2008 Baylor Bears Football Preview
2007 Baylor Record: (3-9, 0-8 Big 12)
2007 Bowl: none
Baylor Head Coach: Art Briles (1st year at Baylor, 35-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Randy Clements and Philip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Norwood
Baylor Bears Returning Leaders:
Other Key Returnees: WR Justin Akers, DE Leon Freeman, OT Dan Gay, WR David Gettis, LB Joe Pawelek, OT Jason Smith, WR Brad Taylor, C J.D. Walton
Key Losses: CB Josh Bell, LB Nick Moore, S Brandon Stiggers, RB Brandon Whitaker
There is more excitement in Waco for football right now than there has been for a long, long time. New head coach Art Briles will bring his high octane offense to the Bears, but does he have somebody who can run it? The system’s glory days were at Houston under quarterback Kevin Kolb. Returning starter Blake Szymanski is not Kolb and neither is Miami transfer Kirby Freeman, but those two will battle it out for the starting job.
No matter who runs the offense on any given day, they will have a solid offensive line to work behind. Four starters return and tackles Jason Smith and Dan Gay have the potential to be special. Baylor only gave up 22 sacks last season, although that did have a lot to do with the fact that the Bear’s offense was designed to get rid of the ball quickly, but the line certainly deserves plenty of credit. The line will have to do a good job of helping the running game as well. Brandon Whitaker is gone after leading the team with 488 rushing yards during his senior campaign. Sophomore Jay Finley and senior Jacoby Jones were decent in the spring, but will need to do more if Coach Briles hopes to have any semblance of a ground game.
In the Big XII these days it is a necessity to have a great secondary. Baylor gave up nearly 280 passing yards per game last year and now they have to replace both starting corners. Sophomores Antareis Bryan, Dominique Criss and Cliff Odom will battle for the two starting spots, but it is hard to believe that the youngsters can do much better than the experienced players they are replacing. Luckily there are some experienced safeties like Dwain Crawford and Jordan Lake returning, but that might not be enough to avoid getting torched in the pass happy Big XII South.
The Bottom Line for the Bears:
Even if Szymanski or Freeman pick up the offense quickly and the defense can manage to stop somebody, the conference is loaded this year. Oklahoma and Texas are Oklahoma and Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M should be better than they were last year and playing Nebraska and Missouri out of the North is just not very nice. This should be a better team overall and at least there is excitement and hope with the new coaching staff, but the record will probably look about the same as it did last year.
2007 Baylor Bears Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 77.83 (113th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 273.42 (27, 6)
Total Offense: 351.25 (85, 11)
Scoring Offense: 18.17 (111, 11)
Rushing Defense: 182.33 (86, 11)
Pass Defense: 279.25 (110, 11)
Total Defense: 461.58 (110, 11)
Scoring Defense: 37.00 (112, 11)
Turnover Margin: -1.50 (119, 12)
Sacks: 1.75 (81, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.83 (46, 10)
By Joel Welser
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