We take a look at Baylor's struggling and undersized defense.
We discussed Baylor's defensive struggles in Part 1 of the preview. They essentially run a 4-2-5, but they are very undersized up front and sometimes look like they don't have any real defensive lineman on the field.
Baylor allows 38 ppg (117th), 514 total ypg (123rd), 191 ypg on the ground (90th) and 323 ypg through the air (122nd). The numbers were essentially the same last season, when they gave up 37 ppg, 488 total ypg, 197 ypg on the ground, and 291 ypg through the air. They don't get into the backfield very well, with only 13 sacks and 46 tackles for loss this season, but they do force a fair number of turnovers, 25 this season good for 31st nationally.
Baylor's four man front is the smallest UCLA will have faced all season. Essentially, they have one true defensive lineman and three linebackers along the line. While athletic, they don't get to the quarterback often and have gotten run over all season long.
Inside, Nick Johnson (6-2, 295, SR.) starts at nose and Gary Mason Jr. (6-4, 265, SR.) starts at tackle. Neither are very productive. Outside, Chris McAllister (6-2, 255, JR.) and Terrence Lloyd (6-3, 235, JR.) start and really haven't been all that productive either. McAllister has 4 sacks and Lloyd has 3 on the season, and they each have 5.5 tackles for loss.
Baylor's linebackers are also light. Bryce Hager (6-1, 235, SO.) is the biggest inside at MLB, and he's flanked by Eddie Lackey (6-0, 220, JR.). Hybrid safety Ahmad Dixon (6-0, 210, JR.) will play in the box as well, but he is truly a defensive back.
Hager leads the team with 115 tackles, Lackey is second with 99, and Dixon third with 98. Those numbers are high, but opponents are averaging roughly 4.75 ypc against the Baylor defense, and too many of those tackles are being made after big gains.
Lackey also leads the team with 4 interceptions, of which he returned 2 for TD's.
Speaking of interceptions, Baylor has 18 of them as a team. The secondary gives up a lot of yards, but they have done well this season at forcing turnovers.
The corners are Chance Casey (5-11, 185, SR.) and Joe Williams (5-9, 190, JR.), and the safeties are the aforementioned Dixon, Sam Holl (6-1, 200, JR.) and Mike Hicks (5-11, 200, SR.). Holl and Williams have 3 INT's each, and Hicks and Dixon have 2 each.
Aaron Jones has been erratic this season at kicker, making only 16/27 field goals. He also only has a 44% touchback rate on kickoffs, and opponents average 23 yards per return and have scored once.
Spencer Roth has done much better punting the ball, as he's averaging over 44 yards per punt and opponents have only returned 9 of his punts this season.
Baylor isn't special in the return game, but they do have a lot of team speed and are capable of big returns. Levi Norwood handles the punt returns and averages a little over 10 yards per return. Antwan Goodley and Darius Jones handle the kickoff returns and both average a little over 22 yards per return.
That concludes Part 3 of the Baylor preview. Feel free to fire away with any additional thoughts and comments.