Foes To Know: Baylor

RaiderPower.com is taking a closer look at Texas Tech's 12 regular season football opponents in 2015. Senior writer Joe Yeager will spotlight two players who could pose problems for the Red Raiders. One will be on offense and the other will be from the defense. Up next in the series is Baylor, led by defensive end Shawn Oakman.

The 2015 schedule-makers either wronged Texas Tech or did them a tremendous favor with the upcoming Big 12 slate. The Red Raiders open conference play with defending champ TCU in Lubbock, and the very next week travel to the Metroplex to tackle the other defending champ in Baylor.

Tech gets their toughest games out of the way early, but they could start out conference play 0-2 in the process.

Last year Tech took its worst beating in school history against TCU losing 82-27, but very nearly upset the Bears, losing 48-46. Of Baylor’s 11 wins in 2014, the squeaker with Tech was the closest. That narrow escape ensures that Art Briles’ gang will not take the Red Raiders lightly in the upcoming season.

Offensive Player to Watch
NAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTNOTEWORTHY
Corey ColemanWRJRRichardson, TX5-11190Caught 11 TDs, averaged 17.7 YPC

The Players to Watch for Baylor wear jersey numbers 1 and 2, with Corey Coleman sporting the former. And indeed, he will contend strongly for consideration as the number one receiver in the country in 2015. Toward that end he, along with sophomore K.D. Cannon, have been tabbed for the Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list. Naturally, the presence of Cannon makes Coleman’s life easier, while the opposite is equally true.

Coleman sat out the first three games of 2014 with a hamstring injury, but made up for lost time and then some. He finished the year with 64 grabs for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging a whopping 17.5 yards per catch.

Coleman’s numbers for vertical leap, 40-yard dash, and broad jump are best on the team, and that athleticism shows on the field. Coleman is equally dangerous on the bubble screen and the go route. He has the quickness and instincts to make the first guy miss on the short stuff, and the speed to create separation deep. All in all, Coleman is the type of receiver teams try to contain rather than shut down.

Defensive Player to Watch
NAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTNOTEWORTHY
Shawn OakmanDESRLansdowne, Pennsylvania6-9280He's 6-9, 280

Shawn Oakman may be the biggest No. 2 in football history. With a 6-foot-9 280-pound frame that looks very much like that of Ed “Too Tall” Jones, there’s no missing Oakman on the field, although many a quarterback wishes Oakman would miss them.

Unfortunately for them, Oakman doesn’t miss often. In 2014 he tallied 51 tackles from his defensive end position, 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks (a Baylor single-season record), to go along with three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three pass breakups.

Although Oakman actually looks a bit skinny next to the various behemoths on a Big 12 football field, he is explosive and very, very strong. Indeed, Oakman doesn’t get most of his sacks through speed rushes or with spin moves, but rather is a bull rusher. When he extends his arms and gets into the frame of an offensive lineman, Oakman simply overpowers them on his way to the quarterback.

Few Big 12 tackles are capable of handling him one-on-one, although Tech’s Le’Raven Clark may be one of them. Problem is, Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett moves Oakman around and often has him loop inside on pass rushes. This movement, combined with the presence of the enormously strong Andrew Billings at defensive tackle, makes it even tougher to neutralize Oakman than it ordinarily would be. Life in the Big 12 is full of small challenges.

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