Penalties, young offense hurt chance for BU winOct. 18, 2000
By ROB SINCLAIR
There are two main themes that came out of the Baylor football team's loss to Texas A&M University on Saturday.
One, the offense is still a work in progress. No points in the last eight quarters is a problem.
Two, the defense is going to keep Baylor in games more often than not.
What follows is a grading of the Bears by position.
Kerry Dixon got his first start in place of the injured Guy Tomcheck, and, as expected, did some things well and others not so well. He did throw four interceptions, but two of them bounced off his intended receivers.
His first pick came at a terrible time, on Baylor's second drive. The Bears had moved to the Aggie 20-yard line, but Dixon threw behind Lanny O'Steen, and Terrence Kiel made the interception at the three. If the Bears could have gotten points on that drive, the complexion of the game would have changed dramatically.
Tomcheck played sparingly and went 3-9 for 55 yards.
'He stepped up,' left tackle Ethan Kelley said of Dixon. 'He took leadership of the offense.'
Five different running backs carried the ball, but none really stood out as Baylor totaled just 74 yards on the ground. Darrell Bush and Chedrick Ricks combined for 16 carries, but both averaged less than 3 yards per carry.
On the bright side, Baylor stuck with the run long enough to control the clock for more than 31 minutes.
Reggie Newhouse made five receptions for 52 yards and could take on a bigger role this week with Andra Fuller's injury. Fuller hurt his knee while being tackled in the third quarter, and head Coach Kevin Steele listed him as 'doubtful' for Saturday's game at Nebraska. If Fuller can't go, Steele said Robert Quiroga will get the starting nod. Quiroga was second on the team with three catches and 31 yards against the Aggies.
As a group, the wide outs did a fair job of catching what came their way.
Andrew Obriotti gained 20 yards on his only reception, and if his fingers were two inches longer, he would have hauled in a floater from Dixon for another 20 yards. Anthony Dozier doubled his season output with two catches for 24 yards. The production was good to see.
No glaring mistakes in the running game, and no glaring mistakes in the passing game. Tyshaun Whitson is still out because of a foot injury, and Eric South made a solid appearance at center after Joe Jackson re-injured his ankle. Jackson is listed as day-to-day.
'We didn't change anything up for him,' Kelley said of South. 'He responded well to the challenge.'
With Baylor blitzing fewer times than last week, the line had little help in getting to A&M quarterback Mark Farris. However, the Bears did a superb job of controlling the Aggie running game. Texas A&M rushed for just 103 yards, almost 50 yards below the season average. Aaron Lard made six tackles.
John Garrett was all over the field in his first start for the suspended Anthony Simmons. Garrett totaled seven stops, one tackle for loss, and both of Baylor's quarterback hurries.
Kris Micheaux had four tackles, which included stuffing Ja'Mar Toombs for a loss of 2 yards on a third-and-goal play to force an Aggie field goal attempt. When Baylor did blitz, A&M picked it up well.
'A lot of their formations weren't good for blitzing,' Baylor defensive coordinator Brick Haley said. 'They [A&M] picked it up pretty well and a couple of times we didn't make the play.'
It took a few games, but Gary Baxter is now showing strong tackling form. He led the Bears with eight, while Samir Al-Amin racked up seven. Farris was 22-40 for 311 yards and a touchdown, but Eric Giddens and Daniel Wilturner both made him pay by making interceptions and breaking up three passes each.
'We were happy to get some interceptions,' Haley said. 'We didn't give up too many long balls.'
Bobby Hart returned punts again and averaged 14.3 yards per return. Adam Stiles placed three of his eight punts inside the A&M 20-yard line, but absorbed a pair of roughing penalties that left him limping. Ryan Chapdelaine hit the first punt of his career 33 yards. Coverage was good.
It would be easy to point fingers (and blame) at the offense for not scoring points, but look at what they're working with. At one point in the game, Baylor had an offensive lineup that included three true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen. Mistakes are going to happen, and growing pains are inevitable.
However, the lack of discipline was disturbing. Nine penalties for 90 yards is inexcusable and unacceptable.
But as long as the offense continues to develop, the defense will keep the games close enough that more wins this year are not out of the question.