Scouting Report: Baylor Bears

It would be easy to dismiss Baylor as a lightweight opponent now that the Bears starting quarterback Shawn Bell is done for the season. But last week in his starting debut redshirt freshman Blake Syzmanski proved that he was more than capable. Syzmanski threw for one score and ran for two more.

His numbers, 16 of 30 for 197 yards with one touchdown and one interception, were pretty good for a first time out and with a little help the Bears could have been more competitive with Texas Tech. The 6-4, 205-pound Syzmanski showed poise and has more speed and running ability than Bell giving the Texas Tech-copied offense the Bears run an added dimension.

Using the Tech-style offense that coordinator Lee Hayes learned from observing Tech head coach Mike Leach up close, Baylor has 424 passes for 2,850 yards while running only 194 times for a league low 437 yards.

With Syzmanski the Bears ran a lot of empty formation to make reads easier. That means running backs Paul Mosely and Brandon Whittaker have gone primarily unused. Both backs do have ability, but the problem is Baylor is not that strong on the offensive line. They are banged up and have been through a lot of personnel trying to find the best combination. Where Tech has only allowed 13 sacks with their wide splits and almost exclusive pass protection, the Bears front has allowed 29 sacks this season.

The strength of the offense is the wide receivers and primarily the duo of Trent Shelton and Dominique Zeigler. Those two have already become the most prolific pass-catching duo in a single season at the school. Zeigler has 47 receptions for 677 yards while Shelton has 49 receptions for 772 yards. The two have combined for 11 touchdowns. When they get man coverage on either it is almost an automatic go deep situation.

Defensively, the Bears are best at forcing turnovers as they have recovered seven fumbles and have a league-high 15 interceptions. The secondary is strong and led by All-Big 12 corner C.J. Wilson. Anthony Arline at the other corner is not shabby. The safeties of Dwain Crawford and Brandon Stiggers are solid. Redshirt freshman Joe Pawelek is the leading tackler and is a promising player for the future at the middle linebacker position. The defensive line is a little undersized and has struggled against the run. The Bears are last is rushing defense, total defense, and 11th in scoring defense.

Obviously, this appears to be a good matchup for the Cowboys along with the fact that last year's game, the 44-34 loss at Baylor, serves as extra motivation. However, the Bears are backed into a corner with two games left and they need to win both to become bowl eligible. Expect a fanatical effort by Baylor.

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