Baylor Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Baylor Bears
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Baylor Bears Preview 2006 - Baylor Further Analysis

1st and Ten – These aren’t Zeigler’s follies – Could it actually be true that one of the best wide receivers in the Big XII actually resides in Waco?  For a conference that has historically experienced domination on the ground, receivers have sometimes been an afterthought.  But, this year, the crop of receivers is as strong as ever.  Consequently, Baylor’s Dominique Zeigler is definitely in that mix of Big XII pass catchers.  In fact, he might be at the forefront of that mix, instead of just being in the proverbial ‘team picture’.  For the past two years, Zeigler has come up with the big catch, at the most opportune times.  Remember the upset over Texas A&M in 2004?  Game winner?  Dr. Z.  Last year with defenses putting a focus on Zeigler, he still led the Bears with 48 catches and 5 touchdowns.  The one aspect, though, of Zeigler’s game that has to improve, as well as that of the entire Baylor receiving corps, is the yards per catch.  And, not to just put up bigger numbers, to stretch defenses to their limits.  The introduction of new offensive coordinator Lee Hays from renowned power West Texas A&M (yes, that’s tongue in cheek, but you’ve got to love Guy Morriss taking a shot on a relative unknown) indicates that the Bears understand that this is a priority.  Hays is bringing a pseudo-spread-Texas Tech pitch and catch type offense that will revolve around Shawn Bell at QB and Zeigler and underrated WR Trent Shelton.  Tech has made a living getting the ball to receivers in space and letting them catch and run, finding the mismatch immediately after the snap to allow them to put that pressure on defenses.  Hays wants that and more.  Hays would love for Bell to either get the ball to Zeigler and company in space to allow them to pick up yards after the catch or let them stretch the field vertically to loosen deep zone playing secondaries.  Or, better yet, both.  As such, the athletically gifted Zeigler can go up and get it when the ball is thrown deep downfield, and the Bears need to see him work his magic throughout this season.

2nd and Seven – Stay away from him – Reputations aren’t often built by winning All-Conference honors or through media hype.  A player builds his ‘rep’ through hard work on the field and production between the white lines.  Although C.J. Wilson didn’t pick up any All-Big XII honors, he still earned a reputation as a physical, confident cover corner.  The Bear CB made QBs pay for testing his skills, finishing the season with five interceptions.  Wilson’s presence forces those QBs to ‘look up’ the other side of the field for success.  The Baylor defense was much improved last year and that was partially because of Wilson’s shut down abilities on his side of the field.  With so many good receivers in this league, Wilson will draw the number one receiver from each team throughout the season.  And, that’s great news for the Baylor faithful.

3rd and Three – The times they are a changin’ – When a head coach decides to make a scheme change, he’s definitely setting someone on his staff up for a somewhat challenging season.  That being said, head coach Guy Morriss not only made the decision to bring in Hays as his offensive coordinator, but made the decision to take the brunt of the instruction process by coaching the offensive line this fall.  How’s that for taking responsibility for your decisions?   The bad news for Morriss is that a change in scheme creates a huge learning curve for the offensive line.  The good news for Morriss is that he does have some experience to work with this season.  Now, the change from 2005’s offense to the 2006 version isn’t as drastic as Nebraska’s transformation from I option to West coast offense, but a change is a change and it can cause synergy or chaos.  At least if the line has problems, Morriss will know where to point the finger.

4th and One – Needing a dynamic duo – Outside of TCU and North Texas, every Division 1A team in the state of Texas runs some version of the spread offense.  As such, no matter what version of the spread offense that a team runs, Baylor is going to see a spread attack this year nearly every single week.  Consequently, the key to stopping the spread offense is having active and physical linebackers and that’s one hole that needs to be filled for the Bears’ defense to be effective this year.  The coaching staff likes the athleticism of this bunch, but against the spread looks they’ll see this year, they’ve got to show they can adapt to the different reads and various spread ‘options’ they’ll face week in and week out.  All they need is two in the 4-2-5, and, unfortunately, Mike Singletary is out of eligibility.

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