OU’s closer-than-expected victory over Baylor, 42-34, was cause for much concern. Mainly centered on the Sooner defense, which allowed 252 yards rushing.
Bob Stoops defended the performance, saying OU schemed to allow Baylor to run. The Sooners just didn’t want Baylor’s passing game to thrive, and so OU went with as many as seven defensive backs at a time.
So who’s right? Stoops or the critics?
Let’s analyze. Let’s look at the first five Big 12 Conference games for both teams.
I don’t like to focus on yards or even points, because they can expand or condense depending upon the nature of the game. Give up 28 points in a game in which the opponent has the ball eight times, and that’s not good defense. Give up 28 points in a game in which the opponent has the 14 times, and that’s excellent defense.
So let’s look at Baylor. The Bears through five conference games had achieved 44.5 percent offensive efficiency. Basically, that means scored the equivalent of a touchdown on 44.5 percent of its possessions. I give half credit for a field goal, full credit for a field goal.
In possessions in conference play, Baylor had scored 281/2 touchdown equivalents.
Meanwhile, Baylor’s opponents had scored at 51.6 percent offensive efficiency.
The Sooner offense had succeeded at 49.1 percent efficiency, which is very good. Sooner opponents had succeeded at just 20.5 percent efficiency, which is excellent defense.
Both OU and Baylor had played five conference games, and that’s enough of a sample size to get a beat on what’s going on.
So OU’s offense had been working at 49.1 percent efficiency and Baylor opponents had been working at 51.6 efficiency. Split the difference, and the Sooners could be expected to be right around 50 percent. Touchdown equivalents on half their possessions.
And what did OU do? Right on target. The Sooners had the ball 11 times and scored six touchdowns, which is 54.5 efficiency. So OU’s offense was solid.
Frankly, 42 points seemed a little to me, considering the Bears gave up 10 touchdowns to West Virginia, eight to Texas and seven to TCU. But the Texas game, for example, had eight Longhorn possessions. UT scored at 61.5 percent efficiency. So that’s not much higher than OU.
OK, now let’s move to the OU defense. The Sooners had been allowing just 20.5 percent efficiency. Baylor’s offense had been working at 44.5 percent efficiency. Split the difference, and that’s 32.5 percent.
How did the Sooners do? Not so well. In 11 Baylor possessions, the Bears had four touchdowns and two field goals. That’s 45.4 percent efficiency. That’s slightly better than what Baylor had been doing, against the likes of West Virginia, TCU, Texas,Iowa State and Kansas.
The criticism was justified. The Sooner plan did not work. The Sooners allowed Baylor to do what it had done, on average, against the rest of the Big 12, and the rest of the Big 12, sans Kansas State, is not the caliber of OU’s defense.
So the scheme should be considered sketchy at best, a failure at worst.
“Defensively, we did a great job covering a really explosive passing attack,” Stoops said Monday. “I knew structure wise it would possibly be a little bit vulnerable to the run, and we were. But I thought overall we had five or six missed tackles that gave them some yards.
“Giving up 252 yards is not what you want to do, but it worked.”
Stoops was wrong. It did not work. The Sooners won for reasons other than their defense. Turns out, Baylor rushing for 252 yards is not an acceptable result.