennett never quite got the group together this year in his first year taking over. They finished 113th in scoring with 37.2 points a game. Not good. Will the offense be there to pick up the slack next year?
OVERALL: Defensive struggles aside, there's no shaking the history Baylor made this season. Ten wins for the first time since 1980 and third time ever. Griffin's Heisman, the first in school history. This was one for the books at Baylor, who struggled for the entire history of the BCS this year, but came one win (Kansas State) from crashing the BCS and nearly earning a share of the Big 12 title.
Still, the Bears made history this year, and that's to be commended. They found ways to win tight games in three consecutive weeks over Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, the first win in school history over the Sooners. The year began with a win over TCU that put the Bears on the map, and ended with a six-game winning streak. Well done.