Big 12 football is starting to get into full swing across the conference. Most teams start within the next two weeks, and it’s certainly refreshing to know that once again NCAA-sanctioned football is happening on college campuses.
Each Big 12 squad faces its own questions, and all ten will seek to answer those over the course of the next month or so as spring practices come and go.
We’re examining the areas where they’ll hope to make progress throughout their allocated fifteen practices, and next we take a look at the Baylor Bears, who start practices tomorrow.
After having a solid 7-6 season under second year head coach Matt Rhule, the Baylor Baylors seem to be on an upward trajectory going into 2019. Significant strides were made last season after Rhule’s 1-11 record in his first year.
Rhule and his staff played a lot of younger players last year and the year before that, and now it appears – at least at first glance – that having endured those growing pains will pay off in Year Three.
Baylor’s two deep will be littered with juniors and seniors with playing experience this season. Each year the Bears have improved, and should expect to again this season. The question is – what kind of leap should we anticipate for Baylor next fall?
PRACTICE BEGINS: TUE, March 5
SPRING GAME: SAT, April 13
LOCATION: McLane Stadium (Waco, TX)
Since quality offense is a necessity in the Big 12, there should be progress for the Bears. The offensive personnel is as well-stocked as it’s been since Rhule stepped foot in Waco.
At quarterback and running back, the Bears now find substantial depth. Having accounted for over 1400 yards on the ground in 2018, all three ball carriers on the depth chart return. Quarterback Charlie Brewer enters 2019 as a third year starter. Backing him up will be Gerry Bohanon, a highly touted recruit a year ago.
Needing to be replaced are two spots on the right side of the offensive line. Sam Tecklenburg returns at center to a position group that will have juniors and seniors across the board.
Denzel Mims returns as a headliner in the wide receiver corps, but there are starting spots up for grabs. Multiple players showed flashes of talent last season, and there should be sufficient competition throughout spring practices among the wide receivers.
All but four people from the two deep return on defense for the Bears in 2019. A new starter at nose tackle and rush end will have to be found on defense, but Bravvion Roy and James Lynch will come back along the defensive line.
The linebacking corps is the deepest and most experienced unit on the team, with Clay Johnston, Jordan Williams, and Blake Lynch all coming back.
On the back end, replacements will need to be found at a safety and corner spot. Given that pass defense was a strength of the team for the Bears’ last season, developing young talent would boost the chances for a major leap on that side of the ball.
No matter how much they are able to improve, staying healthy will no doubt be a welcome accomplishment for Baylor this spring. There aren’t a lot of unknowns on this team, and bringing up some new faces at wideout is probably the Bears’ biggest challenge.
Baylor’s continued to recruit well despite all the transition within the program, so as of right now, it seems as if the future looks fairly bright in Waco.