2013 Baylor Bears Football Preview
Head Coach: Art Briles
2012 Record: 8-5 overall, 4-5 Big 12
2012 Bowl Result: Beat UCLA 49-26 in Holiday Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 5 offense, 7 defense
Odds to win 2014 BCS Championship Game: 200/1
Odds to win 2013 Big 12 Championship: 15/1
Regular Season Wins: over 7.5 -160 / under 7.5 +120
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Last season, the Baylor Bears had the fourth best scoring offense in the country at 44.5 points per game but the defense was atrocious giving up 37.2 points per game. The Bears had the #113th ranked defense out of 124 teams. The Bears won their first 3 games of the season, before losing 4 straight, and the Bears would go onto win 5 of their last six games to finish 8-5. The explosive offense and awful defense led to some exciting basketball like shootouts with scores like 47-42, 70-63, 56-50, 42-34, 41-34 and 52-45. The Bears won some of these games and lost some. You could argue Baylor was playing better than anyone in November with a 4 game winning streak, including a 52-24 blowout over then undefeated Kansas St. The loss kept Kansas St out of the BCS Championship game. Baylor crushed UCLA 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl.
Let’s take a look at Baylor’s offense, defense, special teams, and schedule.
Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery has coached alongside head coach Art Briles for 14 years. The two are definitely in sync as Byalor has one of the most prolific offenses in the country. The Bears run a balanced attack, as they were #4 in passing at 340.5 yards per game, and #14 in rushing at 231.7 yards per game last season.
Junior quarterback Bryce Petty takes over for Nick Florence. Florence was only the starter for one year after Heisman winner Robert Griffin III was drafted by the Washington Redskins. Florence threw for 4,309 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and also rushed for 568 yards and 10 touchdowns. Petty doesn’t have the experience of Florence but could be a better athlete. Petty threw a touchdown and ran for another in limited action last year. Petty originally signed with Tennessee, but switched to Baylor. Redshirt freshman Seth Russell could see some snaps as he is better runner than Petty. True freshman Chris Johnson will compete with Russell for the back-up job.
Junior Lache Seastrunk and senior Glasco Martin return as the primary running backs. Seastrunk, a former Oregon transfer, had 131 carries, 1,012 yards, and 7 touchdowns, along with 9 catches, 107 yards and a touchdown catch. Martin had 179 carries, 889 yards and 15 touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Shock Linwood will play the ultraback position, a fullback/tailback hybrid. Johnny Jefferson will be the third down back and could also be used as a return man.
The Bears must replace go-to receiver Terrance Williams and #3 receiver Lanear Sampson. Williams had 97 catches, 1,832 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Sampson had 52 catches, 646 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Senior Tevin Reese moves from the outside receiver to the inside. He had 53 catches, 957 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Junior Levi Norwood will be the slot receiver after making 40 grabs last season for 487 yards, and a touchdown. Junior Antwan Goodley had 17 catches, 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. He will rotate on the outside with sophomores Jay Lee and Clay Fuller. Tight end Jordan Navjar had 10 catches for 80 yards and 2 scores. Senior tight end Jerod Monk missed most of last year with a torn pectoral muscle. He had 9 catches, 100 yards and 2 scores two seasons ago. The Briles system doesn’t really use a tight end that often, bit both should get some targets. Freshman Robbie Rhodes was the consensus #2 wide receiver in the class of 2013. He will be a star soon and could squeeze into the starting line-up if the starters falter.
The offensive line was a great surprise last year, but loses three starters this year. Left guard Cyril Richardson is an NFL prospect and returns for his senior year. Right tackle Troy Baker was supposed to start but tore his ACL in spring practice. He could return this season, but next year seems more realistic. Kevin Palmer will start in his place. Sophomore left tackle Spencer Drango started every game as a freshman. Desmine Hilliard will start at right guard and Stefan Huber takes over at center. Maurice Porter can play any position on the line and will add depth.
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The defense is led by coordinator Phil Bennett, a former SMU head coach. Bennett uses a 4-2-5 defense, and returns 7 starters. However, the defense must improve significantly especially against the pass. If they don’t expect more wild shootouts that take 5 hours to play.
Senior defensive end Chris McCallister had 45 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and 6 sacks last year. Senior Terrance Lloyd will return at the other end, after making 50 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and 4 sacks. Jamal Palmer and Shawn Oakman will also see time at end. Javonte McGee and Beau Blackshear will start at the tackles. Suleiman Masumbuko and Terrell Brooks will also see time in the rotation on the line.
Junior linebacker Bryce Hager was All-Big 12 with 124 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 4 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Senior Eddie Lackey had 104 tackles. Aiavion Edwards, Kendall Ehrlich, and Raaquan Davis will also see time in the rotation.
The secondary gave up way too many big plays last year, but should improve this year. Senior deep safety Ahmad Dixon made 102 tackles, 2 interceptions and a sack last season. Senior nickel back Sam Holl had 85 tackles, 3 picks and 7 pass break-ups, Sophomore Terrell Burt will start at the other safety. Seniors K.J. Morton and Demetri Goodson will rotate at one corner, and senior Joe Williams will start at the other corner. Williams had 52 tackles, 12 pass break-ups, and 3 interceptions. Xavien Howard and Austin Jupe add depth to the unit.
Senior kicker Aaron Jones has been inconsistent in his career. He made all 71 extra points he tried last year but made on 16 of 27 field goals, including just 7 of 17 between 30 and 49 yards. Unfortunately, the Bears don’t really have a better option at kicker. Junior punter Spencer Roth averaged 44 yards per punt and planted 13 inside the 20. Both the kickoff and punt coverage teams need to improve as they gave up way too many yards and put the already strained defense under more pressure.
Norwood averaged 10.4 yards per punt return. Darius Jones takes over as the primary kickoff return man after averaging more than 23 yards per return last year.
Baylor opens with 4 straight home games against Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia. The Bears should be 4-0, although West Virginia did beat them 70-63 last year in Morgantown. Trips to Kansas St and Kansas are sandwiched around a home game against Iowa St. The Bears host Oklahoma in a Thursday night game before playing Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Baylor then makes trips to Oklahoma St and TCU before closing at home against Texas.
Baylor will put up ridiculous numbers on offense as they always do. The question remains on defense. The Baylor run defense actually wasn’t terrible but the pass defense was awful. If they don’t improve that, I can’t see Baylor winning more than 8 games again.
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