Sunday, October 6, 2013
Record-setting Baylor ready to roll Big 12
By Max Olson
Bryce Petty directs an offense that is producing yards and points at an unprecedented pace.
WACO, Texas -- Oklahoma is grinding. Oklahoma State is slipping. Texas is simmering.
And Baylor is scoring and scoring and scoring.
The Bears got all dressed up on Saturday night, in their finest black attire and shiny gold chrome lids, and then they went to work, tearing apart a solid West Virginia team with cold, quick efficiency to win 73-42.
A team that's sick of hearing it hasn't played anyone yet faced a Mountaineers team that one week ago beat the Big 12 favorite. Ten minutes into the game, it was already over.
The numbers the Bears put up were better than Xbox quality. Baylor set the new Big 12 record for total offense with 864 yards and a school record for points. The Bears rushed for 468 and passed for 396.
When told of these numbers, quarterback Bryce Petty had one response: "Good grief, really?"
A total of 617 yards came in the first half alone. Had the starters not been pulled one drive into the third quarter, they easily might've broken the NCAA record of 1,021 yards. The list goes on and on.
The three best single-game offensive performances in FBS this year, by yardage, belong to: Baylor, Baylor and Baylor. This is an offense that averages nearly a first down on every snap, an offense that scored touchdowns on nine of its first 10 drives Saturday and still hasn't been held to a three-and-out.
"It's about execution and production," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "We'll just do what we're supposed to do, and do it with a lot of predictable outcomes."
Antwan Goodley caught seven passes for 170 yards and a touchdown against West Virginia.
All operated by a quarterback who started the season with 14 career passes on his resume, plus the Big 12's leading rusher (Lache Seastrunk) and leading receiver (Antwan Goodley).
Its defense is better than you've been led to believe, and good enough to win a league title in an uneven Big 12 in which perhaps only OU and Texas Tech are playing better than expected.
National pundits might skim the box scores on Sunday morning and say, "Baylor gave up 42 points. Nothing has changed." But the first score was allowed by its special teams, on a muffed return. And WVU didn't score again until after the Baylor offense had put 42 on the board.
But the Bears are used to that kind of skepticism by now. Petty knows that respect is still being earned on a weekly basis, that it's going to take more wins before people start realizing just how good his team really is this year.
"I think it's kind of funny. I always feel that Baylor is the 'but' team," Petty said. "I say that because people say, 'Baylor is good, but ,' 'Baylor scores points, but ,' 'Baylor beat this team, but ' That's good. That puts a chip on our shoulder. It would be nice to get out of that, it would be nice to prove that. I guess at the end of the day, it's not enough.
"We know that we're the best. It doesn't matter what somebody on ESPN says or whoever. We know that we're the best."
Baylor is good, but tonight the Bears played with an efficiency that simply defies cynicism. You can say they haven't played anyone, but they have destroyed everyone. Say their defense won't stop great Big 12 opponents, but who exactly plans to stop this Baylor offense?
Yes, similar praised was heaped upon West Virginia this time last season. The Mountaineers didn't have much of a defense, but the offense -- with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey -- seemed capable of outscoring anybody who crossed them. Unstoppable, they were not, as a five-game midseason losing streak clearly showed.
To watch this Baylor offense drive up and down a field with ease and poise is to recognize it's no longer blasphemy to say this unit is better than the ones that featured Robert Griffin III.
"This is, without a doubt, the best offense I've been a part of," said running back Glasco Martin, a senior. "I think we're just hitting on all cylinders. We've got the right scheme, we've got the right players. Everything is working for us."
This isn't a program that threw on green and black uniforms and shiny helmets and suddenly started playing like Oregon. No, these are the fruits of Briles' labor.
He recruited and developed players for a precise, specific vision. An offense that takes "pick your poison" to a whole new level and runs right past you. A defense that, thanks to the unit it must face in practice, is tailored and prepared for defending spread offenses and plays tough. He has Big 12-quality depth at every position now and players brimming with confidence.
But Briles isn't ready to judge just how good this team is, not until he sees more.
"I still think our identity hasn't been written," Briles said. "I think it's too early. We've played four games since Aug. 31, and it's Oct. 5. You're not going to date somebody three times and ask them to marry you."
It's not unfair, he said, to still doubt Baylor. He likes the intensity and toughness and explosiveness of his team, but there's still plenty more to prove. If Saturday was the sampling of what's to come, though, Briles is going to be a happy groom in the end.