Sooners' Third Down Defense Will Be Key Against Baylor

Tyler McComasContributor IOctober 31, 2013

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 5:  Trevone Boykin
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Third down has been quite the charm for the Baylor offense this season.

Through seven games, the Bears are ranked fourth overall in the country and lead the Big 12 in third down conversions, converting at a 55 percent clip.

Granted, when you look at the gaudy numbers that the Bears have put up this season, their conversion percentage on third down isn’t exactly the first thing you look for. However, their ability to convert in key
situations is what separates them from every other offense in the conference.

For the Oklahoma defense, this is just one of the many challenges they’ll have to overcome when they travel to Waco next Thursday night to face the Bears.

The good news for the OU defense, however, is that they’ve been much more efficient this year on third downs, as they’ve held opponents to only a 33 percent conversion percentage.

Needless to say, that’s a huge step up from the 41 percent that opponents converted on last season, which was the worst output in the Stoops era.

But there’s more than meets the eye on the importance of third down defense. Most noticeably, it gets the defense to the sideline and avoids the unit from being gassed during long, withstanding drives.

However, it also has a mental effect that can have just as much of an impact.

Consistently giving up conversions on third down will certainly take its toll on a defense, especially against a high-tempo offense such as Baylor’s. But quite possibly the most negative influence it can bring, is the mentally taxing effect that can engulf an entire defense.

Being worn down physically is one thing, but when you combine that with mental deficiencies, the results are usually devastating for a defense.   

That’s a huge reason as to why Baylor leads the Big 12 in just about every major offensive category. For as explosive as the Bears are on offense, their ability to extend drives and wear down the opposition only enhances their big play capability.

For the Sooners, the biggest key to this game is simple. They must keep the Baylor offense on the sideline for long stretches of time. Obviously, that’s way easier said than done, but finding a way to get off the field on third down will be a huge key to Oklahoma’s defensive success against the

That starts with putting Baylor in predictable passing situations on third down attempts. The Sooners must be able to create situations where they can turn their pass rushers loose and generate pressure on Bryce Petty.

What OU can’t afford, is to consistently be on their heels in third-and-short situations.

Not only would that give Baylor manageable opportunities to move the chains, but it also keeps their playbook wide open.

There’s no doubt that the Bears have the offensive firepower to light up the scoreboard both through the air and on the ground.  With that being said, making the Bears into a one-dimensional offense, especially on third down, will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this game.