Inside the Numbers: Baylor Offense on Record-Setting Pace

Kansas State’s Bill Snyder isn’t the first coach to be quick with a joke. Maybe that’s why when he says the key to beating Baylor this week is to “keep them from scoring 100 points,” he’s kind of being serious.

Baylor hasn’t hit the 80-point mark yet, but the only team that could stop Baylor from scoring 100 this year would seem to be Baylor.

The Bears are averaging 70.5 points per game this season, 11.3 more per game than Oregon, another team that knows a bit about explosive offense. Indeed, most of Baylor’s damage has come in the first three quarters. Starting quarterback Bryce Petty has attempted nine second-half passes this season. Running back Lache Seastrunk has two carries after halftime, yet he’s still second nationally in rushing yards per game.

When Snyder and his staff look at the film from Baylor’s 73-point, 864-yard throttling of West Virginia, they’ll see a versatile offense that pushes the tempo in ways that would make a handful of basketball teams blush.

“The system is well-defined and the players being in it for a time, whether starters or not, they have a feel for it,” Snyder said. “They spread you out like so many teams do. If you’re putting to many people inside, they throw it outside, if you put people outside they run it inside. The system is not complex, but they execute it very, very well.”

But Kansas State will also find a dominant team in the trenches as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saw last week.

“I’ve never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did,” Holgorsen told reporters after the game. “We’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve been playing defense around here for the last five games, and you can’t play defense when the line of scrimmage is pushed back five yards every time they run the ball.”

Under coach Art Briles, Baylor has had a Heisman Trophy winner in Robert Griffin III, an NFL first-round receiver (Kendall Wright, 2012) and two first-round linemen (Jason Smith in 2009 and Danny Watkins in 2011).

But the Baylor offense is running an unprecedented pace through the first four games of 2013. Conventional wisdom says Baylor will cool off as the schedule gets tougher into Big 12 play and especially against top league contenders in November.

Yet Baylor won’t need to keep up this pace to break records. The Bears can cool off in conference play and still break major college football records set by Heisman winners and national championship contenders.

Here’s a look at a few:

TOTAL OFFENSE

The 2011 Houston team, led by quarterback Case Keenum and coach Kevin Sumlin, needed 14 games to get to its total yards record. Baylor could get to that mark, but the much more attainable record would be yards per game. Houston and Heisman winner Andre Ware averaged 642.9 yards per game in 1989. Baylor would need to average 574.6 yards per game in the final eight Big 12 games and the bowl to match. That’s possible as Baylor averaged 582 yards in Big 12 play last season. Baylor is more than 40 percent of the way to Oklahoma’s Big 12 record of 7,670 yards, set in 2008 by a Sooners team led by Heisman winner Sam Bradford.

Also worth watching are the numbers for a balanced offense: Only two teams (1968 Houston and 1973 Arizona State) averaged 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. Baylor is averaging better than 400 yards passing and 300 yards rushing.

 RecordBaylor
Yards per game642.9 (1989 Houston)779.5
Total yards8,387 (2011 Houston)10,134*
Yards per play8.6 (2006 Hawaii)9.6
  *current pace

SCORING

Army’s Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, are a major part of college football lore, but Baylor is on pace top them by more than two touchdowns per game. And they’re not the only ones Baylor could catch. The 1983 Nebraska offense that averaged seven touchdowns per game was led by quarterback Turner Gill, Heisman winner Mike Rozier and No. 1 overall draft pick Irving Fryar. Baylor is ahead of that trio by nearly two TDs per game.

Again, the Big 12 record watch will focus on Oklahoma, who scored 96 offensive touchdowns in 2008 on the way to the national title game. Baylor already has 35.

 RecordBaylor
Points per game56 (1944 Army)70.5
Offensive TDs per game  7.0 (’83 Nebraska, ’12 La. Tech)8.75
Most offensive TDs96 (2008 Oklahoma)114*
  *current pace

PASSING

With the lopsided scores Baylor has put up, Petty is getting lifted in early in the second half. Unless Big 12 teams play well enough to keep the starting quarterback in the game, he’ll have to settle for records based on efficiency rather than sheer numbers. Petty will threaten Russell Wilson’s passing efficiency rating of 191.8 for Wisconsin in 2011. The Baylor quarterback sits at 229.6.

Backup quarterback Seth Russell hasn’t been so bad, either. Petty and Russell could match passing marks set by 1989 BYU (led by Ty Detmer), 1996 Florida (led by Danny Wuerffel) and 2011 Baylor (led by Griffin). The good news for Petty: All three quarterbacks who helped set team passing records won the Heisman trophy. Only Detmer didn’t win the Heisman in his record season (Detmer won in 1990).

 RecordBaylor
Yards per pass10.9 (1989 BYU)14.2
Yards per completion17.1 (1996 Florida)19.9
Passing efficiency   191.2 (2011 Baylor)218.95

SPEED

There’s not a record kept for the quickest average touchdown drive, but Baylor would have to be pretty close. The average Baylor TD drive takes 82.3 seconds, and many of these aren’t cheap, either. The Bears have started on their own 25 or deeper in their own territory on 20 of 35 touchdown drives this season. The Bears are helped by 11 plays for 50 or more yards in four games, most for any team in the country. Making the feat more impressive is that the next 11 in that category have played five or six games.

The average Baylor touchdown drive covers 65.2 yards on 5.3 plays in 1:21.3. Baylor has had more touchdown drives take less than a minute (14) than have taken more than two (six).

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