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Sugar Bowl: Know Your Opponent Pt. 3 - The Baylor Defense

Baylor's defense has been prone to giving up yardage, but the ability to create turnovers has helped the Bears keep opponents out the endzone.

A lot of the statistics for Baylor's defense are not very impressive. The Bears are giving up 357.2 total yards per game with 142.4 of those yards on the ground. Matt Rhule's team has not been particularly stellar in the red zone this year either. Opponents score 82.6% of the time when they get inside the Bear's 20-yard line, which is tied for 57th in the nation.

Yet despite the propensity to allow opponents to rack up yardage and cash in the red area, Baylor comes in with the 16th best scoring defense in the country. The one elite factor, and quite honestly statistical outlier, for the Bear defense, has been the ability to create turnovers. A lot of turnovers!

Baylor’s 30 turnovers gained is good for 2nd in the nation in 2019. Through 13 games the Bears have recovered 13 fumbles and intercepted 17 passes. Redshirt junior cornerback Grayland Arnold leads the team in interceptions with 6. For comparison, Georgia has 6 interceptions as a team

Arnold possesses 4.4 speed and is electric once the ball is in his hands. Not only is Arnold a ball hawk on defense, but also he is a dangerous return man. The Dawgs will need to account for him in the passing game for sure.

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Sophomore Terrel Bernard leads Baylor in both tackles (107) and fumble recoveries (3). He plays with tremendous effort and energy and always seems to find himself around the ball in key situations. Bernard is accompanied in the middle of Baylor's 3-3 stack defense by All-American defensive tackle James Lynch. 

Lynch at 6'4" 294, has been causing concern for offensive line coaches and coordinators all year and he has bullied his way into backfields to the tune of 18.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks. The quickness, strength, and tenacity of Bernard, Lynch, and Senior 333-pound nose guard Bravvion Roy will prove to be a challenge for a Georgia offensive line missing three starters.

In his press conference on Friday, Kirby Smart alluded to the fact that the scheme of Baylor in and of itself will be quite the challenge. The 3-3 stack is not common to the SEC and Baylor certainly frustrated one of the more high powered offenses in the country at times in both of their contests against Oklahoma. 

It will be imperative that Georgia take care of the ball as they did most of the year. Also, with the new combination, or combinations, of offensive linemen, I'd expect to see James Coley and company provide Jake Fromm with short to intermediate passing options to help prevent James Lynch from creating negative plays.