#33 Baylor Football 2020 Preview

Baylor Bears
Overall Rank: #33
#6 Big 12
 Baylor Logo
Matt Rhule helped turnaround the Baylor program, but now he is off to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Bears should pick up where they left off with Coach Dave Aranda leading the way. Coach Aranda spent most of the last decade as the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and LSU and he will immediately add a nice boost to the Baylor defense.
2019 Record: 11-3, 8-1
2019 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Georgia (L 14-26)
Coach: Dave Aranda (0-0 at Baylor, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Larry Fedora
Defensive Coordinator: Ron Roberts
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John Lovett, RB, 655 yards
Passing: Charlie Brewer, QB, 3,161 yards
Receiving: Tyquan Thornton, WR, 782 yards
Tackles: Terrel Bernard, LB, 112
Sacks: Terrel Bernard, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: WR R.J. Sneed, OL Xavier Newman-Johnson, CB Raleigh Texada
Key Losses: RB JaMycal Hasty, WR Denzel Mims, WR Chris Platt, OL Sam Teckleburg, DL James Lynch, DL James Lockhart, DL Bravvion Roy, S Grayland Arnold, LB Jordan Williams, LB Blake Lynch, DB Chris Miller, S Henry Black, LB Clay Johnston, DB Jameson Houston
Former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora will take over the Baylor offense that scored 33.6 points per game in 2019. Quarterback Charlie Brewer had a solid junior season, throwing for 2,950 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions. Brewer is a solid, steady quarterback who can lead this offense to another good season. Top receiver Denzel Mims is gone, but Tyquan Thornton and R.J. Sneed are a couple proven and very talented pass catchers. Running back John Lovett rushed for a team high 637 yards last season and will be the main back in 2020. Baylor will want to find a secondary back, but with Brewer’s ability to make plays with his legs, this team will do quite a bit of damage on the ground.
This is where Baylor might be in trouble, at least for now. The defensive front has a lot to replace, including two NFL draft picks in tackles James Lynch and Bravvion Roy. The Bears ranked ninth in the nation in sacks in 2019. Baylor does at least have one proven option at linebacker. Terrel Bernard had a very productive sophomore season, tallying a team high 107 tackles. He also added 4.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, five quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Bernard will be asked to become even more of a leader during the 2020 campaign. The secondary lost most of their talent as well. Raleigh Texada is back to man one of the corner positions, but like everywhere else on the defense, the new coaching staff will be on the lookout for new playmakers.
The Bottom Line:
Rhule went 1-11 during his first season with Baylor in 2017. Two years later, the Bears went 11-3. The question now is whether this group can keep going forward. Improving on 11-3 seems highly unlikely, so the real question is how far back will this group fall under new leadership and a new look defense. The defense will take a step back, but the offense has plenty of experience and talent. A Big 12 title may be out of reach, but this should be a team that can compete against the best the conference has to offer and return to a bowl game.
Projected Bowl: Liberty Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 166.4 (61st in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 255.1 (44, 5)
Total Offense: 421.5 (52, 6)
Scoring Offense: 33.6 (27, 3)
Rushing Defense: 142.9 (49, 5)
Pass Defense: 217.6 (49, 3)
Total Defense: 360.4 (39, 3)
Scoring Defense: 19.8 (19, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.79 (11, 1)
Sacks: 3.29 (9, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.71 (108, 9)