2012 Baylor Preview – Offense
Baylor WR Tevin Reese
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Baylor Bear Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: How does the nation's No. 2 offense possibly go on without Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, Terrance Ganaway, and linemen Philip Blake and the other Robert Griffin? It's the Art Briles offense. Life will go on. The loss of five NFL draft picks, including a Heisman-winner, would normally be devastating, but offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery has a lot of great pieces to work with on an attack that should still finish in the top ten. Wright might be gone from the receiving corps, but everyone else is back including Terrance Williams, who might turn out to be a much better pro prospect. The line will do some shuffling and has a nice blend of veterans and talented young prospects to pave the way for a fast group of running backs that will easily make up for the loss of Ganaway. There's no replacing an all-timer like RG3, but Nick Florence is experienced enough to be able to step in and crank out big numbers.
Star of the offense: Senior WR Terrance Williams
Passing: Nick Florence
9-12, 151 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Jarred Salubi
58 carries, 331 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Terrance Williams
59 catches, 957 yds, 11 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior QB Nick Florence
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Lache Seastrunk
Best pro prospect: Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Williams, 2) Seastrunk, 3) WR Tevin Reese
Strength of the offense: Receiving Corps, The System
Weakness of the offense: No Robert Griffin, Young Tackles
How do you possibly replace the greatest player in Baylor football history? How do you step in for a quarterback good enough to make a desperate Washington team sell the farm to get him? Robert Griffin III was a special player, but the Art Briles offense always gets great production out of anyone who fits under center. 6-1, 205-pound senior Nick Florence isn't a runner – no one is RG3 in the open field – and he doesn't have a howitzer for an arm, but he knows the offense cold and is smart, accurate, and good enough put up big numbers with a terrific receiving corps to work with. He stepped in for an injured Griffin in 2009 throwing for 427 yards in a stunning win over Missouri, and he got in a little bit of mop-up work over the last few years. He completed 9-of-12 passes last year for 151 yards and two scores, and he can run enough to not be a stick in the mud.
Florence was the insurance policy over the last few years, and now it's up to sophomore Bryce Petty to get in a little bit of work to be ready for next year. At 6-3 and 230 pounds he's a huge, strong passer with a great arm, but he needs more time after seeing a little bit of work last year completing 3-of-4 passes for 43 yards. Good enough to originally sign with Tennessee, he can bomb away, he can run, and he has the upside to put up huge numbers whenever it's his time.
Watch Out For … Florence to put up phenomenal numbers. Will he complete 72% of his passes for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns with six picks like RG3 did? No, but he might not be all that far off. In this offense, and with a defense that will give up points and yards in chunks, the passing chances will be there.
Strength: The offense. Whether it was Kevin Kolb and the Houston quarterbacks, or RG3 last year, Briles knows how to crank out huge passing numbers from his passers. Florence and/or Petty will get the stats.
Weakness: Robert Griffin III. Yeah, Florence will be fine and the offense will put up big numbers, but RG3 was RG3 because he was a magical, creative playmaker in the clutch. Baylor beat Oklahoma and TCU because Griffin was the best player on the field. Florence has to be good enough in the first 58 minutes so he doesn't have to be Griffin in the final two.
Outlook: The passing game will be more than fine. Considering the caliber of player the Baylor offense is losing, everything should turn out to put up big yards. Florence will be good, Petty will eventually be better – next year – and the air show will still be fun.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The overall rushing numbers will drop because RG3 isn't around to add 699 yards and ten scores, but someone has to replace the 1,547 yards and 21 touchdowns of Terrance Ganaway. It's Jarred Salubi's time to shine after being a key part of the rotation, finishing third on the team with 331 yards and three scores averaging 5.7 yards per carry, and added four catches for 46 yards. He's not as big as Ganaway, but the senior is 5-9 and 210 pounds with just enough power to get by. The Waco native got several offers from bigger-name schools, and while last year he was supposed to step up and shine, this year he will.
Salubi is the No. 1 back, but Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk will be No. 1A. In the center of the Willie Lyles controversy, he never played for the Ducks and now should be one of the Big 12's most dynamic players with plenty of tread on the tires and lots and lots of speed and athleticism. At 5-10 and 205 pounds the sophomore has decent size and the type of special wheels to make huge things happen when he gets the ball in his hands.
The Bears use an Ultraback, which is sort of a catch-all position to get a second back on the field at the same time. 6-1, 215-pound junior Glasco Martin is a big power back who can blast away on short-yardage plays and can start carrying the ball a bit more after getting 40 carries for 268 yards and two scores. He has a nice blend of speed and power, while 5-10, 175-pound redshirt freshman B.J. Allen is a speedster who can be used in a third down role and should provide a bit more flash to the position.
Baylor used a fullback in a minor role, and when it needs one 6-1, 260-pound junior Erik Wolfe will step in after spending most of his career as a special teamer. The walk-on won't get the ball, but he'll block.
Watch Out For … Seastrunk. Salubi will be the main man for the ground game, but Seastrunk is too good a talent to not be a featured part of the offense. There's a reason he was such a huge recruit for Oregon and now he has the potential and talent to put up huge numbers in a variety of ways.
Strength: Speed and quickness. The holes are always ten miles wide to run through in the Baylor offense, and Salubi and Seastrunk should be able to rip off big numbers like Ganaway did last year. If you can run in space, you can come up with great stats.
Weakness: Quarterback. The Baylor rushing offense finished tenth in the nation last season partly because RG3 took off for big runs now and then. This year's attack won't have the same production from the quarterback and teams will be able to key on the running backs. Running plays will come from the backs. There won't be any surprises.
Outlook: The running game will be more than fine and it could be even more explosive, but it's not going to put up the numbers that last year's attack did. Salubi will be fine, Seastrunk will be great, and Martin and Allen will provide a nice balance.
Unit Rating: 7.5
No one liked to mention it last year when Kendall Wright was catching 108 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns, but Terrance Williams is the more talented receiver. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, the senior has excellent size, great deep speed, and has the type of pro talent to make him a possible first rounder next year. Yes, he was helped by all the attention paid to Wright, but he also did a great job of putting up huge numbers on his own catching 59 passes for 957 yards and 11 scores averaging 16.2 yards per catch with 126 yards and two scores against TCU and with three straight 100-yard days against Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. Ultra-consistent, he should be more than fine in the No. 1 receiver role, and he knows how to come through in the clutch making the game-winning grab in the final moments to beat Oklahoma.
Working at the other outside job is senior Lanear Simpson, who followed up a 42-catch season with another 42-grab campaign for 572 yards and three scores. He came up with a few big plays, but he's more of a safe, reliable mid-range target who'll come up with the key catch now and then. He's as solid as they come, while 6-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman Jay Lee has excellent size and the upside to take over a starting role next year and shine. He has No. 1 receiver skills with a little bit of seasoning.
Back at one spot on the inside is veteran Tevin Reese, a nice playmaker who came up with four 100-yard games finishing third on the team with 51 catches for 877 yards and seven scores averaging a team-leading 17.2 yards per grab. Extremely quick, the 5-10, 165-pound junior is great in the open field and has to get the ball in his hands on the move. Lightning fast, he qualified for the Texas state championships in the 300-meter hurdles, the triple jump, and the long jump.
Taking over at the other inside position is 6-2 190-pound sophomore Levi Norwood, who spent last year as a punt returner and as a part-time receiver making six catches for 87 yards. Speed and quickness aren't a problem, and now he's filling out his frame to be more physical. He'll combine with 6-1, 200-pound sophomore Clay Fuller - who caught a pass for four yards – and 5-10, 185-pound senior Michael Valdez, who are keeping the seat warm before true freshman Corey Coleman steps in and becomes a star. The 5-11, 178-pound four-star prospect has elite wheels and phenomenal upside.
The tight end isn't exactly an afterthought in the Baylor offense, but they're complementary targets. 6-6, 260-pound junior Jordan Najvar is a Stanford transfer who caught 15 passes for 146 yards and two scores as a short-range receiver. He has nice hands and good route-running ability, while 6-4, 275-pound senior Jerod Monk beefed up and is a huge blocker who caught nine passes for 100 yards and two scores. Both tight ends will be used on the field at the same time.
Watch Out For … Williams to blossom. Wright was a dangerous and devastating deep threat throughout the last few years, but he's not all that big and was seen as a big of a one-trick pony. Williams has the size and speed to be an NFL No. 1 receiver with a big season.
Strength: The offense. The Bears always get big plays out of the passing game with the Art Briles offense a dream for smart receivers who can run good routes. This group is full of size, speed, and talent with enough options to make Nick Florence shine.
Weakness: Kendall Wright. Yeah, Williams is a special talent, and yeah, the next six most productive receivers are back, but Wright had a spooky connection with RG3 making almost every big play and accounting for 1,663 of the team's 4,569 receiving yards. Williams has to prove he can be the same type of No. 1 target.
Outlook: The receivers will be fantastic. Wright might be gone, but the offense is going to make superstars out of all the veteran targets with enough talent and ability to go around. There's speed, size, and lots and lots of talent. This might not be the best group of receivers in the Big 12, but it won't be that far off and should be among the most productive.
Unit Rating: 8.5
The Baylor offensive line did a terrific job for the running game last year, and while it allowed a slew of sacks, that was partly because Robert Griffin III was always trying to make big plays. The biggest hole to fill up front is at center with steady Philip Blake gone. The problem appears to have been solved without an issue this offseason when 6-4, 310-pound senior Ivory Wade moved from right tackle to the middle and way more than fine. Very big, strong, and with a big-time attitude, he should blossom in the new role after starting all 13 games last season. Versatile, he played guard earlier in his career.
In an interesting move, 13-game starting left tackle Cyril Richardson moved over from guard last season and now appears ready to go back to left guard where he's better suited for the NFL. At 6-5 and 335 pounds he's massive and is tough to get around and can blast his man off the ball. If he moves back to guard, then 6-5, 295-pound sophomore Tim Smith will take over despite working mostly as a center. He's been banged up, but he's expected to be healthy for the start of the season as a swing reserve for all three spots on the interior.
With Richardson moving over from tackle, the spotlight will be on 6-6, 305-pound redshirt freshman Spencer Drango. A terrific talent with the feet to immediately be one of the team's best pass blockers, he was given the job after spring ball even though he still has work to do on his consistency and technique. If he struggles it'll be up to 6-4, 280-pound junior Kelvin Palmer to step in after seeing a little bit of time last year. While he's not huge by Baylor standards, he can move.
With Wade kicking inside to center, 6-6, 310-pound sophomore Troy Baker will finally get a chance to show what he can do in a full-time role. Expected to be a big part of the rotation right away as a true freshman, he was held out in 2010 and now appears ready to shine in the spot. One of the brightest stars up front this spring, he should be one of the team's best all-around blockers with more experience.
6-4, 300-pound veteran Cameron Kaufhold has been a fixture at left guard, and now he'll start on the right side in place of Robert Griffin – the other one. He has moved back and forth on sides where needed and steady at both spots. Hurt this offseason, the senior doesn't need the practice time and should be ready to be one of the team's most vital all-around blockers on the revamped line. If he's not 100% or can't go, 6-3, 310-pound senior Jake Jackson will jump in after starting last year against Texas Tech. One of the team's most experienced backups and a solid run blockers, he can play either guard spot if needed.
Watch Out For … the movement, There's plenty of juggling from last year's line with a new lineup and lots of veterans in different spots. The versatility is a major plus; the coaching staff has a lot to work with to get the best possible combination on the field at once.
Strength: Run blocking. This is very big, very good group at walling things off to get the runners in space. It's not right to call this a finesse line, but it's good on the move and solid at doing just enough to spring the big play.
Weakness: Consistent pass protection. Of course the sack numbers weren't great because RG3 held on to the ball trying to make big things happen, but the tackles weren't always rocks on pure passing plays coming from the pocket. The 29 sacks allowed weren't awful, but they need to come down with Nick Florence under center.
Outlook: One of the biggest upgrades since Art Briles took over, the line hasn't just been good in this offense, it's been talented enough to send players to the NFL on a regular basis. This year's line has the luxury of being able to move around the veterans where needed to fill the holes while also expecting the young new starters to shine in their new spots.
Unit Rating: 7.5
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