Big 12: Antwan Goodley

Big 12 bye-week blueprint

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
2:45
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With six Big 12 teams having this weekend off, now is a good time to take stock of what's working and what isn't after Week 3. What are these six teams happy with and what still needs to get fixed? Here's a closer look:

Baylor
Next game:
Sept. 27 at Iowa State
What's working: Pretty much everything. Baylor's offense kept rolling even when Bryce Petty was sidelined, the run game broke in new toys in Johnny Jefferson and Silas Nacita, KD Cannon became a national phenom in three weeks and the defense ranks top five nationally in scoring, total defense, yards per play and run defense to go along with an FBS-high 15 sacks.
What needs work: This is welcomed recovery time for a team that got the injury bug in fall camp. Petty is 100 percent now and excited to get go-to target Antwan Goodley (quad) and receivers Corey Coleman (hamstring) and Clay Fuller (collar bone) back on the field. The Bears will likely get running back Devin Chafin (high ankle sprain) back in time to travel to Ames, too. With the exception of Levi Norwood, they'll have the full arsenal back in time for Big 12 play.

Iowa State
Next game:
Sept. 27 vs. Baylor
What's working: The Cyclones go into the week off riding an emotional high they aim to turn into momentum. Their 20-17 upset of Iowa provided so many encouraging signs. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson had arguably the best game of his career, the defense came up with its first takeaway in a big moment and we saw another impressive performance from Cory Morrissey. Paul Rhoads is a happy camper after the rivalry win, and ISU avoided an 0-3 start in dramatic fashion.
What needs work: A game plan for slowing down Baylor will be the main focus this week. ISU has a few injury issues of its own, but the good news is Jarvis West should be OK. Rhoads is focusing in on a four-week, four-game stretch in which the Clones take on Baylor, Oklahoma State, Toledo and Texas. After a win this good, there's always another upset to chase.

Oklahoma State
Next game:
Sept. 25 vs. Texas Tech
What's working: The youth and inexperience Oklahoma State has on paper is not showing on the field. The Pokes haven't slipped since losing J.W. Walsh, they gave Florida State a tough four-quarter ballgame, they won with relative ease after that and they have entered the Top 25. Thsi is not a perfect team yet but is a rising one that's going to scare a lot of teams in conference play.
What needs work: Facing Tech will give OSU a much better sense of how good its defense can be in 2014 after a nice showing in nonconference play. Gundy wants to see more depth develop in the back seven, and on offense he's expressed concerns about blocking the run game.

TCU
Next game:
Sept. 27 at SMU
What's working: The offensive transition has been smooth and effective. TCU has averaged 39 points and 491 yards per game with its new Air Raid, and Trevone Boykin has been everything the coaches hoped for -- and maybe a little more. The defense hasn't taken a step back without Devonte Fields and has seen several players step up their games up front. Smooth sailing so far for a team that definitely looks bowl-bound again.
What needs work: TCU's pass defense ranks No. 6 in FBS, but Gary Patterson has said he still wants to make some fixes in pass coverage. They'll devote the required amount of time on SMU, a struggling team led by an interim coach and a third-string quarterback, but the Frogs know they need to work ahead a little on Oklahoma and Baylor, including preparing for the 3-4 fronts of the Sooners' defense.

Texas
Next game:
Sept. 27 at Kansas
What's working: Despite taking two losses, this defense is playing at a high level with a top-20 yards-per-play rate, a top-15 pass defense and 13 sacks. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown looks like a potential All-American so far. Tyrone Swoopes is taking steps in the right direction and shined at times against UCLA, while John Harris has finally emerged as a go-to receiver.
What needs work: Where to begin? Texas' patchwork offensive line hasn't gelled and desperately needs these two weeks. The Longhorns need suspended WR/RB Daje Johnson back and need a healthy Desmond Jackson (ankle). Cedric Reed was better against UCLA but hasn't broken out yet. And Charlie Strong needs to start coming up with plans for stopping Baylor and Oklahoma or else this team could start 2-4.

Texas Tech
Next game:
Sept. 25 at Oklahoma State
What's working: Tech is getting nice production in the run game from DeAndre Washington and Justin Stockton and in the pass game from Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant. Offensive line play has improved and Tech hasn't given up a sack. Its pass defense ranks 11th nationally, which is probably misleading.
What needs work: Run defense, penalties, tackling, Davis Webb's consistency -- lots of fundamental issues here that are starting to cause concern. Webb seemed to be forcing throws against Arkansas and will need to put in some time this week to clean up concerns about his footwork and decision-making. And that porous run defense has to get cleaned up quick because opponents will keep attacking it hard over the next month.

Q&A: Baylor WR Antwan Goodley

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
1:00
PM ET
WACO, Texas -- Baylor wide receiver Antwan Goodley is ready to follow up his breakthrough All-Big 12 junior season with some more fireworks. After putting up 1,339 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 71 receptions, he'll be asked to not only beat defenses as Bryce Petty's go-to target, but also help guide a young and promising group of wide receivers.

We caught up with Goodley last week after a Baylor fall practice to talk about his expectations, his quarterback, his receivers, his stadium and much more.

What did you work on this offseason? What aspects of your game needed to improve?

Antwan Goodley: Making all the tough catches look easy. Being more efficient with my routes. Really, just my hands. That was my main focus. Lots of JUGS machine. That's about it.

Do you get excited when people talk you up as a potential All-American?

Goodley: I mean, it's exciting finally seeing your name get put out there and getting noticed, but I try not to worry about it to much and just focus on the team. All the rest will come.

How has Bryce Petty looked to you during fall camp?

Goodley: Great. Hungry. He's ready. He's ready to be out there. I know he's excited and looking forward to it. We'd come here and run routes probably two or three times a week after our summer conditioning. We got some pretty good work in outside of everything else.

Do you have that rapport now where he can wink and you know what he wants you to run?

Goodley: Oh, yes sir. We know everything. We've been here so long so we've learned a lot. Whenever he sees something and wants to do something different, I already know. Whatever he wants to do, I see it too. Hey, 14 plus 5 always equals 6. That's what we always say.

Think you'll get a little work at running back this year? At 5-foot-11 and 220, you have the perfect size for it.

Goodley: Yeah, we haven't really been doing it yet but I know I'll probably get a couple handoffs later in the season. I'm excited. I love that. People don't really know I grew up playing running back my whole life until I got to high school. I love getting back there and getting some handoffs. It's a different atmosphere, but I like it back there.

How is being one of the veterans now after learning from a lot of great receivers?

Goodley: It feels great. Those guys are gone now and they taught me the ropes, taught me a lot, and I'm just trying to pass it on to these younger guys and try to keep the Wide Receiver U tradition going. We're trying to get these other guys acclimated to the offense, but as far as everything, we're doing good, taking it day by day and trying to get better.

What's been your first impression of those freshman receivers?

Goodley: Might be the best receiver group he we've had as freshmen coming in so far. Davion Hall, K.D. Cannon, Chris Platt and Ishmael Zamora, they're all great athletes and they can all do great things in this offense. K.D. is God gifted and he's just a player. He's an animal. he attacks the ball, he's fast, he has great hands. He wants to be out there and he'll do whatever it takes.

Can Corey Coleman become that big-play guy who replaces what Tevin Reese gave you?

Goodley: Oh yeah, definitely. We lost T-Reese and Corey is definitely going to help us fill that position. He's physical, he's fast. Really, the physicality of that guy, he doesn't look too big but he can do some thing.

What'd you think when you first practiced at McLane Stadium and saw its locker room?

Goodley: Man, just being in there, knowing that we've got a lot of people behind us that took the time to put it on campus, the program is on the rise. It's a bunch of relief. We've been waiting on this for a long time. We deserve it and we're going to show it.
Who will have the best offense in college football this season?

The Bears essentially won that argument last year after leading the nation in points (52.4), yards (618.8), 20-yard plays (112) and yards per pass attempt (10.4).

ESPN Stats & Info has put together a case why the Bears might have the country’s best offense again. And why they might not.

[+] EnlargeShock Linwood
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesShock Linwood should get more work this season in the Baylor backfield.
The case for:

Quarterback Bryce Petty was responsible for 46 touchdowns last season, the most of any returning quarterback. He had only six turnovers, too.

The Bears bring back five of their top six receivers, including Antwan Goodley, who led the Big 12 with 1,339 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns.

Baylor did lose running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, but projected starter Shock Linwood averaged 3.5 yards after contact per carry last season, which was tops among all BCS-AQ conference running backs with at least 100 carries.

Baylor scored 60 touchdowns in 2 minutes or less last season, the most of any team in at least the last decade. The Bears’ average touchdown drive lasted only 1 minute, 32 seconds. With Petty back to run the show, there’s no reason to believe Baylor will operate any slower this season.

The case against:

The Baylor offense fell back to Earth down the stretch while facing tougher opponents. The Bears faced only two defenses that ranked in the top 40 nationally in efficiency their first nine games. In those nine games, Baylor averaged 61.2 points, 8.5 yards per play and 684.8 yards per game,and was on pace to break several FBS records. But in their final four games, the Bears faced three defenses that ranked in the top 40 in efficiency. In those games, Baylor averaged just 32.5 points, 5.4 yards per play and 470.2 yards per game.

While Petty and Goodley are back, the Bears lost three starting linemen, including Outland finalist Cyril Richardson. Petty struggled at times under pressure last season, completing only 8 of 27 passes for 113 yards and no touchdowns while under pressure.

Seastrunk was the team’s leading rusher with a Big 12-best 1,117 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Martin added 514 yards and seven scores.

ESPN Stats & Info also surmises that Florida State and Oregon could have stronger offenses than Baylor in 2014.

Florida State led the country last year in yards per play (7.7) and points per drive (3.7). Those, in fact, were the best totals since Hawaii in 2006. The Seminoles return several key players offensively, including reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston.

The Ducks' offense again will feature quarterback Marcus Mariota, who is one of only two quarterbacks to post two seasons of a QBR score of 86 or better since 2004 (Boise State’s Kellen Moore was the other). Oregon also brings back its top two running backs from last season in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. And the Ducks were second nationally in 2013 in yards per game (565) and yards per play (7.6).

ESPN Stats & Info conclusion:

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index’s predictive offensive metric, Florida State and Oregon have college football’s top offenses heading into 2014. Despite Baylor’s gaudy output last season, FPI projects Auburn to have a better offense than the Bears, too.

Here are FPI’s top five projected best offenses, according to predicted offensive efficiency:

1. Florida State: +17.0

2. Oregon: +16.8

3. Auburn: +13.9

4. Baylor: +13.6

5. UCLA: +13.2

Preseason All-Big 12 team

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
9:00
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Today, ESPN.com released its preseason All-American team. Before Big 12 media days, we released our individual preseason All-Big 12 ballots. But to pair with the All-American team, we debated, argued and eventually settled on one Big 12 blog, consensus preseason All-Big 12 team.

Here we go:

Offense

QB: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Easy choice. Petty is the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after he threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns with just three picks. He should be even better in Year 2 as a starter.

RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas
Malcolm Brown finished strong in place of Gray the past season, but there’s a reason Gray was Texas’ No. 1 back before he suffered an Achilles injury. Gray is healthy again, which gives Texas the best one-two punch at running back in the league.

RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Despite being Baylor’s third-string running back the past season, Linwood still finished sixth in the Big 12 in rushing. He’s the featured back now and could wind up the league’s top rusher.

WR: Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Lockett was literally uncoverable at times last year. Just ask Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan, which surrendered a combined 631 receiving yards and six touchdowns to Lockett. With Jake Waters settled in at quarterback, Lockett could put up even bigger numbers in 2014.

WR: Antwan Goodley, Baylor
Goodley might have been the most improved player in the league the past season. He was also one of the most dominant, with 1,339 receiving yards and a national-best five catches of 60 yards or more.

TE: E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
With Jace Amaro gone, Bibbs takes over as the top receiving tight end threat in the league. Only Amaro had more catches and yards than Bibbs among Big 12 tight ends the past season.

OT: Spencer Drango, Baylor
With Drango in the lineup, Petty was sacked only eight times through the Bears’ first nine games last year. After Drango was sidelined with a back injury, Petty was sacked nine times in Baylor’s last four games. Suffice it to say, Petty is glad to have Drango back protecting his blindside.

OG: Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders previously had plans to move Clark inside to guard, but they still have him manning left tackle this season. Whether he stays at the bookend or slides to guard, Clark is one of the most dominating offensive linemen in the league.

C: BJ Finney, Kansas State
Finney owns a Big 12-best 39 starts over the past three years. The former walk-on is also a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and will be the favorite to garner such recognition again as the linchpin of the K-State offensive line.

OG: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
Whitehair is capable of manning either guard or tackle, but the Wildcats will be showing their trust in him by asking him to protect Waters’ blindside this season.

OT: Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
Williams is the best piece on the league’s best offensive line, which returns four starters and plenty of capable backups.

AP: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Grant finished sixth in the league in receiving yards per game, despite being the third option in Tech’s passing attack the past season. Grant is now the first option in the passing game, as well as an electric playmaker on special teams.

K: Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
The Sooners have never had an All-American kicker before, but they have a strong candidate in Hunnicutt, who converted 24 of 27 field goals the past season.

Defense

DE: Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
In 2013, Mueller finished with 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, which were second in the league only to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat. Mueller, who also forced four fumbles, has one of the conference’s best noses for finding the ball.

DT: Chucky Hunter, TCU
The Horned Frogs still had a formidable front the past season, even without Devonte Fields, due in large part to Hunter. TCU won’t have Fields again. But Hunter is back to anchor a defensive line loaded with quality players.

DT: Malcom Brown, Texas
This former blue-chipper broke out the past season with 68 tackles, including 12 for loss. He and Cedric Reed team up to form the best inside-outside defensive line combination in the league.

DE: Cedric Reed, Texas
Reed was third in the Big 12 in 2013 with 10 sacks, fourth with 19 tackles for loss and tied for first with five forced fumbles. He gives the Longhorns a chance to feature the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.

LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
When it comes to rushing the passer, there’s no one better in the league. Striker has spent this offseason refining other parts of his game to become a more complete player. But his pass rushing alone makes him one of the top players in the league.

LB: Ben Heeney, Kansas
Heeney was a tackling machine last year for a defense that performed valiantly despite getting little help from its offense. Heeney will get plenty of help from his defense, though, which returns eight other starters.

LB: Bryce Hager, Baylor
Hager has notched 195 tackles over the past two seasons, while twice earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. With Ahmad Dixon and Eddie Lackey gone, he takes over as the leader of a defense angling to prove it can be as good as the past year’s.

CB: Quandre Diggs, Texas
Diggs, who has never been afraid to speak his mind, is the heart and soul of the Longhorns. If the rest of the team takes on his mentality, Texas could have one feisty team in Charlie Strong’s first season.

CB: Daryl Worley, West Virginia
Despite being just a second-year player, Worley has already taken over as one of the vocal leaders of the West Virginia defense. He’s also already one of the best cover corners in the league.

SS: Sam Carter, TCU
Carter has nine interceptions the past two years, the most of any returning Big 12 player. He leads arguably the best secondary in the league, too.

FS: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Joseph has started all 25 games for the Mountaineers since he stepped foot in Morgantown. No other returning Big 12 defensive back has more career tackles than Joseph’s 170.

P: Nick O'Toole, West Virginia
The “Boomstache” ranked 15th nationally last year, with an average of 44.1 yards per punt. He also has the best mustache in the league, which has to count for something.
Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty ranked No. 6 in the debut addition of ESPN.com’s Heisman Watch on Thursday. The Bears’ quarterback was the lone Big 12 representative on the list.

Here is a closer look at four dark horse Heisman candidates who could find themselves alongside Petty in the Heisman conversation at some point this fall.

Receiver Tyler Lockett, Kansas State Wildcats

Why he might: Lockett is the Big 12’s most important offensive player that doesn’t line up behind center. He does it all for the Wildcats and has matured into a quality receiver in the past year with seven games of 100 receiving yards or more in 2013. As the centerpiece of the offense, he will become the face of K-State’s offensive success.

Why he might not: If the Wildcats aren’t in the mix to win the Big 12, Lockett’s dark horse Heisman campaign likely hits the wall. It won’t matter what type of numbers he puts up if the Wildcats aren’t getting the national attention that comes with a Big 12 title race.

Quarterback Davis Webb, Texas Tech Red Raiders

Why he might: Only Petty had a higher adjusted QBR last season among the Big 12's returning quarterbacks. Webb’s 79.7 joined Petty’s 86.6 as the lone returning signal callers above 75 in 2013. He appears to be even better heading into the 2014 season after settling in as the clear No. 1 quarterback for Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders.

Why he might not: He’ll need Tech receivers to step up and replace Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, who were a quarterback’s best friend a season ago. The Red Raiders will also need to exceed expectations as a team to help validate the eye-popping numbers that Webb could have this fall.

Receiver Antwan Goodley, Baylor

Why he might: Goodley makes highlight-reel plays with his running back-like strength and blazing speed. If the senior makes a major jump in production for the second straight season, the sky is the limit for Petty’s top target.

Why he might not: There’s only one football and a receivers’ room full of talented pass-catchers at Baylor. Goodley could easily have multiple games this fall where he has more than 100 receiving yards yet doesn’t lead the team in receiving. Petty will have Levi Norwood, KD Cannon and several other options along with Goodley.

Quarterback Trevor Knight, Oklahoma Sooners

Why he might: Did you see the Allstate Sugar Bowl? If Knight can repeat that performance, particularly in OU’s biggest games this fall, he would find himself cemented in the race for the Heisman.

Why he might not: He’s surrounded by youth and inexperience at the skill positions for the Sooners, meaning a bigger share of the Sooners’ offense will be on his shoulders than any point last season. OU needs young players to step up at running back and receiver to make Knight the all-purpose threat that he can be in 2014.
Baylor has arrived.

Or have they?

The Bears will kick off the 2014 season as the reigning Big 12 champions with their success under Art Briles impossible to ignore. Yet there remains an undercurrent in Big 12 country that leaves the impression that Baylor still has plenty to prove.

The comments earlier this year from Texas linebacker Steve Edmond, who said Baylor was “still trash,” then apologized for his statement, is a glimpse into the minds of those who aren’t believers in Briles’ Bears quite yet. Even with the success, Baylor players and their families still hear the noise coming from the naysayers who think they could be short-term placeholders at the top of the conference standings.

“They don’t matter and they never did,” Baylor receiver Antwan Goodley said of detractors. “We know what we’re capable of; we know what we’re capable of doing. We’re just trying bring a trophy to Waco, Texas.”

It’s nothing new for Goodley, who heard the questions when he initially picked the Bears out of Midland (Texas) High School.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty and Antwan Goodley
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsAnywan Goodley and Bryce Petty plan to give Baylor staying power atop the Big 12.
“Before I even came here it was, 'You’re going to Baylor? Why Baylor?' ” Goodley said. “A couple of years ago, hearing Baylor won the Big 12 wouldn’t even sound right. We’ve changed it around a lot, we’ve got a lot of people ridin’ with us and a lot of people against us. That’s just how it goes.”

Baylor rose to the forefront of college football in 2013 with its high-scoring offense earning nationwide attention as it averaged 64.7 points per game during the first six games of the season. But none of that matters now as their 2013 conference title run is in the rearview mirror.

“2013 is gone forever; that title is ours,” Briles said. “We're attacking 2014 just like everybody else. That's our mindset with our players, and that's the way they've been approaching everything. We see ourselves as the guy fighting hard, scratching hard to try to get some recognition and some respect.”

The perception has changed, however. Baylor’s No. 2 ranking in the Big 12 preseason poll shows just how far Briles’ program has progressed.

“We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter,” Briles said. “We've always been the hunter. And I don't want to lose that edge and that attitude and that's something that we're working hard to maintain.”

But does Baylor have the staying power to cement themselves at the top of the Big 12?

“That’s the next step for us,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. “We have to become relevant and we have to stay relevant. That’s the goal for anyone coming in and myself, leave it better than I found it.”

Petty and company insist that’s the goal and point to the new home of the Bears as one of the reasons everyone should get used to seeing Baylor among the Big 12’s best for years to come.

“Having them build that stadium is a huge sign that Baylor is here to stay,” linebacker Bryce Hager said. “They wouldn’t have spent that type of money if it was a one or two-year thing.”

McLane Stadium, Baylor’s brand-new $266 million, 45,140-seat stadium, is set to open on Aug. 31 when the Bears host SMU. Much like the Bears’ football program, McLane Stadium is striving to be ahead of the curve with “state-of-the-art” technology and exceptional amenities for fans and players.

“We have the toys, no doubt,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. “It’s huge for Baylor to be relevant to have everything everyone else has and also set the standard of having things other people don’t. We want to be that school that when you come in you say, ‘Man, this is different.’”

Sitting alongside Interstate 35, the on-campus stadium is impossible to miss. Briles hopes it can plant a seed in the mind of every youngster who lays eyes on it for years to come when they’re told McLane Stadium is a centerpiece of Baylor University and the Bears’ football program.

“Then, for the rest of their lives they're going to associate Baylor with excellence,” Briles said. “And that's hard to come by.”
Shawn Oakman has lofty goals for 2014.

“[I want to] lead the nation in tackles for loss and sacks,” said the Baylor defensive end.

[+] EnlargeOakman
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsBaylor's Shawn Oakman hopes to live up to his immense potential this fall.
 Unusual dreams for a guy who spent the 2013 season listed as a backup on the depth chart of the 2013 Big 12 champions.

But nothing about Oakman is “usual”. At 6-foot-9, 280 pounds, he is a mountain of a man who moves like a cheetah.

“Shawn Oakman is -- he's just mammoth,” coach Art Briles said. “I mean, if you are looking for a friend, he's a good one to have, if you like winning.”

As a backup defensive end, Oakman finished with 33 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal as a sophomore. He was difficult to overlook every time on stepped on the field, and it wasn’t just his size that captured your attention as Oakman was active, aggressive and constantly around the ball. It was his first season with the Bears after transferring from Penn State.

“I don’t know many 6-9, 280 guys who are as strong as he is and as fast as he is,” linebacker Bryce Hager said. “He’s pretty special, the talent he has. When he comes off the edge, even if he’s not by the quarterback, he’ll reach out and grab you and take you down with one hand.”

Oakman’s 12.5 tackles for loss ranked sixth in the Big 12, but more than half of those tackles (8) for loss came during nonconference play. His lackluster conference numbers are one reason Oakman entered the offseason with a focus on improving his footwork. He believes he’s gotten better at “staying off the ground” heading into the 2014 campaign.

In terms of consistency, Oakman has a long way to go, but his physical ability is unmatched, making him one of the Big 12’s potential breakout performers this fall. Oakman wasn’t on the preseason All-Big 12 squad, but his name is littered all over preseason watch lists. Expectations are high for the junior defensive end.

“He does a lot of freakish things,” receiver Antwan Goodley said. “With him, you never know what you’re going to get.”

With his goals of leading the nation in tackles for loss and sacks on his mind, Oakman understands it won’t happen without the help of his teammates. Those individual stats and accolades will only come with team accomplishments.

“It’s a team sport,” Oakman said. “The only thing that will get me that is having the other 10 guys around me making every play they can.”

Baylor Bears season preview

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
10:30
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» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Baylor Bears:

Key returners: QB Bryce Petty, WR Antwan Goodley, LB Bryce Hager, DE Shawn Oakman.

Key losses: RB Lache Seastrunk, OG Cyril Richardson, S Ahmad Dixon, LB Eddie Lackey, WR Tevin Reese.

Most important 2014 games: Oct. 4 at Texas; Nov. 8 at Oklahoma; Dec. 6 Kansas State.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty passed for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.
Projected win percentage: 80.1 percent.

Over/under Vegas odds: 9½ wins.

Instant impact newcomers: CB Chris Sanders, LB Grant Campbell. Baylor sought immediate help to replace some big-time talent on defense and found Sanders and Campbell in the junior college ranks. Both cracked the two-deep this spring and could see the field plenty. Sanders was limited with an injury during spring practices but will compete for a starting job, and Campbell is the top backup to Hager at middle linebacker.

High point from 2013: Defeating Texas 30-10 to clinch a Big 12 championship. In the final home game at Floyd Casey Stadium, Petty & Co. pulled away in the second half to give Baylor its first outright conference title since 1980, an 11-win season, a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and its third win in the past four years over the Longhorns.

Low point from 2013: Losing to Oklahoma State 49-17. The Bears were 9-0, had climbed to No. 4 in BCS standings and had their sights sets on a national title run. They went to up to Stillwater and got dismantled, giving up nearly 600 total yards against a potent Pokes team. Baylor's first loss put OSU in the driver's seat to win the Big 12.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Petty and his impressive array of skill-position weapons power an offense that puts up ever better numbers than last year's unit, allowing Baylor to breeze through its first eight games before the big showdown against OU. The defense steps up big to shut down the Sooners and Baylor rides the momentum of that "W" to 12-0. If this team is still hot on both sides of the ball entering the College Football Playoff, everyone else might be playing for second place.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: The offense is as dangerous as expected, but Baylor learns the hard way that its defense has too many holes and too much inexperience to match the production of last year's senior-loaded unit. The Bears engage in too many shootouts and can't hang on in the big one at Oklahoma. An 8-0 start ends with Baylor losing three of its last four. It's still a nine-win team and a dang good one, but not the Big 12 champions.

They said it: "We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter. We've always been the hunter. And I don't want to lose that edge and that attitude, and that's something that we're working hard to maintain." -- Baylor coach Art Briles.

Top Big 12 players: Nos. 5-1

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
9:00
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With the season just a month away, we’ve used this week to rank the top 25 players in the Big 12.

You can click here to see the previous four installments.

Today, we wrap up the series with who we think the top five players in the league will be in 2014:

5. Cedric Reed, DE, Texas: Overshadowed by his Big 12 defensive player of the year teammate in 2013, Reed had almost as productive a season as Jackson Jeffcoat. Reed was third in the Big 12 with 10 sacks, fourth with 19 tackles for loss and tied for first with five forced fumbles. With Jeffcoat gone, Reed takes over as the centerpiece of coach Charlie Strong’s defense. He bring as much speed off the corner as any defensive end in the league and could play himself into the first round of the NFL draft with another big season.

4. Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma: He’s the Lawrence Taylor of the Big 12. Striker still needs to refine other parts of his game, but when it comes to rushing the passer off the blitz, there’s no one better in the country. Everyone remembers his three sacks in the Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, including the game-clinching forced fumble that led to an exclamation-point touchdown. But Striker had a penchant for creating big plays all season. On the first possession at Notre Dame, Striker slammed into quarterback Tommy Rees, knocking the ball into the air and into the arms of linebacker Corey Nelson, who gave the Sooners a quick 7-0 lead on the way to a 35-21 victory. Reed, Shawn Oakman and Ryan Mueller are all double-digit sack contenders, but Striker could be the odds-on favorite to win the Big 12’s sack crown in 2014.

3. Antwan Goodley, WR, Baylor: Goodley was arguably the league’s most improved player in 2013. He exploded right along with the Baylor offense, hauling in 1,339 receiving yards and a Big 12-best 13 touchdown catches. The big-play deep threat also led the nation with five receptions of 60 yards or more. Goodley won’t sneak up on anyone this season, but that doesn’t mean anyone will be able to contain him. The Bears have plenty of other weapons in the passing game and one of the nation’s top quarterbacks to get him the ball in Bryce Petty. Goodley has a legitimate chance to join Justin Blackmon and Michael Crabtree as the third Big 12 wideout to win Biletnikoff Award.

2. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State: One of Goodley’s prime competitors for the Biletnikoff Award figures to be Lockett. Prone to utterly unconscious performances in big games, Lockett combined for 35 receptions, 631 yards and six touchdowns in the three games against Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan last season. He’ll have a prime opportunity to show the nation what he can do in September, when defending SEC champion Auburn visits Manhattan, Kansas, for a Thursday night clash. Lockett is on pace to break every school career receiving record held by his father, Kevin Lockett. Tyler Lockett will square off against Goodley in the final week of the regular season in a showdown featuring two of the best wideouts to come through the Big 12.

1. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: The Dairy Queens in Salem, Oregon, might not appreciate Petty, but we do here, as slotting Petty No. 1 was the easiest decision we made while putting together this top-25 player ranking. In his first season as a starting quarterback, Petty totaled 46 touchdowns and threw just three interceptions while earning Big 12 offensive player of the year honors. It will be difficult for Petty to replicate such gaudy numbers, but with a year of experience behind him operating Art Briles' offense, Petty should be even sharper in 2014. If he is, he’ll have a chance to become the second Baylor quarterback to capture the Heisman Trophy in the past four seasons.

That’s it for our top 25 player ranking. Did we get it right? Send your thoughts to the Big 12 mailbag.
This week, ESPN.com has been ranking the top 100 players in college football going into the 2014 season. The rankings were done based on the expected contributions of each player for the 2014 season, regardless of position.

Today, the unveiling continued with Nos. 40-21.

Here is the lone Big 12 player who made the fourth installment:

No. 30: Baylor WR Antwan Goodley

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty seems to get all the national headlines. But Goodley is a pretty good player, too. Despite splitting touches with a host of other playmakers, Goodley finished the 2013 season with 71 catches, 1,339 receiving yards and a Big 12-best 13 touchdowns. Goodley was the only receiver in the country that had five catches of at least 60 yards.

With Lache Seastrunk and Tevin Reese gone, Goodley will have a little more pressure to carry the playmaking load. But the Bears still boast plenty of firepower elsewhere in Corey Coleman, Shock Linwood and Levi Norwood. Plus, Goodley will still be hauling in passes from one of the preeminent quarterbacks in the country.

Make sure to check back Friday to find out who our top 20 players are.

Coming Friday: Nos. 20-1.
The initial response to the preseason poll tells the tale.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager and defensive end Shawn Oakman weren’t exactly thrilled to see Oklahoma atop the Big 12 preseason poll with the Bears sitting at No. 2.

Oakman: “Same ol, same ol.”

Goodley: “I couldn’t believe it.”

Petty: “Let’s go, that’s all I can say.”

Hager: “Just another thing to motivate us.”

These are the same players that handed the Sooners a 41-12 defeat in Waco, Texas a year ago, making their displeasure very easy to understand.

“We beat them last season and won the Big 12,” Hager said. “So that is just another motivation heading into this season.”

All four players took it as a sign they still have work to do, both on the field and off the field.

“That’s not up to us to vote, it’s up to us to play,” Petty said. “That tells us that we’re not there yet, and that’s fine with me. I don’t think you’re ever there. Once you think you’ve arrived, that’s when you're in trouble.”

The Sooners, with their Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, carried more momentum into the offseason while the Bears stumbled into the offseason after a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida. OU’s win helped cement Bob Stoops program in the national spotlight during the offseason while Baylor got overshadowed.

“They deserve it, they beat a good football team on a big stage,” Goodley said. “We have no control over that. I guess we still have a lot to prove, we still don’t get the respect we deserve, but we haven’t been at the top that long. I feel like we’re going to get there though.”

Even with the feeling of disrespect helping the spur them into the preseason, the Bears understand their 2013 accomplishments mean nothing. Art Briles squad outscored opponents by 375 total points a year ago but those points don’t carry over into 2014, so this season’s team will still has plenty to prove. It’s part of the reason the Bears still consider themselves the hunter instead of the hunted despite entering the fall as the defending Big 12 champions.

“At Baylor we’ve been fighting for respect,” Oakman said. “One day we’re going to get it, but not today.”
The media voted Oklahoma as the clear preseason favorite to win the Big 12.

But the league’s players give the slight edge to Baylor as the team to beat in the Big 12 this season.

This week, the Big 12 blog team anonymously polled 30 of the 39 players that attended Big 12 media days.

Oklahoma received 47 of 56 first-place media votes in the Big 12’s preseason poll, which was released last week. But 43 percent of the players polled said the defending Big 12 champion Bears were actually the team to beat in the league, narrowly topping the Sooners.

The players were asked several other questions about the league, including its most impressive coach, its most obnoxious team, and its most underrated player.

The results of the poll:

(Note: players were not allowed to answer their own school or any teammate in any of the questions)

Who is the team to beat this year in the Big 12?

Baylor: 43%

Oklahoma: 40%

Kansas State: 6%

Oklahoma State: 6%

Texas: 3%

Who is the league’s most impressive coach?

Kliff Kingsbury: 24%

Bill Snyder: 21%

Art Briles: 17%

Bob Stoops: 14%

If you could draft an opposing Big 12 player and put him on your team, who would it be?

Baylor QB Bryce Petty: 27%

Baylor WR Antwan Goodley: 15%

Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 12%

Kansas State QB Jake Waters: 12%

Who is the league’s most underrated player?

Waters: 10%

TCU DT Davion Pierson: 10%

Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs: 10%

Other answers: Kansas State DE Ryan Mueller, Texas Tech LB Sam Eguavoen, Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma State LB Ryan Simmons, Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, Kansas State C BJ Finney, TCU CB Kevin White, Baylor RB Devin Chafin, Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson, Kansas State CB Randall Evans, Oklahoma State DT James Castleman

Who is the team you’re most fired up to play?

Texas: 24%

Kansas State: 21%

Oklahoma: 21%

Baylor: 10%

Who is the most obnoxious team in the league?

TCU: 21%

Baylor: 18%

Texas: 14%

Texas Tech: 14%

What program has the best pregame intro?

Oklahoma: 27%

Oklahoma State: 19%

Texas: 15%

Who do you predict will make the inaugural playoff?

(Note: Players were allowed to include Big 12 teams here)

Florida State: 20%

Oregon: 16%

Alabama: 15%

Other top vote-getters: Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Stanford
Five days before Big 12 media days get underway, the conference has released its official preseason All-Big 12 team as well as its preseason award-winners, as voted on by conference media.

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was named Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. No surprise there. Oklahoma State RB/WR Tyreek Hill, the speedy juco transfer from Garden City (Kansas) Community College, received preseason Newcomer of the Year honors.

The more debatable award, preseason Defensive Player of the Year, went to TCU defensive end Devonte Fields. He played in just three games in 2013 due to a foot injury but was voted the league's top defender and newcomer in 2012 as a true freshman.

Baylor led the way with seven players on the All-Big 12 team. Kansas State had five selections on the squad, and Oklahoma received four. Only one Big 12 program -- Oklahoma State -- did not have at least one player make the team.

All-Big 12 Team

QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
RB Shock Linwood, Baylor
RB Malcolm Brown, Texas
WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
WR Antwan Goodley, Baylor
TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
OL Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
OL B.J. Finney, Kansas State
OL Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
OL Le'Raven Clark, Texas Tech

DL Ryan Mueller, Kansas State
DL Devonte Fields, TCU
DL Chucky Hunter, TCU
DL Cedric Reed, Texas
LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
LB Ben Heeney, Kansas
LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
DB Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
DB Sam Carter, TCU
DB Quandre Diggs, Texas
DB Karl Joseph, West Virginia

PK Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
P Spencer Roth, Baylor
KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR Levi Norwood, Baylor

There aren't many snubs to be found from this year's team. You can make a case for a bunch of other players -- TCU cornerback Kevin White, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman, Texas' Johnathan Gray and Malcom Brown, West Virginia's Quinton Spain and Nick O'Toole. But based on 2013 performance, this list looks about right.

Any more exclusions stand out to you? Should Ryan Mueller or someone else win DPOY? Hit us with your complaints in the comments below.
Tuesday, the Biletnikoff Award released its watch list for the upcoming this season. The Biletnikoff is given to the top receiver in college football. The only two two-time winners of the award both hailed from the Big 12 (Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree).

Here are the Big 12 players that made this year's watch list:
With the 2014 season arriving in the not too distant future, we’ve been breaking down every Big 12 team’s complete schedule.

We finish this series with the Baylor Bears:

Nonconference opponents (with 2013 record)

Aug. 31: SMU (5-7)

Sept. 6: Northwestern State (6-6)

Sept. 13: at Buffalo (8-5)

Big 12 home games

Oct. 11: TCU

Nov. 1: Kansas

No. 22: Oklahoma State

Dec. 6: Kansas State

Big 12 road games

Sept. 27: at Iowa State

Oct. 4: at Texas

Oct. 18: at West Virginia

Nov. 8: at Oklahoma

Big 12 neutral site games

Nov. 29: Texas Tech (Arlington, Texas)

Gut-check time: Last season, Baylor went on the road in a titanic November clash with a chance to solidify its status as a legitimate national title contender. Instead, the Bears got whacked in Stillwater, and fell out of the national championship picture for good. This season, the Bears could have a similar opportunity, when they travel to Oklahoma. The Bears and Sooners are regarded as Big 12 co-favorites by virtually everyone going into the season, meaning this game could decide the conference race, and which team from the league advances to the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Bears have never won in Norman. But if they finally broke the streak, it would be a monumental and historical win for the program.

Trap game: Northwestern State. Just kidding. The Bears completely obliterated West Virginia in Waco last season after jumping to a 56-14 halftime lead. Baylor will be coming off three difficult games (at Iowa State, at Texas and TCU) when it sees the Mountaineers this year. The game is in Morgantown, which is not an easy trip from Waco. And the Bears will have the Oklahoma game looming. The Mountaineers have a chance to be one of the league’s more improved teams, with 14 returning starters and tremendous depth at the offensive skill positions. Considering how easily the Bears demolished West Virginia last year, they could be susceptible to overlooking the Mountaineers this time.

Snoozer: The Bears are the only team in the Big 12 without a power five conference team on its non-league schedule. The SMU game will be cool, due mostly to the unveiling of McLane Stadium. Otherwise, the entire non-conference slate is snooze-worthy.

Telltale stretch: Given their returning offensive firepower, the Bears have a reasonably good chance of getting past Nov. 1 with a record of 8-0. But the rest of the month will determine whether Baylor is a College Football Playoff contender. Even if they vanquish the Sooners, the Bears still have three tough games afterward they’ll have to finish off. Baylor has struggled mightily with Oklahoma State; the Bears have lost 16 of the last 18 meetings, which includes a 32-point meltdown in Stillwater last year. Texas Tech is one of the few teams in the league equipped to score with Baylor, thanks to the development of QB Davis Webb. And Kansas State will be out for revenge, after Baylor knocked the Wildcats out of the national title game in Waco two seasons ago. If the Bears win all four games, they will be worthy challengers for the playoff.

Final analysis: In 2013, Baylor had a soft non-conference schedule, and Oklahoma and Texas at home, which helped fuel the Bears to their first Big 12 title. While the out-of-conference schedule is soft again, the rest of the slate is not. The Bears have to go to Austin, where they’ve prevailed only once since 1991, and to Norman, where they are winless. Road trips to Iowa State and West Virginia could become perilous. And the backstretch against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State is rife with potential potholes. Then again, Baylor will also be a problem for everyone else. Bryce Petty and Antwan Goodley form one, of if not the best, quarterback-receiver tandem in the country. The offense should be prolific again, and the defensive line figures to be the best of the Art Briles era. Baylor is more than equipped to defend its Big 12 crown, even if accomplishing that goal will be more challenging this time around.

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