Baylor a claw-less Bear

There's been some debate since the inception of the Big 12 as to whether Baylor truly belongs, a lone private-school minnow in a sea of big-state barracudas.

BU athletics has had some success; the Baptists have fielded one of the better baseball programs in the conference and their basketball program under Dave Bliss has made impressive strides to reach a competitive level. But the football program under coaches Dave Roberts and Kevin Steele has been mostly awful. Baylor, with its loss to Texas Tech last week, has now dropped 26 straight Big 12 games. Sure, they’ve hung in with Texas in a couple of games, and shocked the Horns in ‘97, but the Bears have played the role of a Big 12 breather for most of its conference foes.

The 2001 season has been no exception. Things started off on a high note as the Bears knocked off Arkansas State 24-3 in their opener and followed that up with a 16-13 squeaker against New Mexico. But then conference play started, and the results have looked all too familiar - Baylor is now 0-fer in Big 12 play (and 2-5 overall) after losing to Texas Tech big Saturday. Along the way, the Bears have been slaughtered a couple of times, losing 48-7 to Nebraska and 41-0 to Iowa State of all people. Then, the Raiders put the biggest hurt on BU last Saturday, pasting the Bears 63-19. But BU played respectably in losing to OU 33-17 and came within a Hail Mary toss into the Aggie end zone of upending A&M at Kyle Field before falling 16-10. So against Texas, as usual, expect to see a fanatical effort.

That effort offensively will probably be led by former Horn QB Greg Cicero, who has gotta be loving Baylor's hurry-up, shot-gun-using, spread offense. The Bears are passing it an average of about 38 times a game, completing around 18. Cicero has hit 94 of 202 passes for 920 yards with three TDs and nine INTs. But against Tech, an ineffective Cicero gave way to Josh Zachry who led the Bears on three TD drives, two on touchdown passes. So the Horns may face a QB with a bit of a hot hand in Zachry. For the season, Zachry has played in five games, completing 35 of his 57 pass attempts for 303 yards with two TDs and three INTs.

Wideouts Reggie Newhouse, 6-1, 194 JR, the son of former Cowboy great Robert Newhouse, John Martin, a 6-0, 183 redshirt frosh, and Andra Fuller, 5-11, 179, SR, are the QBs’ favorite targets in the Bears’ three-wide attack. Newhouse leads the team with 35 catches for 389 yards, followed by Martin with 19 for 192 and Fuller with 17 for 159. On the ground, Baylor has managed only 559 yards on 249 attempts. The Bears' leading rusher going into the Tech game was FB Melvin Barnett who had all of 182 yards on 49 carries. RBs Jonathan Golden and Anthony Krieg share the tailback load. Krieg led the Bears against Tech with 67 yards on 16 carries.

Overall, the Baylor O is averaging an anemic 256.3 yards (176.4 through the air and 79.9 on the ground, including 2.2 per rushing attempt) and just over 13 points per game.

The Bears’ defense has played good ball at times, particularly when putting some heat on the passer. BU is tied for second in the Big 12 in sacks at three per game. The Bears posted an incredible 8 sacks against OU at Norman so don’t be shocked to see Chris Simms under duress at times. The leading sack masters are junior left end A.C. Collier, a 6-4, 232, and sophomore right end Aaron Lard, a 6-2, 256, each with four QB drops. Lard, with eight TFLs, is just one behind DT Kevin Stevenson for the team lead in that category as well. Former blue-chipper John Garrett, 6-1, 238 heads the Bear LB corps. Garrett is fourth on the team in tackles with 55, including five TFLs and a sack, and has four QB hurries and two forced fumbles. Senior Samir Al-Amin, a 6-1, 209 senior who originally committed to Texas before flip-flopping to BU for some unfathomable reason, mans the free safety spot and is second on the team in tackles with 68, while the team's leading tackler sophomore Derrick Cash, 5-11, 212, is at the strong safety spot. Corners Marcus Stenix and Bobby Hart are a redshirt frosh and a sophomore respectively, so there should be a chance for Simms & Co. to take these guys to school.

Most everyone on the schedule has done just that so far. The Baylor D surrenders 432.3 yards in total offense (238.3 through the air and 194 on the ground) and 31 points per game. The Bears have picked off just six passes (two by Cash) but are tied for the national lead with 14 fumble recoveries on the season.

Randy Davis can be a threat returning kicks. He took one back 93 yards for a score against the Sooners, but on his other eight returns he's managed a pedestrian 14 yards per return. Hart, who also returns kickoffs, has a healthy 10.4-yard punt return average. And as seems to be the case very week, the opposing punter is far better statistically than UT's Brian Bradford. Adam Stiles averages 42.8 yards per punt. Nate Vasher, though, could have a chance for a big return day. The Bears are giving up 11 yards per punt return. BU field goal kickers Daniel Andino and Adam Stiles have combined to make just six of 12 attempts.

[Editor's note: Clendon Ross contributed to this article.]

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