The last two games, Baylors new offense has been plagued by the worst thing possible in a pass-heavy scheme: drops.
What's the dealio!?
I've heard lots of explanations: not enough talent, new scheme, not enough focus, nerves, and on and on.
So what is it?
I don't know. I know that by having this blog, I'm supposed to be an expert or something (not really), but it seems to me that it's very likely a combination of many of these things.
I think learning the new scheme has a lot to do with this. They aren't used to going full speed against a live opponent. The receivers are trying to figure everything out, and they know that Bell knows the playbook forwards and backwards, so the onus is on them to make the right decision. The concentration thing plays into this as well. If they are concentrating on simply getting the right routes run, by the time the ball is on the way to them, it's hard to shift that focus or to just slide back into what's natural.
The good news is that this facet of it should be clearing up by now. They've had two games under their belt, they are bound to be more relaxed and ready to go, and they've got guys behind them breathing down their necks for playing time.
I think the Northwestern State game drops had something to do with the fact that with Zeigler out, we were not only counting on guys not used to getting as much playing time, but Bell didn't have Zeigler as a security blanket and had to find other guys. I think this is actually going to be a big bonus the rest of the year. Here's why...
I said earlier on the Baylor Football Blog that Bell was going to have to learn to not be so dependent on Zeigler, or he was going to get into trouble. I'm hoping that after this game when the ball got spread around so much, that Bell is aware that there are more people on the team that can help him out. Zeigler is a great receiver and deserves his looks, but maybe instead of 18-20 looks a game, Bell can cut it down to 12-14 and give those 6 other looks to guys like Baker, White, Teasley, Sims, Smith, Gettis, etc.
Trent Shelton also established himself as a great option in this offense. I've been confused why Shelton wasn't a bigger part of the offense last year, but recently I've learned some thing about the previous OC that gave me an idea about it. Whatever the case, Trent is getting the looks now and he's producing, averaging over 100 yds/game and 7 catches a game. Yes, it's early, but there's reason to believe that Trent can put up another 7 catches for 100 yards against WSU with their secondary. I think Trent is more of a natural fit for this offense than Zeigler, though that is to take away nothing from Zeiglers excellent talent and abilities.
And that brings us to the talent quesetion... Is our wide receiver corps as good as we think it is? And why do we think it's such hot stuff?
Let's take a look at the guys that we've got out there:
Dominique Zeigler -
I don't think there's any question that DZ is a great possession receiver with great athleticism and a guy that can catch the ball.
Trent Shelton -
As I said, he's averaging 7 catches for more than 100 yards a game, and he's got great size and speed.
Terrance Parks -
Still making the transition from QB, he's only a JR which is good for Baylor. He's got great size and even with his heft (270lbs!), he has shown he can move, get open and catch the ball. He's made some of the best catches so far this year in traffic.
Mikhail Baker -
Great speed, improving hands, he caught the only TD against TCU, and should be a fixture in this offense for the next two and a half years.
Ernest Smith -
Great size, great feet, and if he could be more consistent catching the ball, he'd likely be one of our top three receivers. After the catch, he has no problem making people miss.
David Gettis -
The true freshman that people thought was going to set the world on fire. It hasn't happened yet, but I think the hype might have gotten hold of him and he's trying to live up to it too much. If this guys gets going, though, watch out. Look for him to get more opportunities this weekend at WSU. Let's hope for a breakout game.
Carl Sims -
We haven't seen as much from Carl as I expected. I'm not sure why that is, but I'd love to know why that is. I thought he had a lot of potential in this offense and his absence is bewildering to me.
Quieto Teasley -
A heck of an athlete, with great speed. He's been in the doghouse, apparently, for not giving much effort, and taking the spring off for track didn't help, either. If he can show a good enough work ethic and get on the field, he'll be a star. He's one of the fastest receivers on the team, if not the fastest.
Thomas White -
A guy with a track background, he made the most of his appearance last week with NSU to take 2 of his 3 catches for touchdowns. Showing himself to be very comfortable running the screen plays, he should get more playing time against WSU. Give us a couple more TDs, will ya White Chocolate!?
I don't think there's any doubt that we've got talent on the field at wide receiver. We need Gettis to step up to make the corps everything we thought it would be, but Parks has been playing better than I think most people thought he would at the IR position.
The drops have to stop, but as Hays said, if they don't then the guys dropping passes will be on the sidelines wearing a baseball cap, and someone else will be on the field catching passes. There's too much depth to sit around and wait for someone to do their job.
And honestly, I have to believe that some of the drops were guys thinking that since they were playing a D1-AA school, they had a chance to take every catch for a touchdown, and they were thinking about that instead of focusing on just catching the pass to begin with. I think that's why Trent had such a good day, he is a veteran that knows what he needs to do and he does it.
All in all, I think we learn a lot about our team this weekend at WSU. I can't wait to get started!!