Baylor Coaches Ready for Season

With the kickoff of his 4th season just days away, Guy Morriss has already earned respect for making Baylor more competitive, now he's ready to see his team win. All the coaches can do now is hope their training has paid off.

Here is an offer for you: you can be solely responsible for taking a small private school in a mega conference and a string of terrible losing seasons, and you can be responsible for turning them into a winner. Oh, and you only have a limited period of time in today's college coaching atmosphere.

You have to admit Guy Morriss, the head coach for the Baylor University football team, had a tough task in front of him. But why not at Baylor? After all, Baylor has been highly successful in college football in the past. In fact, during Morriss's senior year at TCU in 1972, Baylor and then new head coach Grant Teaff took it to TCU 42-9.

All Morriss's teams have done since he arrived on campus is get better. Some might quibble about issues here and there, but one thing is for certain to anyone with an eye for college football, the Bears are not an automatic 30 point win anymore.

But Coach Morriss is ready to take this team to new heights. In very simple terms, he has stated over and over, "we want to make a bowl."

So with the pressure seemingly on this season, Coach Morriss decided to make a few coaching changes to add to what he already had - and those changes might be the key to getting to that bowl.

All Baylor fans have heard the story already - new offensive coordinator Lee Hays was driving down the highway when Coach Morriss asked him about coming to Baylor. Hays thought it was someone pulling his leg - but soon found out it really was Morriss and he really did want him to take over the offense at Baylor.

Hays has been instrumental in installling the Bears new offense this spring and fall, and now all that awaits is for fans to see results. Is Hays nervous about it, "I won't joke about it. I haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of weeks. But that's how it is for me. I'll be worried and as soon as we finish the game Sunday, I'll be worried about the next one."

Hays has been a coach for 9 years now, entering the profession after 9 years with the United States Marine Corp - where he successfully completed sniper school. Hays has tried to carry over that precision and instill it into his players, often talking about perfection with his players during practice.

Hays prior coaching stops never carried the weight of a Big 12 program trying to make a bowl for the first time in years - and although from the outside the pressue seems to be immense, Hays says "The only pressure that I feel is doing a good job for Baylor and Coach Morriss."

Defensive Coordinator Bill Bradley has equal pressure on the other side of the ball, where he will be replacing several key parts. But in his 3 years here, Bradley has shown he really knows how to mold a group of winners.

Baylor fans remember the last coaching regime, when it was common to lose games by 40+ points. Even when the offense isn't performing at its highest level, Bradley has made sure the 40+ defeats are an oddity.

Bringing a ton of experience to the table, Bradley has been able to quickly help the defense move up the stats lists. Bradley came to Baylor from the New York Jets, where his defensive backfield was a known strength. In addition to a stop with the Buffalo Bills, Bradley has coaching experience dating back to the early 80's on various pro levels.

While Bradley doesn't have anything to prove to the Baylor faithful, he is anxious to see how his new players will do and whether they can match the strong effort of last year's squad. "They're ready to play. So, now we just have to see how we do when the bullets are flying."

It's not only the coordinators or Coach Morriss who want to prove that Baylor can be a winner; the responsibility falls on all the coaches. Coach Wesley McGriff and Larry Hoefer have put together very nice defensive backfields the last couple of years. Although McGriff has several experienced players on the corners for him this year, it will be interesting to see how the whole unit copes with the loss of two mainstays in Willie Andrews and Maurice Lane.

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Gary Kinne will see his first action on the college level as he directs the linebackers. Kinne was an all-conference linebacker during his playing days at Baylor - but it's success in the high school coaching ranks that he'll have to rely on now. With two new starters in Baylor's 4-2-5 scheme, everyone will be watching with earnest to see how they perform.

Coach Don Wnek is into his second year now as the defensive line coach. Baylor's defensive line has been average the past several seasons, and many are anxious to see whether Wnek's 25 years of coaching experience pays off with his players. They will be tested out of the gate to see if they can help slow up TCU's running attack.

Harold Jackson's resume speaks for itself at the wide receiver position. And now with the talent Baylor has assembled at the wideout position, Jackson has a chance to really make a mark in the coaching profession.

Baylor's new offense will be very dependent on the receivers knowing their routes and executing them to perfection - although the natural ability is there, Baylor fans are anxious to see if it will result in points on the scoreboard.

Chris Lancaster survived the offensive coaching exodus after last season along with Coach Jackson, but he now feels the pressure of his new position. Although he is the new running backs coach, more emphasis will be placed on his ability to have the special teams ready.

In the past couple of seasons, especially with the skills of All American punter Daniel Sepulveda, the special teams has been a strength for Baylor. But the real eye will be on the return games, where New England Patriots draft pick Willie Andrews has left a void. Although you never know who Lancaster will throw out there the first game, it should be interesting to see how successful they can be.

Baylor's offensive transformation was complete with the hiring of quarterbacks coach Wes Phillips and Graduate Assistant David Nichol. Although the two are both young coaches, they bring experience and knowledge in the Bears offense. Although it's not solely their responsibility, the Bears will be judged on whether their efficiency in the red zone improves this year. Phillips and Nichol likely will play key roles on helping players figure out the timing of the offense and how effective, quick strikes can put points on the board.

While Guy Morriss continues to prepare to play his alma mater, one has to know he's wondering how his off season moves will pay off on the field. This being his 4th year at Baylor, all he knows is he's ready to win more, and get to a bowl.

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