Bears, And Former Bears, Celebrate Homecoming
Baylor celebrated it's 100th anniversary Homecoming and despite a loss to No. 14 Oklahoma State Saturday, it was an enjoyable weekend for the Baylor family. Coach Briles and the football team participated in Friday night's pep rally on campus and several former football greats "came home" to take part in the weekend.
Among the former letttermen were NFL veterans Walter Abercrombie, Mark Adickes, Alfred Anderson, Ray Berry, Cotton Davidson, Santana Dotson, Lawrence Elkins, Bill Glass, Derrel Luce, Vann McElroy, Gerald "Ice Cube" McNeil and Don Trull. Josh Bell, most recently of the Denver Broncos, was also spotted on the sideline pregame.
Also in attendance were Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor member James Ray Smith and All-SWC quarterback Jay Jeffrey.
OKLAHOMA STATE (5-1, 2-0 Big 12)
Line: Oklahoma State's defensive line is anchored in the middle by seniors Swanson Miller (6-4, 299) and Derek Burton (6-3, 281) at nose tackle and defensive tackle, respectively. ... Miller has nine tackles on the season with 1.5 stops behind the line, including a sack. He also has forced one fumble, recovered two fumbles, broken up two passes and been credited with two quarterback hurries. Miller played all 13 games last season with two starts in his first year at OSU after transferring from Butler County [Kan.] Community College. He was credited with 17 tackles last season with two stops behind the line and one forced fumble. ... Burton, meanwhile, has 10 tackles with one stop for a loss and three quarterback hurries. He has 39 career games of experience with 21 career starts, including each of the last 19 games. Burton, who also has worked at defensive end during his career, has 70 career tackles with six career sacks. ... The Cowboys have an active rotation at the two tackle spots as junior Shane Jarka (6-3, 295) will spell miller at nose, while junior Chris Donaldson (6-1, 299) and redshirt-freshman Nigel Nicholas (6-3, 265) lend support behind Burton. Jarka has eight tackles with 2.5 stops for loss, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble this season. Donaldson has made seven stops on the season. Nicholas has 10 tackles on the year; he also forced and recovered one fumble. ... The end spots are locked down by junior Ugo Chinasa (6-5, 252) and sophomore Jamie Blatnick (6-3, 270), both of whom hail from Texas. ... Chinasa has 13 tackles on the year with two sacks and another stop behind the line; he also shares the team lead with three pass breakups. A prep teammate of Baylor's Jason Lamb at Richardson-Berkner, Chinasa has started 19 consecutive games. ... Blatnick moved into a starting role in the season's second game, replacing season-opener starter senior Jermiah Price (6-1, 268). Blatnick has 11 tackles on the year with two quarterback hurries. He played all 13 games with no starts last season, recording 13 tackles with one sack. ... Despite not being listed as a starter, Dallas native sophomore Richetti Jones (6-3, 264) is a force with which to reckon off the bench. He leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss (24 yards) and is second on the team with 2.5 sacks (20 yards).
Linebackers: The strength of the OSU defense is at linebacker where Houston-native seniors Donald Booker (5-11, 236), Patrick Lavine (6-2, 226) and Andre Sexton (6-0, 224) wreak havoc. ... Booker, who anchors the unit in the middle, leads the team and is tied for ninth in the Big 12 with 46 tackles on the season. He also has 5.0 stops behind the line (27 yards) and a team-best three sacks (25 yards). Booker forced a fumble against Rice, scooped it up and raced 51 yards for a touchdown. He started his career at Navarro [Texas] Junior College, where he earned All-America honors. Booker saw time in all 13 games last season and ranked seventh on the team with 32 tackles despite not starting a game. ... Lavine, who works the weak side, is one of the most experienced linebackers in the Big 12 with 40 career starts and 31 in succession. He is third on the team with 32 tackles this season and leads the Cowboys with two interceptions. He also has 2.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. A 2006 Freshman All-American, Lavine recorded 70-plus tackles in each of his first three collegiate seasons and enters Saturday's game with 253 career stops, including 21.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. He also has five career interceptions, 17 pass breakups and has recovered three fumbles. ... Sexton, who works the strong side, is just as experienced as Lavine, garnering a team-best 44 career starts with 27 in succession. One of the top tacklers in Oklahoma State history, Sexton has 28 tackles this season with 22 solo efforts. He also has four pass breakups and one interception, which he returned 36 yards to the Rice 15-yard line last month. Sexton was 12th in the conference with 100 tackles last season; he has 276 career stops to his credit. As a sophomore in 2007, he recorded seven tackles and intercepted a pass in the end zone against Baylor. ... Three reserve linebackers have seen regular time off the bench this season for the Pokes. Junior Justin Gent (6-1, 236), who spells Booker in the middle, has 10 tackles with one for loss. Sophomore James Thomas (5-11, 209) works behind Sexton and has 11 tackles (all solo efforts) with one fumble recovery. Junior Tolu Moala (6-0, 230) is Lavine's backup and has 12 tackles with two stops behind the line this season.
Secondary: Oklahoma State's secondary also is a veteran group with three seniors and one sophomore in the starting group. Of the eight players listed on the Cowboys' two-deep in the secondary, one-quarter of them hail from Waco. ... Senior and University High graduate Perrish Cox (he of billboard-gate a few years back) is the star of the group. He leads the nation with 10 total passes defended (one interception, nine breakups). Cox has 17 tackles on the season, 15 of which have been solo efforts and seven of which came last week against Missouri when he recorded his lone interception of the season. He has 30 career starts to his credit; he started each game last season and each game this season save the Grambling State contest, in which he did not play. Cox has seven interceptions and 30 pass breakups in his career. ... Senior Terrance Anderson (5-11, 180), who starts opposite Cox, has 13 tackles and one interception this season. Anderson is in his first season as a starter after seeing time 35 games with two starts over the first three years of his career. He had 27 tackles with one interception and two pass breakups last season. ... Senior Lucien Antoine (6-1, 215) is the starter at strong safety, a role he moved into after missing nearly all of the 2008 season due to injury. Antoine has returned this season to rank second on the team and 21st in the Big 12 with 38 tackles, including 5.0 stops behind the line and one sack. He also has one interception, which he returned 26 yards for a touchdown last week against Missouri. ... Sophomore Markelle Martin (6-1, 190) has started the last four games at free safety and has 14 tackles with three pass breakups this season. While Martin is listed as the starter, expect to see Waco High graduate sophomore Victor Johnson (6-0, 187), who ranks sixth on the squad with 18 tackles (17 solo efforts). Johnson started the season's first two games at free safety, making nine stops in the loss to Houston. However, he did not play in the next game (Rice) and had two tackles off the bench in each of the next three games.
Head coach Art Briles and the Baylor student-athletes will take part in Homecoming activities Friday night during the pep rally (approximately 9 p.m.) at Fountain Mall on campus.
Saturday's game vs. No. 14 Oklahoma State [11:30 a.m. CDT, Versus TV] is Baylor's 77th Homecoming football contest. The Bears are 34-38-4 all-time in Homecoming games after snapping an eight-game losing streak in such games with a 36-35 victory over Kansas in 2006. The Bears' first Homecoming game was in 1930, a 14-0 loss to Texas.
This is the first time Baylor has played Oklahoma State as its homecoming opponent. Baylor has faced TCU (31 meetings) the most on homecoming, followed by Texas A&M (20), Arkansas (eight), Texas Tech (four), Iowa State (two), Kansas State (two), Missouri (two), Texas (two), and five other teams once.
Previewing the Opponent: Oklahoma State Offense
OKLAHOMA STATE (5-1, 2-0 Big 12)
Quarterback: For the second straight week, Baylor faces one of the league's top duel-threat quarterbacks. This week's challenge is one of the nation's best such signal callers in senior Zac Robinson (6-3, 218). Not only does he rank second in the Big 12 and 21st nationally in passing efficiency (150.77), Robinson adds 25.3 yards per game on the ground. He ranks fifth in the conference and 38th nationally with 241.5 yards of total offense per game. On the season, Robinson is 92-of-149 passing for 1,297 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He has a career 154.49 passing efficiency rating, completing 61.6 percent of his passes (522-of-847) for 7,530 yards and 60 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. He has at least one passing touchdown in 18 consecutive games, dating back to the second game of the 2008 season. ... Robinson's rushing average has dropped over each of the past two seasons, but his rushing touchdown production has remained consistent. As a sophomore in 2007, he rushed 140 times for 847 yards (6.1 ypc) with nine touchdowns. Last season, that dropped to 562 yards on 146 carries (3.8 ypc), but he still scored eight times. He has rushed only 53 times for 152 yards (2.9 ypc) this season, but he's right on pace with four rushing touchdowns at the season's midpoint. His most productive rushing games of the year were in the season opener against Georgia and last week against Missouri, gaining 39 yards in each game. ... Robinson tortured Baylor in each of his three previous games against the Bears. As a freshman in 2006, he came off the bench to rush for 90 yards on nine carries with a touchdown while completing four of five pass attempts for 35 yards. In 2007, He was 16-of-21 passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns; at the same time, he gained 144 yards on 17 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns. Last season, the Bears contained him somewhat on the ground (57 yards on 14 carries), but he still completed 13 of 20 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Baylor has not intercepted Robinson in 46 career attempts.
Running Back: For the second straight week, Baylor faces one of the Big 12's top rushing attacks. After going up against league-leader Iowa State last week, the Bears contend with second-ranked Oklahoma State this week. The Cowboys, who average 184.0 yards per game, are led on the ground by senior tailback Keith Toston, an Angleton, Texas, native. Toston ranks fifth in the Big 12 and is tied for 48th nationally with 82.8 rushing yards per game; he has 497 yards on 96 carries (5.2 ypc) with five touchdowns. He eclipsed the career 2,000-yard plateau by four yards last week on 342 career totes. Toston, who has 21 career rushing touchdowns, earned three of his five rushing touchdowns this season against FCS opponent Grambling State in late September. He has one 100-yard game to his credit this season, going for 130 yards on 26 carries at Texas A&M two weeks ago; it was his fourth career 100-yard game. Toston had a season-high seven receptions for 54 yards against Missouri last week. He has 15 catches for 168 yards on the year. As a freshman in 2006, Toston rushed 11 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor. He missed the 2007 meeting due to injury but rushed 12 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears last season. ... Junior tailback Kendall Hunter (5-8, 197), a Tyler-John Tyler HS product, has been injured much of the year. He gained 75 yards on 23 carries in the season opener against Georgia. The next week against Houston, he had 29 yards and a touchdown on nine carries before leaving the game with an ankle sprain. Hunter, who led the Big 12 with 1,255 rushing yards last season, has been cleared by the OSU medical staff to return to action. However, head coach Mike Gundy said earlier this week that Hunter will return to the field when the tailback says he's ready to go. Don't be surprised if he tugs Gundy's sleeve this week. ... Senior tailback Beau Johnson (5-10, 216) has seen action in Hunter's absence, gaining 156 yards with four touchdowns on 37 carries. ... Junior fullback Bryant Ward (5-11, 233) is used primarily as a blocking back; he has one carry for four yards this season.
Receivers: Three weeks ago, All-America wideout Dez Bryant (6-2, 220) was shut down by the NCAA and Oklahoma State due to a rules violation. Bryant, a junior from Lufkin, Texas, had 17 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns through the season's first three games and still leads the Cowboys in all three categories. He dominated Baylor last season in Stillwater, earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors after catching 11 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. ... While OSU and Bryant wait for word from the NCAA on an appeal, the Cowboys have begun looking elsewhere for stars in the passing game. Sophomore and Garland, Texas, native Hubert Anyiam (6-0, 198) has been the most consistent Cowboy receiver outside of Bryant. Anyiam has 16 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns this season. He played in each game save the Baylor contest last season but managed only three catches for 32 yards. Anyiam had a potential breakout game last week against Missouri with 10 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. ... While Toston ranks third on the team with 15 receptions, sophomore wideout Josh Cooper (5-11, 192) ranks fourth with 10 catches for 157 yards and one touchdown. He did not play last week against Missouri and has not recorded a reception since a three-catch game against Grambling State three weeks ago. ... Sophomore wideout Dameron Fooks (6-3, 208) and tailback Beau Johnson are the only other Cowboys with at least seven catches on the season, each with that many. Fooks also has two touchdown receptions. Freshman wideout Tracy Moore (6-2, 237) has four catches for 106 yards, but two of the four catches were for touchdowns.
Line: Oklahoma State's line is comprised of four seniors and a redshirt freshman. Senior left tackle Russell Okung (6-5, 300), an All-America candidate from Houston, leads the unit. He earned All-Big 12 honors last season. and he is a Lombardi Award candidate and a projected first-round draft pick this year. Okung, who moved into the Cowboys' starting lineup midway through the 2006 season as a true freshman, has guided Oklahoma State to three consecutive Big 12 rushing titles. He has started 40 consecutive games, the most of any player on the OSU roster. ... Senior Noah Franklin (6-5, 314) works alongside Okung at left guard. Franklin has started each game this season after seeing only reserve action through his first three seasons at Stillwater. ... Senior Andrew Lewis (6-4, 291) moved to the center position after starting every game at left guard last season. He has started 32 consecutive games on the line for the Cowboys. ... Senior Brady Bond (6-6, 301) works at right tackle, where he has started each game since the 2007 opener. He started the first five games of the 2006 campaign at left tackle as a redshirt freshman; however, he was slowed midway through that season due to injuries and reemerged as the starter at the right tackle spot the next season. Bond has 37 career starts to his credit, including 32 straight. ... The lone non-senior in the starting five for the Cowboys is redshirt freshman and Arlington, Texas, native Lane Taylor (6-2, 301), who moved into the starting role in week three after senior Andrew Mitchell (6-5, 310) and junior Anthony Morgan (6-5, 320) started the first two games, respectively. Taylor sat out last season as a redshirt and projects as a center for the Cowboys down the road.
There are several Baylor grads coaching football around the nation (veterans like Mike Singletary and Trooper Taylor), but we thought we'd point out some younger Bears who have recently began coaching careers. Here are four young Bears in the coaching ranks...
MAURICE LANE (BU safety 2002-2005) is currently the secondary coach at West Texas A&M.
MO LINGUIST (BU defensive back 2003-2006) is in his first season as the safeties coach at James Madison after spending one season as an assistant at Valdosta State.
NICK MYATT (BU deep snapper 2006) is in his first season as running backs coach at Texas A&M-Commerce, where he works on the staff of former Baylor coach Guy Morriss.
SHAWN BELL (BU quarterback 2003-2006) is in the high school ranks, having assumed the head coach position at Clifton High School last January.
The traffic numbers for early Fall on Baylor's official athletic website, BaylorBears.com, have been impressive. September's number of "unique visitors" set an all-time high at 211,080. The "page impressions" for September, over 1.4 million, was the third-highest monthly total on record.
If you haven't had a chance to see the newest arm of BaylorBears.com, the Baylor Athletics Experience, check it out. The site is packed with visuals, pictures, coaches videos, facility videos, highlight videos and lots of links.
Briles on OSU / Recent Articles
Recent articles of note on Baylor football include Monday's article by John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald titled: "Injuries, Baylor football team's unmentioned foes." Werner also wrote a feature on senior receiver David Gettis published in Friday's Trib. Thursday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran a piece on senior safety Jordan Lake by Dwain Price.