Forget Baylor's Offense, the Defense Needs to Stop ULM QB Kolton Browning
I know, I know. I too thought it was impossible to talk about Baylor and not have it be centered around offense. It's sort of like not spoiling "Breaking Bad" on Twitter.
Which reminds me, R.I.P. (name redacted).
The Bears' offensive success has been well-documented by now, but the defense has shown up as well. The lack of publicity for that side of the ball is understandable; we're talking against Wofford and Buffalo here. But plenty of other Big 12 teams have given up more points against soft non-conference opponents through the first couple of weeks.
Things get more difficult this Saturday when Baylor hosts Louisiana-Monroe, a team that hung 42 points on the Bears last year in tight game. Though the Warhawks went just 1-2 through their first three games a year ago, they were among the most talked-about teams in the country after upsetting Arkansas and nearly beating Auburn.
ULM quarterback Kolton Browning was a big part of that success. In those three games, Browning accounted for 921 yards passing and 176 yards rushing with 11 total touchdowns. His numbers are down a bit through the first few games this year—it should be pointed out that a 48-10 win over Grambling State in Week 2 hardly required much work from him—but he's still a threat running and throwing.
Baylor knows that all too well. Browning gave the Bears defense a couple of turnovers last year, but he also gave them fits by extending plays outside the pocket. It's one of the things Browning does best.
What Art Briles will likely be looking at is the season-opening game between ULM and Oklahoma a few weeks ago. The Sooners shut out the Warhawks and did a good job of keeping Browning contained. More specifically, OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops mixed up the pressure to keep the ULM offense off balance.
The question will be whether Baylor's secondary is going to be ready if the defense blitzes. There aren't too many receivers on ULM's roster who saw significant action against the Bears last year, but Tavarese Maye did catch nine passes for 76 yards and a score.
Given how much talent they have on offense, Baylor can probably survive another shootout against ULM. Briles doesn't want to, though.
If the Bears defense can get to Browning quickly and keep him from extending plays, a shootout shouldn't be an issue.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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