Baylor Preview 2006
Posted Aug 1, 2006

It has taken ten years of Big 12 play, but Baylor finally can go into the season honestly thinking it won't be the league's worst team.  

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

While that might not seem like much, it's a huge step for the woebegone program that hasn't had a winning season since 1995 and got its first conference road win last season.

It has been a case of baby steps under head coach Guy Morriss as the team has slowly upgrades the overall talent level and has started to become more competitive. However, it's time for the near misses to turn into wins. This is a program way overdue for good things to happen, and under Morriss, the breaks should start to come.

The 2005 Bears lost to Texas A&M by three and to Oklahoma by seven, but it beat the teams they were supposed to and come up with a shocker against Iowa State in Ames. This isn't a good enough team to beat all the Big 12 big boys and be a player in the race for the South title, but it has just enough to pull off a few upsets, beat the average teams, and finally get a winning season again.

Head coach: Guy Morriss
4th year: 11-23
6th season overall: 20-37
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 23, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best BU Players
1. P Daniel Sepulveda, Sr.
2. CB C.J. Wilson, Sr.
3. WR Dominique Ziegler, Sr.
4. DE Marcus Foreman, Sr.
5. OG Will Blaylock. Sr.
6. OT Jason Smith, Soph.
7. FS Dwain Crawford, Soph.
8. CB Anthony Arline, Sr.
9. QB Shawn Bell, Sr.
10. NT M.T. Robinson, Sr. 

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 TCU
9/9 Northwestern State
9/16 at Washington State
9/23 Army
9/30 Kansas State
10/7 at Colorado
10/14 at Texas
10/21 Kansas
10/28 Texas A&M
11/4 at Texas Tech
11/11 at Oklahoma State
11/18 Oklahoma

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-8
2005 Schedule: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at SMU W 28-23
9/10 Samford  W 48-14
9/17 at Army W 20-10
10/1 at Texas A&M L 16-13 OT
10/8 at Iowa State W 23-13
10/15 Nebraska L 23-14
10/22 at Oklahoma L 37-30 2OT
10/29 Texas Tech L 28-0  
11/5 Texas L 62-0
11/12 at Missouri L 31-16
11/19 Oklahoma State W 44-34

While it might seem like Baylor is on the verge of being much better, it's undergoing a little bit of a transformation on offense. While a balanced offense that can do a little of everything well would be nice, strength, not speed, has been the team's biggest problem over the years; it can't pound the ball on anyone. Expect more passing in the spread offense with even more four and five wide sets than last year.

The defensive front six in the 4-2-5 alignment isn't going to scare anyone, but the secondary should be one of the Big 12's best with a solid group of unheralded talents and good new safeties to replace former stars Maurice Lane and Willie Andrews. The special teams will be among the best in America led by punter Daniel Sepulveda, last year's Ray Guy Award winner.

The question then becomes when Baylor will improve to the point to where it becomes a true threat to go to a bowl. First of all, it has to prove it can handle itself better in Big 12 play. For all the positive steps taken under Morriss, the Bears have still only gone 4-14 in conference play in his tenure. Every time it looks like things are about to turn, long losing streaks kick in.

In 2003, BU started 3-2 before losing the final seven games. In 2004 there was a 2-1 start before going 1-7 the rest of the way. Last year, a five-game losing streak did the team in after a great start. However, there's a shot to avoid the big skid this season because of ...

The Schedule: BU gets the biggest break possible playing the North's two weakest teams, Kansas State and Kansas, in very winnable home games. Spread out with games against teams like Army, Oklahoma State and Northwestern State, it's doubtful the Bears will go on anything more than a three-game losing streak. With dates at Colorado, Texas and Texas Tech, forget about a second Big 12 road win until mid-November against OSU. Getting Texas A&M at home is a major plus.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Dominique Ziegler. A possession receiver extraordinaire, Ziegler has a shot at owning several of the school's receiving records. He needs 72 catches and ten touchdowns to be the main man in those two areas, but it might be possible in the new passing attack.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB C.J. Wilson. Good enough to play either safety of corner, Wilson has good size and great ball skills. He picked off five passes last season as one of the Big 12's steadies corners, and he should once again be a star in a solid secondary.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Shawn Bell. While he's not going to put up unbelievable numbers, he should be a consistent leader. He needs to spread the ball around effectively and keep the mistakes to a minimum. If he can start being better at throwing the deep ball, all the better.

The season will be a success if ... BU wins six games. It's a far taller task than it might seem with the only sure wins to come against Northwestern State and Army. Yeah, the Bears should be able to hang with Kansas State, Kansas, Texas A&M, and at Oklahoma State, but they're not going to win all four of those, and they're not good enough to beat TCU, at Washington State, at Colorado, at Texas, at Texas Tech, or Oklahoma.

Key game: Sept. 30 vs. Kansas State. The Wildcats will be looking to rebound in a hurry under a new coaching staff and will be desperate to come away from Waco with a win. Baylor needs this to avoid a three game losing streak with games at Colorado and Texas ahead.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Baylor 89 for 766 yards - Opponents 65 for 540 yards
- Fourth down conversion percentage: Opponents 14 of 20 (70%) - Baylor 5 of 12 (42%)
- Red zone scoring percentage: Opponents 85% (26 TDs, 9 FGs) - Baylor 65% (17 TDs, 13 INT)

The Last Time Baylor…
…played in a bowl game…1994 (Alamo Bowl vs. Washington State)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1995 (NC State)
…was shutout…2005 (Texas)
…scored 50 points…2002 (Samford)
…went undefeated…1900
…won a conference title…1994 (share, SWC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2003 (Rashad Armstrong)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2002 (Reggie Newhouse)
…had a first-round draft choice…1996 (DT Daryl Gardener)

Related Stories
Baylor Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 1, 2006
Baylor Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 1, 2006
Baylor Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 1, 2006

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