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Texas Tech Football | Baylor Bears Preview

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Baylor at a Glance
Home | Waco, TX (Big 12 Conference)
2011 Record | 10-3 (6-3) (Big 12)
Offensive Starters Returning | 6
Defensive Starters Returning | 8
2012 Offensive MVP | WR Terrance Williams
2012 Defensive MVP | CB Ahmad Dixon

This is my yearly attempt to educate myself on the teams on the Texas Tech schedule. I am not an expert about any of these teams, but rather I have spent a few hours studying the team and it is more likely than not that I have something wrong. Please correct me in the comments. All helmet images via The Helmet Project.

Important Links | NCAA Stats (2nd Total Offense; 116th Total Defense) . . . 2012 Media Guide (PDF) . . . Pre-Snap Read #46 . . .

The Coach | I really liked Art Briles until recently and now I'm conflicted. Fans of other teams don't ever really know the full story and I know that I probably fall in that category. Over the past few years I've had problems with the way that Briles punishes players. Maybe it's none of my business. He's not my coach, so what do I care, but when Josh Gordon was found asleep outside a Taco Bell with marijuana also inside the car and he is suspended for a quarter against Texas Tech, that does affect other schools. I suppose I do have a problem with that. I've also never understood how that charge could have been dropped. Possession is a pretty easy thing to prove in that case. Then Gordon eventually transferred to Utah, where he never played a snap, but was just chosen in the NFL Supplemental Draft.

We'll talk about this shortly, but Briles is also accepting transfers in Oregon RB Lache Seastrunk (who was reportedly involved with street agent Willie Lyles, but has had zero legal issues), Michigan WR Daryl Stonum (dismissed from Michigan for alcohol related incidents, including two DUI's), Penn St. DL Shawn Oakman (stole a sandwich and was dismissed from the team), and Colorado St. LB Mike Orakpo (dismissed from team for being involved in a fight, which led to finding Orakpo had anabolic steroids). DCTF's Jake Shaw has a terrific run-down of all three of these transfers, so you should click on that link to learn more. Is this this a pattern of giving players a second chance or taking on problems? I don't think I have the answer, but it just doesn't sit well with me

So I like Briles as a coach and I really like the way that he's found NFL talent. I like the fact that he graduated from Texas Tech. I'd add that Briles is on a really on an incredible streak for finding NFL talent including five players drafted just last year (WR Kendall Wright, QB Robert Griffin, III, OL Robert Griffin, RB Terrance Ganaway, OL Philip Blake) and four players drafted in 2011 (OL Danny Watkins, DL Phil Taylor, RB Jay Finley, DB Mikail Baker). That's nine players drafted over the past two years. That's finding and developing a ton of talent.

DTN 2012 Previews
* 9/1/12 Northwestern St. Demons (Preview)
* 9/8/12 @ Texas St. Bobcats (Preview)
* 9/15/12 New Mexico Lobos (Preview)
* 9/29/12 @ Iowa St. Cyclones (Preview)
* 10/6/12 Oklahoma Sooners (Preview)
* 10/13/12 West Virginia Mountaineers (Preview)
* 10/20/12 @ TCU Horned Frogs (Preview)
* 10/27/12 @ Kansas St. Wildcats (Preview)
* 11/3/12 Texas Longhorns (Preview)
* 11/10/12 Kansas Jayhawks (Preview)
* 11/17/12 @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Preview)
* 11/24/12 Baylor Bears (Preview)

What We Do Know | Baylor has to replace a ton of talent for the second straight year, but I have no idea if Baylor really has the depth to do that. Whenever I can get a chance to listen to Baylor's #1 fan, 103.3 ESPN Dallas' Matt Mosley and high school classmate, he says that Baylor is loaded at running back, receiver and offensive line. I would be lying if I told you if that was true or not.

I'd also say that I can almost guarantee that there will be a let down offensively and defensively, Baylor as as bad as Texas Tech defensively. Baylor had the advantage of RGIII (and Nick Florence) scoring at will at times and last year, the Baylor offense averaged 45.31 points a game, while the Baylor defense gave up 37.23 points a game. Will the defense be significantly better and how much will the offense fall off the cliff, if at all.

I don't know what to think about Florence other that the thought that he was terrific against Texas Tech's putrid offense defense. He's a senior and he's been around for a long time in the Baylor system and I'd guess that he's going to be pretty good, probably similar to what Doege did last year, although I don't know if Baylor will pass as much.

On the line, Baylor will start true sophomore Troy Baker at right tackle and redshirt freshman Spencer Drango at left tackle. That could be problematic in protecting Florence. The interior of the Baylor line looks solid with senior Cameron Kaufhold, senior Ivory Wade and junior Cyril Richardson at right guard, center and left guard.

Offensively, only six starters return, but you know that with Lache Seastrunk and Stonum, both players who will be eligible this year, should give Baylor a significant shot in the arm. At running back, I think that Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin will also see significant time in addition to Seastrunk. Stonum will most likely start at one of the wide receiver spots and the very talented Terrance Williams should start at the other. Williams caught 59 passes for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, while inside receiver Tevin Reese caught 51 passes for 877 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Defensively, Baylor is as bad as Texas Tech. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has a tough road, much like Texas Tech's Art Kaufman as as much as fans of both teams hope for improvement, the reality is that they both have a long ways to go. Baylor's top two tacklers, with over 100 tackles each, were in the secondary in safeties Sam Holl and Mike Hicks. That's usually a bad sign. At cornerback, K.J. Morton and Joe Williams return, but as we'll note throughout, Baylor was 118th in pass defense last year so for Baylor fans you hope that with experience there will be improvement.

The top three pass rushers are all gone, and are left with Gary Mason, Jr. and Terrance Lloyd, who both had 2.5 sacks last year. And the two interior tackles have to be replaced and for a defense that gave up almost 200 yards a game, that's tough. This is one of those situations where you ask if it's better to not return guys that could get the job done or new guys to step in. I don't have the right answer.

At linebacker, Rodney Chadwick will start at middle linebacker and he started last year. Eddie Lackey is supposed to get the nod at weakside linebacker and here's something interesting. Lackey is from Riverside C.C., which is the same community college as Texas Tech's Will Smith. Riverside's three starting linebackers are all playing at BCS schools, including Zaire Anderson at Nebraska, Smith and Lackey. That's a talented JUCO linebacking corp.

I think that S/LB Ahmad Dixon is Baylor's best player and he plays a hybrid sort of safety or linebacker spot, but I've always thought of him as a safety.

More after the jump.

What We Do Not Know | I'm probably most curious how all of the transfer will work out. I think that transfers can have an impact, but I think I've started to notice that a lot of transfers end up falling short of expectations. Seastrunk may change that thought, as well as Stonum. I really don't know how Florence is going to hold up with two newly starting tackles. It would seem that this is going to be problematic at least early in the year for Baylor and maybe by the time that Texas Tech plays Baylor, they be all growned up.

I tell this story every once in a while, but at one time I was listening to former OU head coach Barry Switzer on the radio and he was asked if Texas Tech would ever challenge for a top spot (this was when Leach was still the head coach) and he flatly said that teams like Baylor and Texas Tech and Oklahoma St. will never really challenge Texas and Oklahoma because they don't have the defensive talent that UT and OU have. His theory was that the gap in talent was significant and that offensively, teams could always do things to play for upsets, but that overall, athletes on defense are the greatest equalizer. Not defensive coordinators, but players. I don't think that the talent gap for teams like BU, TTU and OSU has changed all that much so I'd be surprised if there is significant change with those teams for that reason. Being defensive coordinator at these places may be the toughest task in college football.

Best Player | I think that Terrance Williams is going to have a really good year, although it's dependent on Florence having time to get him the ball. I'll go with Williams because I think he's that good.

Break Through Player Candidate | It's between Seastrunk and Stonum. I'll go with Seastrunk because he seems the more stable of the two players although Stonum is obviously a proven commodity.

Overall Fear Level With 1 Being Not Afraid At All and 5 Being So Scared Baby | I'm really torn on this one. With all of the talent that's left Baylor I can't help but think that Texas Tech should have the upper hand and although Baylor thoroughly whipped Texas Tech's rear last year, that was the lone exception. There have been close games over the course of the last few years, but I'll go with a two and probably regret doing that.