Baylor Preview: Offense

Baylor coach Art Briles has proven at least one thing at several different levels: the man can coach an offense.

So how does Baylor's spread differ from those that Texas has faced so far this year? The primary difference is how often the Bears test defenses with vertical routes. Quarterback Nick Florence (6-1 205) has completed a whopping 14 passes of 40-or-more yards, hitting on nearly three per game.

Remember when any offensive performance over 400 yards was considered a great one? Florence averages 404.4 yards per game by himself. He's completing 63.6 yards per pass for 1,874 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he also has 148 rushing yards, including a 60-yarder. Florence can turn the ball over at times, as he's thrown nine interceptions, almost two per contest. Bryce Petty (6-3 235) is a big, athletic backup who played in the fourth quarter against TCU.

Of course, somebody has to catch those passes, and the Bears employ arguably the Big 12's fastest receiving corps, one that thrives on making big plays. The best of the bunch is Terrance Williams (6-2 205), the nation's top receiver and arguably the Big 12's most difficult matchup. Putting up 830 yards and eight touchdowns is a great season … but Williams hit those numbers so far, in five games, this year. He's averaging 22.4 yards per catch. Inside receiver Tevin Reese (5-10 165) is another tremendous deep threat, catching 23 passes for 499 yards (21.7 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Lanear Sampson (5-11 205) brings plenty of experience to the other outside receiver spot, and he has 25 catches for 331 yards and three scores. Inside receiver Levi Norwood (6-1 190) rounds out the foursome, and he's seen the least use so far, catching 14 balls for 155 yards. When the Bears employ a tight end, it's Jordan Najvar (6-6 260). The former Stanford transfer has just five catches, but two have gone for touchdowns.

Jared Salubi (5-9 210) has been solid as the team's starting running back, rushing for 357 yards and two touchdowns, though you get the feeling the Bears would like a bit more explosiveness there. And that could come with more reps for former blue-chip recruit Lache Seastrunk, an Oregon transfer. Seastrunk has just 15 carries, but has rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown. He figures to get more work as the season goes on. Glasco Martin (6-1 220) is the bigger utility back. He serves as a nice change of pace, and gets the goal-line touches, scoring five times.

Art Briles has typically had strong offensive lines, but this group hasn't quite been as good as some previous versions. Baylor is rushing for 4.3 yards per carry, not a bad number, but one that ties with Kansas for seventh-best in the league. And they've allowed 10 sacks, the second-worst in the league. Still, this is a group that is certainly capable of strong performances. In left guard Cyril Richardson (6-5 335), right guard Cameron Kaufhold (6-4 310) and center Ivory Wade (6-4 310), the Bears have a group that has 90 career starts among them. Richardson is one of the Big 12's best interior lineman, and has graded out as the Bears' top line player, with a season-long grade of 89.8 percent and 7.6 knockdowns. Wade has the second-best grade at 88.6. The Bears are much less experienced at tackle with left tackle Spencer Drango (6-6 310) and right tackle Troy Baker (6-6 300). Drango shows plenty of potential, and isn't far from Wade's grade, putting up an 88.4 mark.

Aaron Jones (6-3 190) has been inconsistent on field goals, making just 5-of-9. He's missed one from 20-29 and one from 30-39, while he has made just 1-of-3 attempts from 40-49. Antwan Goodley (5-10 220) and Darius Jones (5-11 190) haven't been able to break out as kickoff returners, while Norwood has a 45-yard punt return to his credit.


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