5 Reasons We Should Have Seen Baylor's Upset of TCU Coming
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Baylor sent a shockwave through the college football world with its thrilling 50-48 season opening home victory over TCU. Hardly anyone gave the Bears a chance to defeat the Horned Frogs, but maybe we should have.
In 2010, TCU busted the BCS and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. They finished the season undefeated, and came into their season opener riding a FBS leading 25 game regular season winning streak.
TCU lost several key contributors from their Rose Bowl team, but that did not sway voters in the AP preseason poll. Head Coach Gary Patterson and his Frogs opened the season as the 14th ranked team in the nation.
Their opponent, unheralded Baylor, bowed to TCU last year, 45-10. This year, it was a different story.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but here are five reasons we all should have given the Bears a chance to take down TCU.
5. TCU Is Breaking in a Rookie Quarterback
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The brilliant Andy Dalton led TCU the past four years. His backup last year, Casey Pachall, threw only nine passes last year.
Pachall brings a dynamic dual-threat skill set to the field, but he does not have a great deal of in game experience. His inexperience was evident as he tried to rally TCU on the game's final drive.
Pachall was brilliant in resurrecting his team from a 47-23 deficit to a 48-47 lead. He threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns, but he came unraveled when the game mattered most.
With TCU trailing 50-48 after a Baylor field goal, Pachall led the Horned Frogs to the Baylor 40 yard line. Then the trouble started.
After clocking the ball on first down, Pachall encountered pressure when he dropped back on second down. He scrambled around the pocket and unleashed a cross-field throw off his back foot that was almost intercepted. On the next play, he was intercepted and the game was over.
On third down, Pachall tried to force the ball down the middle of the field into triple coverage. It was an easy interception for Baylor defensive back Mike Hicks.
It's hard to say whether Andy Dalton would have been able to deliver the points Pachall was not able to on the game's final drive. That said, as a fifth year senior, Dalton would not have panicked the way Pachall did when the game was on the line. The sophomore violated one of the most basic rules of quarterback play by throwing across his body off his back foot and then tried to force the ball into triple coverage.
Those are the mistakes of a rookie quarterback. Pachall is going to get better as the season goes on, but in a pressure situation against Baylor, he was not ready.
4. Baylor Is a Team on the Rise
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Under head coach Art Briles, the Baylor Bears have gone from Big 12 doormat to a bowl worthy team. Last year, they started the season 7-2 before a brutal late season stretch of games dropped their record to 7-5.
Baylor dropped their last three games to Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. These three losses to ranked teams dulled a bit of the luster on what was a very promising season in Waco.
Briles has assembled a very good group of skill position players and a very experienced offensive line. The defense is still a work in progress, but the offense is explosive. This team can play with anyone in a shootout.
3. TCU's Defense Was Gutted by Graduation
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The hallmark of TCU's run to two consecutive BCS bowl berths was defense. Last year, led by a senior laden defense, they gave up only 54 points in their five road games.
That number is going way up this year.
The defense is just not going to be as good this year in Fort Worth. The most notable losses on the unit came on the defensive line and in the secondary.
When playing a spread offense like Baylor's, those are not the spots where weakness will kill a team. The defensive line was not able to generate anything resembling a pass rush. Robert Griffin III was free to do as he pleased in the pocket.
What Griffin chose to do, was pick apart TCU's Swiss cheese secondary. The cornerbacks simply could not run with the faster receivers of Baylor. When Griffin dropped back to pass, it looked like a game of NCAA Football 12. All he had to do was place the ball in the neighborhood of his receivers.
The Horned Frogs defense had better improve quickly. Head coach Gary Patterson needs to figure out his secondary situation. Man-to-man defense clearly was not working last night, but he did not make a change. Luckily, in the Mountain West Conference, TCU will not face an opponent with this kind of offense until their matchup with Boise State.
2. TCU Is Still a Mid-Major
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TCU may be on the verge of shedding their mid-major label, but they are still indisputably a mid-major. Despite their status as Big 12 also ran, Baylor plays in a power conference, and its players are used to playing the game at a different speed.
TCU plays one or two quality opponents a year. Call me an elitist if you want, but playing teams like Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State cannot prepare a team, to take on a dynamic offense like Baylor's.
Coach Gary Patterson has assembled a very talented roster. TCU, however, is still not able to recruit the fastest or the best players. Until they shake their mid-major label for good, teams like Baylor will outmatch them at the skill positions.
In a shootout, the game often comes down to the skill positions on offense and defense. When your skill players are not fast enough or savvy enough, you will lose nine times out of 10.
1. Robert Griffin III Is a Star
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Robert Griffin III, or RG3, as the students of Baylor know him, is a world class athlete. He was an All-American hurdler in the 400 hurdles and competed at the Olympic Trials in 2008.
Now, Griffin's focus is solely on football. The college football world had better watch out. RG3 has been a star since he won the starting job as a freshman. The only bump in the road came in 2009 when he tore his ACL.
The Baylor quarterback has thrown 46 touchdowns in his career against only 11 interceptions. Those who follow college football seriously realized Griffin was a star in the making. Leading his Bears to a landmark victory over TCU was Robert Griffin's coming out party.
He showed the ability to make any type of throw, and his deep balls were a thing of beauty. He had ESPN analysts comparing him to Terrelle Pryor, a Terrelle Pryor who has mastered all of the throws.
Somehow, this amazing athlete ended up at Baylor. He has played in anonymity for three years, but not anymore.