What to Expect from the Baylor Bears Part 2

With the top three skill players playing on Sunday now, who will step up for the Bears in 2012?

The Bears offense for the first time under Art Briles will be looking at needing another #1 wide receiver and more importantly, a new man under center directing the offense. What can we expect from each position and how will the change of skills and strengths from the most important player on the field impact how Art Briles runs his offense? So, what can we expect in terms of play-calling, where the Bears attack the field and how each position group can perform?

Over the past 4-seasons, the Bears have actually been more of a running team when they were running at their best.

2008

2009

2010

2011

Average

Pass Attempts %

37.64%

55.56%

50.14%

42.39%

46.43%

Run Attempts %

63.23%

44.44%

49.86%

57.61%

53.79%

If you take out the 2009 season, the average becomes even more run heavy at 56.9% running. Some of those run plays are pass plays that broke down and Griffin took off, but still, this has been historically a run-first offense, at a very high tempo.

The foundation of the offense, and the concept that Briles leaned on the most is the play-action and option action with Griffin III. So many of the Baylor plays started with Robert being given the choice to hand the ball off or run himself. Will that continue with a much less athletic Florence at the helm? To answer that question, we need to take a look at what Briles did at Houston with two passers more like Florence than Robert Griffin III.

In 2006 and 2007, Art Briles coached the Houston Cougars to a total record of 18-9. In 2006, he had Senior Kevin Kolb leading his offense. In 2007, he turned to a freshman in Case Keenum. Both seasons, Kolb and Keenum attempted over 100 rushing attempts. In fact, during Kevin Kolb tenure, he attempted between 104 and 139 rushes in all four years under Briles. Keenum only had one season with Briles, but attempted 103 rushes. Neither player was very explosive out of the back field, with Kolb averaging 1.6 yards per attempt over his career, and Keenum averaging 4 yards per carry in his one season, but both were involved in the run game.

Player

Rushing Attempts

% of Team Attempts

Yards Per Carry

Robert Griffin III 2010

149

32.25%

4.3

Case Keenum 2007

103

17.58%

4

Kevin Kolb 2005

111

23.82%

1.4

Nick Florence 2009

57

16.72%

1.1

As we can see, despite just playing in 75% of the games, Florence was still a large member of the running attack. So, there will be less running plays with the quarterback, but to say the zone-read and play-action plays that have defined the Briles offense are going away completely is incorrect.

Quarterback –

Nick Florence right now is running as the unquestioned starter, so you can expect him to get the majority of snaps if he stays healthy. However, the backup will get playing time. Not including 2009 when Nick Florence replaced Robert Griffin III and got the majority of snaps, the backup quarterback has usually attempted 10- to 15 passes, and gotten a few runs as well. However, the Bears have been very blessed to have a quarterback leading the way in those three years that was very dependable and didn't come off the field much.

Can we assume that will continue? I would say yes, as nothing we have seen from Nick in his time at Baylor would indicate an injury problem or durability issues. Also, with Nick being more of a pocket passer, we can expect him to take fewer big hits.

In Florence's one year of starting, he completed 62% of his passes, while averaging 6.7 yard per attempt. In 2010, Griffin averaged 7.7 yard per attempt and complete 67% of his passes. As we discussed in part one, the explosion in the offense from 2010 to 2011 will be hard to keep up, and I believe that the offense will look more like the 2010 version with better talent as we move forward. So the 2010 statistics of Griffin will be a good baseline for us to use.

Wide Receiver –

With Kendall Wright gone, there is a huge hole as the #1 target for the Bears offense. Wright set receiving records across the board during his 4 years in Waco, but there are several players that are still on campus that can help replace his stats, and maybe one guy that can fill his role.

The guy that will take on the lead role for the Bears receiving unit is Terrance Williams. He is the most accomplished of the group, and the past few years have been a steady presence as the #2 option and the best option on the outside. Tevin Reese though might be the guy to best replace what Kendall Wright did in the offense. Reese has tremendous speed and has improved his route running the past few seasons while becoming very dependable with fewer dropped passes.

Also on the outside will be Lanear Sampson, who has improved over his career and is looking to step up big his senior season. Sampson might be the fastest of the Bears on offense, and is an underappreciated blocker for those wide receiver screens.

Below is a breakdown of how the Bears receivers have performed in the 4 years under Briles

2008

2009

2010

2011

Catches

214

197

259

270

Yards

1651

2233

3077

4207

Yards/Catch

7.714953

11.33503

11.88031

15.58148

Touchdowns

11

11

19

35

As we see again, there was a huge jump from 2010 to 2011. I am confident that the yards per catch will come back down to the previous levels, but also come down a bit more as the vertical passing game will not be as efficient with Florence as the quarterback.

Tight End –

As we discussed during our position preview series, the Bears have not depended much on the tight end position the past few seasons, as quick hitters to the outside off of zone-read option choices allowed the Bears to attack the middle of the field with the run, more so than the pass to underneath targets such as the tight end and running back. This lessened the involvement in the passing game, but Baylor still used the tight end quite a bit, and I think we can see some big growth in their numbers this year.

Running Back –

Another season and another new running back replacing a 1,000 yard runner. Ho-hum for Baylor and its supposedly pass-happy offense. Jarred Salubi will get the first crack at the job, but again most fans are entering the 2012 season thinking "time-share", just as we did in 2011. I also think that the offense will end up being a little more run heavy, but not by much, as there will be more involvement of the short passing game to the running backs and tight ends to take some of the running slack away.

I also think that Glasco Martin will be the primary goal-line scorer, and short-yardage guy for the Bears, similar to Terrance Ganaway during his junior campaign. While Salubi will get the bulk of the carriers, Seastrunk will also be heavily involved and be more of a game-breaker, averaging more yards per carry, but not getting as many touches as Salubi.

Predicted Statistics-

Passing

Comp

Attmps

Pct.

Yards

Yards/Att

TD

INTs

Nick Florence

315

450

70%

3393

7.4

30

11

Bryce Petty

12

20

60%

200

10

1

1

TOTAL

327

470

70%

3593

7.5

31

12



Rushing

Rushes

Yards

Yards/Att

TD

Jarred Salubi

165

950

5.80

13

Lache Seastrunk

105

700

6.70

9

Nick Florence

115

340

2.96

3

Glasco Martin

75

300

4.00

5

Tevin Reese

15

225

15.00

0

Bryce Petty

21

85

4.05

0

Corey Coleman

7

50

7.14

0

TOTAL

503

2650

5.27

30



Receiving

Catches

Yards

Yards/Catch

TD

Terrance Williams

80

1040

13

11

Tevin Reese

70

770

11

7

Lanear Sampson

55

660

12

5

Jordan Najvar

25

200

8

3

Levi Norwood

15

165

11

1

Jerod Monk

15

135

9

3

Jarred Salubi

15

105

7

1

Antwan Goodley

12

108

9

0

Darryl Stonum

10

150

15

0

Corey Coleman

10

120

12

0

Lache Seastrunk

10

90

9

0

Jay Lee

5

45

9

0

Glasco Martin

1

5

4

0

TOTAL

327

3593

10.8

31


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