2009 Baylor Bears Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Art Briles (4-8 at Baylor, 38-36 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Randy Clements and Philip Montgomery
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Norwood
Other Key Returnees: G James Barnard, CB Antareis Bryan, DT Trey Bryant, WR David Gettis, LB Antonio Johnson, S Jordan Lake, C J.D. Walton, OT Danny Watkins, S Jeremy Williams
Key Losses: CB Dwain Crawford, DE Leon Freeman, OT Dan Gay, S Jake La Mar, DT Vincent Rhodes, OT Jason Smith, WR Thomas White
Baylor had a young team and had to work their way through an extremely difficult schedule during the 2008 campaign. Sure the team only won four games and their best win was against Texas A&M, but the squad still exceeded expectations and could do so again this year since they return nine starters on both sides of the ball.
The youth movement is led by sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin. As a freshman last year he threw for over 2,000 yards and rushed for 843 more. In all he accounted for 28 total touchdowns and threw a measly three interceptions. And all of that was as a freshman. But Griffin will not be the only player on the team who has the ability to run for over 1,000 yards. Jay Finley tallied 865 yards on the ground as a sophomore and averaged a solid 5.8 yards per carry. With experienced receiving threats Kendall Wright, David Gettis and Ernest Smith to go along with youngsters like Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams, the Bears offense could be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the 2009 campaign.
It was Leon Freeman who led the team with nine tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks. The frontline also loses tackle Vincent Rhodes and without those two it is difficult to tell where the pressure will come from. This is a team that ranked ninth in the conference in sacks per contest last year and in the pass happy Big 12, they have to do better than that or their secondary will get picked apart. However, the secondary is the strongest part of the defense, but if the Bears fail to get pressure on the opposing quarterback even the experience of corners Tim Atchison and Antareis Bryan and safeties Jordan Lake and Jeremy Williams will not be enough. The good news is that the versatile group of linebackers can help get pressure on the quarterback and occasionally even lend the secondary a hand. Joe Pawelek actually led the team with six interceptions a year ago and Antonio Jones and Earl Patin are both capable pass rushers.
The Bottom Line for the Bears:
What it could all come down to is the play of the offensive line. The Bears lost Jason Smith to the NFL where he was drafted second overall in the 2009 draft. But they also lost Dan Gay who anchored the other side of the line. Senior center J.D. Walton and senior guard James Barnard are a decent group to build around, but it is highly unlikely that Danny Watkins and redshirt freshman Cameron Kaufhold can even come close to replacing Smith and Gay.
By Joel Welser
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