Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN Baylor Preview |
2009 Baylor Offense
2009 Baylor Defense |
2009 Baylor Depth
2008 Baylor Preview |
2007 Baylor Preview |
What you need to know:
Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin. Not since
Michael Vick took Virginia Tech from good to special has one
player completely changed a program around. Griffin, one of the
fastest players to ever play quarterback, will get to throw
more, will still run, and will still be the smart leader who’ll
be the focal point of the offense. He has a ton of speed and
athleticism around him with Kendall Wright leading a fast,
experienced receiving corps and Jay Finley a good back who
averaged 5.8 yards per carry. The line will be fine, but it will
hardly be special after losing tackles Jason Smith and Dan Gay.
With Griffin a year older, and smart enough to handle anything
thrown his way, the offense will open it up a bit more with more
emphasis on the passing game to go along with the speedy running
attack. Griffin will make more mistakes and he’ll throw more
picks, after throwing three last year, but he’ll also come up
with more big passing plays.
Passing: Robert Griffin
160-267, 2,091 yds, 15 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Jay Finley
149 carries, 865 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Kendall Wright
50 catches, 649 yds, 5 TD
Star of the offense:
Sophomore QB Robert Griffin
Player who has to step
up and become a star: Redshirt freshman OT Cameron
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT
Best pro prospect: Griffin (as a
Top three all-star candidates:
1) Griffin, 2) C J.D. Walton, 3) WR Kendall Wright
Strength of the offense: Robert Griffin, Speed
Weakness of the offense:
Proven Linemen, Pass Protection
There was a tremendous buzz before last season began about
Robert Griffin, a
true freshman who wowed everyone every time he stepped on the
field. He turned out to be worth the hype and more rushing for
843 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 60% of his throws
for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns with a mere three
interceptions. He stepped into the game early against Wake
Forest and ended up setting an NCAA record with 209 straight
passes without an interception to start his career. After
bulking up a bit, now he’s 200 pounds on a still-skinny 6-3
frame, but he should be able to withstand punishment a bit
better. While he’s an accurate passer, and will be asked to do
even more this year, the key to his game is raw speed. A track
star, he won the Big 12 gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles with
the third fastest time in school history. Now that he has a year
under his belt, he has the size, the speed, and the smarts to
become an even more dangerous weapon.
Blake Szymanski has been a spot starter throughout
the last few years getting the call 13 times. The 6-4,
205-pounder has good mobility and a nice arm throwing for a
school-record 2,844 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2007, but he also
gave away 18 interceptions. He’s a near-perfect backup
quarterback for the Bears. He’s not going to pull off any big
wins, but he can step in and produce if he has to come off the
Almost certain to redshirt, but in school
early to learn the system anyway, is
Nick Florence, a good
recruit with a nice arm and excellent running skills. He threw
for 3,047 yards in his senior year of high school with 30
touchdowns and ran for 448 yards and nine scores. While he’s
only 6-1 and 180 pounds, he moves well and has a nice touch on
Watch Out For ... More
passing. Griffin will still run whenever he gets space to move,
but the coaching staff will open up the air attack a little
Strength: Griffin. It’s not just that
he’s the fastest quarterback in college football, and it’s not
just that he has a good, accurate arm, it’s that he’s smart
enough to pick everything up right away and not be overwhelmed.
He might be just a true sophomore, but he has the smarts of a
far more mature player.
Weakness: Griffin vs.
good teams. He ran extremely well against last year’s Big 3,
tearing off 302 yards against Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech,
but he didn’t hit the 100-yard mark in passing against any of
them. While everyone will be scared of Griffin’s running
ability, they’ll take a 100-yard day if it means the passing
game goes kaput.
Outlook: In a conference full
of elite quarterbacks, Robert Griffin stood out last season as a
tremendous playmaker to build the program around for the next
few years. He has it all, with the exception of a howitzer arm,
but that’s more than made up for by being the fastest guy on any
field he steps on. Blake Szymanski is a solid veteran for the
No. 2 spot, while Nick Florence will be groomed to be the top
backup for 2010.
Lost in all the hoopla of Robert Griffin’s breakout season was
the play of Jay Finley,
who led the team with 865 rushing yards and seven touchdowns to
go along with seven catches for 141 yards and two scores. A
strong runner who can pound inside or make big things happen in
space on the outside, the 5-11, 205-pound junior was solid
throughout and ended on a high note running for 116 yards
against Texas A&M and 105 against Texas Tech. With everyone
keying on Griffin, Finley should have plenty of room to roam.
Top Reserves: Ready to play a big role is
Jarred Salubi, a
5-10, 190-pound redshirt freshman who stayed home in Waco
despite getting offers from some big-time schools. Extremely
fast, he was a Texas state champion sprinter and should be
deadly both as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield.
Finally eligible, Houston transfer
Terrance Ganaway will
provide some power to the mix. The 6-0, 220-pound sophomore ran
for 550 yards and six scores for the Cougars before deciding to
follow Art Briles to Waco. Able to be a workhorse if needed,
he’ll be used between the tackles and could be a key back for
long stretches to help wear down a defense.
While Baylor doesn’t use a true fullback, it has an H-Back who
does a little of everything. 6-3, 235-pound junior
Brad Taylor started
in three games as a tight end, catching eight passes for 93
yards, and while he’s not going to do much in the way of
blocking and can be used as an inside receiver, he’ll get a
little work in the backfield.
Watch Out For
... Salubi. Everyone knew he was fast, and he was fine in
practices last year, but he was a breakout playmaker this spring
showing the running skills, to go along with his speed, to make
him a solid No. 2 back to work into the rotation.
Strength: Robert Griffin. He’s the star of the offense
and the one everyone will be focused on stopping. On every play,
at least one defender will be forced to keep an eye on where No.
10 is going. The Bear running backs won’t have much pressure to
carry the offensive load.
the ball. While Finley can do it, the offense hasn’t gotten the
ball to the backs all that often. With the speed of Finley and
Salubi, the offense needs to get the ball to the backs on the
outside on a regular basis, but it didn’t happen last year.
Outlook: The Bears finished third in the Big 12 in
rushing thanks to the 843 yards of Robert Griffin, but the backs
did their part. Now the backfield is far stronger with a
speedster in Jarred Salubi and a pounder in Terrance Ganaway to
add more weapons to go along with Jay Finley, who’ll step out of
Griffin’s shadow from time to time and be the star of the
Robert Griffin wasn’t the only true freshman to make a big
impact last season. 5-11, 180-pound sophomore
Kendall Wright led the team with 50 catches for 649 yards and five
touchdowns showing great speed and athleticism, but the big
shocker was his consistency. Able to be used as a runner as well
as a receiver, he ran for 168 yards with a touchdown. Athletic
enough to be on the basketball team, he went from hoops to
spring football, and while that might not be a big deal for a
player his age, there’s a chance he could hit a bit of a wall at
some point if he takes a beating on the inside.
David Gettis has
never lived up to his prep hype and had problems this spring
with a hamstring, but he has grown into a decent target who
provides size and experience. The 6-4, 210-pounder was third on
the team with 29 catches for 391 yards, but his production
started to wane by the end of the year as the passing game
looked elsewhere. With his track star speed, size, and
experience, he has all the tools but will be a No. 2 target, at
Working inside will be
Ernest Smith, a 6-3, 195-pound senior who only caught seven
passes for 175 yards, but he scores three touchdowns and
averaged 25 yards per catch. His season struggled to get off the
ground after suffering a bout with mono throughout spring ball,
he has good size and smooth quickness on the inside.
Taking over a spot on the outside will be 6-0, 190-pound
redshirt freshman Lanear
Smith who doesn’t have elite speed, but is fast enough to
make things happen on the outside. Still emerging in a role, he
has good hands and excellent athleticism to be a key part of the
Justin Akers made 14 catches for 167 yards and two scores in
his second year as the starting tight end. At 6-5 and 245 pounds
he’s big, but he’s more like a big wide receiver than a blocking
tight end. He’s a good athlete who can stretch the field, and
he’s not bad at coming up with a good downfield block now and
Projected Top Reserves: Getting some
time in four-wide sets will be senior
Mikail Baker, who
suffered a broken collarbone two years ago and was pushed out of
the mix last season. He made just four catches for 44 yards, but
the 6-0, 205-pounder is a veteran who knows what he’s doing
inside or out.
While he’s not going to knock Kendall
Wright out of a starting spot on the inside, 5-9, 175-pound
Justin Fenty is an
ultra-quick inside target who made six catches for 50 yards and
a touchdown. He’ll never power over anyone and can get shoved
around, but he has the potential to be dangerous if he ever gets
the ball on the move.
Krys Buerck started
out his career making 23 catches for 280 yards and two
touchdowns as a freshman, and then moved to the defensive side
last season where he made 24 tackles with an interception. Now
he’ll move back to receiver where he’ll work on the inside
behind Ernest Smith. Extremely fast, he makes things happen no
matter where he lines up.
In a crowded receiving corps
full of speed and talent,
Terrance Williams was a standout this spring and could end up
bumping David Gettis out of a spot. At 6-2 and 190 pounds, the
redshirt freshman has good size and excellent hands. He’s simply
a smooth, solid wide receiver who could be the team’s breakout
Watch Out For ... the redshirt
freshmen. Wright is the team’s No. 1 receiver, but new prospects
Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams were standouts this
offseason and will be the future of the passing game. They were
naturals in spring ball and should make the most of their
Strength: Speed. Guy Morriss and
his coaching staff recruited speed, speed and more speed, and
Briles and his staff have kept the tradition going. Everyone can
fly and everyone is quick. There will be several big plays with
secondaries having to focus on the running game and making sure
Robert Griffin isn’t breaking off big runs.
A sure-thing No. 2. Wright is the best receiver, and while
almost all the other key targets are back, there isn’t anyone
who stands out as a second option. Now, that’s not necessarily
an awful problem considering the production will be spread
around, but the passing game could become deadly if there’s
another Wright-like playmaker.
might be the best Baylor receiving corps in a long, long time,
if not ever with seven of the top eight targets form last year
returning. There’s a great mix of speed, size, and options with
some reliable veterans mixed in with some promising, exciting
young players. Basketball player Kendall Wright is the best of
the bunch, and depending on the day, there will be a rotation of
good players who’ll come up with big-time production.
How do you replace the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft? With a
hockey player. 6-4, 310-pound junior
Danny Watkins is a
tough JUCO transfer who’s originally from Canada and has the
unenviable task of trying to replace Jason Smith at left tackle.
Watkins is hardly polished, having only played football for two
years, but he has a high motor, is good on the move, and has
While replacing Smith is next to
impossible, replacing Dan Gay at right tackle won’t be easy,
either. 6-4, 285-pound redshirt freshman
Cameron Kaufhold will get the first look this fall, but he’ll have
to battle hard to get the job going into the season. He’s an
athletic pass blocker who’ll struggle with his consistency, but
is good enough on the move to spring big plays down the field.
To win the job, he’ll have to plow over some defenders in the
running game as well as help keep Robert Griffin upright.
While he’s not going to be the star Smith was, senior center
J.D. Walton has the
potential to be another NFL draft pick with good size, excellent
toughness, and good consistency. The former Arizona State Sun
Devil is 6-3 and 305 pounds with the leadership ability to be a
great quarterback for the line. He’s the intimidating force for
the offensive front.
With Jordan Hearvey injured at the
end of last year, and still trying to come back, the job is wide
open at right guard with 6-4, 300-pound sophomore
John Jones getting a
long look. One of the team’s top recruits two years ago, he
started to show promise getting a starting assignment against
Connecticut and spending most of the season as a key backup.
He’s very strong, big, and extremely promising.
right guard is senior
James Barnard, who has started all 24 games over the last
two years. The former JUCO transfer is a 6-4, 295-pound run
blocker who earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. He’s not bad
in pass protection, but he’s at his best when he’s able to pound
away to get the ground game going.
Reserves: Trying to get back and healthy is
Jordan Hearvey, an
athletic 6-5, 270-pound guard who was the starter for most of
the year at left guard before suffering tearing his ACL. Out all
offseason, he’s 50/50 to be back this season, and considering
his strength is his quickness, he might need a little while to
get back to form.
A part-time starter who got the call at
left guard over the final four games of last year, 6-6,
275-pound junior Chris
Griesenbeck is a bit undersized, but he’s versatile enough
to play right tackle if needed and tough enough to be fine at
guard. He’s athletic and experienced, and he’ll be one of the
team’s key backups working somewhere on the right side.
6-3, 285-pound redshirt freshman
Jake Jackson has the
talent to grow into a strong blocker somewhere on the line. Able
to play either center or guard, he’s the main backup for both
guard spots and at center. He’s pushing hardest for the starting
left guard job, but he’s too valuable and too versatile to keep
one job all year long. He’ll be moved around where needed.
Watch Out For ... the tackles to not be all that
bad. Replacing Smith and Gay and getting the same production
will be next to impossible, but Watkins and Kaufhold are
extremely promising and shouldn’t be too bad.
Robert Griffin. Having a speedy, mobile quarterback like
Griffin under center helps the pass protection in a huge way.
Griffin will make up for several mistakes by being able to
outrun everyone else, however ...
Pass protection. Baylor had the No. 2 pick in the draft and an
all-star, NFL caliber blocker on the other side, and yet the
line still allowed 28 sacks. Part of the problem was the youth
of Griffin, as he looked to take a sack rather than screw up and
give the ball away, and part of the problem was the line.
Outlook: The line has good potential with nice size,
decent experience, and versatility among the backups. Unlike
last year, when the tackles were the stars, this year the anchor
will be in the middle where J.D. Walton might be the Big 12’s
best centers. This group doesn’t have to be dominant; it just
has to open things up enough to let the speedsters shine.