#24 Texas vs. Baylor extended stats preview

The No. 24 Texas Longhorns struck back last week with a 55-14 win over the Kansas Jayhawks. Even with quarterback Jalon Daniels at their backs, Kansas couldn’t seem to move the ball effectively in the first half, allowing Bijan Robinson to backtrack the team and give the Longhorns a 31-0 lead.

On Friday, Texas host Baylor for their final game of the regular season. Ironically, we wish the Jayhawks the best now. If they beat Kansas State this Saturday, along with a win in Texas, Texas will play TCU again in the Big 12 Conference Championship.

offense

Robinson had an unforgettable night rushing for 243 yards on 25 carries, resulting in four touchdowns. Redshirt newcomer Jonathon Brooks also showed his talent late in the game with 108 yards for 11 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Quinn Ewers and the passing game helped move the needle forward, and he finished with 107 yards and a touchdown for a 63.1 QBR.

Ewers appears to have come back to earth since the Oklahoma game, and that could be a limiting factor in this week’s game against Baylor, who has the fourth-best defense in the conference. Granted, first and second are Iowa State and Kansas State, which Texas managed with one-point wins. I believe this game will again come down to some clutch plays on the defensive side of the ball as they could struggle in the second half.

Below is a chart showing the PPA and usage for the Longhorns this past weekend. PPA are the expected above-average points per game that each player produces. The expectation is determined by the down, the remaining distance and the field position. These metrics also tend to filter out garbage time, so Brooks’ performance isn’t visible.

Baylor runs a 3-4 defense with the jack linebacker that can be rolled down and strengths are his run defense and passing coverage. Their front seven consists of nose tackle Siaki Ika (23 tackles, 0 sacks), edge rusher Cole Maxwell (10, 0), defensive tackle Gabe Hall (29, 3.5), Jack linebackers Garmon Randolph (35, 4.5) and Jackie Marshall (20, 0) and middle linebacker Dillon Doyle (69, 0), who is possibly one of the best run-stop linebackers in the league.

Your cornerbacks aren’t too big in the running game. but their starting safety Devin Lemear (45, 0, 4 pass breakups, 2 interceptions) and Al Walcott (70, 1, 5, 1) rank in the top 10 percent for their position. Her DB unit has also ranked decently in pass defense, rushing for 236 yards in every game and notching 13 interceptions during the season. Where the Bears fall short is their passing frenzy, with their front seven only producing a mayhem rate of just 9 percent, which ranks last in the conference. When the Texas Run game struggles, Ewers needs to be patient in the pocket and against good cover.

defense

Texas did a phenomenal job slowing down Kansas. While the Jayhawks could move the ball down on a few drives, the Longhorns were able to develop big plays that forced turnovers or missed field goals. Baylor is currently the fourth best defense in the conference, with TCU, a healthy Oklahoma and Texas Tech ahead of them. In the TCU and Tech games, the Longhorns defense was able to significantly reduce the opponent’s production, but it wasn’t enough relative to our scoring prowess. Below are the PPA and usage metrics for the Baylor offense this season.

Blake Shapen has a 61.2 QBR on the season that ranks next to bottom in the conference. He is second in the league with interceptions at nine and has also taken 17 sacks. He doesn’t like to shoot deep and gets nervous easily under pressure, which the Texas Front Seven have done great this season. However, like most new-age quarterbacks, he has serious ability to either run in a scrambling manner or draft read options.

Hal Presley is the most aimed receiver but only catches 60 percent of his targets, with many of those missed connections coming from attempted deep balls. Monaray Baldwin is a more useful receiver with the ball in hand, opting for quick slants, outs or screens. Slot receiver Gavin Holmes has been struggling with a knee injury for a few games but will likely play in this week’s matchup.

Her offensive line ranks decently in run-blocking play and excels at wide running schemes. Freshman Richard Reese is showing a lot of potential as a short speedy back, but he’s still developing his game and learning to find the gaps. Craig Williams also possesses great speed when he finds space. The Bears need to be able to get the ball down often enough for them to find their explosive and impactful big runs.

comparison

This week I turned to the FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index), which calculates offensive and defensive efficiency, adjusted for the strength of the schedule and the opponent’s performance. I’ve charted the Big 12 teams along with the nation’s top programs currently listed in the table below.

The advanced metrics seem to love Texas, and those numbers alone would suggest they might be the best team at the conference. Even more surprising, from an efficiency standpoint, shows that Texas is within reach of becoming a playoff contender this year based on Alabama, LSU and Tennessee. But as always, it gets increasingly frustrating when Texas relinquishes losses to teams like Texas Tech and Oklahoma State that aren’t visualized here as a real threat.

Focusing on other teams, I think Michigan is better than what this chart shows, but their weak schedule (especially non-conference games) weighs on their metrics. A safe bet would be that the winner of this week’s game between Michigan and Ohio states will play Georgia in the finals.

In other news, two Longhorns were announced as semifinalists in the college football honors series. Robinson made the list for the Doak Walker Award, given to best running back, and Ja’Tavion Sanders was selected for the John Mackey Award in search of best tight end. Below is a compilation of standard and extended stats for the other semi-finalists they are up against.

If Bijan doesn’t win the award, I’d expect it to go to Blake Corum given how much of Michigan’s offensive success has gone through him or Zach Charbonnet based on advanced metric advantage. For the tight end group, Brock Bowers has been the favorite all season and I don’t expect that to change in the next few weeks as Georgia continues its championship run.

Texas is an 8.5-point favorite against Baylor, according to DraftKings.

Odds/Lines are subject to change. The terms and conditions apply. See draftkings.com/sports betting for details.

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