Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baylor Bears 2010 Review

2010 Record: 7-6 (4-4), 4th Big 12 South
2010 Bowl Game: Texas Bowl, Lost to Illinois 38-14
2010 Schedule/Results: Sam Houston State, W 34-3, Buffalo, W 34-6, @TCU, L 45-10, @ Rice, W 30-13, Kansas, W 55-7, @ Texas Tech, L 45-38, @ Colorado, W 31-25, Kansas State, W 47-42, @ Texas, W 30-22, @ Oklahoma State, L 55-28, Texas A&M, L 42-30, Oklahoma, L 53-24


     This was a special season for Baylor. You would no think so when you see a record of 7-6, but it was definately a special year. The Bears are getting better, and with a healthy Robert Griffin, it was apparent that the Bears could be a player in the Big 12, and that the doormat days may very well be behind them under Art Briles.
     Griffin made a solid comeback from a major knee injury in 2010, and it was his presence that drove the machine. Griffin passed for 3501 yards and 22 TDs with 8 picks in 454 attempts, while adding another 635 yards rushing with 8 more scores. Griffin showed basically no ill effects from his surgery, and will have a chance to be even better in 2011.
     Jay Finley also showed up big in 2010, breaking loose for a line of 195-1218-12. Finley was the perfect compliment to Griffin, as he forced defenses to stay honest and cover the backfield, giving Griffin's targets time to get open downfield. Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi, the prime candidates to replace Finley in 2011, combined for a line of 72-510-4.
     Five different Baylor receivers caught 42 passes or more in 2010. Kendall Wright was the favorite target, as he wound up with 78-952-7. Josh Gordon also caught 7 TD passes off of 42 catches for 714 yards. Tevin Reese (45), Terrance Williams (43, and Lanear Sampson (42) also busted the 40 catch mark.
     Nobody was as productive as DB Byron Lander on the Baylor defense. Lander led the team by far with 127 tackles on the 2010 season. 81 of those were solo tackles, and he averaged 9.77 tackles per game over 13 games as a starter. Nobody else had more than 72 (DB Tim Atchison, LB Chris Francis).
     Not everything was rosy for Baylor. The defense overall was not very good. The Bears gave up over 427 yards per game overall, and teams passed for 267 yards per game, while rushing for another 160.3. Why? There was very little actual pressure up front. Tevin Elliott and Phil Taylor combined for 16 TFLs on the season, but nobody was in double digits, meaning nobody was attacking the line of scrimage. Elliott also led the team in sacks, but only had 5, as QBs had all day long to find their targets.
     Atchison led the team in pass breakups with 8, but nobody else came close, and as was said earlierm the secondary got shredded on a regular basis. Prince Kent was the only player on the team that even had 2 picks on the year. There are no playmakers in the back four, and Briles has got to find them to remain competitive and improve.
     Aaron Jones had his moments as a freshman PK in 2010, but he also had some problems, Jones connected on 19 of 27 FGs, good for only 70.4%. As I sad, he was only a freshman, so obviously there is room to get better, which I would expect that he will in 2011.Derek epperson had a very strong senior season at punter, as he averaged 43.75 yards per punt. Replacing him will be a high priority, as the defense will need all of the real estate that they can get to operate.

The Bears obviously still have work to be done. Making a bowl this seaosn with Griffin healthy should have been a given, but the Bears nearly blew it at the end of the season, and after a 7-2 start, they dropped 4 straight, including the bowl game, to finish at a paltry 7-6. As was said, this was still a special season for the Bears, because it creates hope for what can still come in the next couple of seasons. The Bears won't win the Big 12 next season, but a consecutive bowl would work wonders for this long suffering fan base.

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