Big 12 Preview: Baylor

In conjunction with the Big 12 Football Media Days being held this week in Houston, Go Pokes will be publishing previews on each of the conference's schools.

Baylor Bears
vs. OSU, Nov. 19, at Waco, Texas
Head coach: Guy Morriss (3rd year)
2004 record: 3-8, 1-7 in Big 12

One pleasing thing that stood out in Baylor's spring game was the emerging offensive line. The Bears will be greatly improved in this area, and with quarterback Shawn Bell, and the running back tandem of Paul Mosley and Brandon Whitaker, it's none too late.

Mosley and Whitaker put on a show in the spring game with Mosley finishing with 88 yards on 14 carries, better than six yards per carry. Whitaker brought the fans to their feet with a crowd pleasing 62-yard touchdown run, the like of which Baylor partisans haven't seen in a while. But Morriss, a former offensive lineman, wants to see improvement up front so that the likes of Mosley and Whitaker can put up big numbers this fall. The Bears' offensive line allowed 32 quarterback sacks and only averaged 3.0 yards per carry a year ago.

Baylor will pick up offensively where they left off in 2004. Bell will be the quarterback, so the emphasis will remain on having a balanced running and passing attack. Key losses on offense would include wide receiver Marques Roberts, offensive lineman Quintin Outland, and place kicker Kenny Webb. Baylor will look at two transfers able to play after sitting out. Will Blaylock, from Tulane, will be the center, and Jordan Adams, previously of New Mexico, will be the backup tight end. Key players returning would include Bell, Mosley, and wide receiver Dominique Zeigler (55 catches for 536 yards and five TDs in 2004). In addition to the aforementioned transfers, seniors Glen Oskin and Lequalan McDonald will anchor the offensive line. Freshman wide receiver David Gettis, the most heralded recruit Morriss has landed since being at Baylor, will be looked upon as the deep threat the Bears haven't had the likes of since Melvin Bonner. Gettis is the first Baylor recruit to ever play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Baylor's offense will succeed if the injury bug stays in check.

Defensively, the Bears will line up just like last year despite having to replace linebacker Justin Crooks. Khari Long, a sixth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs will also have to be replaced, but there are some talented players just waiting for an opportunity to show what they can do. Key returning players include Willie Andrews in the secondary and Michael Tolbert at linebacker, but don't overlook redshirt Dan Gay who'll bring his 6-6, 295-pound body to the defensive line. The Bears' defense will succeed if they can continue to maintain a decent pass rush.

Punter Guy Sepulveda, who won the Ray Guy Award last year for being the college game's best, returns for his junior season and could be a dangerous weapon when it comes to field position. Although Sepulveda gets most of the attention when it comes to special teams, don't forget about kick returner Willie Andrews. Andrews led the Big 12 with a 24.7-yard average on kick returns and was third in punt returns last season. He had four of the team's 10 longest plays in 2004, including two kick returns more than 55 yards.

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