AUSTIN — “Defending Baylor is like chasing rabbits,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said Wednesday. But Bedford also made it sound like he would have to pull a rabbit out of his hat just to slow college football’s most prolific offense.
Texas just doesn’t have the personnel to stop Baylor, Bedford said, in essence. The spread isn’t big enough for his 14-point home underdogs, he intimated. Bedford also said he is losing sleep trying to figure out how to slow Baylor and suggested he may bring a “white flag” to the stadium.
“I haven’t seen anybody that can stop Baylor,” Bedford said. “Baylor only stops itself. We’re a 14-point underdog, but I’ll give you 21 points. I don’t know if I can even show up for the game or wave the white flag. You’re talking about not eating and sleeping figuring out how to defend these guys.”
A reality check from Texas’ most candid coach? Or, just coach-speak intended to mitigate the “trash” talk directed at Baylor from the Longhorn locker room earlier this spring? Either way, Bedford does have a game plan for the Saturday tilt that may otherwise require a Miracle on the Colorado.
Part of the plan is to cut back on the man-coverage that Texas employed nearly 90 percent of the time in Waco last December.
“We can’t do that. We really can’t. We’re going to have to play some zone. If you play that much ‘man’, it’s like going outside, and there’s a rabbit out there, and I’m chasing that rabbit. If I chase that rabbit for 60 minutes, I’m gonna get tired before he gets tired. In man-to-man, you’re expending a lot of energy. That’s why we can’t play that much ‘man.’ We’re going to play ‘zone’ so we can keep them in front and cut to the ball.”
Taking him at his word, Bedford doesn’t have enough players in his secondary.
“We have some depth at the D-line but, in the secondary, I may have to put my uniform back on. But I can’t take a step without something about to break. That’s our concern right now. We don’t have the depth that we need. We’re trying to get some young guys to step up right now. I’m telling the guys ‘right now.’ I don’t need scout team defensive guys. I need guys that I can put out there and there won’t be no let-down. I keep telling the entire defense that at The University of Texas, the expectation is ‘greatness’ at every position. Right now, we don’t have that.”
Ordinarily, Bedford is the personification of swag at his week press conferences. That’s why some questioned the sincerity of his effusive praise of the Baylor offense. Bedford responded by listing the defensive All-Americans and NFL Draft picks who were Texas teammates of his back in the early 1980s.
“I could have all the swag I want with those guys. I’m not playing, and I don’t have those guys on my side. It’s hard to deal with that. If I had those guys, I’d say, ‘Let’s go play.’…But after watching that (Baylor) video, that’s why my swag is done right now.”
Nothing good can happen unless Bedford can get his players into their correct pre-snap alignments, but that has to happen in the blink of an eye.
“They’re whole thought is they go so fast, Bedford said, “that you can’t get aligned. All of sudden, you have a guy out of position to make a play, and that becomes a big play.”
Critical to Texas’ success, of course, is its ability to tackle in space.
“That’s going to be the key. They’re going to spread you out and it’s all 1-on-1 tackling. Against most teams, you teach gang-tackling. Against the Baylors of the world, there’s no gang-tackling because they’ve got you so spread out.”
QB Bryce Petty has not been sacked all season, and that primarily has to do with his quick release, Bedford noted.
“The ball is out that fast. It’s like a 3-step drop. I don’t know how he does it. I just shook my head when we were watching video this morning. We might as well not rush anybody and drop everybody, hoping that he’ll just hold on to the football and take a knee.”