Opening camp: Baylor

August, 4, 2010
8/04/10
11:45
AM ET
Schedule: Practice starts Thursday

What’s new: Baylor wants to stray from its recent status as a guaranteed win for teams across the Big 12 -- at least according to the fans of those teams. The Bears have won just three conference games in two years, but coach Art Briles says this is his most talented and deepest team since taking over in 2008.

Key battle: Byron Landor will have to fight off incoming freshman Ahmad Dixon, one of the program's most heavily recruited signees, to earn one of the starting safety positions, and Tim Atchison left the spring as the other starter on the defense's back line. Briles says the young players will play, but also says he needs a big year from Landor, who he tabbed as one of the leaders of his defense.

New on the scene: Running back Jarred Salubi will back up senior starter Jay Finley, but as a freshman, Salubi averaged just under 6 yards per carry on his 50 carries, second-most in the Big 12. He'll try to keep that average with more touches in 2010.

Breaking out: Senior linebacker Antonio Johnson had 77 tackles last season and is the Bears' leading returning tackler, but Briles complained at last week's media days that players like him deserve more attention, and he's one of the reasons star quarterback Robert Griffin stayed home, away from a day in front of the cameras. Big 12 ball carriers will get a chance to know the man the Bears call "Cuddy" well in 2010.

Don’t forget about: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor. Taylor has dropped some weight and Briles is hopeful Taylor, a transfer from Penn State, can fulfill more of the potential that made him the 2009 Preseason Newcomer of the Year. Taylor made 13 tackles in Baylor's first three games, but just 12 for the remainder of the season.

All eyes on: Griffin. The big question for the Bears is how Griffin will respond after missing the final nine games of 2009 with a torn ACL. The answer will decide the legitimacy of the Bears' hopes for the their first bowl game since 1994.

Quoting: "We're physically the best football team we've been from just as far as the talent standpoint. You know, the guys -- I mean, they have a very determined attitude, which we have to have. I mean, that's -- we understand what we have to do. We know we have to become a bowl-eligible football team, first and foremost, and then we'll go from there. From that standpoint also, it's very inspiring. It's a great place for a lot of people to have a lot of inspiration, and that's why I'm proud that I'm right in the middle of it." -- Baylor coach Art Briles

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