2004 Baylor Bears Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Guy Morriss (3-9)<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 3-9 (6th place in Big 12 South Division)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 1994 Alamo Bowl (3-10 loss to <A HREF=http://washingtonstate.TheInsiders.com>Washington State</A>)

Key matchup(s): Sept. 4 @UAB, Sept. 25 North Texas, Oct. 9 Missouri, Oct. 16 @Nebraska, October 30 Texas A&M.

Star Power: JQB Shawn Bell, So-1L, 6-1, 206; FB Jonathan Evans, Sr-3L, 6-1, 244; WR Marques Roberts, Sr-3L, 6-2, 224; C Glen Oskin, Jr-2L, 6-5, 300; RG Lequalan McDonald, Jr-2L, 6-5, 330; LT Quintin Outland, Sr-3L, 6-5, 324; LB Justin Crooks, Sr-3L, 6-0, 230; DE Khari Long, Sr-3L, 6-4, 254; FS Maurice Lane, Jr-2L, 5-11, 183; OS Willie Andrews, Jr-2L, 5-10, 186; P Daniel Sepulveda, So-1L, 6-3, 214.

Notable Additions: QB Dane King, Jr-Tr, Blinn Junior College (Gonzales HS), 6-2, 205; OL Yancy Boatner, So-Tr, Dixie State (Hamilton HS) 6-4, 305; DE Montez Murphy, Jr-Tr, Coffeeville CC (Centreville, Ill.) 6-6, 260; Anderson Horn, So., Texas State (Deer Park HS), 6-5, 246.

Notable Subtractions: TB Rashad Armstrong, WR Robert Quiroga, SS Derrick Cash, LB John Garrett, LB Stephen Sepulveda, CB Matt Johnson

Notable Returnees: TB Anthony Krieg, Sr-3L, 6-1, 217; TB Jonathan Golden, Sr-3L, 6-1, 221, RT Nick Pace, So-1L, 6-3, 270; DT M.T. Robinson, So-1L, 6-1, 295; DT Quincy Jenkins, So-1L, 6-1, 281; OS Maurice Linquist, So-1L, 5-11, 202.

09/11/04Texas State
09/25/04North Texas
10/23/04Iowa State
10/30/04Texas A&M
11/06/04@Texas Tech
11/13/04@Oklahoma State
Offensive Overview: Key to the productivity of the Baylor offense will be in finding a replacement for Rashad Armstrong, who rushed for 1,074 yards and six touchdowns last fall. The Bears' offensive backfield has Jonathan Golden coming back after a redshirt season, and Anthony Krieg who rushed for 222 yards last season. Don't count out sophomore RB Paul Mosley, the 6-3, 215-pounder from Austin Anderson, either. Mosley impressed coaches in the spring with his running abilities. Another tailback in the mix is So-1L Brandon Whitaker (5-10, 190). The fullback duties will again fall on Sr. Jonathan Evans. Evans only rushed for 65 yards last fall, but picked up another 132 by 14 pass receptions. His best asset, however, is as a tremendous blocker. Jonathan Evans can "plow the field."

Shawn Bell, who ended the season as the Baylor starter with a very impressive game against Oklahoma, is back for his second season. His biggest competition would appear to come from newcomer Dane King from Blinn JC, where he was named second-team junior college All-America after last season. The best "athlete" of the group is redshirt freshman Terrance Parks (6-4, 220), but he is also young and inexperienced.

With an offensive line that is experienced, but shallow in depth, the Baylor offense should be improved this season. Keeping that line healthy, and at the same time having two or three others step up into the rotation will have to happen. The receivers are "salty" and will keep defenses honest working out of multiple pro-sets.

Defensive Overview: Last year's Defensive Coordinator John Goodner got his best performance from his Bears in the second half of last year's Oklahoma game. Down 34-3, the Baylor Defense held the vaunted Oklahoma Offense to just one touchdown, but sacked Jason White, who would win the coveted Heisman Trophy, five times. Several more times Baylor defenders would deposit White to the ground as he attempted passes. It was a valiant effort, but John Goodner retired. Enter Bill Bradley, former New York Jet secondary coach, and Texas Longhorn player, and assistant coach as Baylor's newest Defensive Coordinator, a key element in the Bear's defense this fall.

The defensive front returns basically intact, with only DE Dominick Cravens graduating. Replacing him will be a touted Montez Murphy who changed his commitment to Kentucky to follow the coaching staff to Baylor. A problem in grade calculations, however, kept Murphy on the sidelines last year, but with two more years of eligibility remaining, Montez is finally ready to go. At the other DE spot, Khari Long is certainly no stranger. Long has the size, speed, and talent to be a dominant force in the Big 12 and only big things are expected from him. The interior line, made up of three sophomores and a junior listed on the two-deep, is young, but they'll only get better.

John Garrett and Stephen Sepulveda are gone, but Justin Crooks, one of the more consistent Baylor players since he played as a true freshman, is back. Justin is good enough that he's expected to be named to the Butkus Award watch list when it's announced on August 19. There is experience in the remaining linebackers, but all eyes will be on incoming freshmen Bradley Bullitt, Ben Hixson, and Marcus Mead in August.

The strength of the defense in both talent and depth will certainly be the secondary. Willie Andrews, Maurice Lane, C.J. Wilson, James Todd, Anthony Arline, and Michael Boyd are just a few of the names fans will hear about in 2004, but there are plenty more. Players redshirted last fall who will also be involved will be Nick Fellows, Kyle Seals, and Josh Bell, among others.

Senior linebacker Justin Crooks came on strong a year ago and the Baylor coaching staff is counting on him to assume an even bigger role in 2004. Recognized as an outstanding team leader, Crooks should contend for 2004 All- Big 12 Conference honors after ranking second on the team in total tackles as a junior with 72 stops (45 solo). Crooks was one of 60 players recently named to the Football Writers Association of America's 2004 Bronko Nagurski National Watch List, which is a compilation of college football's best defensive players regardless of position.

Special Teams Overview: Special teams at Baylor are spelled S-E-P-U-L-V-E-D-A, Daniel Sepulveda, that is. Daniel came out of nowhere last year as a non-scholarship redshirt freshman to wind up as one of the premier punters in the Big 12. Daniel averaged 43.1 yards per kick last fall, and will be counted on to pick up where he left off and be even better this year. Oh, and he was put on scholarship.

The other half of the kicking duties will fall on Kenny Webb who proved to be the most consistent of all kickers last fall. Like Sepulveda, Webb is also a former walk-on.

Defensive special teams will miss the "guided missile" Robert Quiroga, but someone from the redshirt ranks or hopefully a back-up, will step up to take his place.

Baylor may not win the Big 12 Title, but... they are beginning to take the shape of a team that may have a say in who does. Long the doormat of the Big 12 and the Big 12 South, the Bears are looking for some payback for some lopsided scores handed to them a season ago. If they can stay relatively healthy and have a couple of positions come around, they could begin to finally turn things around.

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