Cactus Bowl grades: Cannon puts up huge numbers in Baylor win

Pro Football Focus analysts reveal the highest-graded players and top takeaways from Baylor's 31-12 Catcus Bowl win over Boise State.

| 6 months ago
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Cactus Bowl grades: Cannon puts up huge numbers in Baylor win

Baylor Bears 31, Boise State Broncos 12

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from Baylor’s 31-12 victory over Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

Baylor Bears

Quarterback grade: Zach Smith, 75.4

Offensive line provides plenty of protection for freshman QB Smith

Freshman quarterback Zach Smith was under pressure on only 10 of his 44 dropbacks. He took full advantage of the time his offensive line provided him with, going 23-of-30 for 284 yards on plays where he wasn’t under pressure. Smith made some impressive throws downfield and went 3-of-7 for 147 yards and two touchdowns on throws traveling more than 20 yards in the air. The short passing game is a staple of Baylors offense and Smith executed it to near perfection, going 19-for-19 for 125 yards on throws under 10 yards.

Top offensive grades:

WR KD Cannon, 80.7
HB Terence Williams, 75.2
T Patrick Lawrence, 74.7
T Dom Desouza, 71.5
G Ishmael Wilson, 70.1

KD Cannon sets Cactus Bowl record for receiving yards

Wide receiver KD Cannon had his best game of the season and set a Cactus Bowl record with 226 receiving yards. He was targeted 19 times and averaged 16.1 yards per catch with two touchdowns, one of which included a beautiful leaping effort over a defender on a 3rd-and-25 in the first quarter. Halfback Terence Williams was productive on the ground for the Bears as he carried 24 times, averaging 4 yards per carry. Nearly half of his yards gained came after contact but was only able to force one missed tackle on the day.


Top defensive grades:

S Orion Stewart, 83.4
LB Taylor Young, 83.1
CB Travon Blanchard, 82.2
DI Tyrone Hunt, 79.2
DI Greg Roberts, 78.9

Secondary grades well for Baylor defense

Virtually the entire secondary of Baylor had a positive impact in the game, with four cornerbacks and two safeties grading above 70. Corners Ryan Reid and Travon Blanchard were targeted a combined 14 times and gave up 5 catches for 44 yards with Blanchard having an interception as well. Linebacker Taylor Young had arguably his best game of the season as the speedy junior ran sideline to sideline accumulating 11 tackles and 7 stops. Defensive lineman Tyrone Hunt provided plenty of pressure for the Bears defense, recording two sacks, three hurries and a hit on the quarterback for a pass rush grade of 84.9.

Boise State Broncos

Quarterback Grade: Brett Rypien, 54.9

Rypien throws two costly interceptions early

Two poor underthrows by sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien early in the game is all it took for the Boise State offense to get out of rhythm, both resulted in costly interceptions with the offense driving. The offensive line provided him with decent time, as he was pressured on only 15 of his 58 dropbacks, but the feeling was he had to get the ball out quickly before the pocket collapsed. Rypien was a bit inaccurate on deep and intermediate throws, going 6-for-22 for 156 yards and two interceptions on those attempts.


Top offensive grades:

TE Jake Roh, 76
WR Cedric Wilson, 73
G Travis Averill, 72.9
T Arhcie Lewis, 71.6
HB Jeremy McNichols, 66.6

Boise offense sputters

Tight end and Scottsdale product Jake Roh was the Broncos top graded player on offense, he was targeted 7 times, hauling in 6 for 54 yards for a receiving grade of 80.8. The duo of Cedrick Wilson and Thomas Sperbeck has been electric most of the year for the Broncos offense, they were targeted a combined 29 times only catching 14 for 167 yards. The typically reliable Sperbeck had a tough night as he dropped three passes on the evening. Running back Jeremy McNichols found room on the ground difficult to find, he carried the ball 19 times and averaged under three yards per rush only breaking two tackles.

Top defensive grades

S Chancellor James, 86.2
LB Ben Weaver, 86.4
LB Blake Whitlock, 84.7
CB Tyler Horton, 81.7
DI Sam McCaskill, 77

Defensive backs Horton and James grade well for the Broncos

Between Tyler Horton and Chancellor James, the Broncos secondary held up against Baylor’s vaunted passing offense, Horton and James were targeted a combined 10 times surrendering six catches for only 63 yards with a pass broken up and interception between the two. Cornerback Jonathan Moxey had his hands full most of the game, allowing 5 of the 7 balls thrown his way to be caught and giving up 153 yards and three touchdowns. Opposing quarterback Zach Smith had a passer rating of 153.3 when throwing in his direction. Linebackers Blake Whitlock and Ben Weaver combined for 8 stops on the night and each of them also recorded a batted pass.

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