#41 Baylor Football 2019 Preview

Baylor Bears
Overall Rank: #41
#6 Big 12
 Baylor Logo
Baylor heads into the third season of the Matt Ruhle era with plenty of momentum as they won seven games including the Texas Bowl against Vanderbilt. Coach Ruhle and his staff have done a nice job of adapting to the high-octane offensive style of the Big 12 and if they can continue to take care of business on the recruiting trail, they will continue to be a tough out every single week.
2018 Record: 7-6, 4-5
2018 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Vanderbilt (45-38 W)
Coach: Matt Ruhle (8-17 at Baylor, 36-40 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Nixon and Glenn Thomas
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Snow
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John Lovett, RB, 573 yards
Passing: Charlie Brewer, QB, 3,019 yards
Receiving: Denzel Mims, WR, 794 yards
Tackles: Clay Johnston, MLB, 99
Sacks: James Lynch, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Raleigh Taxeda, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees:  JaMycal Hasty, RB, Trestan Ebner, RB, Chris Platt, WR, Sam Tecklenburg, OL, Connor Galvin, OL, Marques Jones WR, Bravvion Roy DT, Jordan Williams, WLB
Key Losses: Jalen Hurd, WR, Blake Blackmar, OL, Greg Roberts, DE Pat Lawrence, DL, Harrison Hand, CB
Charlie Brewer is back at quarterback and he will be looking to build upon a good sophomore season. Brewer threw for over 3,000 yards, 19 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. In addition, Brewer contributed a bit in the running game, rushing for 375 yards and seven touchdowns. Denzel Mims is a big-time playmaker out at wide receiver who will be expected to have a 1,000 yard plus season in 2019 with the departure of Jalen Hurd. John Lovett is a two-way player that will lead a running back group that has plenty of experience and depth heading into this season. JaMycal Hasty and Trestan Ebner combined for five rushing touchdowns and will be counted on heavily to produce at an even higher level in 2019. The offensive line has to do a better with pass protection as they allowed 39 sakcs, which led the Big 12 in 2018. Connor Galvin and Sam Tecklenburg’s growth at left tackle and right guard will dictate how much improvement takes place at the line of scrimmage this season.
Turnovers were an issue for the Baylor defense last season as they only created ten of them, which was good for 129th in the nation just ahead of Oregon State. The Big 12 is a league where you create separation in games from breaking serve with taking the football away and red zone defense where you limit teams to field goals instead of touchdowns. Clay Johnston leads a linebacker corps that will need to lead the way for defensive coordinator Phil Snow if the Bears are going to improve as a unit. Johnston recorded 99 tackles and has started over the last two seasons. Blake Lynch and Jordan Williams are back at linebacker and will be counted on a great deal to help Johnston. Chris Miller and Raleigh Taxeda are veterans in the secondary who will need to lead a young group of fast, talented players that will look to keep Baylor in the top third of the Big 12 in pass defense like they were in 2018 when they allowed 242.1 yards per game through the air. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be important too. James Lynch had 5.5 sacks in 2018 and will need to get that total closer to ten if Baylor is going to win 8-9 games this season.
The Bottom Line:
The schedule is manageable and the Bears should be 3-0 heading into the Iowa State game in Waco on September 28th. If Baylor can beat the Cyclones, they should be 6-2 heading into November where the schedule is tough with games against Oklahoma and Texas. If they can steal one of those, they will be set up nicely to win a ninth game in a bowl this season. There is a sense of stability within the program under Coach Ruhle and while they don’t need to be elite defensively, they do need to create more turnovers. If they can take a big jump in the category, Baylor will win nine games this season.
Projected Bowl: Liberty Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 169.1 (65th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 290.0 (19, 5)
Total Offense: 459.1 (22, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.5 (63, 6)
Rushing Defense: 183.5 (84, 9)
Pass Defense: 242.1 (83, 3)
Total Defense: 425.5 (86, 7)
Scoring Defense: 31.7 (91, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.69 (118, 9)
Sacks: 1.92 (79, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (111, 10)

Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#186 Jacob Zeno