Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: The post-RG3 era got off to a fast start in 2012, as
Baylor blasted its way past SMU, Sam Houston State and ULM, scoring an average
of 51.3 ppg in taking a 3-0 record into the Big 12 Conference opener at West
Virginia. The Bears would put up 63 points in that contest, but allowed 70 to
the Mountaineers, sending the team on a downward spiral that resulted in four
Head coach Art Briles would rally his troops down the stretch, leading to wins
in five of the last six games, including decisions over Kansas State (52-24),
Texas Tech (52-45) and Oklahoma State (41-34).
Sporting a regular-season record of 7-5, the Bears were rewarded with an
invite to the Holiday Bowl where they dismissed UCLA in a 49-26 final. Still,
while ending the season on a positive note was great, a 4-5 showing in
conference wasn't what Briles had envisioned. To that point, there is much
work to be done as the Bears look ahead to the challenges that loom on the
OFFENSE: The big question for Baylor in 2013 is who is going to be the team's
quarterback following the record-setting years turned in by both Robert
Griffin III and Nick Florence?
Next in line appears to be junior Bryce Petty, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who has
seen only limited playing time the last two years, but who appears to have the
skills and confidence to be BU's next great signal-caller.
Briles believes that Petty has all the tools needed to run his offense
"A reasonable expectation is for him to break every Baylor record there is
offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do,"
Briles said at the Big 12 Media Event late last month.
"I don't know what expectation anyone would have other than doing that, which
equates to winning every football game we step on the field with, which needs
to be his expectation along with ours."
Helping to get Petty acclimated to regular playing time will be running backs
Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, a highly-productive tandem (combined 1,901
yards, 22 TDs) capable of creating big plays every time they touch the ball.
Seastrunk, a former Oregon Duck, really came into his own late last season,
rushing for more than 800 yards and scoring six touchdowns over the final six
As for the receiving corps, the loss of All-American Terrance Williams (97
receptions, 1,832 yards, 12 TDs) will surely hurt, but senior Tevin Reese is
expected to step up and be the man opposing defenses will key on after he
caught 53 balls for 957 yards and nine TDs in 2012. Others to keep an eye on
include Levi Norwood (40 rec., 487 yards, one TD) and Antwan Goodley (17 rec.,
171 yards, two TDs).
The offensive line returns a pair of starters on the left side in tackle
Spencer Drango and guard Cyril Richardson, the latter of whom earned All-
America accolades last season.
DEFENSE: The Baylor defense allowed 488.5 yards and 37.2 points per game in
2011, and the hope was last year's unit would perform significantly better.
Unfortunately, the Bears surrendered the same number of points, and actually
saw foes muster an average of 502.2 ypg, the 6,529 total yards allowed setting
a new school record for the second year in a row.
With seven starters back in the fold, five of which are seniors, Briles hopes
his defense is better prepared for the rigors of facing some of the most
prolific offenses in the country.
Bookends Chris McAllister and Terrance Lloyd combined for 95 tackles and 10 of
the team's 19 sacks last season, but they'll need to up the ante this fall as
the interior line is expected to feature a couple of newcomers, the most
talented of which being former prep All-American Javonte McGee.
Linebacker is where the Bears should excel, as Bryce Hager, Eddie Lackey and
Sam Holl are all back after ranking atop the team's tackles list last season.
Hager led the way with 124 stops, while Lackey also went over the century mark
and logged a team-high 10.5 TFL and four interceptions.
The secondary boasts a pair of returning starters in safety Ahmad Dixon and
corner Joe Williams. Dixon finished third on the team in total tackles (102)
and combined with Williams to pick off five passes, the Bears coming up with
18 interceptions all told.
While admitting there were plenty of missed opportunities last season, Briles
liked the way his team, particularly his defense, played down the stretch.
"The defense certainly came on late and did some things that really helped
propel us as a football team by getting great turnovers," Briles said.
"Coach [Phil] Bennett and that staff did a great job over there. If we start
like we finished last year defensively, which I expect to, then we're going to
be a very formidable opponent, I can guarantee you that."
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Aaron Jones and punter Spencer Roth are as steady as
they come, the former laying claim to the school record for points (327), and
the latter upping his per kick average to more than 43 ypp last season.
As for the return game, there is no shortage of speedy guys chomping at the
bit for their chance to help the Bears attain favorable field position, or hit
a home run with a huge return.
OUTLOOK: The Bears get three softballs out of the gate, as Wofford, Buffalo
and ULM will serve as little more than speed bumps on the road to the
conference opener versus West Virginia on Oct. 5. Baylor won't play its first
road game until heading to Kansas State on Oct. 12, and getting both Oklahoma
and Texas at home certainly helps their chances in those bouts.
The month of November in particular will be tough for BU, but getting the
required number of wins to earn a fourth straight bowl bid shouldn't be a
problem. Winning the Big 12 on the other hand, will take some inspired play
along with a whole lot of luck.
The Sports Network