Big 12 Football Preview - Baylor

Last season: 3-8 overall (1-7 Big 12). Iowa State hadn't won a Big 12 game since Nov. 2002, but snapped that streak last October by beating the Bears 26-25 in Waco.


This season: Iowa State will host Baylor on Oct. 8


Key Returners – The Bears will return 48 letterwinners, including 13 starters.


"I feel comfortable that our kids now understand the schemes," said head coach Guy Morriss. "They are comfortable with their coaching staff, and there is that relationship that I think has to form, you know, over a trial period, you know trial in games under fire and that kind of stuff, and they know what to expect from us and us from them."




Three of the Bears' four returning offensive starters return to the offensive line, including senior left guards Legualan McDonald and Glen Oskin and senior left tackle Evan Stone.


After starting 12 games on Baylor's offensive line in 2003 as a true freshman, Nick Pace sat out last season with a medical redshirt. He is listed at No. 1 on the Baylor depth chart at right offensive tackle.


Morriss worked with the offensive line a lot during spring ball and the group has developed as a whole.


"I will continue to work with that group quite a bit this fall. I think it paid off some last year," Morriss said. "We made some philosophical changes that helped us, and for whatever reason, I think the kids enjoyed me coming down and working with them, and I think it paid off for us and I am going to continue to do that."


Tulane transfer Will Blaylock is also expected to make a splash on the offensive line.


"He is a kid that, in our scheme, the way we do things, has probably got to be one of the best athletes of the group upfront, the five upfront," Morriss said. "He is a kid that is very sharp mentally, and he is our traffic cop. He sets our protections and controls the blitz pick-up and all those kinds of things that we ask our centers to do. He is very dependable in that regard."


Morriss believes he has a found a pair of running backs that complement each other well in junior Paul Mosley and sophomore Brandon Whitaker.


Mosley, 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, was Baylor's leading rusher a year ago with 536 yards. He likes to use his strength to attack up the middle; whereas 5-foot-10, 198 pounds, Whitaker is a sideline slasher.


Whitaker redshirted the 2004 season, while recovering from a knee injury. He ran for 115 yards on nine carries and scored four touchdowns in Baylor's spring scrimmage.


Junior Shawn Bell will return as the Bears' main signal caller. A season ago, he completed 60.2 percent of his passed for 544 yards and six touchdowns.

Dominique Zeigler and Trent Shelton, both juniors, return to the wide receiver corps. Zeigler caught a team-high 55 catches for 536 yards and five touchdowns; he was an honorable mention all-Big 12 selection by the league's coaches. Shelton had 38 receptions for 426 yards and four touchdowns; he has caught at least one pass in 22 straight games heading into this season. 




Last season was Bill Bradley's first as Baylor's defensive coordinator and under his leadership the Bears' produced four all-Big 12 performers.


Throughout the season the Baylor defense improved, allowing an average of 30 yards less per game than in 2003. (from 450 ypg in 2003 to 421.1 ypg last season).


Eight starters will return, including seven of Baylor's top 10 tacklers from last season. The entire first string secondary also returns, led by free safety Maurice Lane. The senior has led Baylor in tackles the last two seasons. He has 205 career solo tackles, ranking him No. 4 on Baylor's career list.


A second-team 2004 all-Big 12 selection, Lane was No. 3 in the Big 12 with 104 tackles.


"We have enjoyed Moe, getting to know him, watching him play ball," Morriss said. "He has been a great player for us, expecting a big year from him as well. I think there has been some buzz in the media about him and Moe and Willie Andrews being one of the best safeties in the conference this year, and we feel that way about Moe."


Doubling as both an outside safety and return specialist, senior Willie Andrews will continue to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. Last season he led Baylor in quarterback sacks and was the team's third-leading tackler (67).


Colin Allred had a strong spring session and will take over the middle linebacker position; last year he had 14 tackles.


"He probably is the first player that I have had since we have been at Baylor to stand

up and be the kind of leader that we have been looking for for the last two, two and a half years," Morriss said. I don't know if it's that linebacker mentality or just Colin's personality, but I think about most of his teammates think he is half crazy and they are a little scared of him, but he has kind of been the policeman for us since our last game in November last year, and a lot of these other guys have fallen in behind him, but he has been that leadership that we have really been missing for the last couple of seasons and expect him to have a great year there in the middle at the linebacker spot."


Special teams:

Without a doubt the special teams unit is the pride and joy of the Bears. Last year Baylor was ranked No. 5 nationally in net punting (40.6 ypp), No. 35 in kickoff returns (21.7 ypr) and No. 36 in punt returns (11.1 ypr). The Bears' were the only Big 12 team to rank among the nation's top 36 in all three of those statistical categories.

Baylor is anchored by Daniel Sepulveda, who won the 2004 Ray Guy Award given to the nation's top collegiate punter. He was ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 and No.3 nationally in punting, averaging 46 yards per punt. The junior placed 41.9 percent of his punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

"You know, we are very fortunate to have Daniel on our football team, and we first came -- when he first came to Waco the punting game was kind of in a mess, so we were recruiting punters, and Daniel is better to be a linebacker," Morriss said. "So we asked if we have anybody out there that can punt a football, and this kid jumps up and down, raises his hand, and I asked him when was the last time he punted, and it was something like junior high, something like that, and I thought oh, boy, here we go. He picks up the football and kicks the cover off it, and the rest is history. Award winner and we think he is about the best punter in the nation and expect him to be more this year."


Also returning will be first-team all-Big 12 return specialist Willie Andrews. In 2004, the senior ranked No. 6 in the Big 12 and No. 65 nationally with 107.6 all-purpose yards per game – without taking a snap on the offensive side of the ball.


Fast Fact: Baylor has lost 24 straight road games and have never won a Big 12 game on the road. Five of the Bears' first seven games are on the road.


"Confidence, it's a fickle thing and changes a lot," Allred said. "For me, what's most

important is what do you do every day? What did we change from when we got here until now? What's different? Why can I sit here and tell you we are a better team? I can tell you we are a better team. Why? Because we have done things differently.


"I don't want to put it on the guys in the past that they had a negative attitude. We had a lot of negative attitudes around. We have a positive team now. So confidence is built every day. When you see your teammates, you see the difference. You know what I am saying? Hopefully that will carry over to the field. I am pretty much sure it will."


The Schedule:


9/3/05      @ SMU

9/10/05    vs. Samford

9/17/05    @ Army

10/1/05    @ Texas A&M

10/8/05    @ Iowa State

10/15/05  vs. Nebraska

10/22/05  @ Oklahoma

10/29/05  vs. Texas Tech

11/05/05  vs. Texas

11/12/05  @ Missouri

11/19/05  vs. Oklahoma State

AllCyclones Top Stories