October 30, 2006

Zeigler's big day not enough to derail A&M defense

Take away Baylor wide receiver Dominique Ziegler, and the Texas A&M defense had a great performance against the Bears' spread offense. It took defensive coordinator Gary Darnell about two quarters to figure out that putting a safety on Ziegler and stopping his deep routes basically stopped the Baylor offense.

Ziegler took advantage of a blown secondary coverage midway through the first quarter and hauled in an easy 79-yard pass from Shawn Bell that gave the Bears their only lead of the game at 7-6. Later in the half, Ziegler used his height advantage and leaping ability to beat A&M's man coverage with pure athleticism with catches of 49 and 29 yards that set up Baylor's second touchdown that tied the game at 14-14.

For the remaining two and a half quarters, Ziegler managed only 23 yards on two receptions, and in the process Baylor's offense managed only 135 yards in the second half. After opening the second half with an impressive 80-yard scoring drive to knot the score at 21, A&M's defense held Baylor scoreless the rest of the way, forcing three punts and intercepting a pass at the end of the game.

In fact, once Darnell made adjustments to contain Ziegler, Baylor head coach Guy Morriss and the spread offense decided to grind it out on the Aggies and took to the ground. It was a strategy that didn't pay dividends. Surprisingly, Baylor ended the game actually running the ball more than they passed it, rushing 24 times for 77 yards while throwing it 23 times for 260 yards.

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