Scouting Report: Baylor Bears

Baylor is better but in the Big 12 South better is a relative term and it may not get you much higher up the ladder. "It's a good thing for the Big 12 and the Big 12 South," Baylor head coach Art Briles said, noting that four South teams are ranked in the top 10. "Shoot, what we need to be is one of those being looked at instead of being the looker. It certainly gives us motivation."

Saturday is homecoming at Oklahoma State, it's a big stakes game for the Cowboys, and head coach Mike Gundy is still frustrated over how he was treated in one season at Baylor. Tee it up.

Baylor may have finally made a winning coaching hire last December when they decided on Houston head coach and former Cougars player Art Briles to take over their program. They paid plenty for the architect of a turnaround at Houston, but so far at 3-3 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 play, the school seems to be getting its monies worth.

Let's start on offense where a veteran offensive line led by senior tackles Jason Smith and Dan Gay has done such a good job that the Bears are averaging a whopping 206 yards rushing a game. The offensive line starts it all on an offense that is scoring 32 points a contest and averaging 403 yards of total offense. Those are big numbers for the Bears at the midway point of the season.

The flash on offense is freshman quarterback Robert Griffin out of Copperas Cove. The 6-3, 200-pound speedster won an individual Big 12 track title after finishing up spring football during a semester where he reported early and skipped the final semester of his senior year in high school. He is very mature for his age and it has shown.

Griffin has run for 421 yards and is averaging five yards a carry. His passing was slower to come around but he was 21 of 24 last week against Iowa State for more than 300 yards. He is completing 62 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception after 128 attempts.

"He understands where we want him to go with the ball," Briles said of Griffin. "It's a good thing going on right now and we want to keep it that way. We knew he was gonna be good. He's intelligent and unselfish. Those are two pretty good characteristics for a quarterback."

Jay Fiinley has come on to help out at the running game and has now passed Griffin to lead the team in rushing. Kendall Wright, David Gettis, and senior Thomas White are the three leading pass catchers.

The defense is improving at a similar pace, maybe even a little faster, than the offense. Led by linebacker Joe Pawelek (68 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and a fumble recovery) and safety Jordan Lake (39 total tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble) the Bears are limiting opponents to 25.7 points and 351 yards a game.

Again, like on offense, those numbers represent a huge improvement. Baylor is also a solid hitting football team and Jordan Lake's big blow on Zac Robinson last year was one of the harder hits that Robinson has been dealt over the last two seasons.

Briles says he is not satisfied, not even pleased, but can tell the program is moving in the right direction.

"I don't know if you're ever pleased," he said. "If you're 6-0 you're still not pleased because you're never totally pleased in this business. But we've made some positive steps. We just need to keep moving forward. We're starting to understand what we're doing."

Special Teams
Special teams are solid as kicker Ben Parks is 4-of-5 on field goals and solid on extra points. The punter is Derek Epperson and he is more than solid. Last week Mikail Baker returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown.

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