Tag Archives: Shock Linwood

2016 Is All About Football for Baylor and Jim Grobe

When Baylor trounced the Northwestern State Demons last weekend, the Bears proved that the only thing new to Baylor football this year is head coach Jim Grobe. The on-field results were the same as they have always been and that is a high-scoring track meet. This is what should be focused on from this point forward with Baylor and I’ll tell you why.

Art Briles, Ken Starr and Ian McCaw were all shown the door and rightfully so. The former football players who were accused of rape have also been kicked out of the program. Again, rightfully so. Yes, Baylor had to be drug kicking and screaming to do the right thing, but eventually it did and personnel changes were made.

None of the legal or moral crimes that occurred at Baylor were the fault of Jim Grobe. Grobe was brought in after the fact to help clean up the mess that Art Briles contributed to. So let’s give Grobe a fair shot and not rule him guilty by association.

As for the players that remain on the football team? The same treatment should apply to them as applies to Grobe. I refuse to believe that every football player knew or was directly involved in the rapes that occurred at Baylor. Like Grobe, the players that remain on the team should not be considered guilty by association.

There is the argument that Baylor shouldn’t be fielding a football team at all this year. One of the more popular reactions to the crimes committed at Baylor was for the NCAA to levy the death penalty to the football program. As much as that would have pleased much of the country, it was never an option because, like it or not, the issues at Baylor never fell under NCAA jurisdiction.

So now it is about football and that’s exactly how it should be.

Jim Grobe and his Bears put the rest of the Big 12 on notice against Northwestern State. Seth Russell completed 70% of his passes as he threw for four touchdowns. Shock Linwood averaged 10.8 yards per carry and a stable of wide receivers raced up and down the field. And the Baylor defense held the Demons to 78 yards total yards. Not bad considering the Bears are not known for playing defense against anybody.

On a day when Oklahoma lost to Houston and TCU struggled to pull out a victory against South Dakota State, Baylor just kept doing its thing and nobody seemed to notice. All people want to talk about is Texas beating Notre Dame and what Texas’ rise means to the rest of the conference. 

It’s not the premature argument about Texas’ rise back to the top of the conference that should be our focus in the Big 12 after the first week. What should be our focus is the resiliency that the remaining Baylor players and coaches put on display against Northwestern State. And if conference favorites Oklahoma and TCU continue to falter, don’t be surprised if Jim Grobe’s Bears take full advantage of the opportunity.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

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Preseason Top 25: 6-10

10. Baylor
Baylor is coming off only its second double digit win season since 1980 and while a loss in the Fiesta Bowl took some of the shine off a near magical season, they should be able to pick up right where they left off. The Bears may not top 50 points per game on offense as they did a year ago, but they will still have one of the best offenses in the nation once again. That offense is led by Heisman contender Bryce Petty who had a ridiculous 32-3 TD-INT ratio a year ago and returns three of his top four receivers. The running game shouldn’t miss a beat either with sophomore Shock Linwood replacing the departed Lache Seastrunk. Linwood proved he could handle the load last year rushing for 180+ yards in back to back games while Seastrunk was injured. Whereas the offense you can count on to light up the scoreboard, the defense may let Baylor opponents do the same. Losing seven starters on defense, including their top two defenders, leaves Baylor with question marks on defense. They will need an improved defensive line and All-Conference linebacker Bryce Hager to be stout while three sophomores find their footing as new starters in the secondary. Fortunately for Baylor, the defense only needs to be average with an offense that will lead them to their first back to back 10 win seasons in the program’s history.
 
9. Oklahoma
Oklahoma heads into the 2014 season with as much momentum as any team and is one of the favorites to make the playoff in many experts’ minds. Led by a defense that should be one of the best in the country, the Sooners should be favored in every game this year. There should be vast improvement for the defense in the second year of the 3-4 scheme and is headed by Charles Tapper and Eric Striker, who will each approach double digit sacks. The disruptive front seven should lead to playmaking opportunities for a secondary that returns three of four starters from a year ago. The question marks for the Sooners are on the offensive side of the ball. They lost their top three running backs and only return two of the top eight pass catchers from last year. The run game will be fine if freshman Joe Mixon is able to suit up, but an investigation leaves his status in serious doubt. The expectations are high for QB Trevor Knight after a dynamite performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but he will need to show much more consistency than he did last year when he struggled to hold off Blake Bell. If he does, Oklahoma will be ready to deliver a championship caliber season. Even if he doesn’t, the defense will assure at least a major bowl game appearance.
 
8. Michigan St.
The Spartans have won at least 11 games in three of the last four seasons, and I see no reason this year will be any different. Playmakers return on both sides of the ball to a team that was 13-1 last year and was playing as well as any team in the nation. QB Connor Cook was mostly efficient last year, but comes into the year with higher expectations after throwing for 300 yards in the Big 10 Championship game and the Rose Bowl to finish out the year. Cook will have seven of his top eight pass catchers from last year at his disposal again this season. Ensuring a balanced offense is senior running back Jeremy Langford who carried the ball almost 300 times last year on his way to 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns. Thanks to an improved offense, Sparty’s defense will not have to be relied on as much as in the past but it’s certainly not because they won’t be capable. Having first round talent at the two most important positions on defense make it easy to build a stout unit, and the Spartans have that in DE Shilique Calhoun and CB Trae Waynes. Michigan State has one of the most balanced teams in the country, and a November 8th visit from Ohio State will determine if they remain a playoff contender.
 
7. USC
Perhaps a surprise addition to the Top 10, but USC is one of the most talented teams around. In a high-octane Pac 12, the Trojans are led by a stifling defense that was 16th in the country in ppg allowed last year. Returning eight starters from that defense gives USC a chance at having one of the better defenses not just in the conference but in the country as well. Leonard Williams is a potential top 5 pick on the defensive line and Hayes Pullard leads a linebacking crew which is one of the best in the nation. Su’a Cravens and Josh Shaw give USC NFL talent in the secondary as well. The offense should be able to carry its weight also led by a stable of running backs which includes three different players who averaged over 5 ypc a season ago. QB Cody Kessler has playmaking receiver Nelson Agholor to keep defenses honest. As with the last few years, health will ultimately play the biggest role in USC’s season. They don’t have the depth to withstand more than a couple key injuries due to their scholarship reductions but if they remain relatively injury free, I see them making a dark horse run as a playoff contender.
 
6. UCLA
Combine an experienced team with a first round talent at QB and expectations are sure to be sky high. Such is the case for UCLA, who enters the season with its best chance in years to win the Pac-12. Anything short of that, and making the playoff, will be a disappointment. QB Brett Hundley is a Heisman contender after throwing for 3,000 yards last year and being the Bruins top rusher as well. He leads a well rounded offense that will be tough to stop. The offensive line returns four starters and the fifth is Malcolm Bunche, a senior transfer from Miami (Fl). The Bruins don’t have any stars at the skill positions, but that will make it more difficult for defenses to key in on shutting down one or two guys. The defense does lose first rounder Anthony Barr but returns eight other starters. Of those returning starters are leading tackler Eric Kendricks and sensational freshman Myles Jack. The Bruins have increased their win total in each of the last three years. They have the talent and experience to do so again this season, and how they fare in home games against Oregon and USC will determine just how far they can go this year.