Big 12 Media Days Preview: Baylor

SAN ANTONIO – One of my favorite coaches in the Big 12 is Baylor's Guy Morriss. When talking to Morriss on the radio Monday I asked him what his state of mind was after that last season's collapse following the injury to quarterback Shawn Bell and with the loss of close to 30 seniors. He said he was very frustrated, but he also said he is over it now and ready to move on.

For Baylor there are still a lot more bumps to smooth out in the persistent battle to turn it around.

"I'm excited to be here," Morriss told the media. "I'm glad we made it. Wasn't sure if the plane was going to get off the ground or not. We're looking forward to '07. Our chemistry is good. I think our players are coming together as a team. We've had a good spring. Had a great summer. I think our message to our football team has been almost daily, you know, all the running we're doing, all the lifting we're doing doesn't amount to a hill of beans if we don't take it to the field. And that's where we've got to have some results, is between the white lines this year.

"Just playing close is no good and those type of things. So we've got to find a way to win some closer games. And I believe our kids believe they can win. Obviously we still have to find out just how deep does that belief go. And that's why we line up to play. We're excited about the opportunity to get started. I think as in the past the key for us and our season, our goal, is our non-conference schedule. We need to come out of non-conference at the very worst 3-1, but we definitely feel like we can be 4-0. We'll see what happens from there."

Longtime friend and defensive coordinator Bill Bradley is gone, headed back to the NFL, but Morriss said he is pleasantly surprised over his move to promote Larry Hoefer to the job. In Baylor's spring game there weren't any touchdowns scored, meaning either very stout defense or a problem on offense.

"Well, I think that our kids believe in Coach Hoefer," said Morriss, who insisted that they went plain vanilla on offense in the spring game with suspected TCU fans (spies) in the stands at Floyd Casey Stadium. "He was with John Goodner at Texas Tech and Spike Dykes when this whole 4-2-5 deal got implemented. He knows the system and I believe the kids have great confidence in Coach Hoefer, as I do, based on the fact that he's been in that particular system for so long, I don't know if there's anybody in the country that could tell you any more about the 4-2-5 defense and how it's supposed to work than Larry Hoefer.

"I didn't want to make a wholesale change in our defense," continued Morriss. "We had to go through that offensively the year before. And to some degree I think that was part of our problem last year was we were learning a new offensive system. And so we were fortunate enough that we could promote from the inside and not have to make a wholesale change in our defensive schemes."

At quarterback, the ever present question with all schools in attendance on Monday. Morriss was the most convincing in promoting a real fight to the finish for a starting job in August.

"Number one, John David Weed has closed the gap, but John David is doing some things now that he did not do when he first arrived on campus," said Morriss. "He's spent a lot more time in the film room. He's more familiar with the system. He's more comfortable with the system. He's closed the gap on Michael. But being a former player, I don't think throwing 7-on-7 two or three times a week during the summer gets Michael Machen real excited, to be honest with you. So maybe that's where the difference comes in.

"Michael is a guy, I feel like, when we tee it up in the fall is going to be there, and I'm not going to say right now he's going to be our starter, because you can't ignore the fact that John David is closing the gap. So we should have a good time sorting it out. As far as our quarterback position, we got better depth than we've ever had before. So we're excited about those four guys. It will be a two-man race going into the camp."

Baylor is picked sixth in the Big 12 South and by the pre-season poll count it was the easiest pick the media had to make. Morriss hopes that in the end it will be the most embarrassing pick that the media made and that he can finish a season at Baylor with something other than frustration.

GoPokes Top Stories