4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BAYLOR DEFENSE
– It might have been a bit of a rough run over the last few years for the Baylor defense, but seven of the top ten tacklers and seven starters are back from a group that wasn’t a rock – the run defense was an issue – but was good enough overall to get by in the Big 12.
– The linebacking corps will be the star with everyone back. Leading tackler Clay Johnston is back at his spot in the middle with 99 tackles, and Jordan Williams is a solid 223-pounder on the weakside coming off a 52-tackle season. 225-pound senior Blake Lynch was fifth on the team with 47 tackles, and sophomore Terrel Bernard is a good rising part of the puzzle at either outside spot. There’s good depth for all three spots, too.
– The Bears are strong up front despite the loss of nose tackle Ira Lewis and decent pass rusher Greg Roberts on the outside. 290-pound James Lynch is a tackle who could work as a 3-4 end – he makes a whole lot of stops – and 330-pound Bravvion Roy is a big factor inside.
JUCO transfer Niadre Zouzoua will work on the outside somewhere, and former Texas A&M transfer James Lockhart will start to do more in the rotation. A pure pass rusher needs to emerge – the hope is that Zouzoua is that – but there are enough good options to play around with.
– The secondary allowed 242 passing yards per game, but that was good enough to finish third in the Big 12 in pass defense. Senior Chris Miller is back at one safety gig after finishing second on the team with 67 tackles, and Henry Black is a reliable option to step in and start to do a whole lot more.
Raleigh Texada returns to one corner after making 32 stops and coming up with two picks, but he’s not all that physical at 5-10 and 176 pounds. It’s a deep overall group of options for the other side with senior Jameson Houston and sophomore Kalon Barnes two decent options.