Preview 2017: Baylor Bears

Preview 2017: Baylor Bears

Teams & Conferences

Preview 2017: Baylor Bears

Preview 2017: Baylor Bears


Previewing and looking ahead at the Baylor Bears season – and what you need to know.


Contact @PeteFiutak

2017 Baylor Preview: It’s Okay To Win The Right Way
2017 Baylor Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Baylor Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Baylor Offense

The new look and pro-style will be a shock to the system, but it’ll be effective.

It all starts with figuring out the quarterback situation. Zach Smith wasn’t always the best option in the spring, but he’s the veteran, while Arizona transfer Anu Solomon and Charlie Brewer are deep in the hunt for the gig.

The starter doesn’t have Baylor’s normal array of high-octane targets to throw to, but Chris Platt is a flier who can stretch the field. The big difference now? Tight ends – they’ll be used a lot more, and the Bears have a few who can produce.

The 1-2 rushing punch of Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty should be among the best in the Big 12, but the line has to stay in one piece. There’s next to no depth up front, but the starting five should be solid.

Biggest Key To The Baylor Offense

Start caring about tempo again. The Baylor offense will look like its going in slow motion at times compared to past seasons, but it’ll still be effective. It’s all a part of the puzzle – control the ball, control the game, control the clock, keep the defense off the field.

Rhule’s Temple team finished tenth in the nation in time of possession, keeping the ball for well over 33 minutes per game last season. Baylor might not do that this season, but the offense will be on the field more.

What You Need To Know About The Baylor Defense

The defense that fell off the map over the second half of last season should be far better. Ultra-intense defensive coordinator Phil Snow, combined with head coach Matt Rhule, will crank up the production for a D returning six starters and seven of the top ten tacklers.

The line that was so great at getting into the backfield has its top pass rusher back in K.J. Smith leading a veteran line welcoming back a slew of banged up players ready to go now.

Leading tackler Aiavion Edwards is gone, but Taylor Young is a decent one to build around. However, it’s going to take a bit to find the right playmakers – Matt Rhule’s linebackers have to be killers.

The defensive backfield depends on the status of suspended safety Travon Blanchard – he was kept out of spring ball after his girlfriend caused him of abuse – and not having Orion Stewart around hurts, but the corner situation should be okay.

Biggest Key To The Baylor Defense

The front seven has to be stronger against the run. It was the front six last season, and it could be again depending on the situation. Last year, the Bears were able to stop Northwestern State’s running game. They were able to stop Kansas and, stunningly, Boise State in the bowl game. Everyone else ran wild.

Baylor allowed 200 rushing yards or more eight times, with TCU tearing off 431 yards and six scores, and Kansas State running for six touchdowns, too.

Baylor Will Be Far Better If …

The penalties stop. Insert your own bad joke here about how Baylor didn’t mind breaking the rules over the last few years – it got flagged an average of more than nine times per game in each of the last four seasons.

Last year, the Bears were dead last in college football in sins, getting flagged almost ten times per game for an average of 82 yards. By the way, Temple was flagged for only around five penalties for 43 yards per game last season under Rhule.

Best Baylor Offensive Player

RB Terence Williams, Jr. – He might not be the flashiest offensive star for an attack known for its fireworks, but he’s one of the Big 12’s most effective backs with 6-2, 220-pound size and great power. While he hasn’t done much for the passing game, he led the team with 1,048 yards and 11 scores, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

He rolled Texas for 180 yards, ripped through Texas Tech for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and came up with four 100-yard games on the season. Now, he and JaMychal Hasty could combine for well over 2,000 yards.

2. WR Chris Platt, Jr.
3. RB JaMycal Hasty, Soph.
4. QB Zach Smith, Soph.
5. QB Anu Solomon, Sr.

Best Baylor Defensive Player

DE K.J. Smith, Sr. – One of the Big 12’s best pass rushers, he came up with a bounceback season for a team that needed to find threats who could get into the backfield on a consistent basis. The 6-1, 260-pounder is quick off the ball with a great motor, generating a team-leading seven sacks with 12 tackles for loss and 67 tackles.

Good as a redshirt freshman – coming up with five sacks – he didn’t get any as a sophomore, and then last year he ripped it up over the second half of the season. Consistent and explosive, he’s the one the line will work around.

2. S Travon Blanchard, Sr.* (Suspended this offseason)
3. LB Taylor Young, Sr.
4. S Davion Hall, Sr.
5. CB Grayland Arnold, Soph.

Key Player To A Successful Season

WR Chris Platt, Jr. – Of course, the quarterback situation takes center stage -with Zach Smith, Anu Solomon and Charlie Brewer all in the mix – but they need someone to throw to. With KD Cannon and Ishmael Zamora gone – they combined for 150 catches for 2,024 and 21 scores – Platt needs to be more than just a deep threat.

Lightning fast, Platt average over 16 yards per catch on his 35 grabs, but he disappeared at times. There might be other good options, but Platt has to be steady.

The Baylor Season Will Be A Success If …

The Bears win eight games. There’s still too much work to do and there are too many depth issues to push of rate Big 12 title, but the staring 22 will be fantastic, and the coaching situation is far stronger.

One thing that’s not changing is the light and breezy non-conference slate, with layups against Liberty and UTSA along with a somewhat-challenging game at Duke. Take down those three, beat Kansas and Iowa State, and getting to five wins shouldn’t be a problem. The Bears should be good enough to win three other Big 12 games.

Key Game To The Baylor Season

Sept. 30 at Kansas State – Considering Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will probably be the two best teams in the Big 12 – at least in terms of how they look to start the season – beating Kansas State in Manhattan could be a must.

Baylor starts the Big 12 campaign against Oklahoma, goes to Kansas State the next week, and follows it up at Oklahoma State. It won’t be a shocker to lose to the Sooners and Cowboys, but it would stink for Rhule to start out conference play 0-3.

2016 Baylor Fun Stats

– Punt Return Average: Baylor 9.7 yards – Opponents 2.1 yards
– Red Zone Scores: Opponents 42-of-50 (84%) – Baylor 45-of-60 (75%)
– Penalties: Baylor 129 for 1,068 yards – Opponents of 77 for 822 yards

2017 Baylor Preview: It’s Okay To Win The Right Way
2017 Baylor Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Baylor Previews: 2016 | 2015

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