Tag Archives: Robert Griffin III

How the Wildcats Beat the Bears

3 Oct

The consensus among the Baylor Bears after losing 36-35 to Kansas State on Saturday night was that the Wildcats did not beat them as much as they beat themselves. That’s a common refrain among teams. It’s not necessarily an inaccurate one, depending on the situation, but this time I disagree with the assessment.

Give credit where credit is due: Kansas State – and its defense in particular – bent but did not break and consequently defeated Baylor.

Going into the matchup, junior quarterback and early Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III had 13 touchdowns and 12 incompletions. His offensive line had allowed only three sacks over the course of three games. He throws 30- and 40-yard passes as effortlessly and accurately as if they were little dinks to the sideline. Throughout his career, his touchdown-to-interception ratio is nearly 5:1 – 59 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and he holds 42 records at Baylor. This season in particular, his numbers just boggle the mind.

Yet the Wildcats sacked Griffin five times and hurried him into eight incompletions and an interception. He still passed for 346 yards and five touchdowns, so if this were any other quarterback, the conversation would be what a fantastic game he had. It was a great performance, but it wasn’t enough.

In my opinion, that’s much more of a reflection on Kansas State than it is on Griffin.

The Wildcats got past the Bears’ hulking veteran offensive line and snuffed Griffin out time and time again. They pressured on him, and while he still completed the vast majority of his passes, he looked a bit rattled. At one point he fumbled without being touched by anyone.

Even though he torched the secondary for four touchdown passes of more than 30 yards each, he and Baylor as a whole could not cash in on their longest possession of the game, when they spent almost twice their usual drive time (about four minutes) getting down the field only to miss a field goal.

For the final piece of evidence that 1) the Wildcats contained the Bears and 2) the Kansas State defense is a whole different animal from last season, consider this. Last year, Baylor hung a school-record 638 yards of offense on the Wildcats. In this year’s game, they only amassed 429.

For some reason, no one wants to admit that this Kansas State defense has some serious heart and even some pretty impressive talent. People were skeptical as the team went to Miami, as the team returned to face Baylor, and some are questioning even now, with Missouri coming in this weekend. I’m not sure what will convince everyone that this is a good defense … except, of course, one more win.

But really, that’s okay, because that’s all coach Bill Snyder wants his team thinking about anyway.

For more conversation about Kansas State and Baylor, check out my appearance on the Pulse Network with Tyler Pyburn.

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Grading the Wildcats: Game 4

2 Oct

Even after a big win at Miami, people doubted Kansas State's defense. After containing the nation's No. 2 offense, they shouldn't be skeptical anymore. (Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

The Wildcats may not have 4- of 5-star recruits, but they have heart. I think that’s the only conclusion to which one can come after watching Kansas State surmount deficits week after week – most recently a 9-point fourth quarter hole against Baylor – to go 4-0 to start the season. Here’s my evaluation of the different units in Saturday’s game.

Offense: B+

Collin Klein is not Robert Griffin III, but he had another solid, gritty performance on Saturday, and once again, his team won. He completed 13 of 28 passes – slightly under 50 percent – for 146 yards and threw one interception, but his north-and-south running netted the Wildcats another 113 yards. Running backs John Hubert and Angelo Pease did not gain 100 yards combined, but they complemented each other well and each had a long run and a touchdown. Klein utilized Hubert as a receiver as well as a runner, but he also involved wide receiver Chris Harper and tight end Andre McDonald.

While totaling 356 yards of offense, Kansas State kept Baylor’s offense off the field for 38 minutes and 47 seconds. That did not make the defense’s job easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it helped.

Of course, the Wildcats did not punch the ball in the way they should have, settling for two field goals in the first half. If they can put it in the end zone in those situations, it’s 21-7 going into the second quarter instead of 13-7.

All in all, the team did what it could do – not necessarily to the very best of its abilities, but it moved the ball in a steady, workmanlike manner and got the job done.

Defense: B+

Kansas State gave up numerous big plays to Baylor, who scored touchdowns on a 43-yard pass, 42-yard pass, 35-yard pass and 34-yard pass from Griffin throughout the game. The secondary got outrun on too many occasions than is normally workable. However, the defense also sacked Griffin five times and forced him into eight incompletions and an interception. That interception was just one of the Bear’s three turnovers – the Wildcats also recovered two fumbles by Baylor. They held the Bears’ prolific offense to only 429 yards … a massive improvement from the 638 yards the Wildcats allowed Baylor last season.

There have been skeptics of the Kansas State defense … after the first two games, even after the Miami game. I don’t know how skeptical people can be now, though.

Special Teams: C+

The special teams unit got off to a great start by forcing Baylor to fumble on a kickoff return. However, it waffled throughout the game. Kicker Anthony Cantele made three field goals, including the game-winner. On the other hand, Baylor had decent-to-good field possession on several occasions, including once after Kansas State allowed a 42-yard return.

Numbers to Know about Baylor

1 Oct

Griffin runs for a 58-yard touchdown past Washington State's Mike Graise in 2008, in Waco, Texas. What's scary is that Griffin is so much better now than he was then. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Jerry Larson)

Mention of the last game between Kansas State and No. 15 Baylor likely makes Wildcat fans cringe and Bears fans fondly reminisce. Baylor hung a school-record 638 yards on Kansas State that day, giving Waco a 47-42 happy ending to Homecoming Week. A little less than a year later, the Bears still terrorize defenses. When they come to Manhattan on Saturday, however, the defense across the field (currently ranked No. 6 in the nation) from them probably won’t look very familiar.

With so much having changed from last year to this year, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen in this game. That said, here are some stats that tell you what’s happened to Baylor before during the tenure of coach Art Briles.

  • 15-4 when leading at halftime
  • 3-17 when trailing at halftime
  • 11-6 when scoring first
  • 7-16 when opponent scores first
  • 0-12 when scoring less than 20 points
  • 9-0 when scoring more than 40 points
  • 10-0 when opponent scores less than 20 points
  • 8-22 when opponent scores more than 20 points
  • 4-19 when opponent scores more than 30 points
  • 0-11 when gaining less than 300 yards
  • 8-1 when opponent gains less than 300 yards
  • 4-13 when opponent converts on third down at least 50% of the time

A Defense’s Best Test

28 Sep

If you designed a quarterback specifically to give nightmares to defensive coordinators, the result would look an awful lot like Baylor’s Robert Griffin III.

Also known as “RG3,” the 6-feet-2-inch, 220-pound junior holds 42 university records. He has completed 70 of his first 82 passes and has already thrown for 13 touchdowns this season.

The leader of the nation’s second-best offense, Griffin’s name is in the Heisman Trophy conversation already. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder calls Griffin ‘amazing’ and ‘head and heels above anybody we’ve played against’ and half-jokingly put the quarterback’s numbers in perspective this way:

“Who completes 85 percent or 90 percent of their passes? We don’t do that in pre-game warm-up.”

Defensive end Jordan Voelker said Griffin seems like a slightly differently quarterback from last year, having expanded his game even more since last season.

“He’s the same guy, but last year it seems like he was throwing the short ball a lot more than he was the deep ball,” Voelker said, “and he’s really improved on his deep ball game and throwing the long ball. They’ve got quite a few fly patterns and post patterns on teams, so we’ve just got to try to shut that down.”

Not many teams have been successful in that endeavor, but Voelker observed that TCU got close; on several of their pressures, they got close to Griffin but just could not finish the sacks. Voelker said it is essential that the defensive line gets hits on Griffin and hurry him early.

“Every second that he’s back there running around is more time that our corners have to cover their receivers,” Voelker said, “and with fast guys like that it’s a real task.”

While some have drawn parallels between Griffin and Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, whom the Wildcats faced last week, it is clear that while Harris might have been good preparation for Kansas State, Griffin will be a tougher test. Safety Tysyn Hartman said Griffin will capitalize on the defense’s mistakes in a way Harris did not.

“Last week we busted coverages, had guys wide open. Griffin’s not going to miss those opportunities,” Hartman said. “Jacory overthrew, underthrew some of those, and I don’t think Robert’s going to do that.”