2010 Record: (7-6, 4-4 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Art Briles (15-22 at Baylor, 49-50 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Texas Bowl (lost to Illinois 38-14)
CFBZ Baylor Links
9/2: TCU (2010 result: lost 45-10)
9/17: Stephen F. Austin
9/24: Rice (2010 result: lost 30-13)
10/1: at Kansas St (2010 result: won 47-42)
10/8: Iowa St (2009 result: lost 24-10)
10/15: at Texas A&M (2010 result: lost 42-30)
10/29: at Oklahoma State (2010 result: lost 55-28)
11/5: Missouri (2009 result: won 40-32)
11/12: at Kansas (2010 result: won 55-7)
11/19: Oklahoma (2010 result: lost 53-24)
11/26: Texas Tech (2010 result: lost 45-38)
12/3: Texas (2010 result: won 30-22)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 31.2 ppg (5th in Big 12, 34th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 194.62 yds/game (3rd in Big 12, 24th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 280.7 yds/game (4th in Big 12, 19th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 475.3 yds/game (3rd in Big 12, 13th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.5 ppg (9th in Big 12, 89th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 170.31 yds/game (9th in Big 12, 79th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 265.1 yds/game (10th in Big 12, 114th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 435.4 yds/game (10th in Big 12, 104th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +0.00 per game (6th in Big 12, 56th in Nation)
Penalties: 77.5 yds/game (last in Big 12, last in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Robert Griffin III, Jr (304 of 454 for 3501 yds, 22 TD, 8 INT)
Rushing: QB Robert Griffin III, Jr (149 for 635 yds, 8 TD)
Receiving: WR Kendall Wright, Sr (78 rec for 952 yds, 7 TD)
Tackles: LB Elliot Coffey, Sr (61)
Sacks: DE/LB Tevin Elliot, Soph (5)
Interceptions: LB Prince Kent, Soph (2)
Athlon: Insight (vs Wisconsin
Phil Steele: Pinstripe Bowl (vs Rutgers)
The Baylor Bears took a big leap last year under Art Briles as they improved from 4-8 to 7-6 and went bowling for the first time since 1994. QB Robert Griffin III was dynamic last year as he racked up over 3500 yards passing and 635 yards rushing. In addition to that yardage he was at least partially responsible for 30 touchdowns last season. In 2010 Baylor took a step towards contending for the Big 12 as they did what good teams do and that is beat who you are supposed to beat (outside of the bowl game). Baylor's losses came to TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Illinois. Those are some pretty good teams that the Bears lost to and the only one on that list that Baylor should have maybe been favored in was Illinois. The 2011 season is about the same as the 2010 season with the addition of what should be a tough Missouri team. With Griffin as a junior this is the year that Baylor wants to take the next step in their program and get to the 8 or 9 win mark. Is this possible? We talked to Big 12 expert Jay Beck of Turfburner.com to learn more about the 2011 Baylor Bears.
1. Baylor gave up 435 yards per game and 30.5 points per game last year. What has been done this off-season to correct these areas of concern?
Phil Bennett was brought in as the new defensive coordinator. Bennett had been the coordinator under Dave Wannstedt at Pitt the past three years. The Panthers gave up just 19 points per game in 2010 under Bennett. He has also served as a DC in the Big 12 at both Texas A&M and Kansas State in the past.
He figures to run a more attacking style defense and will blitz much more than Baylor has the past few seasons. How much Baylor's defense improves this year will largely depend how fast he can get a lot of young guys on the same page and playing together. Even with some of the youth on defense (the post-spring depth chart lists just five seniors on the two-deep), it would be surprising if the Bears defense wasn't much better in 2011 under Bennett's direction.
2. Defensively, which players need to step up this year in order for Baylor to take the next step?
Sophomore defensive end Tevin Elliott needs to have a big season after an impressive freshman year in which he was named honorable mention All-Big 12 and landed on several freshman All-American teams. As a team, Baylor only had 21 sacks on the year, and Elliott had five of them.
With Bennett's attacking style defense, Elliott should be a big benefactor and he appears to be a difference maker that other teams will have to account for all season. He was listed second string on the post spring depth chart, but it'd be very surprising not to see Elliott on the field a lot in 2011. He'll be battling Terrance Lloyd for playing time who missed a chunk of time last season with an injury opening the door for Elliott.
Senior defensive tackle, Tracy Robertson, was listed at the top defensive tackle position after spring practice, a spot previously occupied by first round draft pick, Phil Taylor. Robertson is listed at 275 pounds and has moved between defensive end and tackle throughout his career. He started nine games as a junior and if he's going to be the guy to replace Taylor, he'll need to step up his production in his senior season after finishing with 17 tackles as a junior.
Sophomore nickleback, Ahmad Dixon, could be in for a breakout season running Phil Bennett's schemes. The former Texas Longhorn commit played in 11 of 13 games last season as a true freshman totaling 16 tackles. He was the 15th ranked prospect in the nation coming out of high school. He came out of spring listed as the #1 nickleback on the depth chart and figures to be on the field a lot in 2011 with Baylor often playing only two linebackers to combat the spread offenses many teams in the Big 12 run.
3. Everybody knows the name Robert Griffin. Other than him, who are the best players on this Baylor team?
Wide receiver, Kendall Wright - Wright has started 30 games during his Baylor career and totaled 194 catches for 2341 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has caught at least one pass in all 37 games of his career. He's a two time All-Big 12 player who should be in for another huge season teaming with Griffin at quarterback. He's only listed at 5'10" but is helped out by his 42 inch vertical.
Wide receiver, Josh Gordon - Caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns last year as a sophomore. He's 6'4" 220 pounds and has big play ability. Gordon playing on the outside, teamed with Wright in the slot make it tough on opposing defenses.
Center, Philip Blake - Blake has started all 25 games during his career and has been listed on most, if not all, preseason All-Big 112 lists published thus far. He started all 13 games at center last year after starting 12 games at right tackle his sophomore season.
4. Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
It starts with game number one against defending Rose Bowl Champ, TCU. It's a big game not only because TCU went undefeated last season, but they also took down Baylor in a big way, 45-10, as one of their 13 wins. Baylor made big strides last year, but this will a big measuring stick game if you will, to see exactly how much progress Baylor has made. TCU returns just eight starters (4 on offense, 4 on defense), plus Baylor gets them in Waco this time around. If Baylor can knock them off, it'll be a huge confidence boost with the rest of the season still ahead.
After that, I think two very important games are the road games at Kansas State and Kansas. That may seem odd, but these are two games the Bears need to win if they want to return to a bowl game. Their home schedule is very tough with Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas all visiting Waco. If they can't or don't win one of those three home games, picking up wins against the Kansas schools away from home will be crucial.
5. What is the one game that the fanbase wants to win more than any other?
I think the obvious answer would be to say Oklahoma, who is the cream of the crop in the Big 12. A big upset win there could put a whole different spin on the season. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say TCU. Even though it's not a conference game, Baylor had high expectations going into their game last season and did not play well. With TCU moving to a BCS conference soon, coming off an undefeated season, and Waco and Ft. Worth not being all the far apart, and win there would be huge for the Baylor program.
6. What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
This may be a case where Baylor is a better team than a season ago, but the improvement might not show in their record. I'm going to put them at 6-6 on the year. They're going to be really good on offense but I think with their youth on defense, they're still one more year away from really making their mark in the Big 12.
If they can find a way to finish the season at 8-4, I think that would make for a very successful season. That would mean they probably beat TCU and finished 3-0 in the non conference, followed up with a 5-4 record in the Big 12. If they lose to TCU, and still get to eight wins, that would mean a 6-3 finish in the Big 12, which would be very impressive considering where Baylor was just a few seasons ago.
Coming In August: Big 12 Preview
Next Preview: Texas Tech
2011 Team Previews
Big East- Louisville
Big Ten- Minnesota