Baylor D gives Cats big edge

By Grant Guggisberg

If recent history is any indication — win or lose — Kansas State will score more than 40 points against the Baylor defense Saturday.

However you try and twist it, the Bears’ defense has left something to be desired this season in all but a handful of games, leading most to believe K-State will trounce the Bears on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

K-State coach Bill Snyder, on the other hand, sees improvement from this bunch.

“I think they have gotten better, and at midseason began to go down that road,” he said. “One of the things that happened is they had a lot of injuries to begin with, so consequently you have youngsters that haven’t been on the field. But you can see them get better and better and better as they gain some experience and consequently become a better defensive football team.

“They didn’t play badly against Oklahoma.”

The Bears, in conference play, have allowed an average of 44 points per game, with only Iowa State and Kansas scoring less than 40. Not surprisingly, those two teams rank ninth and 10th in the conference in scoring offense.

Much like West Virginia, the Baylor defense struggles to stop a light breeze, much less a top Big 12 offense. When the Bears win, it’s because of its offense, which ranks second in the league in scoring behind Oklahoma State.

But with the way West Virginia and Baylor have struggled this year on defense, but excelled on offense, the question becomes how the two sides of the ball are related. Can a defense spend most of the game on the field and still be effective, especially in the second half? Do teams with prolific offenses leave their defensive players and coaches out in the cold?

Snyder doesn’t correlate the two.

“I don’t necessarily concur that the structure of those offenses are designed to score quickly,” he said. “I think they’re designed to move the football, and the by product of that is sometimes they do score quickly. If you look at most of those teams, the throws are very quick and consequently very short, and because they’ve got everybody spread out, you have to tackle in space, and that’s not an easy skill or an easy task. That creates some big plays sometimes.”

Snyder said one exception to his statement was last year’s Baylor team, which threw deep early and often.

“The exception to the rule is last year when we played Baylor here,” Snyder continued. “It was like they were shooting out of cannons. Griffin threw four or five 35-55 yard TD throws with everybody going that way, and they went that way faster than we did. Those were quick scores, then when the defense that just came off the field comes back. Depending on how long they were on, that could have some wear and tear on them.”

For K-State, the danger becomes allowing Baylor’s offense to keep pace with Collin Klein and the Wildcats’ offense. But this season’s statistics indicate it would take an especially bad and uncharacteristic outing by the Cats’ defense to let that happen.

Unless, of course, Baylor is starting to figure things out. The Bears got their only conference win of the season against Kansas two weeks ago, while giving Oklahoma a decent game last week.

The problem for the Bears is K-State presents a tough matchup for them. In previous tilts with some of the league’s top defenses, Baylor hasn’t been the same on offense. They scored a season-low three touchdowns each in losses to TCU and Iowa State.

Snyder said he’d be hard-pressed to find a team with as much offensive talent that hasn’t won games.

“I don’t know any team that’s struggled from a win and loss standpoint that’s as effective and dynamic on offense as this football team,” he said. “Are they different from others? To a certain degree. There’s a lot of the same things that you see from teams that throw the football, but Baylor has started to create balance in its offense and are running the ball effectively.”

Snyder said Baylor loses its balance when playing from behind in the second half.

Because of its defense, they almost always are.

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