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Baylor will play football in 2016. Guess we should talk about that.

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This is Bill C's daily preview series, working its way through every 2016 team. Catch up on the Big 12.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. This is a football preview

This preview series begins in February and continues for six months. The schedule is arranged at the start, and then the boulder rolls downhill for the next six months.

Baylor's turn under the microscope came up just as the school was firing head coach Art Briles for a series of acts that ranged from foolish to mortifying. You can find all the details about that here. You probably have already.

We elected to postpone the Baylor preview for reasons both related and unrelated to football. On the practical side, it didn't make sense to preview a team that was in the middle of losing quite a few signees and transfers. Waiting a while would allow the dust to settle in that regard.

Really, it just didn't make sense to talk about football at all. Baylor University put on a How to Lose Your Soul and Morals in the Name of Winning Football master class. It was a perfect demonstration of how to endanger the students on your campus in the name of entertaining them. People who had to be trustworthy were not.

Granted, this is only about Baylor for the moment. Soon it will be about someone else. The cultural issues, the circumstances that have failed to stem sexual assault problems on campus -- both within athletic programs and outside of them -- remain the same.

There were plenty of unique circumstances and terrible decisions that helped to create Baylor's mess. But these problems will continue until we address at least one very specific issue: So many women find difficulty when it comes to reporting an incident to proper authorities, as Baylor illustrated in several ways.

"Will the school take this seriously? Will fans find my name? Is this even worth it?" These are real thoughts that go through a victim's head. It happened at Baylor, and it happens elsewhere. That school administrators could so thoroughly lose sight of their duties is terrifying, but as fans, we don't have direct control over that.

We do, however, have control over acting like human beings.

Fans are the greatest thing about sports. The identity, the camaraderie, the passion, etc. Without fans, sports don't exist. Fans are also the worst thing about sports. Winning is intoxicating, and we turn against anything or anyone who might prevent it. We create conspiracy theories. We lash out. We search the internet for personal information of those standing in our way. We become something far less than human.

I'm talking about the fans of schools who have been involved in things like this in recent years, going on social media to reveal the identity of a woman who's made claims, making her life hellish in public, and attempting to punish her for allegations that could hurt the team whose colors you root for.

I'm also talking about many of the rival fans who hold themselves above that behavior, but would have done the same thing. The ones who tweet about "#RapeScandals" to rival recruits, who pile on because of ESPN's Outside the Lines reports, then rage against ESPN when the microscope is turned on their own school.

Universities have a lot to fix, but this is the thing fans can do to help solve the problem: Take claims seriously and show human respect for women who tell authorities about crimes.

Humanity trumps fandom. We frequently get opportunities to prove we understand this, and we frequently fail.

Baylor's going to play a 2016 football season. Here's a look at it.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 10-3 | Adj. Record: 11-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 14 | Final S&P+ Rk: 14
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
4-Sep at SMU 106 56-21 W 85% 100% +8.8 -1.0
12-Sep Lamar N/A 66-31 W 85% 100% -9.5
26-Sep Rice 123 70-17 W 98% 100% +19.3 +18.0
3-Oct vs. Texas Tech 60 63-35 W 87% 99% +15.1 +11.0
10-Oct at Kansas 127 66-7 W 89% 100% +25.4 +14.5
17-Oct West Virginia 31 62-38 W 89% 98% +24.7 +3.0
24-Oct Iowa State 79 45-27 W 91% 100% -7.3 -19.0
5-Nov at Kansas State 81 31-24 W 67% 91% -11.2 -10.0
14-Nov Oklahoma 4 34-44 L 55% 33% -12.2 -12.5
21-Nov at Oklahoma State 40 45-35 W 81% 93% +7.7 +10.0
27-Nov at TCU 19 21-28 L 50% 30% -10.4 -8.5
5-Dec Texas 68 17-23 L 29% 29% -30.5 -26.5
29-Dec vs. North Carolina 24 49-38 W 82% 89% +5.9 +9.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 43.7 1 28.2 64
Points Per Game 48.1 1 28.3 79

2. The QB position is evidently important

A few months back, when we last saw Baylor on the field, we were watching the Bears beat a pretty good team despite basically not having a quarterback.

In seven games with Seth Russell, the Bears were as consistently strong as ever. They were destroying decent teams like Texas Tech (by 28 points) and West Virginia (by 24) and obliterating lesser teams. Both S&P+ and Vegas were struggling to keep up with how good Baylor looked.

But then Russell injured his neck against Iowa State and was lost for the season. Blue-chip freshman Jarrett Stidham took over and looked respectable, but then he got hurt. QB-turned-WR-turned-QB Chris Johnson moved into the lineup, struggled quite a bit in the passing game, then got hurt, too. Baylor played most of the Texas game with slot receiver Lynx Hawthorne the No. 1 QB.

The result was predictable. It's hard to maintain consistency when you can't keep a quarterback healthy.

  • First 7 games:
    Record: 7-0 | Avg. Percentile Performance: 89% (~top 15) | Avg. Score: BU 61, Opp 25 (+36) | Avg. Performance vs. S&P+ projection: +10.9 PPG
  • Last 6 games:
    Record: 3-3 | Avg. Percentile Performance: 61% (~top 50) | Avg. Score: BU 33, Opp 32 (+1) | Avg. Performance vs. S&P+ projection: -8.5 PPG

The offense was so good in the first seven games (plus the bowl) that BU ranked first in Off. S&P+ despite the injuries. That is astounding.

This is what Grobe inherits. The 64-year-old former Wake Forest and Ohio head coach was named the interim for 2016, and he walks into a situation with more pure talent than he has ever coached.

Baylor recruiting is a shambles, in part because of the scandal and in part because there won't be a permanent staff until about December. But as far as 2016 goes, the hire of Grobe makes some sense. He has the prior reputation of being a good guy, and he is used to attempting to win in difficult circumstances (even if Wake's definition of "difficult" is far different than Baylor's at the moment).

The roster attrition of the last couple of months has created pockets of tenuous depth -- Stidham and Johnson are gone, among others, which means drop-off will be significant if Russell gets hurt -- but the starting 22 should still be one of the Big 12's best. We'll just have to see how much of the 22 can stay on the field.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.38 19 IsoPPP+ 123.6 14
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 50.3% 5 Succ. Rt. + 112.0 26
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 30.6 87 Def. FP+ 29.9 72
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 5.6 1 Redzone S&P+ 118.3 14
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.4 ACTUAL 26 +2.6
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 1 15 26 14
RUSHING 2 26 32 28
PASSING 24 9 29 7
Standard Downs 7 16 7
Passing Downs 54 79 47
Q1 Rk 4 1st Down Rk 21
Q2 Rk 54 2nd Down Rk 16
Q3 Rk 11 3rd Down Rk 32
Q4 Rk 39

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Seth Russell 6'3, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8570 119 200 2104 29 6 59.5% 3 1.5% 10.3
Jarrett Stidham 75 109 1265 12 2 68.8% 9 7.6% 10.3
Chris Johnson 22 50 302 3 3 44.0% 1 2.0% 5.9
Lynx Hawthorne 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8448 11 23 66 0 2 47.8% 1 4.2% 2.1
Zack Bennema 6'4, 225 RSFr. NR NR








Zach Smith 6'4, 225 Fr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8809








Preston Heard 5'10, 185 Fr. NR NR








3. Wrap Seth in bubble wrap

Russell's completion rate could have been higher, but for the most part he was playing the role of Perfect Baylor Quarterback before he got hurt. I mean, seriously? 10.3 yards per attempt? Three sacks in 203 pass attempts? 29 touchdowns to six INTs? Those are ridiculous numbers, and the only reason he wasn't getting serious Heisman hype when he went down is because we've come to expect ridiculous from Baylor quarterbacks. It's almost impossible to stand out statistically at this point.

If Russell's healthy, it's hard to imagine this offense struggling, especially with Kendal Briles still calling the plays.

But if Baylor goes through the same injury crisis as last year ... well ... I went ahead and listed a couple of walk-ons above, just in case.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Shock Linwood RB 5'9, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8460 198 1329 10 6.7 5.6 50.5% 1 1
Johnny Jefferson RB 5'10, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8681 136 1000 8 7.4 5.6 54.4% 2 2
Devin Chafin RB 121 583 9 4.8 2.4 43.0% 3 2
Terence Williams RB 6'2, 225 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9079 88 556 3 6.3 4.3 51.1% 0 0
Seth Russell QB 6'3, 220 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8570 46 414 6 9.0 9.4 52.2% 2 1
Chris Johnson QB/WR 33 113 1 3.4 2.5 42.4% 4 3
Jarrett Stidham QB 27 119 2 4.4 2.4 40.7% 1 1
Corey Coleman WR 24 105 0 4.4 6.3 37.5% 0 0
Lynx Hawthorne WR 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8448 16 145 2 9.1 7.9 62.5% 2 2
JaMycal Hasty RB 5'9, 200 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8068







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Corey Coleman WR 121 74 1363 61.2% 32.4% 11.3 72.7% 52.1% 2.12
KD Cannon WR 6'0, 180 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9853 92 51 881 55.4% 24.7% 9.6 68.5% 48.9% 1.85
Jay Lee WR 59 38 758 64.4% 15.8% 12.8 69.5% 59.3% 2.10
Chris Platt IR 5'11, 170 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8601 24 11 155 45.8% 6.4% 6.5 75.0% 37.5% 1.60
Davion Hall IR
14 5 77 35.7% 3.8% 5.5 71.4% 35.7% 1.46
Ishmael Zamora WR 6'4, 220 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8834 12 10 156 83.3% 3.2% 13.0 83.3% 75.0% 1.68
Lynx Hawthorne IR 6'0, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8448 12 10 95 83.3% 3.2% 7.9 66.7% 66.7% 1.13
Shock Linwood RB 5'9, 200 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8460 9 9 71 100.0% 2.4% 7.9 55.6% 66.7% 1.18
Gus Penning TE 8 6 109 75.0% 2.1% 13.6 87.5% 62.5% 1.96
Chris Johnson QB/WR
3 3 37 100.0% 0.8% 12.3 66.7% 66.7% 1.74
Quan Jones WR 6'5, 220 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8628 3 3 34 100.0% 0.8% 11.3 100.0% 66.7% 1.64
Jordan Feuerbacher TE 6'4, 255 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8514 2 0 0 0.0% 0.5% 0.0 50.0% 0.0% 0.00
Blake Lynch IR 6'3, 205 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9199
Pooh Stricklin WR 6'2, 185 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8782
Sam Tecklenburg TE 6'3, 270 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8432
Jared Atkinson WR 6'2, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8781








4. Big-play guys: gone. Efficiency guys: back.

In part because of late-season issues, Baylor's efficiency numbers weren't as strong as they could have been, but big plays were still a huge asset.

That balance could flip. Russell isn't the most efficient passer, but in Shock Linwood, Johnny Jefferson, and Terence Williams, Russell should share the backfield with three backs who each managed an opportunity rate over 50 percent in 2015. Their level of explosiveness wasn't quite what we're used to from Baylor running backs, but until defenses were able to gang up on the run (i.e., when non-passers started taking snaps at QB), they were consistent and efficient.

Baylor might have to lean on that more. Coleman and Jay Lee combined to catch 8.6 passes per game (again, with no QB for part of the season) at 18.9 yards per catch and 11.8 yards per target. They were incredible big-play threats. You never know if the next batch is going to be as effective deep.

QB issues distracted us, but Baylor's receiving corps was thinner than expected. Coleman, Lee, and KD Cannon were the only three players targeted at least 25 times, and Cannon is the only returnee who caught more than 11 passes last year.

One assumes that among players like Hawthorne, sophomore Chris Platt, and Blake Lynch on the inside and sophomore Ishmael Zamora, and redshirt freshman Pooh Stricklin on the outside, someone will step up. But that didn't ring true a year ago; this unit has more to prove than normal, and leaning on the run might be the preferable option.

(Then again, with the typical Baylor schedule -- the season starts with three non-conference games, all against opponents projected 98th or worse -- the Bears will have plenty of time to break in younger weapons.)

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 110.4 3.84 3.08 49.0% 76.1% 13.0% 197.9 2.2% 6.0%
Rank 23 1 78 1 14 2 10 15 38
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Spencer Drango LT 13 48 Outland Trophy finalist, 2015 All-American, 2015 1st All-Big 12
Jarell Broxton RG 13 21 2015 1st All-Big 12
Kyle Fuller C 6'5, 310 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8766 13 26 2015 2nd All-Big 12
Blake Muir LG 13 26
Pat Colbert RT 12 20
Desmine Hilliard RG 0 18
Blake Blackmar LG 6'5, 345 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8417 1 1
Ishmael Wilson LT 6'4, 305 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9153 0 0
Rami Hammad RG 6'4, 340 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8962 0 0
Dom Desouza LT 6'6, 295 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8387 0 0
Mo Porter RT 6'5, 310 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8741 0 0
Tanner Thrift RG 6'5, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8032 0 0
Patrick Lawrence RT 6'6, 310 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8342 0 0
Josh Pelzel OL 6'6, 320 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8585 0 0

5. Rebuild up front, part 1

Baylor has been really good in the trenches. Last year's line kept an extraordinarily clean backfield, which made it even more jarring how many injuries the QBs suffered.

But with four starters and the top backup gone, the 2016 line is almost guaranteed to suffer more glitches.

All-conference center Kyle Fuller is back, and the pipeline features four former four-star recruits, including juniors Ishmael Wilson and Rami Hammad. [Update: Hammad was suspended from team activities after a stalking arrest earlier this month.] Size won't be an issue (average size of the 11 linemen listed above: 6'5, 321), but while the down-to-down success should be there, BU will have to deal with a few more breakdowns.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.20 37 IsoPPP+ 117.6 18
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 39.3% 49 Succ. Rt. + 110.5 32
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 30.3 55 Off. FP+ 30.3 56
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.7 97 Redzone S&P+ 102.3 63
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.5 ACTUAL 26.0 +2.5
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 61 21 32 18
RUSHING 56 18 32 18
PASSING 76 35 31 40
Standard Downs 11 26 10
Passing Downs 60 53 61
Q1 Rk 40 1st Down Rk 23
Q2 Rk 12 2nd Down Rk 28
Q3 Rk 25 3rd Down Rk 29
Q4 Rk 62

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 113.1 2.59 3.62 35.6% 61.7% 23.0% 99.9 6.0% 8.8%
Rank 19 24 107 35 36 26 66 35 37
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jamal Palmer DE 13 48.5 6.2% 14.5 5.5 0 1 4 0
Shawn Oakman DE 12 37.5 4.8% 14.5 4.5 0 0 2 0
Andrew Billings NT 12 35.0 4.5% 14.0 5.5 0 0 1 0
Beau Blackshear DT 11 20.0 2.5% 4.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
K.J. Smith DE 6'2, 265 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8553 13 19.0 2.4% 5.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Brian Nance DE
13 7.5 1.0% 3.0 2.0 0 1 2 0
Byron Bonds DT 6'2, 290 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8163 8 4.5 0.6% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Greg Roberts DE 6'6, 260 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8249 5 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Morris NT 6'1, 285 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8004
Xavier Jones DE 6'3, 245 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8311
Jamie Jacobs DE 6'5, 255 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8157
Ira Lewis NT 6'3, 300 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8138
Tyrone Hunt DT 6'5, 280 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7719
Bravvion Roy NT 6'1, 315 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8913








6. Rebuild up front, part 2

Baylor's been so offensively dominant for so long: seventh or better in Off. S&P+ for five straight seasons, third or better in four.

When they were at their best under Briles, they required only top-40 defensive efforts. They went 16-2 in the Big 12 in 2013-14 with defenses that ranked 26th and 39th, respectively, in Def. S&P+. In 2015, they fell to 64th and lost three games for the first time in three years.

Most of 2015's issues came in the redzone. Baylor had top-40 efficiency and explosiveness ratings but allowed 4.7 points per scoring opportunity. And that was with a strong defensive front.

This year's biggest defensive issue is the same as its biggest offensive issue: a rebuild in the trenches. All four of last year's starters are gone, leaving junior ends K.J. Smith and no other proven options.

Senior Byron Bonds (the "leading" returning tackler among the DTs with 4.5) and JUCO transfer Jeremy Faulk ended spring on the first string, but now Faulk has left the team. For a unit that was already low on contributors in the middle, so much change has to be a serious concern. A sturdy line has been so important to Baylor's defensive efforts, and it doesn't appear the Bears will have one this year.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Grant Campbell MLB 13 80.0 10.2% 5.0 2.5 0 1 0 0
Taylor Young WLB 5'10, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893 12 70.0 8.9% 13.5 4.0 0 1 0 0
Aiavion Edwards WLB 6'1, 230 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8896 13 50.0 6.4% 4.0 2.0 0 2 1 0
Raaquan Davis MLB 6'2, 225 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8712 13 19.5 2.5% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kendall Ehrlich LB
13 6.0 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Clay Johnston WLB 6'3, 220 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8378
Jordan Williams WLB 6'1, 220 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7933
Deonte Williams LB 6'2, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8656








7. The pass rush was lacking

As sturdy as the run defense was, even with last year's starting four, Baylor ranked only 66th in Adj. Sack Rate. And now every lineman responsible for at least one sack is gone.

The middling pass rush contributed to problems on passing downs. Opponents were able to use draw plays with nice effect, and the pass rush didn't get home enough to justify the risk.

We'll see if coordinator Phil Bennett plays things more conservatively. If the line isn't as disruptive, he'd have a choice between getting more aggressive in blitzing with his linebackers and safeties or pulling back into more of a bend-don't-break tendency. Knowing Bennett, it would be the former.

At the least, he'd still has a nice attacker in Taylor Young, who recorded 13.5 TFLs (mostly against the run) as a sophomore. Linebacker depth could quickly become a concern if either Young or Alavion Edwards gets hurt, but they are solid options in the middle, and as long as they're on the field, the LB unit is proven.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Travon Blanchard NB 6'2, 210 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8516 13 75.0 9.5% 7.5 2 2 6 4 0
Chance Waz S 6'0, 185 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8229 13 62.0 7.9% 1 0 0 3 0 0
Orion Stewart S 6'2, 205 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 10 57.0 7.3% 1.5 1 1 3 1 0
Xavien Howard CB 13 39.5 5.0% 1 0 5 10 0 1
Taion Sells S 5'10, 190 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8306 13 39.0 5.0% 3.5 0 1 3 0 0
Ryan Reid CB 5'11, 190 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9020 13 24.5 3.1% 1 0 3 8 0 0
Patrick Levels NB 5'11, 195 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8133 13 16.0 2.0% 2 1 0 2 1 0
Terrell Burt S 10 15.5 2.0% 1 0 1 1 0 0
Alfred Pullom S
9 6.0 0.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tion Wright CB 5'10, 180 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8056 10 3.0 0.4% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Tyler Jaynes NB 6'2, 205 Jr. NR NR 8 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Verkedric Vaughns CB 5'10, 195 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8392 11 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davion Hall S 6'2, 205 Jr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9753
Jourdan Blake S 6'0, 185 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8543
Jordan Tolbert CB 5'11, 180 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8579
Tony Nicholson CB 5'10, 190 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8529
Henry Black S 6'0, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8472
Jameson Houston CB 6'2, 200 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8249

8. All the safeties you need

If the front six holds up, the secondary should be good enough to make plays. There could be issue at cornerback, where Ryan Reid is the only returning regular. But the safety position is loaded.

Travon Blanchard is a fantastic nickel, combining aggressive pass defense (eight passes defensed) with lots of time in the backfield (7.5 TFLs). Junior Chance Waz and seniors Orion Stewart, Taion Sells, and Patrick Levels are all solid, too. If an even decent corner option emerges -- redshirt freshman Jameson Houston or Henry Black? Junior Davion Hall? Sophomore Verkedric Vaughns? -- he'll have cover behind him. If the run defense doesn't crater, the pass defense should be fine.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Drew Galitz 6'0, 205 So. 40 40.7 0 15 11 65.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Spencer Evans 106 60.0 39 3 36.8%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Chris Callahan 5'9, 205 Jr. 83-83 8-10 80.0% 0-3 0.0%
Spencer Evans 0-0 0-0 N/A 0-1 0.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Chris Platt KR 5'11, 170 So. 13 27.6 0
KD Cannon KR 6'0, 180 Jr. 7 16.3 0
Lynx Hawthorne PR 6'0, 200 Sr. 10 5.0 0
Corey Coleman PR 3 3.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 124
Field Goal Efficiency 113
Punt Return Success Rate 97
Kick Return Success Rate 68
Punt Success Rate 120
Kickoff Success Rate 83

9. Dreadful and experienced

Returning almost everyone from a bad unit isn't necessarily the best thing in the world, but if there's a plus with Baylor's special teams unit, it's that last year's biggest weakness (punting) was rarely used, and the best returning strength (Chris Platt in kick returns) will probably be used frequently.

That's only so much of a positive, though. Despite a great offense, Baylor ranked only 71st in field position margin last year. That will become a more important factor if either the offense or defense regress this fall.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
3-Sep Northwestern State NR 49.7 100%
10-Sep SMU 98 26.6 94%
16-Sep at Rice 119 26.4 94%
24-Sep Oklahoma State 23 7.3 66%
1-Oct at Iowa State 71 11.6 75%
15-Oct Kansas 112 32.4 97%
29-Oct at Texas 34 3.7 58%
5-Nov TCU 31 10.2 72%
12-Nov at Oklahoma 4 -9.1 30%
19-Nov Kansas State 67 17.9 85%
25-Nov vs. Texas Tech 43 9.9 72%
3-Dec at West Virginia 33 3.7 58%
Projected wins: 9.0
Five-Year F/+ Rk 35.3% (10)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 27 / 30
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 0 / 0.1
2015 TO Luck/Game 0.0
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 69% (71%, 66%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 10.6 (-0.6)

10. Baylor's still going to be pretty good (this year)

The S&P+ projected win totals above remind us that the schedule starts pretty easy, no matter the coach or contents of the two-deep.

But the hire of Grobe is so unique that it's impossible to predict the effect. When Arkansas fired Bobby Petrino in the spring of 2012 and replaced him with John L. Smith, the Razorbacks plummeted from 11-2 to 4-8. Grobe isn't Smith, and Arkansas' 2012 team didn't feature the amount of raw offensive talent that Grobe inherits.

Under Briles, Baylor went from laughingstock to Big 12 power. The Bears went from having a stadium with tarped and covered seating to a fancy new house on the Brazos River.

He blew it all by forgetting where the line was between winning games and being a human being. He leaves with another black cloud hanging over the program, one of his own doing.

The Bears will play football this year. And if they can avoid a nasty battle with the injury bug, they should be pretty good at it. The defense is probably not going to be disruptive enough for Baylor to make a Big 12 title run, but ambition went out the window a couple of months ago.

For Baylor's football program itself, this season should be about getting priorities back in proper order and bracing for a strange, thin future.