#40 Baylor Football 2013 Preview

Baylor Bears

Overall Rank: #40
#6 Big 12

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Baylor, due mostly to the defense, had a very tough stretch to start out Big 12 play in 2012, losing four in a row to West Virginia, TCU, Texas and Iowa State. But by November the Bears defense was drastically improved and kept getting better. Coach Art Briles led his team to four wins to close out the campaign, including victories over ranked opponents Kansas State, Oklahoma State and UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.

2012 Record: (8-5, 4-5)
2012 Bowl: Holiday Bowl vs. UCLA (W 49-26)
Coach: Art Briles (33-32 at Baylor, 67-60 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Philip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Bennett

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Lache Seastrunk, RB, 1,012 yards
Passing: Bryce Petty, QB, 97 yards
Receiving: Tevin Reese, WR, 957 yards
Tackles: Bryce Hager, LB, 124
Sacks: Chris McAllister, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: Eddie Lackey, LB, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Glasco Martin, WR Levi Norwood, TE Jordan Najvar, OL Cyril Richardson, DE Terrance Lloyd, LB Sam Holt, CB K.J. Morton, CB Joe Williams, S Ahmad Dixon

Key Losses: QB Nick Florence, RB Jarred Salubi, WR Terrance Williams, WR Lanear Sampson, S Chance Casey, S Mike Hicks

While the defense may be improving, Baylor is still going to be a force in the Big 12 because of their offense. Gone is quarterback Nick Florence, but Bryce Petty is a talented signal caller who has been patiently waiting his turn. Wide receiver Terrance Williams caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 scores during his senior season, yet replacing him will not be nearly as tough as it sounds. The Bears have experienced receivers like Tevin Reese and Levi Norwood ready to pick up the slack and a slew of underclassmen, most notably Robbie Rhodes, Jay Lee and Corey Coleman, who are capable of working their way into the regular rotation. In 2012 Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin combined to rush for 1,901 yards and 22 touchdowns. With Seastrunk’s ability to break away for the big play and Martin’s ability to carry the load and punch the ball into the end zone, Baylor has one of the best running back duos in the country. This team ranked second in the nation in total offense and even with a new quarterback, it would be a surprise if they slipped too far from that spot.

The defense deserves a lot of credit for improving throughout the 2012 season, but they still gave up over 500 yards per contest, ranking 119th in the country in that category. With seven starters returning there is hope. There is more depth on the line than usual and that should help the Bears remain tough in the trenches throughout the entire game. Even if they are not getting consistent pressure, which will not likely happen when Chris McAllister needs a break, they can at least make it a bit more difficult for the opposition to slice through their defense in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Bryce Hager led the Big 12 with 124 tackles a year ago and senior Eddie Lackey simply makes big plays. However, it is unfair to just look at Lackey’s four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and call him a linebacker that make big plays. He did total 104 tackles as well. The secondary got torched on a consistent basis and the hope is a few personnel moves and a couple players returning from injury will make a big difference. Sam Holl is moving to the nickel back position while Ahmad Dixon is headed to safety. Dixon is a speedster and that move should benefit the corners who will need plenty of help from the safeties in pass coverage. Speaking of corners, K.J. Morton and Demetri Goodson are healthy again and that will finally give Coach Briles some experienced options opposite Joe Williams.

The Bottom Line:
The defense has potential. They may not even rank in the middle of the Big 12 when it comes to total defense when all is said and done, but getting close to that would be a huge improvement. Then it comes down to the offense. The skill positions are deep and talented and should be fine to run Baylor’s usual prolific offense, but there are some questions on the line. Guard Cyril Richardson is one of the best in the nation, yet due to an injury to tackle Troy Baker, the Bears did have to move some linemen around. Florence, Seastrunk, Martin and all of the receivers do not need a lot of time to get things done, yet they will be unstoppable if the line comes together.

Projected Bowl: Meineke Car Care Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 231.69 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 340.54 (4, 2)
Total Offense: 572.23 (2, 1)
Scoring Offense: 44.46 (4, 2)
Rushing Defense: 178.69 (76, 7)
Pass Defense: 323.54 (119, 10)
Total Defense: 502.23 (119, 10)
Scoring Defense: 37.23 (110, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (50, 5)
Sacks: 1.46 (96, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (35, 5)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#82 Cyril Richardson
#112 Lache Seastrunk
#113 Ahmad Dixon

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#33 Robbie Rhodes
#117 Andrew Billings


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