September 26, 2009

The Big Ten: Baylor stomps the Demons

Coming off an upseting loss to Connecticut last weekend, the Bears put that loss behind them in a big wasy saturday with a big win over the Northwestern State Demons 68-13. This is our ranking of the top ten players and performances from the victory.

10. [br] Caleb McEachern[/br]

I'm sure many people in the stands were scrambling for their program in the second half as Baylor emptied their bench, but of the group of reserve players the one people probably knew the least about was the redshirt freshman walk on McEachern from Midlothian, Tx. Art Briles had to go deep into his bench at running back because of Jared Salubi and Terrance Ganaway splitting the carries in place of regular starter Jay Finley who missed the game due to an injury.

McEachern wasn't given many carries, but he made the most of the opportunities that he was given. He rushed for 33 yards on five carries, a 6.6 yards per carry average, including a fourteen yard run as the Bears were trying to run out the clock.

Williams was all over the field for Baylor Saturday evening, and made a big impact for the Baylor defense from the start of the game until the starters were taken out after halftime. Williams is one of the vocal and emotional leaders for the Baylor defense and his absence was felt last week against Connecticut. Williams is a big force for the Bears against the run and if the Bears are going to improve in that area this season. The senior safety finished the game tied for second most tackles with seven stops.

For the second straight week Antonio Jones came up big for the Baylor defense. He didn't come near the seventeen total tackles that he had against Connecticut, but his nine stops led the team Saturday night. Jones was active in the backfield and sideline to sideline for as long as he was in the game. Jones had a few very athletic plays chasing down the Northwestern State running backs from behind and filling in the hole up the middle.

7. Offensive Line

Baylor's offensive line struggled some last week against the Huskies, as did most of the Baylor offense, but they improved this week and had a very good performance against the Northwestern State Demons. They were facing an inferior opponent, but they did what you would expect them to do, which was dominate. Robert Griffin was hit a few times, but most of those came on blitzes. None of the Baylor quarterbacks were sacked, and the Demons only recorded two quarterback hurries. The line was also dominant in the running game opening gaping holes for Jared Salubi, Terence Ganaway, and the rest of the Baylor runners.

The trio of top notch running backs make up the deepest position on the team, and even with Jay Finley out they were the biggest area of strength for the Bears. Both Jared Salubi and Ganaway stepped up big in Finley's absence, and while Salubi was given most of the primary carries, Ganaway filled his role as the power back with a lot of success. He ended the game with 43 yards on seven carries, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and three touchdowns. He looks to be very comfortable with his new team and his role in the offense.

The name David Gettis has been a conversation starter amongst many Baylor fans during his career in Waco. There has been a lot of discussion about him this past offseason culminating in Art Briles saying that he needs to step up or he'll lose his job during Big 12 media days. The talented senior has responded in a big way this season with plays and big catches all over the field. The touchdown catch late in the first half is as good of a play as you'll see by a Baylor Bear this season and an indication that he may have turned a leaf late in his career. That play may have been one he dropped last season, but he's become a go to target for Griffin this season.

It wasn't that Robert Griffin didn't play well and wasn't worthy of being at the top of the list, it's just that the players ahead of him were spectacular. Griffin injured his knee early in the game which slightly hampered his running ability, but he was still able to make plays outside of the pocket and pick up short gains with his feet. Where he was really successful was throwing the ball all over the field. Outside of the time when he under threw Gettis and over threw a pass to Wright, Griffin threw the deep and intermediate passes with very good accuracy. You find a quarterback in the country that could have thrown the deep touchdown pass to David Gettis any better than Griffin did.

The staff here at would like to apologize to Jason Lamb for leaving him off our top 20 countdown list before the season. He was coming off an injury last season and appeared to be a backup defensive tackle when we made the rankings, but we underestimated the kind of impact that he has on the Baylor defense. He's the team's most imposing pass rusher, he was a force against the run for most of the game, and his interception and resulting touchdown was nothing but impressive.

2. Jared Salubi

With starter Jay Finley out for the game it was up to Salubi and Terrance Ganaway to carry the load for the Bears on the ground, and the redshirt freshman from Waco stepped up in a big way. Many people around Waco were well aware of Salubi's breakaway speed, and he displayed it a few times on Saturday. He rushed for 131 yards on seven carries, including a 76 yard touchdown run where he used his speed to outrun the Demon defense before falling into the end zone for the first touchdown of his career. Salubi had been used for his receiving ability in the first two games, but against Northwestern state he was really able to demonstrate his ability with the ball in his hands. When Finely returns to the starting lineup I expect to continue to see Salubi used all over the field as a change of pace and compliment to Jay Finely.

Robert Griffin calls Kendall Wright, "Old Reliable", and he was nothing but against Northwestern State. For anyone still wondering if he would fall victim to the sophomore slump after the first two games, any remaining thought about that was to put to rest with his performance Saturday evening. Wright caught five passes for 105 yards and two scores, and also ran the ball four times for 44 yards. His best play of the game came about midway through the first quarter when he made a leaping grab on a deep pass from Griffin. The ball was a little underthrown, but placed where only Wright could catch it and he made a very athletic play in the air to come down with the ball. He's one of the top all-purpose offensive players in the conference and demonstrated why he is a threat in the slot and in the backfield.


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