Baylor Preview

With Baylor, it's not really appropriate to say this isn't your father's Baylor team. After all, Baylor had its moments before the formation of the Big 12.

But suffice it to say that this is the best group the Bears have put together post-1996, an athletic group capable of biting any team that overlooks them.

Thanks to coach Art Briles, the Bears have been firing on all cylinders this year, especially offensively, where Baylor is scoring almost 43 points per conference game. It isn't surprising, then, that Baylor has a 3-1 record in those games and has already achieved bowl eligibility.

Texas cornerback Aaron Williams might have put it perfectly when he called Robert Griffin III "the heartbeat." Griffin is one of the country's most complete quarterbacks, and has added a high-level passing game to his already scary running game. Make no mistake: there are few, if any, quarterbacks in the nation as fast as the former Big 12 hurdles champion.

But Griffin is so much more than a set of legs with an OK arm. This season, he's been even better as a passer than as a runner. Much of that development has shown during conference season, with Griffin serving as the Big 12's top-rated passer, with an amazing 176.1 passer rating. In Big 12 games, he's throwing for more than 350 yards per game while completing 73.4 percent of his throws and maintaining a 10-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

It doesn't hurt, either, that he has some great weapons around him. Running back Jay Finley is averaging 7.4 yards per carry and 114.5 yards per game in Big 12 play, scoring a touchdown per game.

Receivers Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon, who each run well, average more than 200 combined yards per conference game and have scored eight touchdowns between them in those games. The receiving group is young as well, with the bulk — starters Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams and key reserve Gordon — playing in their sophomore years. Wright is just a junior. In all, five receivers have caught at least 25 passes this year.

The Bears have also been strong on the offensive line, where they have only allowed seven sacks in eight games. Offensive tackle Danny Watkins is the line's leader and an excellent player, though he's also the only senior. The Bears are big on the interior of the line as well, with left guard Cameron Kaufhold (310 pounds), center Philip Blake (315) and Robert T. Griffin (330) helping to crease people in the run game.

The Bears haven't been nearly as effective defensively, where they have been primarily a bend-but-don't-break unit that broke in losses to TCU and Texas Tech, where each squad scored 45 points.

The Bears have been better-than-normal against the run, thanks to a strong defensive line that features a pair of 330 pounds on the interior in Phil Taylor and Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. Redshirt freshman end Tevin Elliott is the defense's top playmaker, and has been one of the better defensive players in the league. He ranks in the Big 12's top five in tackles for loss (eight) and sacks (five).

The Bears also have a linebacking group that runs extremely well. Senior Chris Francis and junior Elliot Coffey have combined for 96 tackles, and they flow to the ball well. Antonio Johnson is a do-it-all type, essentially a big safety who excels as a blitzer. He has three sacks this year.

The Bears aren't great in the secondary, though they're more athletic there than they have been in the past. Byron Landor, a strong safety type player, leads the team with 76 stops.

The Bears have been a work in progress on special teams. The Bears rank eighth in net punting, 11th in the league in kickoff returns and last in kickoff coverage. Kicker Aaron Jones has made all of his extra points, but has been inconsistent on field goals. He has missed twice from 20-29 yards and once apiece from 30-39 and 40-49. He has made both of his 50-yard field goal attempts, though.


QB: 10 Robert Griffin III (6-2 220, So.)

TB: 23 Jay Finley (5-11 205, Sr.)

FB: 49 Kaeron Johnson (6-1 295, So.)

WR: 3 Lanear Sampson (5-11 200, So.)

WR: 2 Terrance Williams (6-2 195, So.)

IR: 1 Kendall Wright (5-10 190, Jr.)

IR: 15 Krys Buerck (5-10 190, Sr.)

TE: 9 Brad Taylor (6-3 240, Sr.)

HB: 21 Jarred Salubi (5-9 205, So.)

LT: 59 Danny Watkins (6-4 310, Sr.)

LG: 71 Cameron Kaufhold (6-4 310, So.)

C: 74 Philip Blake (6-3 315, Jr.)

RG: 79 Robert T. Griffin (6-6 330, Jr.)

RT: 78 Ivory Wade (6-3 295, So.)


DE: 18 Tevin Elliott (6-2 245, rFr.)

DT: 90 Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (6-1 330, Jr.)

NG: 98 Phil Taylor (6-4 340, Sr.)

DE: 13 Tracy Robertson (6-4 280, Jr.)

SLB: 4 Elliot Coffey (6-0 230, Jr.)

MLB: 36 Chris Francis (6-0 235, Sr.)

FLB: 7 Antonio Johnson (6-0 215, Sr.)

LCB: 9 Chance Casey (5-11 185, So.)

FS: 8 Tim Atchison (6-1 200, Sr.)

H: 14 Byron Landor (6-0 210, Sr.)

RCB: 5 Mikail Baker (6-0 200, Sr.)

NB: 17 Mike Hicks (5-10 195, So.)


PK: 43 Aaron Jones (6-2 175, rFr.)

P: 38 Derek Epperson (6-3 240, Sr.)

KR: 2 Williams, AND 5 Baker

PR: 15 Buerck

DS/K: 34 Marcus Santa Cruz (6-3 230, So.)

DS/P: 65 Zach Northern (6-0 255, rFr.)

H: 13 Brody Trahan (6-0 215, rFr.)

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