NORTHWESTERN STATE (0-3, 0-0 Southland)
SPECIAL TEAMS PREVIEW
Punter: Junior Bradley Russo is in his second season as the Demons' punter. He has averaged 37.1 yards on 13 punts with a long of 44 and three inside the opponent's 20 yard line. Northwestern State has done a good job with coverage, allowing only one of Russo's punt to be returned (13 yards) and posting a net punting average of 33.5 yards per punt. However, Russo has had one punt blocked, that came last week against North Dakota. Russo averaged 37.1 yards on 62 punts last season with a long of 56 yards; he had four punts of 50-plus yards and 17 punts inside the opponent's 20. ... Sophomore Nic Russo (no relation) is the Demons' backup punter.
Return Specialists: The Demons are quite young in the return game. Bradley Brown and Ridge Turner, both freshmen, are listed as primary kickoff return men with junior Jeremy Jefferson also a possibility. Brown has taken the majority of the kickoffs for the Demons (11 of 18), posting a 22.7-yard average with a long return of 48 yards. Turner has two returns for 22 yards with a long of 12. No other Demon has more than one kickoff return. Three Demons have returned punts this season and none with any success. Phillip Harvey has three returns for no yards, Brown has one return for minus-four yards, and Jasper Edwards has one return for no yards.
Other: Bradley Russo also handles snapping duties for place kicks. ... Phil LeBlanc is the Demons' holder. ... Northwestern State has held opponents to a 12.7-yard average on kickoff returns this season, allowing only 140 yards on 11 returns with a long of 31 yards.
NORTHWESTERN STATE (0-3, 0-0 Southland)
Line: Four upperclassmen comprise the Demons' line, anchored by senior defensive tackle Albert Smith (6-0, 301). He is third on the squad with 19 tackles this season, including 11 solo stops and one sack. A preseason All-Southland Conference selection, Smith had 10 tackles last week against North Dakota. Last season, he tallied 35 tackles in 12 games with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. ... Fellow senior Josh Daniels (6-2, 232) patrols the right end; he has been relatively quiet through three games with four tackles, but he does have a pair of quarterback hurries. Daniels had 20 tackles in 12 games last season with 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. ... Joining Smith in the interior is junior tackle Dennis Clark (6-1, 283), who has eight tackles (two behind the line) and a forced fumble this season. Nicknamed "Tank," Clark tallied 13 tackles in 12 games as Smith's backup last season. ... Junior Ledell Love (6-1, 244) is a force at left end. A preseason all-conference pick, Love has 10 tackles with two sacks for a total loss of 24 yards; he also has forced one fumble and blocked a kick. The Dallas-Skyline product earned second-team All-SLC honors last season after tallying 50 tackles with 11 stops behind the line (team best), 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up. ... Also expect to see senior Scott Wattingny (6-1, 235), a versatile lineman who has six tackles (1.5 behind the line) in two games of action this season.
Linebackers: All three Northwestern State starters are seniors. Blake Delcambre (6-1, 240) anchors the unit in the middle and leads the team in tackles (25), tackles for loss (4.0) and sacks (3.0). A preseason All-Southland Conference selection, Delcambre is a third-year starter and has ranked in the team's top four in tackles each of the past two seasons. He matched his career high with 12 tackles two weeks ago at Grambling State and tallied nine stops last week against North Dakota. ... Isaiah Greenhouse (6-2, 232) and Rogers Loche (5-11, 235) patrol the outsides with the latter on the weak side. Greenhouse has 10 tackles on the season with one stop for a loss. He has played extensively each of the past three seasons and recorded 42 tackles as a starter last season; he also had one interception in 2008, which he returned 69 yards for a touchdown against Southeastern Oklahoma. Loche is fourth on the team with 18 tackles and ranks second on the squad with 3.0 tackles for loss (leading to a team-best loss of 45 yards). He began his collegiate career at Ole Miss, where he sat out the 2005 season as a redshirt before transferring to Northwestern State. ... Junior Colby Arceneaux (5-7, 192) has been the most active backup for Demons, recording seven tackles (all solos). Junior Lamont Simmons (6-1, 202) has three tackles and recovered one fumble.
Secondary: Senior safeties Gary Riggs (6-2, 215) and Wesley Eckles (6-0, 186) arguably are the best players on the Northwestern State defense. The free safety Eckles, a 2008 All-Southland pick and 2009 preseason all-league selection, is tied for third nationally in the FBS ranks with three interceptions. He had two picks against Grambling State and one last week against North Dakota that he returned 51 yards. Eckles, who has 14 tackles this season with 12 solo stops, also has broken up other two passes. Last season, he recorded 89 tackles with one fumble recovery, two interceptions and six pass breakups in 12 games. Riggs, meanwhile, is second on the squad with 20 tackles from the strong spot. He has broken up one pass and recovered one fumble this season. A preseason All-SLC selection, Riggs also began his collegiate career at Ole Miss, where he redshirted in 2005 before transferring to Northwestern State. He is a fourth-year starter with 207 career tackles and eight career interceptions. Riggs' cousin, Kenny Mixon, played defensive end at LSU and spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Dolphins and Vikings from 1998 to 2004. ... The left corner spot is patrolled by senior Kasey Brown (5-9, 170), who has 16 tackles and a pair of pass breakups this season. A preseason All-America selection by Consensus Draft Services, Brown is a third-year starter who tallied 39 tackles with two interceptions and 19 pass breakups last season. He is the nephew of Brian Mitchell, who spent 14 seasons in the NFL with the Redskins, Eagles and Giants and was considered one of the best - if not the best - kick returner of the 1990s. ... The lone underclassman in the Demons' defensive starting lineup is right corner Cashas Pollard (5-10, 184); he has four tackles and one PBU this season, and he also has recovered one fumble. Pollard is a Tatum, Texas, native who saw limited action last season and still managed to record three pass breakups. ... Freshman Cortez Paige is a backup to Eckles and likely will see time as the nickelback. He has 10 tackles, seven solo efforts, with one stop behind the line.
Allison To Be Dedicated Saturday
Just a reminder that a few hours before Baylor takes the field against Northwestern State this Saturday, the Bears' new indoor home, the Allison Facility, is scheduled to be dedicated. The event will take place at 3:30 p.m. and will include a brief appearance by head coach Art Briles.
Sepulveda Named to TSN All-Decade Team
Former Baylor All-American Daniel Sepulveda was chosen as the punter for The Sporting News All-Decade Team, released Thursday. The choice comes as no surprise given Sepulveda is the only two-time winner of the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's best college punter. Furthermore, Sepulveda owns an NCAA record that likely will never be broken: 94 career punts of 50-plus yards. Many punters don't get 94 career punts.
Here's TSN's All-Decade Team:
Leinart was chosen as Player of the Decade, while Urban Meyer was named Coach of the Decade. Other honors: USC - Team of the Decade; Vince Young vs. USC, 2006 Rose Bowl - Performance of the Decade; Adrian Peterson - Freshman of the Decade; Ed Orgeron - Recruiter of the Decade; OU vs. UT - Rivalry of the Decade; Ohio State vs. Miami-FL, 2003 Fiesta Bowl - Game of the Decade.
RG3's Sibling Rivalry Renewed Saturday
Saturday when he takes the field against Northwestern State, Robert Griffin III will renew a sibling rivalry of sorts with his big sister DeJon, who is a thrower on NSU's track and field squad. NSU sports information director Doug Ireland posted a web story on the Griffins, a great read: "Family Reunion for Record-Setting Griffins." Here are some highlights of the story:
Previewing the Opponent: Offense
NORTHWESTERN STATE (0-3, 0-0 Southland)
Quarterback: Senior John Hundley (6-3, 210) opened the season as Northwestern State's starter, but appears to have given way to junior Tyler Wolfe (6-5, 228). Hundley started the season opener at Houston and was serviceable, connecting on 22 of 34 pass attempts with one touchdown and no interceptions but for only 106 yards; he also had 21 yards on 10 carries in that game. However, Hundley fell on hard times in the season's second game, a 38-17 loss at Grambling State, when he was 13-of-28 for 138 yards and four interceptions with no touchdowns. Wolfe started last week against North Dakota and was much sharper, going 25-of-38 for 307 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Hundley's numbers work out to a passing efficiency rating of 81.93, while Wolfe has a 159.7 rating. Northwestern State's depth chart lists both as possible starter for Saturday's game at Baylor. ... Hundley was the Demons' starter last season. He bounced back from a midseason injury that forced him to miss three games in time for the season finale against Stephen F. Austin. Hundley was 112-of-205 for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns with three interceptions on the 2008 season, so his four interception game at Grambling was quite the surprise. He also averaged 27.3 rushing yards per game last year with four rushing touchdowns. Hundley began his collegiate career at Louisiana-Lafayette and appeared in two games for the Ragin' Cajuns during the 2006 season. ... Wolfe is in his first season with the Northwestern State program, transferring from Louisville where he saw action in one game as a redshirt freshman in 2007.
Running Back: Expect tailbacks William Griffin (senior, 5-10, 208) and Quentin Castille (junior, 5-11, 255) to get nearly equal carries. Griffin averages 5.1 yards per carry with 219 yards on 43 totes this season. Castille averages 4.0 yards per carry with 162 yards on 41 rushes. Each has one touchdown to his credit. No other non-quarterback has more than three carries this season for the Demons. Griffin also is second on the Northwestern State squad with nine receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Castille has four receptions for 32 yards. ... An All-Southland Conference candidate, Griffin rushed for 472 yards on 110 carries with four touchdowns last season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and 39.3 yards per game in a backup role. He began his collegiate career at Louisiana Tech before transferring to Northwestern State prior to the 2008 season. Griffin had 63 yards on 10 carries at Houston, 78 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries at Grambling and 78 yards on 18 carries last week against North Dakota. ... Castille, a La Porte, Texas, native, is no stranger to Big 12 football. He transferred to Northwestern State this season after two seasons at Nebraska. As a freshman in 2007, Castille rushed for 343 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries in 12 games. Last year for the Huskers, he tallied 467 yards on 106 rushes with six touchdowns. Castille was the Huskers' feature back in last year's Gator Bowl against Clemson; he rushed for a career-best 125 yards in that game. He was slow to get going for the Demons this season, gaining 12 yards on eight totes at Houston in the season opener. Castille found his legs in the Grambling game, rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown; however, he was slowed to 36 yards on 15 carries last week against North Dakota. ... Senior fullback Dante Austin (5-10, 249) is used primarily as a blocking back who occasionally will be used as an outlet receiver (two receptions for 40 yards this season after seven snags for 49 yards last year).
Receivers: When Hundley transferred to Northwestern State from Louisiana-Lafayette, he brought wide-out Darius Duffy (5-10, 198) with him. Duffy was third on the NSU squad with 19 catches for 287 yards and two touchdowns in 2008. This season, he has been the Demons' main target with 17 receptions for 144 yards; although, he has yet to find the end zone. ... Opposite Duffy on the outside will be freshman Thomas Jackson Jr. (6-2, 203), a 4.4-40 receiver who was a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com. Jackson has five catches for 31 yards but, like Duffy, has yet to find the end zone. ... Freshman Bradley Brown (5-10, 170) is the Demons third receiver and has four catches for 55 yards and one touchdown. Junior Adrian Reese (6-7, 205) also is a threat; he has just three catches in three games, but one was a 54-yard scoring haul last week against North Dakota. Reese, a Longview, Texas, native, transferred to Northwestern State from Texas Tech where he saw limited action during the 2006 and 2007 seasons before sitting out last year as a redshirt. He had two catches for 14 yards against Baylor in the 2007 game against Texas Tech. ... Sophomore tight end Justin Aldredge (5-11, 211) also is active in the Demons' passing game; he is third on the team with eight receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown.
Line: Senior center Marcus Washington (6-3, 295) anchors the line as a four-year starter. A preseason All-Southland Conference selection, Washington is by far the most experienced Demon lineman. Junior left guard Michael Booker (6-3, 314), also a preseason All-SLC pick, is in his second season as a starter after after transferring to Northwestern State from Oklahoma State prior to last season. The Paris, Texas, native did not play against Baylor while at OSU. The rest of the Demon line is quite young with sophomore Zach Case (6-2, 290) at left tackle, freshman Destry Hesskew (6-3, 270) at right guard and freshman Larry Calcote (6-4, 285) at right tackle. Case played in 11 of 12 games last season and drew starts in the last nine games. Hesskew was thrust into the starting role after expected starter Jace Prescott (6-6, 343) sustained a knee injury in the season opener at Houston; Prescott is not expected to play against Baylor. Hesskew is a product of Canton [Texas] High School; his grandfather played football at Baylor but never lettered.
The Bears met with the media Tuesday during the weekly press luncheon. Read a transciption of the event here.
Here's a neat time-lapse photo-video taken at Floyd Casey Stadium last Saturday during the UConn game, courtesy of the ace staff at Baylor Photography.
SI.com posted a list Monday of Risers/Sliders for 2010 NFL Draft and included JoePaw as the third "Riser." Tony Pauline of TFYDraft.com wrote: "he is proving himself to be one of the nation's sturdiest run defenders and a very good middle linebacker prospect."
Here are the recent posts by our in-house bloggers:
- Justin Cange of Cuttin' in the Baylor Line wrote about Saturday's loss being "Just One Game."
- Jerry Hill of View From The Hill wrote that "Turnovers, Not Time, Tell The Tale" of winning and losing.
The Bears suffered a setback Saturday, dropping a 30-22 decision to UConn in the home opener. Coach Briles, in his briefing with the media Sunday, said the team is "anxious to get back on the field" to get back on track. The squad now turns its attention to next Saturday's foe, Northwestern State (Saturday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m.).
An article of note to point out was Friday's piece by John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald on Baylor's first-year transfer tackles from Canada, Danny Watkins and Philip Blake.
Also recently announced was the title sponsor for the Baylor-Texas Tech series in the Metroplex, which is newly named the Texas Farm Bureau Shootout and will be held Nov. 28 at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington in 2009 and at the Cotton Bowl in 2010.