#12 Baylor Football 2014 Preview

Baylor Bears

Overall Rank: #12
#2 Big 12

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Baylor did not finish the 2013 campaign the way they had hoped, falling 52-42 to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, but an 8-1 finish in the Big 12 and just getting to the Fiesta Bowl is a great stepping stone for Coach Art Briles and company. The goal this year will be another Big 12 championship, and if they can do that, the Bears will be right in the mix for a playoff spot.

2013 Record: 11-2, 8-1
2013 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl vs. UCF (L 42-52)
Coach: Art Briles (44-32 at Baylor, 78-61 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Phillip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Bennett

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Shock Linwood, RB, 881 yards
Passing: Bryce Petty, QB, 4,200 yards
Receiving: Antwan Goodley, WR, 1,339 yards
Tackles: Bryce Hager, LB, 71
Sacks: Jamal Palmer, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Terrell Burt, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Devin Chafin, QB Seth Russell, WR Levi Norwood, WR Corey Coleman, OL Spencer Drango, DE Shawn Oakman, DT Beau Blackshear, P Spencer Roth

Key Losses: RB Lache Seastruck, RB Glasco Martin, WR Tevin Reese, OL Cyril Richardson, LB Eddie Lackey, S Ahmad Dixon, LB Sam Holl, CB Demetri Goodson, CB Joe Williams, CB K.J. Morton, DE Chris McAllister, K Aaron Jones

No offense in the country was more productive than Baylor’s. They averaged 618.8 yards and 52.4 points per game. As crazy as those numbers are, this group could be even better. Quarterback Bryce Petty is back for his senior season after throwing for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns a season ago. Petty completed 62.0 percent of his passes and threw a mere three interceptions. Petty will once again team up with Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood and Corey Coleman. Goodley is Petty’s favorite target, catching 71 passes for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns. Norwood added 47 receptions for 733 yards and eight scores. With a few young receivers ready to add another dimension to the receiver corps, Petty will not lack in quality receiving options. At running back, Baylor does need to replace Lache Seastrunk, who rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. Shock Linwood had a great freshman campaign backing up, and often splitting carries with, Seastrunk and rushed for 881 yards and eight scores.

The Baylor defense made a massive turnaround last season and that is why they won the Big 12. Now they need to keep it going with just a few starters returning. The line appears to be the strong point of the defense with hope that transfer Sam Ukwuachu can keep doing what he did at Boise State. Ukwuachu figures to man one end spot with former Penn State player Shawn Oakman on the other side. With the likes of Beau Blackshear, Andrew Billings and Jamal Palmer joining the mix on the line, this unit has enough depth to stay fresh. Bryce Hager is the team’s top returning tackler despite missing four games in 2013. He will be the leader of an otherwise inexperienced group of linebackers. When running their usual 4-2-5 scheme, Baylor may have four sophomores around free safety Terrell Burt, the only returning starter to the secondary. The pass defense was very, very good last season, but the inexperience will force this team to take a significant step backwards in production.

The Bottom Line:
The Bears will have some time to find their new faces on defense. Their first three games are against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. The schedule does include trips to Oklahoma and Texas, but the offense by itself can win every other game on the schedule. If, by a month into the season, the defense is anywhere close to playing like they did last year, this is a Baylor team that will be worth watching. Although the Bears are always worth watching if you like to watch somebody drop 70 points on a poor MAC team.

Projected Bowl: Alamo Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 259.7 (13th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 359.1 (5, 2)
Total Offense: 618.8 (1, 1)
Scoring Offense: 52.4 (1, 1)
Rushing Defense: 145.4 (38, 5)
Pass Defense: 214.9 (34, 2)
Total Defense: 360.3 (28, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.5 (36, 4)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (8, 2)
Sacks: 2.46 (32, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (44, 4)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#12 Shawn Oakman
#61 Bryce Petty
#85 Spencer Drango

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#30 KD Cannon
#61 Davion Hall
#184 Terence Williams


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