Baylor’s Art Briles Says Horse-Collar Penalty on Bears a Game-Changer


Head coaches are quick to acknowledge that a single play over the course of an entire game does not in and of itself determine the outcome of a game. That is the reality, but coaches also recognize that certain plays or situations in a game can clearly be looked upon as game-changers, and that is how Baylor head coach Art Briles described the fourth-quarter sack of Baker Mayfield that ended up in a horse-collar penalty and sustained an Oklahoma drive that probably would been stopped a down later, but instead ended up in a new set of downs and, ultimately, a Sooner touchdown that put the game away.

The play in question occurred with over 10 minutes remaining in the game and the Sooners holding on to a three-point lead after Baylor had just scored to cut the OU lead to 37-34. On a second-down-and-15 play, Baylor linebacker Travon Blanchard chased a scrambling Mayfield, finally bringing him down for a significant loss inside the Sooner 10-yard line while the OU quarterback unsuccessfully attempted to get the ball to receiver Sterling Shepard.

Unfortunately, Blanchard’s tackle was ruled a horse-collar tackle, which is prohibited by the rules, and the Bears were flagged for a personal-foul penalty, which awarded OU 15 yards from the original line of scrimmage and an automatic new set of downs.

Nov 5, 2015; Manhattan, KS, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles (C) looks on from the sidelines against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. The Bears won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

"“That’s massive, because we had momentum (Baylor had just scored to cut Oklahoma’s lead to three points at 37-34), and the game’s all about momentum,” Briles said in his postgame interview comments after the Sooners win over previously unbeaten Baylor.“If that’s not called,” the Baylor head coach said, “then I think they’re third-and-20- something on their own 6- or 5-yard line, and we’re getting the ball hopefully around the midfield area with a chance to (go) down and take the lead. You’ve got to live with it, and you’ve still got to stop them, and we didn’t.”"

No one was more upset about the play than Blanchard himself, who had no intention of grabbing the OU quarterback by the collar:

"“When you’re going full speed in the game, it’s tough,” he said. “I pretty much just tried to grab jersey and bring (Mayfield) down, but I had bad hand placement and got a flag that extended the drive to help them score.”"

“I just think we made too many mistakes and had too many penalties there at the end,” Briles said, “but Oklahoma played extremely well and got out of here with a win.”