The regular-season finale is a little under 24 hours away for head coach Steve Sarkisian and No. 24 in Texas soccer. Texas will host the Baylor Bears and head coach Dave Aranda at home in the friendly confines of Austin’s Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 25 (Black Friday), with kick-off time scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.
Texas has a chance to win its second straight game and reach the eight-win mark to round out the regular season if it can beat Baylor on Black Friday.
Sark and the Longhorns go into this final against Baylor with a 7-4 record (5-3 Big 12) after decimating the Kansas Jayhawks on the street in Lawrence on November 19th. Thanks to a career tag from star junior running back Bijan Robinson, Texas edged Kansas with the dominant final score of 55-14.
Meanwhile, Baylor comes into this game with a record of 6-5 (4-4 Big 12) after suffering a wild last-second loss to the 4th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs in Waco on Nov. 19 in a rivalry game in Waco . Baylor fell just short of TCU’s 29-28 final score in Week 12 after the Frogs scored a field goal at literally the last second.
Texas should come out on top in this game as it’s more than a one-touchdown favorite to take the Black Friday win.
Why Bijan Robinson and Texas Soccer No. 24 Baylor could dominate Black Friday
With that in mind, here’s a look at three reasons the Longhorns will be cooking the bears in week 13.
The error-prone Blake Shapen could have a long day against a strong Texas defense
Redshirt student Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen has had a rough run in recent games. Since returning from an injury sustained in Baylor’s Week 7 loss en route to the West Virginia Mountaineers, Shapen has registered just three touchdowns and six interceptions.
Shapen is nearing the conclusion of the 2022 regular season. This appears to be a case of opposing defense testing their ability to hang in the pocket under pressure and get the ball to their guns from the outside, something most teams in didn’t try to WVU in the 10 or so games before Baylor’s loss.
Also, I don’t think Shapen presents many matchup problems for Texas through the air.
Shaping is most effective in areas where Texas is strongest on defense. The two areas of the field where Shapen scores highest are medium and deep. But Texas tends to be extremely effective at defending the middle and deep passing game.
Texas rarely allows big plays in the passing game. In the last three games, Texas has allowed just under 200 deep and medium passing yards per game, along with 1.5 passing touchdowns and 1 interception per game.
Senior field cornerback D’Shawn Jamison is reading the field well this season and hasn’t given up many big games. Meanwhile, Redshirt-boundary-corner sophomore Ryan Watts has been a revelation for Texas this season. Watts has been extremely effective at playing press coverage on an island this season. He gives opposing Big 12 wideouts all sorts of problems on the outside.
Teams find they can just load up the box and force shapes to hit them on the outside and downfield. And I would imagine Texas will do the same.
Given the strength of the Texas center line and the strong play of the linebackers and edge rushers lately, they should have the advantage in the trenches.
I really like how Texas fits together with Baylor on the inside of the line. Baylor’s inside offensive line hasn’t had the best stretch in Pass Pro in the last four games. More than 64 percent of the pressure on Shapen during that period was from inside offensive line falts.
Texas generates most of his pressure from inside the defensive line, which should be able to make Shapen uncomfortable and potentially cause him to speed up some throws.