Much thanks to Chucky over at Thee Bears, yes, a real live Baylor blog not named Bear Meat, to answer some questions with DTN. You can find my incredible insight as I speak on behalf of all Texas Tech fans here.
After Leach was terminated, there was some talk that Art Briles was a possible replacement. Were Baylor fans pretty confident that Briles would stay and how pleased/disappointed are you with the progress he's made at Baylor?
No, we were NOT confident he would stay. There were 3 primary arguments when this was all going down: 1) We want Briles to stay (he made steady improvements and fits in well with Baylor culture). 2) We want to trade Briles for Leach (Leach is proven, and brings "flare" that would resuscitate our program and fan base). 3) We want to trade Briles for Tuberville (Tuberville is proven, and would bring a defensive minded staff to Baylor that we have not seen since Taeff).
Personally, I was torn. We need to win, and we need to win now. Briles has us heading in the right direction, but the option of bringing in big-time conference winning coach to replace a C-USA winning coach was intriguing.
The pleased/disappointed factor is yet to be seen. Winning cures all, and like Briles said after the TCU beat down: this team will be judged by the entire season, not one game. I would say at this point most realistic fans are cautiously optimistic, which given our abysmal decade and a half, "cautiously optimistic" going into our 6th game is rare.
Robert Griffin III seems to be back on track. Has Griffin made it all the way back and what has he improved upon since 2008?
He is 90% back. The only thing I notice different is his ability to quickly get to his top speed while scrambling. However, once he gets going, there is negligible difference between 2008 and 2010.
His arm strength was very good in 2008, but I think his arm is even stronger this season. So much that it has taken longer than expected to get in sync with his receivers, especially on shorter routes. Although he seems to have really gotten in a grove since TCU, but the competition has not been very good. Saturday will be a good test as to how 'N Sync they really are.
More good-strong after the jump.
The defense is ranked in the top third of the BCS teams. Talk a bit about who has surprised and made an impact this year on defense, especially with Baylor graduating long-time starters in Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake.
Joe and Jordan have been favorites of mine on defense in years past. However, what Pawelek and Lake brought to the table in leadership and experience, they lacked in athletic ability and speed. This year's defense has a ton of speed, they just don't know what to do with it on every play.
The most surprising has been the defensive line. They were extremely suspect last season, but have been doing a decent job (besides the obvious game). They are giving up only 146 rushing per game including TCU where they gave up almost 300 on the ground.
It is a little concerning that our leading tackler is a Safety (Byron Landor), but hopefully that trend does not continue.
Finally, we've been very nicked up on defense the last few games and have had a ton of youth in our secondary. These guys may be more athletic, but experience in a conference game is gold. Hopefully we get a few guys back there (and on the defensive line) this Saturday.
With the arrests of receivers Willie Jefferson and Josh Gordon, assuming that they're suspended for a least a game, who would you expect to step up to fill their spots?
Willie Jefferson has 1 catch on the season, so we can live without him for this game. (although his 1 catch is a 43 yard TD) Josh Gordon on the other hand is one of our leading receivers on the season, and had a breakout game against Kansas. Technically, Gordon is not even a starter according to the depth chart, but he is a prime-time-player (obviously). I am still very comfortable with a couple of our lesser known receivers filling in if Gordon is suspended: Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, Tevin Reese. (lesser known on the net, but all of them have had good seasons so far).
If both guys are suspended, the loss of Gordon will likely be felt more, but if there's anywhere Baylor is loaded, it's at receiver.
Baylor's lone loss of the year was against TCU, and the final score was one that I never thought would happen. How did the Bears unravel in that game and what did Baylor do that helped make that game so lopsided (or is TCU just that good)?
Yes, TCU is that good. We played awful, and made a plethora of stupid mistakes, which TCU had little to do with (penalties). However, the product on the field that day killed momentum and fan interest. (which we regained after the dominating performance against Kansas)
There was an "Epic Failure" in coaching preparation. Hearing the post-game comments from Briles of (paraphrased) "We did not expect TCU to come out with that much intensity", was as infuriating as hiring Kevin Steal. Whether Baylor thinks it or not, that game is a HUGE rivalry game for TCU and they played like it while we most certainly did not. Post TCU the Baylor intensity has looked good, especially against Kansas.
Also (while I'm in ranting mode), our defensive coordinator (Norwood) likes to give an 8-12 yard cushion on receivers, which allowed TCU to throw short chip-shot passes for 6-8 yards at a time. No problem right, you'd think Norwood would adjust and get up on the receivers, but he did not make that adjustment, and it was painful to watch us die a slow death.
Hopefully the TCU game was a kick-in-the-nuts wake-up call. The true test is tomorrow.
Thanks again to Thee Bears for the insight.