2013 Baylor Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Baylor Bear Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: How good is the Baylor offensive coaching staff? The Bears lost Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, a few key offensive lineman and running back Terrance Ganaway from an offense that cranked up 587 yards and 45 points per game, and there was a negligible drop-off averaging 572 yards and 45 yards per outing. Expect the production to continue highlighted by a running game that might be unstoppable with the combination of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin cranking up yards. The receiving corps is fast and explosive, and quarterback Bryce Petty appears to be ready to be the next statistical superstar. The line is a slight issue with health problems and little developed depth, but the starting five should be fine.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Lache Seastrunk
Passing: Bryce Petty
7-10, 97 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Lache Seastrunk
131 carries, 1,012 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Tevin Reese
53 catches, 957 yds, 9 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Bryce Petty
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Spencer Drango
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Cyril Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Seastrunk, 2) Richardson, 3) Drango
Strength of the offense: Running Backs, Production
Weakness of the offense: Line Depth, Proven Quarterback
Is junior Bryce Petty ready to be the next star of the show? He might not be the talent Robert Griffin III is, and he needs more seasoning than Nick Florence had, but he looked the part this offseason with a good grasp of the attack and nice accuracy and poise with the starting job all his. At 6-3 and 230 pounds he's a bigger bomber than Florence, completing 7-of-10 throws for 97 yards with a score in his limited time. Good enough to originally sign with Tennessee, he can push it deep, he can run a little bit, and he has the upside to put up monster numbers like all Art Briles quarterbacks do.
Redshirt freshman Seth Russell is more of a runner than Petty, but he can throw, too. The 6-3, 200-pounder was a high school sprinter and could step in and add a different element to the attack. He might not have been a top recruit, but he's a terrific athlete who'll be developed over the next two seasons.
Watch Out For … Chris Johnson. Baylor is becoming a hot program for quarterbacks, and Johnson took notice. A good recruit who had his pick of top schools, the 6-4, 195-pounder is a terrific runner with tremendous speed. He has to be a more accurate passer, but he has the smarts and the upside to be another big-time producer when it's his time.
Strength: The system. Whether it was Kevin Kolb and the Houston quarterbacks, or RG3 and Florence, Briles knows how to crank out huge passing numbers from his passers. Petty will have a huge season.
Weakness: Experience. Florence had enough experience to know what he was doing. Petty has been around the system long enough to know how to handle the offense, but he doesn't have much game time logged in.
Outlook: The passing game that finished fourth in the country and sixth in passing efficiency might not be quite as potent with more of an emphasis on the running game, and the coaching staff isn't going make Petty carry the team, but the numbers will still be there. The backup situation is extremely sketchy with no experience whatsoever, but as long as Petty stays upright, the offense will be great.
Unit Rating: 7
When junior Lache Seastrunk suggested late last year that he should be a favorite for the Heisman, he actually wasn't crazy. There wasn't a hotter player in college football over the second half of the season, ripping off five 100-yard games in the final six and 91 yards and three touchdowns against Oklahoma in the other one. The 5-10, 210-pound former Oregon transfer was in the center of the whole Willie Lyles controversy, but none of that matters now for him as one of the nation's most explosive runners with huge upside. Despite not getting too much work until his 17-carry, 103-yard day against Kansas, he finished the year with 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns averaging 7.7 yards per play, and while he didn't do much for the passing game, he showed potential catching nine passes for 107 yards and a score. With good power and special wheels, he's a home run hitter waiting to happen.
Seastrunk is the lightning, while senior Glasco Martin brings the thunder. The 6-1, 220-pounder is a big power back who can blast away on short-yardage plays and around the goal line, but he can also take off for big runs now and then averaging five yards per carry finishing second on the team with 179 carries for 889 yards and 15 scores. He was a steady scorer early on, and then he turned into a finisher at the end of the season with nine touchdown runs in the final four games with three against Kansas State and three more in the bowl win over UCLA.
The Bears utilize an Ultraback, a catch-all position to get a second back on the field as partly a fullback and partly an extra runner. 5-8, 200-pound redshirt freshman Shock Linwood will take on the role Martin utilized last year, but Martin could take it back so he and Seastrunk can be in the backfield. Extremely physical and fast enough to run for 2,105 yards and 25 scores as a high school senior, Linwood can do a little bit of everything.
Watch Out For … Johnny Jefferson, a 5-9, 195-pound speedster who could be an instant option as a third down back and a kickoff returner. He fits the Baylor mold of home-run hitters who can score from anywhere on the field in a variety of ways. While he's a running back, he could turn into a slot receiver and could become an all-purpose yardage machine.
Strength: The tandem. The running game isn't just an accessory to the passing attack, finishing with a terrific 3,012 yards and 38 scores averaging five yards per carry. Former quarterback Nick Florence had a lot to do with that, but now Seastrunk will do more over the course of the season and Martin can handle the workload, too.
Weakness: The pressure. Seastrunk and Martin combined for close to 2,000 yards and 22 scores last season, and now the expectations will be to do far, far more. Defenses are going to key on these two until new starting quarterback Bryce Petty proves he can handle the work, and while that's a positive for the offense, the rushing production could sputter at times.
Outlook: Look out. The ground game was great last year, and even if Petty isn't another RG3 running the ball, he'll add numbers to the mix. Seastrunk and Martin are going to be fantastic, and Linwood will be a producer when he gets his chances.
Unit Rating: 9
With Terrance Williams and Lanear Williams gone, senior Tevin Reese will be the team's No. 1 target on the inside after starting out his career on the outside. The 5-10, 170-pounder followed up a 51-catch sophomore season with 53 grabs for 957 yards and nine scores, averaging a whopping 19.1 yards per catch. While he was steady throughout the season, he exploded for 145 yards and two scores on eight catches against ULM and followed it up with four grabs for 120 yards and a touchdown against West Virginia. Lightning fast, he qualified for the Texas state championships in the 300-meter hurdles, the triple jump and the long jump, and he brings that athleticism to the field.
Also back as one of the team's key veteran receiver is junior Levi Norwood, a 6-1, 185-pound inside target and spot starter who finished fourth on the team with 40 catches for 487 yards and a score. A consistent fourth option, now he should shine with far more throws coming his way and with the speed and quickness to do more in the open field.
Ready to step into the fun and be more involved are junior Antwan Goodley, sophomore Jay Lee and Clay Fuller on the outside. The 5-10, 220-pound Goodley has 4.4 speed and freakish strength – he's not going to be pushed around. An interesting all-around prospect, he's coming off a 17-catch, 171-yard, two touchdown season, and he can be used as a runner, too. The 6-3, 210-pound Lee saw time last season, but he was banged up with a knee injury for most of the year. His size will be a major plus for the smallish corps, while the 6-1, 205-pound Fuller is another big target who caught three passes for 39 yards. The walk-on spent six years in the Anaheim Angels farm system and has all the tools. He's an academic all-star with sub-4.4 speed and tremendous leaping ability.
Back at tight end is Jordan Najvar, but he has to be a bigger part of the attack. The offense doesn't always utilize the position, but Najvar makes the most of his time with ten catches for 80 yards and two scores to go along with excellent blocking skills. The 6-6, 260-pound Stanford transfer is a short-range receiver and a physical presence. 6-5, 275-pound senior Jerod Monk is a huge blocker who missed most of last year with a torn pectoral muscle. He can catch, making nine grabs for 100 yards and two scores two seasons ago, but he's at his best when he pounds away.
Watch Out For … Robbie Rhodes. Possibly the greatest wide receiver recruit to ever come to Waco, the 6-0, 185-pounder was Scout's second-ranked receiver prospect as an unstoppable all-around playmaker as both a runner and receiver. Known for catching eight touchdown passes in a game in 2011, he's a dangerous target with elite wheels – he's one of the fastest prepsters in Texas with state championship-level speed in the 200.
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 Bryce Petty shine.
Weakness: Experience on the outside. This is really, really nitpicking considering the receiving corps moved on last year without Kendall Wright, but it's still a big deal to lose Terrance Williams, who caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 scores.
Outlook: You know what's coming. There's speed and flash across the board with several receivers who'll be threats to catch 40 passes or more. The inside targets will be terrific, while the outside speedsters should shine with a little time.
Unit Rating: 8
The offensive line that turned into such a positive last year has to replace three starters, but it gets back an NFL-caliber left guard in Cyril Richardson, a 6-5, 335-pound All-America candidate with great strength, excellent drive for the ground game and good feet in pass protection. Insanely strong, he'll bury his man when he's in a phone booth, and he'll be the one the entire offense works behind. The senior should be getting a next-level paycheck this season, but Baylor will benefit from having the anchor back.
The line took a major hit this offseason when starting right tackle Troy Baker suffered a torn ACL. The 6-6, 315-pound junior suffered the injury early enough in spring ball to rehab in a hurry, but he's realistically not back until next year, With him out, 6-4, 290-pound Kelvin Palmer will step in and should be fine. A tremendous athlete for his size, he's strong, quick and versatile, able to work at guard or tackle, and while he's a career backup, he should be ready to handle the work.
The left tackle spot next to Richardson is set with 6-6, 315-pound sophomore Spencer Drango returning after a great first season, starting every game at the position and doing an excellent job in pass protection. Smart, quick and big, he has next-level upside with the feet to handle speed rushers and the strength to generate a nice push. There's still a little bit of technique work to do to get his pad level right on a consistent basis, but there's a world of upside here.
Taking over at right guard for Cameron Kaufhold is 6-4, 330-pound sophomore Desmine Hilliard, one of the team's strongest players and ready to become a blaster for the ground game. Mostly a special teamer in his first year, he'll make the job his over the next three seasons when he's not competing on the Bear track team. Also stepping into a new starting spot is center Stefan Huber, who'll take over for Ivory Wage. At 6-4 and 290 pounds he's not huge, and he has to prove he can last a full year after suffering a shoulder injury in 2011, but he's smart, experienced and ready to take on the job.
Watch Out For … Maurice Porter, an interesting all-around blocker with tackle size and potential and the toughness to possibly work as a guard early on. The team's best recruit for the line, he needs to add a little weight to his 6-6, 290-pound frame, but he has the toughness and skill to quickly turn into a key part of the rotation.
Strength: Run blocking. The passing game might get the spotlight, but the lines have been very, very good for the ground game under Art Briles. This year's front five is big, active and talented with Drango and Richardson as solid as any left side in college football.
Weakness: Veteran experience. The Bears have a great-looking starting five, but it's looking like three redshirt freshmen and two sophomores will make up the reserves. Injuries were a big problem in spring ball, and it might be a little while to form the right rotation.
Outlook: The line has been one of the most important upgrades in the Briles era, and there's more talent and ability on this year's front five. There might not be a margin for error with so many backup issues, but the line should be able to make the offense go again.
Unit Rating: 7.5
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