The Baylor Bears at No. 22 in the preseason college football rankings. Here are five things that matter heading into Baylor’s 2016 season.
So, how was your offseason?
Obviously it’s been an interesting time for the Baylor football program since we last saw it steamrolling over North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl. New coach, fewer players, even fewer recruits – and that’s just the on-the-field issues the program has to deal with.
Even so, for now the Bears should still be terrific at times. Head coach Jim Grobe is a solid stopgap, there’s still a ton of offensive firepower, and there’s the World Is Against Us rallying point – crass as that might be.
Can the offense keep going?
The machine isn’t going to come to a complete stop. It’s not going to be the same offensive juggernaut it was in the Art Briles era, but quarterback Seth Russell – if he can stay healthy – is still one of the most dangerous passers in college football, and KD Cannon and the receiving corps should be stellar. With one of the deepest groups of running backs in the country the ground game should be outstanding if the rebuilt line can come together in a hurry.
The defense should be fine if …
The line comes together. As always, the Bears are accustomed to the offense taking care of business, but the defense should be okay enough to hold serve from time to time. The secondary will be one of the team’s biggest positives – not a bad thing in the pass-happy Big 12 – and the linebacking corps has versatility and skill. The main issue is up front after losing massive anchor Andrew Billings.
Can Grobe tighten up the penalties?
Getting flagged a bajillion times a game didn’t matter too much under Briles thanks to an offense that could go 80 yards in a blink, but under Grobe the mistakes should slow down a bit. Baylor was a penalty machine over the last several years, and when the offense didn’t work like it should’ve due to injuries, the mistakes added up.
What’s Going To Happen?
It’s Baylor, so the lack of any real non-conference game will help immensely, starting out the year against Northwestern State, SMU and Rice to warm up. With Iowa State and Kansas to follow, the Bears will be 5-0 heading into the October 29th game at Texas. They’ll lose to the Longhorns, and they’ll drop road games against Oklahoma and West Virginia to finish 9-3, but considering all the issues, the season won’t be that bad.