BAYLOR vs. CAL - as the season opens

In just days, what the Baylor faithful have been waiting for ever since the curtain closed on a lackluster, 3-8 season in November, 2001, will arrive. Baylor will open the season at CAL Berkeley on August 31, 2002, at 12:30 P.D.T. and hopes to answer some much asked questions, the main one being, "Are you any better?" This week we'll look at some of the match-ups that will present themselves on Saturday, and see what looms ahead.

This first comparison of CAL and Baylor will be between the offensive line of CAL and the defensive front seven of Baylor.

Jr-2L LT Mark Wilson, 6-5, 255 vs. Sr-3L RDE Charles Mann
Mann is a seasoned, fifth-year veteran who has had to go up against some of the best LT's in the Big 12 over the past three seasons. I say LT's because Mann normally plays on the left side, but has moved over in place of the injured Aaron Lard. Meanwhile, Wilson, who also has seen a redshirt year, received all kinds of accolades as a second-year freshman, including freshman team All-American, and first team All-Pac 10. However, last season, probably due to the 1-10 record, he was limited to "team honors."

Sr LG Scott Tercero, 6-5, 295 vs. Sr-3L DT Kevin Stevenson, 6-2, 284 Kevin Stevenson has been a starter on defense since the first game of his sophomore year. Last season he had seven tackles, a sack, and three tackles for loss against Oklahoma and had six tackles against Nebraska. He led Baylor with 12 tackles for loss and was third on the team with 3.5 sacks. Meanwhile, Tercero was CAL's most consistent offensive lineman last season, starting all 11 games at RG. He made honorable mention All-PAC10.

Sr-1L C Ryan Jones, 6-4, 285 vs Sr-1L MLB Greg Wade, 6-3, 237
As a JC-Tr last season, Greg Wade, playing strong linebacker, wound up starting 8 games for Baylor. He was among the team leaders in tackles with 66. He had two games last season with nine tackles against Nebraska and Oklahoma State, both highs for the season. This season, Wade moves inside to MLB where he has shown in practice that he has found a home. Ryan Jones is a former walk-on who was redshirted in 1998, then spent '99 on the scout team playing DT. In 2000, he was a reserve OG, but did not play. Then in 2001, Jones made appearances in 9 games, starting in 7 of them. Five of those starts were as the center in games 2-7. He is a PAC10 All-Academic All-American who squats 500 and cleans 330.

So-Sq RG Jonathan Giesell, 6-4, 285 vs. Sr-3L NT Ethan Kelley, 6-2, 304
Ethan Kelley, after a redshirt freshman season, spent his first two years on offense. In 1999, Kelley was the starting left guard for all 11 games. In 2000, Kelley started the first 7 games at left tackle and the next three at left guard. He did not start the final game. Midway through spring training of 2000, Ethan Kelley was moved to his first love – defense. Kelley became a starter and finished the season with 58 tackles. Ethan Kelley is the strongest player on defense. Drawing his blocking assignment will be Jonathan Giesell, who coincidentally, is a converted DL. As a true freshman in 2000, Giesell had surgery after two games and missed the season, getting a medical redshirt. Last season, as a DL, he did not play. This past spring, Jonathan was moved to the OL and this weekend will draw his first assignment, Mr. Kelley. He'll probably be aided at times by the center, Ryan Jones, but neither will have an easy time of it.

Jr-2L RT Chris Murphy, 6-6, 295 vs. LDE Sr-1L A.C. Collier
Collier, going into the season, is probably Baylor's most respected defender. He was called by Texas' Mike Williams, a high NFL draft pick, as the most difficult DE he had to block last season. Last season, Collier played in 11 games, starting 6. He had 46 tackles, 11 for a combined loss of 57 yards, 25 QB pressures, and 6 sacks for another 52 yards in losses. Against Texas and Mr. Williams, Collier had two sacks, four hurries, and a pass deflection. He is projected to be even better this season. Chris Murphy was another walk-on in 1999 who made the scout team. In 2000, he played some in one game against Washington State. Last season, he made one game appearance, coming off the bench in game two against BYU. This will be his first start.

Sr-3L TE Tom Swoboda, 6-4, 240 vs. Jr-2L SLB Stephen Sepulveda and Collier
As a true freshman in 2000, Sepulveda played in 10 games, missing only the first game against North Texas. That year, as a reserve, he collected 10 tackles. One year later, Sepulveda started all 11 games at SLB, finishing fifth on the team with 69 tackles. He made 7 stops and had a 14-yard sack against Oklahoma, had 8 tackles at Missouri, and had 6 tackles, forced a fumble and scored on a fumble recovery against Nebraska. Tom Swoboda, like Sepulveda, also played as a true freshman – in one game, against Nebraska. In 2000 he saw action in several games, but did not catch any passes. In 2001, he caught 8 passes for 89 yards, starting 8 games. His longest reception was in a game against BYU when he picked up 42 yards. Swoboda will also, most likely, be providing assistance to RT Chris Murphy in containing Mr. Collier.

Baylor certainly seems to have the bigger advantage in experience in the above match-ups. Baylor will bring a seasoned defense into California, and will seemingly face an offensive line with some question marks. It should prove to be an interesting afternoon.

Bears Illustrated Top Stories