1. Travis

    It has been interesting watching this defense develop for Baylor this year. It sort of checks your preconceptions. For one, I attributed the middle of the field safety to more of a ball hawk coming over the top and picking the ball off. I think this comes from that one moron on every flag football team who calls playing “safety” and just wants to read the QBs eyes and ends up doing nothing all game with an arm sleeve on.

    Perhaps it is different with different players, but for Baylor and Chris Miller this year he doesn’t play that role at all. He’s ultra quick and plenty fast and plays aggressive, basically playing flat footed and flying to the ball on every play from 8 yards deep. The field safety (Grayland Arnold this year) is the one doing most of the deep coverage. Boundary safety (Henry Black) is bigger and utilized mostly to cover the flat, help over the top of boundary WR, or as an edge defender. Who replaces Miller for Baylor next year is actually a huge question–they have some good athletes for safety but nobody who has shown his level of quickness and toughness and you probably don’t want to move Arnold off his spot.

    Anyway, all that to say Tampa 2 has the connotation with me as a sort of static defense, but as you rightly point out in this article the real benefit is the amount of flexibility it gives you.

    • ianaboyd

      It’s a really good, safe base that can have answers for the most dangerous things a spread O can throw at you. Then you can mix and match other calls from there. Rhule and Snow like playing single high and it’s plenty good at shifting into that as well.

      Losing Lynch is obviously the big scare, the deal with middle safety is that you don’t want to stick just anyone there because it’s a spot that can lead to major playmaking if you have a game changer aligned there. I wouldn’t be shocked if Baylor had an upgrade there next year by getting a rising up and comer into that spot.

      I also wonder though if Baylor will be more four-down next year with more edge-type players rather than having Lockhart and Lynch who can swing back and forth between playing DT and DE.

      • Travis

        I’d be pleasantly surprised if Baylor found a better middle safety than Chris Miller next year. Baylor’s safety recruiting has been somewhat lackluster the past few years as guys have either stuck at corner or project better at LB. The trio next year is almost certainly field safety Sr. Arnold, middle safety Jr. Woods, and boundary safety Jr. Morgan, but little depth behind. When Miller has been out this year for targeting and Woods has replaced him that is when Baylor went to playing almost exclusively single high because Woods is much more of a center field type than a tough box player like Miller. Now that I think about it they probably move Arnold to middle safety.

        I’m not sure on your last point about a 4 down. The only reason they do that is if they can’t find enough guys they like at S. They have a lot of promising guys on the DL but they’re pretty young, especially if Lynch leaves.

        If Lynch stays you’re probably looking at true soph Gabe Hall at NT and redshirt Jr. Chidi Og. at opposite DE. Lynch leaves he is replaced by TJ Franklin.

        The good news for Rhule, and part of why he is such a good developer, is that they intentionally play a lot of the two deep even in tight games. Franklin, Hall, and Chidi have played a lot this year.

        Baylor’s also in on some high level DL recruits who fit the system perfectly but they’d still be freshmen.

        • ianaboyd

          Next year I wouldn’t be surprised to see more 4-2-5 again to make the most of the roster.

          But I will note that none of Chris Miller, Grayland Arnold, nor Henry Black looked as promising last year as they have this year. A lot can change in a year. Texas went from fielding Marcus Griffin and a revolving door of upperclassmen at safety in 2007 to playing Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas the following year.

          • Travis

            No doubt, good reminder. Given Rhule’s past history it seems like a given the D will at least remain top 25 good next year, just maybe not top 10-15 as it currently is.

            I appreciate the back and forth.

          • ianaboyd

            I don’t think that’s a given in the B12, everyone is always on the edge of a knife defensively and Baylor is currently 15th I believe in SP+. Presumably they’ll have some momentum though.

  2. Mike

    Thanks for your insight Ian, your book was great too. Clay Johnston was as impactful as James Lynch (B12 Def PoY) and Terell Bernard has been a revelation as his replacement.

    • ianaboyd

      Glad you enjoyed it! Clay was on track for a special season, it will be interesting to see how they do without Bravvion Roy and Lynch ahead of the LBs next year but I’m confident Rhule will figure some things out.

  3. Walt

    Eagles have used Tampa 2 robber, which looks the same. NFL answers have been playaction and attacking deep middle. Is this different?

  4. […] The defensive component may need adjustment. The Big 12 has yet to be conquered this decade by a team emphasizing defense rather than offense and the closest we’ve come was last year’s Baylor team, which did it with the inverted Tampa 2 D that is designed to de-emphasize the need for dominant edge-rushing or lockdo…. […]

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