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Bears Travel to Little Apple, Face Kansas State

LB Joe Pawelek has averaged 11.0 tackles per game in four Big 12 contests, tied with FS Jordan Lake for second in the conference.

LB Joe Pawelek has averaged 11.0 tackles per game in four Big 12 contests, tied with FS Jordan Lake for second in the conference.

Oct. 22, 2007

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GAME NINE

BAYLOR (3-5, 0-4) at KANSAS STATE (4-3, 2-2)

SATURDAY, OCT. 27, 2007    2:35 P.M. CDT

SNYDER FAMILY STADIUM (50,000)

MANHATTAN, KAN.

 

SERIES RECORD

            Kansas State leads 5-1-0

 

COACHES

            BAYLOR:  Guy Morriss (TCU, 1973)

                        Record at Baylor:  18-36 (5th season)

                        Career Record:  27-50 (7th season)

                        Record vs. Kansas State:  1-1

            KANSAS STATE:  Ron Prince (Appalachian State, 1992)

                        Record at Kansas State:  11-9 (2nd season)

                        Career Record:  11-9 (2nd season)

                        Record vs. Baylor:  0-1

 

BAYLOR/ISP RADIO NETWORK

            John Morris, play-by-play

            J.J. Joe, color analyst

            Ricky Thompson, sideline

            Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 161

 

INTERNET FEEDS

            www.BaylorBears.com

 

 

BAYLOR TRAVELS TO KANSAS STATE

            Baylor returns to action Saturday, Oct. 27, traveling to Manhattan, Kan., for a Big 12 Conference inter-division game at Kansas State. Kickoff between the Bears and the Wildcats is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. CDT at Snyder Family Stadium on the K-State campus. This is the final inter-division game of the season for both teams; Baylor is 0-2 against North opponents, while Kansas State is 1-1 against South opponents.

            The Bears (3-5, 0-4) have dropped four straight following a 31-10 loss to No. 19 Texas at home last Saturday. Kansas State is the first unranked opponent Baylor has played since its Oct. 6 game against Colorado. The Bears are 1-3 on the road this season, winning at Buffalo and losing at TCU, Texas A&M and Kansas.

            The Wildcats (4-3, 2-2) dropped a 41-39 decision at Oklahoma State last Saturday on a last-second field goal. After taking the lead with 70 seconds to play, Kansas State could not stop the Cowboys from driving 49 yards to setup Jason Ricks' 26-yard, game-winning field goal. The Wildcats' three losses this season have been by a total of 18 points, including a total of eight points in their two Big 12 losses. Kansas State is unranked in this week's national polls but among teams also receiving votes in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Wildcats are 3-1 at home this season, defeating San Jose State, Missouri State and Colorado and losing to Kansas.

 

BAYLOR-KANSAS STATE SERIES

            This is the seventh meeting between Baylor and Kansas State; the Wildcats hold a 5-1 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to a 48-15 Kansas State victory in the teams' 1969 season opener. The Bears have faced Kansas State fewer times than any other Big 12 Conference school.

            Kansas State leads the series 4-1 as Big 12 foes with two wins in Waco (49-6 in 1998 and 44-10 in 2002) and two wins at Manhattan (48-7 in 1999 and 38-10 in 2003). Baylor recorded its first-ever victory in the series last season with a 17-3 triumph at Floyd Casey Stadium. The victory last season was sparked by the Bears' strong defensive effort; Baylor forced five turnovers on the day, including three inside their own 30 yard line. Baylor held Kansas State to its lowest point total since a 26-3 loss to Syracuse at the 2001 Insight.com Bowl.

            Baylor has scored seven touchdowns against Kansas State in six meetings; three of those were on special teams, and two of the four offensive scores came last season. In the 1969 meeting, the Wildcats twice snapped over the punters head and the Bears recovered in the end zone for touchdowns. In the 2003 meeting, Robert Quiroga returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.

            The Bears' four offensive touchdowns were a Darrell Bush TD run in 1999, a Greg Cicero touchdown pass in 2000, and two Shawn Bell touchdown passes last season. Baylor has scored only one first-half offensive touchdown against Kansas State, a 75-yard Bell-to-Trent Shelton touchdown pass in last year's game.

 

Overall:  Kansas State leads 5-1

            Waco:  Kansas State leads 3-1

            Manhattan:  Kansas State leads 2-0

            Neutral Site:  Never Met

            Since Start of Big 12:  Kansas State leads 4-1

 

SERIES NOTES

  Kansas State out-scored Baylor 224-48 in the first five meetings, scoring at least 38 points in each game.

  Baylor has faced Kansas State fewer times than any other Big 12 school.

  Baylor has scored four offensive touchdowns and three special teams touchdowns in six all-time meetings. Two of those offensive touchdowns came in last year's Baylor win.

  Kansas State has allowed only one first-half offensive touchdown against Baylor -- a first-quarter, 75-yard Shawn Bell-to-Trent Shelton pass last season.

  The 2003 meeting featured a 98-yard kickoff return by Robert Quiroga, the fourth-longest in Baylor history.

  Baylor held Kansas State to three points in last season's meeting, the Wildcats' lowest point total since a 26-3 loss to Syracuse in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl.

 

SERIES RESULTS

1969     Kansas State 45, BAYLOR 15    Sept. 20

1998     Kansas State 49, BAYLOR 6      Nov. 7

1999     Kansas State 48, BAYLOR 7      Oct. 30

2002     Kansas State 44, BAYLOR 10    Oct. 26

2003     Kansas State 38, BAYLOR 10    Nov. 1

2005     BAYLOR 17, Kansas State 3      Sept. 30

 

LAST MEETING

BAYLOR 17, KANSAS STATE 3

SEPT. 30, 2006    FLOYD CASEY STADIUM    WACO, TEXAS

            Baylor's defense held a Big 12 opponent out of the end zone for the first time ever as the Bears recorded their first-ever win over Kansas State. The Wildcats out-gained the Bears 341-312 on 10 more plays, but two key turnovers thwarted Kansas State scoring opportunities.

            On its second possession of the game, Kansas State marched 74 yards in 10 plays to the Baylor 14 where the Wildcats faced a third and 6. Clayton Thomas rushed to the Baylor 10; but Anthony Arline forced Thomas to fumble, and Alton Widemon pounced on the loose ball. Widemon recovered another fumble in the third.

            Those were K-State's only two ventures into the Baylor red zone.

            Bell finished 25-of-46 for 282 yards and two TDs, tying Don Trull's school record for career 200-yard games. The first scoring strike was a 75-yard toss to Trent Shelton, who snagged the pass near midfield and raced down the left sideline for the game's first score.

            Kansas State got a 41-yard Jeff Snodgrass field goal late in the first half as Baylor held its sixth consecutive opponent without a first-quarter score for the first time since the 1990-91 seasons.

            Baylor held Kansas State on three plays to open the second half, and Queito Teasley returned the ensuing punt 47 yards to the Wildcats' 33. The Bears followed with a seven-play drive that culminated in a Bell-to-Dominique Zeigler 11-yard TD pass.

            The Bears added a 22-yard Ryan Havens field goal late in the third, capitalizing on the first of Dwain Crawford's two interceptions on the night.

            Zeigler finished with eight catches for 73 yards, while Shelton recorded his second 100-yard game of the season (3-107).

 

TEXAS TECH GAME TIME SET

            Game time for Baylor's Nov. 3 game against Texas Tech has been scheduled for 2 p.m. CDT at Floyd Casey Stadium; the game will not be televised. The game is part of Homecoming festivities on the Baylor campus.

            Texas Tech has won 11 consecutive meetings; Baylor's last victory in the series was a 9-7 triumph over the 24th-ranked Red Raiders at Floyd Casey Stadium in 1994.

 

QUICK NOTES

  Baylor is 3-7 all-time when 3-5, including a 3-5 mark when following a loss; this is the first time Baylor has ever been 3-5 with a four-game losing streak.

  Baylor has lost eight straight Big 12 games since its 36-35 comeback victory over Kansas (Oct. 22, 2006).

  Baylor is 200-197-21 all-time in October, including a 6-16 mark under head coach Guy Morriss.

  Baylor is 44-52-4 all-time on the fourth Saturday of October, including a 6-8-1 mark on Oct. 27.

  Baylor is 3-0 this season when scoring first and when leading at halftime; the Bears are 0-5 this season both when the opponent scores first and when trailing at halftime.

  Baylor has forced at least one turnover in 27 of the last 31 games, including 18 games with at least two turnovers forced in that time.

  Baylor's defense has held the opposing offense without a first-quarter touchdown in 20 of the last 30 games, including 14 first-quarter shutouts in that time.

  Baylor has been flagged 44 times for 348 yards through this season's first eight games. Last year, the Bears were penalized 59 times for 593 yards through the first seven games.

  Baylor's defense has logged 20 quarterback sacks through eight games this season after recording only 11 sacks in 12 games last year.

  One year after losing 32 seniors, including 24 fifth-year players, Baylor's 2007 roster features 71 underclassmen -- 45 of whom are either true (25) or redshirt (20) freshmen -- and just 17 seniors.

 

BAYLOR vs. BIG 12 NORTH

            Most of Baylor's success in the Big 12 Conference has come against teams from the North Division. The Bears are 8-27 against teams from the North with only three victories (Texas, 1997; Texas A&M, 2004; Oklahoma State, 2005) against teams from the South.

            Five of Baylor's eight victories against Big 12 North teams have come under head coach Guy Morriss. Those eight wins are as follows:  Iowa State (1996), Kansas (1998), Kansas (2002), Colorado (2003), Iowa State (2005), Kansas State (2006), Colorado (2006) and Kansas (2006). Baylor has won four of its last eight against Big 12 North opponents, including a 3-0 mark against North teams last season.

 

TURNOVERS COSTLY FOR BEARS

            Baylor has committed 24 turnovers through eight games (3.0 per game), and the Bears' opponents have turned those into 79 points (30.6 percent of total points allowed). Meanwhile, Baylor has forced 15 turnovers (1.9 per game) and turned those into 44 points (27.0 percent of total points scored).

            In Big 12 Conference play, Baylor has committed 15 turnovers in four games (3.8 per game); the Bears' opponents have scored 62 points off those turnovers (37.3 percent of total points allowed). However, Baylor has not been as successful at capitalizing on its opponents turnovers in Big 12 play. The Bears have forced only six turnovers in four league games (1.5 per game) and scored just 17 points off those turnovers (32.1 percent of total points scored).

 

BEARS IN MIDST OF TOUGH STRETCH

            Saturday's game against Kansas State ends a stretch of two straight games against nationally ranked opponents for the Bears. However, the Wildcats are Baylor's fifth consecutive opponent at least receiving votes for the Top 25 and Baylor's sixth such opponent this season (TCU was ranked 22nd). Kansas State is Baylor's fifth opponent this season that has been ranked at some point this season, just as the Bears' next two opponents -- Texas Tech and Oklahoma -- have been.

 

BAYLOR SPREADS THE WEALTH IN PASSING GAME

            Through eight games, 16 different players have recorded at least one reception this season. That total is tied for fifth nationally, tied for second among Big 12 Conference schools. Troy and TCU lead nationally, both having 18 players who have caught a pass this season. Colorado leads the Big12 with 17 receivers, tied with Southern California for third nationally. Baylor joins Boise State and Texas Tech in a fifth-place tie nationally.

            Baylor's 16 players with at least one reception this season are:  Brandon Whitaker (36 receptions), Justin Akers (35), David Gettis (24), Brad Taylor (23), Krys Buerck (20), Ernest Smith (15), Justin Fenty (15), Jay Finley (13), Thomas White (12), Mikail Baker (six), Eddy Newton (three), Kyle Mitchell (three), Luke La Mar (two), Joe Bennett (one), Keegan Vann (one) and Jacoby Jones (one).

            Furthermore, nine different Baylor players have at least one touchdown reception this season:  Akers (four), Buerck (two), Taylor (two), Whitaker (two), White (two), Finley (one), Jones (one), Smith (one) and Vann (one). That total is tied for third nationally and ranks first in the Big 12. Troy (13 players) leads the nation, while Hawai'i (10) ranks second.

 

PAWELEK CONTINUES TO ANCHOR BEARS' DEFENSE

            LB Joe Pawelek, a Freshman All-America selection in 2006, has continued his stellar play at middle linebacker as a sophomore in 2007. Through eight games, Pawelek has averaged 9.0 tackles per game to rank seventh in the Big 12 Conference and tie for 61st nationally. He has averaged 11.0 tackles per game in Baylor's four Big 12 contests, tying teammate Jordan Lake for third in the league.

            Pawelek has 72 tackles on the season, including 27 solo efforts and 6.5 stops behind the line. He has 2.0 sacks, one interception, one pass break up, one quarterback hurry, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery. Pawelek is 14 tackles shy of his total (86) from last season when he was a first-team Freshman All-America selection.

 

LAKE MAKES NAME FOR HIMSELF

            FS Jordan Lake ranks sixth in the Big 12 and is tied for 53rd nationally with 9.3 tackles per game. A sophomore from Houston's Memorial High School, Lake leads the Big 12 and ranks 10th nationally in tackles among defensive backs.

            Lake, who was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week following the Bears' 34-21 victory at Buffalo, has 74 tackles on the season, including 41 solo stops and 1.0 tackle for loss. Along with two interceptions and four passes broken up, Lake has forced two fumbles and recovered two others.

 

GETTIS CATCHES FIRE

            Sparked by a career-long, 69-yard reception early in the fourth quarter three weeks ago at Texas A&M, WR David Gettis suddenly has become a key part of Baylor's attack. Gettis followed his 88-yard performace at Texas A&M with an even better game against Colorado, recording career highs for receptions (8) and yards (99). Gettis had 11 career catches for 151 yards entering the Texas A&M game. He has 17 catches for 270 yards in the last four games.

            Gettis' contributions have not been limited to his work as a receiver. He has produced 319 yards on 13 kickoff returns over the last three games for an average of 24.5 yards per return. Gettis had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown two weeks ago at Kansas, the eighth-longest in school history and Baylor's first since the 2005 season.

            Over the last three games, Gettis has averaged 169.7 all purpose yards per game. Against Colorado, Gettis established a career high with 225 all-purpose yards. That was the best single-game all-purpose yardage total by a Baylor player in the Guy Morriss era and the best by any Bear since Jerod Douglas' school-record, 257-yard performance at Oklahoma in 1997.

 

INSIDE RECEIVERS FEAST

            Inside and and slot receivers have accounted for 38.1 percent of Baylor's receptions this season (80 of 210), 39.3 percent of Baylor's receiving yards (895 of 2,279) and 37.5 percent of Baylor's touchdown receptions (6 of 16).

            IR Justin Akers ranks second on the team in receptions (35) and first in yards (398), while IR Brad Taylor is fourth in receptions (23) and yards (286). Akers leads the team with four touchdown receptions, while Taylor is one of four Bears with two touchdown grabs. SR Justin Fenty is tied for sixth on the team in receptions (15) and seventh in yards (137). IR Kyle Mitchell also has three catches for 19 yards, IR Eddy Newton has three receptions for 37 yards, and IR Joe Bennett has one catch for 18 yards.

 

WHITAKER RECEIVES ATTENTION FROM BACKFIELD

            RB Brandon Whitaker leads Baylor with 36 receptions this season, already eclipsing his career high for catches in a season (30, established in each of the past two seasons). Whitaker has led the Bears in receptions twice this season but also has gone reception-less in two games. After not catching a pass against Texas A&M, Whitaker tallied 11 receptions against Colorado and seven receptions at Kansas. He followed that with five receptions last Saturday against Texas.

            Whitaker established career highs in receptions and yards receivng (166) against Colorado, both Baylor single-game records for a non-receiver. He previously held the single-game receptions record for a non-receiver with nine catches at Washington State last season. Whitaker's receptions total tied for fifth in school history and was one shy of the overall school record. Meanwhile, his yardage total tied for eighth all-time at Baylor.

            Whitaker also broke Baylor's career receptions mark for a non-receiver in the Colorado game. His third catch of the game was the 78th of his career, breaking the previous mark held by FB Jeffrey Murray (1986-89). Whitaker now has 98 career catches for 653 yards. He currently is tied with Kalief Muhammad (1993-96) for seventh on Baylor's overall career receptions list.

            Entering the Kansas State game, Whitaker needs two catches to become the seventh player in school history with at least 100 career receptions. He also needs 66 yards rushing to become the 28th 1,000-yard rusher in school history. One of five Bears with at least two touchdown receptions this season, Whitaker ranks third on the squad with 296 yards receiving.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE PLAY VASTLY IMPROVED

            After giving up 36 sacks in 12 games last season, Baylor's offensive line has shown vast improvement in 2007. The Bears' quarterbacks have been sacked only nine times in eight games.

            Baylor's offensive line did not allow a sack against Texas A&M nor against Colorado, marking the first time the Bears' did not allow a sack in consecutive games since a three-game run late in the 1995 season (at Miami, at SMU, Rice). The Texas A&M game was the first time a Baylor quarterback was not sacked since the 2004 North Texas game, snapping 35-game streak.

            Kansas recorded a sack of Baylor's Ryan Roberts midway through the third quarter last Saturday, snapping a streak of 114 consecutive pass plays without allowing a sack for Baylor's offensive line. The Bears allowed only one sack against Texas in 57 total pass plays.

            From 1998 through 2006, Baylor quarterbacks were sacked 328 times in 113 games (2.9 per game), allowing at least 25 sacks each season and a high of 52 sacks in a 12-game 2002 schedule. This season, the Bears are allowing only 1.1 sacks per game. More impressively, the Bears' quarterbacks were sacked once every 11.3 pass attempts from 1998 through 2006; this season, they have been sacked once every 45.1 pass attempts.

 

FIRST-QUARTER DEFENSIVE SUCCESS CONTINUES

            Baylor's defense allowed just 57 first-quarter points in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points per game allowed in the opening period. Two of the seven first-quarter touchdowns allowed by the Bears last season were scores by the opponent's defense, meaning Baylor's defense allowed only 3.6 first-quarter points per game. The Bears' defense allowed only six first-quarter touchdowns (two of which were followed by missed extra points) and one field goal. No team scored more than one offensive touchdown, only two scored more than once -- Texas Tech (offensive touchdown and field goal) and Oklahoma (offensive and defensive touchdown).

            That success has carried over to the 2007 season as the Bears have allowed only six first-quarter scores and only two first-quarter touchdowns through the first eight games. Baylor held TCU, Texas State and Buffalo scoreless in the opening period. The Bears allowed one first-quarter touchdown against Rice and one first-quarter field goal at Texas A&M; Colorado managed a touchdown and a field goal in the first quarter. Kansas scored 10 first-quarter points -- a field goal and a special teams touchdown. Texas managed a field goal.

            In 30 games since the 2005 season opener at SMU, Baylor has held the opponent without a first-quarter offensive touchdown 20 times with 14 first-quarter shutouts. Texas Tech last season and Colorado this season are the only opponents to record more than one first-quarter offensive score during that time. Baylor has not allowed multiple first-quarter offensive touchdowns since UAB scored three first-quarter touchdowns in the 2004 season opener, a span of 40 games. The Bears have held the opponent without a first-quarter offensive touchdown 24 times and scoreless 16 times in those 39 games.

 

NOTES FROM THE TEXAS GAME

  Baylor's second-quarter touchdown was its first score against Texas at Floyd Casey Stadium since the fourth quarter of the 2001 game, ending the Bears' nine-quarter scoring draught at home against the Longhorns.

  Baylor quarterbacks eclipsed the 200-completion plateau for the season during the game, marking just the sixth time in school history that Baylor has completed at least 200 passes in a season.

  Texas' 31 points was the fewest Baylor has allowed since a 20-30 Baylor loss in 1998.

  Baylor was held to its lowest rushing total (eight yards) since last year's Oklahoma game (minus-48 yards).

  Baylor's 56 total pass attempts is tied for second all-time behind the Bears' 60 attempts against Colorado earlier this season.

  QB Michael Machen made his first career start at Baylor; he had registered one play prior to the game (fake punt at Texas A&M).

  Machen became the first Bear to pass for at least 200 yards in his first career start since Aaron Karas passed for 331 yards against Southern Illinois in 2001.

  RB Brandon Whitaker moved into a tie for seventh place on Baylor's career receptions list (98).

  DE Leon Freeman tied his career career high with five tackles; he also had career highs with three tackles for loss and two sacks.

  QB John David Weed made his first career appearance at Baylor in the fourth quarter.

  LB Joe Pawelek's third-quarter interception was his first since last season's Colorado game.

  IR Justin Akers had a career-high nine receptions, tied for the 16th-best single-game total in school history.

  CB Alton Widemon tied his career high with six tackles.

 

BEARS HAVE 20/20 VISION

            In five seasons under head coach Guy Morriss, Baylor has established a bit of a vicenary rule on the scoreboard. The Bears are 16-12 when scoring at least 20 points and 2-24 when scoring less than 20 points since the start of the 2003 season. Likewise, the Bears are 10-3 when holding the opponent to fewer than 20 points and 8-33 when allowing 20 or more points in that time.

 

BAYLOR TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF

            Baylor ranked 113th nationally in turnover margin and forced just nine opponent miscues over the 11-game 2004 campaign, but the last three seasons it has reversed that trend. The Bears' defense has forced 71 turnovers (40 interceptions, 31 fumble recoveries) since the start of the 2005 season to rank third in the Big 12 and tied for 14th nationally among Division I-A teams in that span. Baylor has come up with at least one turnover in 27 of 31 games since the start of the 2005 season, including 18 games with two or more.

            Baylor forced 34 turnovers over 23 games in Guy Morriss' first two seasons, compared to the 71 it has totaled over the last 31 outings. Here's a look at the teams with most turnovers forced over the last three seasons:

 

TURNOVERS GAINED              2005     2006     2007     TOTAL

  1.     TCU                                40         26         15         81

  2.     South Florida                  30         25         24         79

  3.     Boston College               18         37         21         76

          Louisiana Tech                31         29         16         76

          Texas                             27         32         17         76

          Western Michigan            25         34         17         76

  7.     Southern Mississippi       34         25         16         75

  8.     Oklahoma                       23         32         19         74

          Michigan                         23         26         25         74

          Purdue                            27         32         15         74

  11.    Southern California          38         22         13         73

          West Virginia                   31         24         18         73

  13.    Louisville                        28         25         19         72

          Oregon State                  26         28         18         72

  14.    Baylor                             29         27         15         71

          Louisiana-Monroe            26         34         11         71

          Miami (Ohio)                   35         22         14         71

  17.    Boise State                     26         31         13         70

          Missouri                          24         28         18         70

          Oregon                           32         22         16         70

  20.    Nevada                           23         37         9          69

  21.    Florida                            31         29         8          68

          Hawai'i                            21         29         18         68

          Idaho                              22         25         21         68

          UTEP                              24         25         19         68

  25.    Georgia                          29         30         6          66

 

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

            Baylor has recorded 15 non-offensive scores in 54 games under head coach Guy Morriss, notching at least one such score in each of Morriss' five seasons.

 

• 2003 vs. UAB -- James Todd blocked punt for safety

• 2003 vs. Colorado -- Jamaal Harper 7-yard fumble return (forced by Derrick Cash)

• 2003 at Kansas -- James Todd blocked punt recovery in end zone (blocked by Michael Boyd)

• 2003 at Kansas State -- Robert Quiroga 98-yard kickoff return

• 2003 vs. Texas Tech -- Robert Quiroga 100-yard kickoff return

• 2003 vs. Oklahoma State -- Willie Andrews 30-yard fumble return (forced by John Garrett)

• 2004 vs. Texas State -- Justin Crooks 9-yard fumble return (forced by Montez Murphy)

• 2004 vs. North Texas -- Braelon Davis blocked punt recovery in end zone (blocked by Davis)

• 2004 vs. Iowa State -- Braelon Davis defensive PAT (interception return)

• 2005 vs. Samford -- Jamaal Harper 29-yard fumble return (forced by Colin Allred)

• 2005 vs. Samford -- Shaun Rochon 85-yard punt return

• 2005 at Oklahoma -- Shaun Rochon 98-yard kickoff return

• 2005 vs. Oklahoma State -- Colin Allred 25-yard interception return

• 2006 vs. Oklahoma -- Braelon Davis 56-yard fumble return (forced by Davis)

• 2007 at Kansas -- David Gettis 97-yard kickoff return

 

2007 SCHEDULE FEATURES EIGHT 2006 BOWL TEAMS

            After playing seven of 12 games a year ago against teams that went on to earn bowl invitations, Baylor will face eight 2006 bowl teams this season, including six of its eight Big 12 opponents. But, that's nothing new for coach Guy Morriss' program, as 28 times in his first 46 games (including 25 of 32 Big 12 contests) along the Baylor sideline he's faced an opponent who ended the season in a bowl game. 

            The Bears' 2007 opponents combined for an 85-67 (.559) record a year ago and eight earned bowl bids -- TCU (Poinsettia champion), Rice (New Orleans), Texas (Alamo champion), Kansas State (Texas), Texas A&M (Holiday), Texas Tech (Insight champion), Oklahoma (Fiesta) and Oklahoma State (Independence champion). Baylor's eight 2007 Big 12 foes went 60-43 (.583) a year ago and recorded all three of the league's bowl wins.

            Six of Baylor's eight losses in 2006 came at the hands of eventual bowl-bound teams while it knocked off Texas Bowl participant Kansas State, 17-3, and bowl-eligible Kansas, 36-35.

            Over Morriss' four seasons in Waco, his teams have tackled the nation's 55th- (2003), sixth- (2004), 28th- (2005) and 49th- (2006) most-difficult schedules according to the NCAA.

 

BAYLOR AMONG NATION'S BEST COLLEGES

            Baylor University ranks as the nation's 75th-best institute for higher learning, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2008 "America's Best Colleges" edition. Baylor is ranked third among Big 12 Conference schools, trailing only Texas (44th) and Texas A&M (62nd). Last year, Baylor was the fourth-ranked Big 12 school but leap-frogged Colorado (79th) in this year's rankings.

            Other Big 12 schools ranked were:  Iowa State (t-85th), Kansas (t-85th), Missouri (t-91st), Nebraska (t-91st), Oklahoma (108th) and Kansas State (124th). Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were considered "third tier" schools and were, therefore, not ranked numerically.

 

FORMER WALK-ONS EARN SCHOLARSHIPS

            Six senior walk-on members of the Baylor football team were awarded scholarships for the 2007-08 academic year:  OG Ricky Hasoon, LB Daniel Lopez, CB Ralph Rodriguez, OL Ted Tanner, SS Zach Jones and FB Keegan Vann.

            At the end of spring practice, the Baylor staff also placed junior WR Thomas White on scholarship. Including the seniors receiving scholarships prior to the start of the season, Baylor's 2007 roster features eight walk-ons who have earned scholarships.

            Since Morriss' arrival in 2003, 30 Bears have gone from walk-on to scholarship status.

 

AFCA SALUTES BAYLOR FOR GRADUATION RATE

            Baylor was one of 34 NCAA Division I-A schools to have its football program honored with the 2007 Academic Achievement Award by the American Football Coaches Association.

            In the most-recent AFCA survey, four institutions registered graduation rates of 90 percent or more for their 2001-02 freshman football class, including Northwestern and Notre Dame, which earned top honors from the Touchdown Club of Memphis with their 95 percent marks.

            Baylor joined Big 12 schools Nebraska, Texas and Texas Tech among the 32 institutions who received honorable mention recognition with a graduation rate of 70 to 90 percent. Baylor also was recognized in the AFCA's 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006 surveys.

 

FOOTBALL OPERATIONS HEADED TO CAMPUS IN 2008

            Ground was broken May 10, 2007, on the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, a $34 million complex that will integrate the Baylor athletics department and football program into the campus environment for the first time since the late 1950s.

            The lead gift for the privately funded project and the largest single gift in school history is from the estate of Alwin O. Highers Jr. of Alexandria, La. A native Texan and a 1939 Baylor business graduate, Mr. Highers was well known as the owner of Alexandria's Dr Pepper Bottling Co. He also was a dedicated supporter of Baylor athletics and in particular its football program, until his death in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, who still resides in Alexandria.

            The focal point of the Highers Athletics Complex will be the 96,300-square-foot Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, which will be built on University Parks Drive adjacent to Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex and the university's other athletic facilities that are part of the Julie and Jim Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex on the Brazos River.

            A Baylor University graduate and generous Baylor supporter, Bob R. Simpson is a co-founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of XTO Energy Inc. of Fort Worth. His leadership at XTO has been recognized by numerous publications, including Barron's ("30 most respected CEO's in the world," March 27, 2006), Oil & Gas Explorer ("Executive of the Year," March 2006), Institutional Investor ("Best CEOs," January 2006), BusinessWeek ("The BusinessWeek Top 50 Performers," April 2006) and Forbes ("2,000 Leading Companies in the World," April 17, 2006).

            Simpson earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, with magna cum laude honors, in 1970 and his MBA in 1971.

            The first floor of the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center will include functions that are currently housed at Floyd Casey Stadium, such as a main athletics training room, equipment room, football team locker room, coaches' locker room and weight room. Floor two will hold administrative offices, the football office and meeting rooms, as well as an academic center which will benefit all Baylor student-athletes.

            The Highers Athletics Complex will include three football practice fields, two with a natural surface and the other with artificial turf. Construction will take approximately 18 months and is expected to be completed by July 2008.

 

FAMILY AFFAIR

            The Bears' 2007 roster includes the sons of six former Baylor football standouts, three of whom were All-Americans during their Baylor careers. True freshmen Matt Singletary, V.J. McElroy and Chris Francis join three other sons of Baylor legacies already in the program--sophomore offensive guard Sam Sledge, redshirt freshman receiver Ben Randle and sophomore running back Tony Anderson, who must sit out the season as a transfer from I-AA Southeast Missouri State.

            Singletary's father, Mike, was a three-time All-American and two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner who is enshrined in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame after standout playing careers at Baylor and with the NFL's Chicago Bears. McElroy's father, Vann, was a two-time All-America defensive back at Baylor who went on to play in two Pro Bowls with the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders. The younger Francis' father, James, earned 1989 All-America and Southwest Conference Player of the Year honors and was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

            David Sledge was an All-Southwest Conference performer for the Bears in 1978. Alfred Anderson, the third-leading rusher in school history, and Ervin Randle, an eight-year NFL veteran with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, were Baylor teammates in the early 1980s.

 

COACHING STAFF FEATURES FOUR NEW FACES

            In the off-season, Baylor's coaching staff underwent a makeover as four new faces were added, and the dean of the Bears' staff, Larry Hoefer, was promoted to defensive coordinator.

            After spending the past three seasons as running backs coach at the University of Arizona, Kasey Dunn is Baylor's new assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach. Former University of Houston All-America wide receiver Jason Phillips will coach the Bears' inside receivers and serve as recruiting coordinator after helping his alma mater to three bowl games in four seasons. Morriss also hired former University of Houston safeties coach Clay Jennings, a graduate of Waco's La Vega High School, as Baylor's cornerbacks coach.

            Cornell Jackson, who coached running backs at the University of New Mexico the past two years and has 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, is the Bears' new running backs coach.

            Hoefer, the only remaining member of Morriss' original staff, was named the Bears' defensive coordinator in late February when Bill Bradley was hired as secondary coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

            Lee Hays returns for his second season as Baylor's offensive coordinator and will also tutor the Baylor signal callers in 2007, while Gary Kinne (linebackers) and Don Wnek (defensive line) are back for their second and third seasons, respectively, in the Baylor program.

            The 2007 Baylor coaching staff boasts more than 160 years of experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. Six members of Baylor's staff played NCAA Division I football and four played professional football.

 

BAYLOR CONTINUES TO IMPROVE UNDER MORRISS

            Introduced as Baylor's 24th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2002, Guy Morriss inherited a proud program that had fallen on hard times and produced just 13 victories in the six seasons (1997-2002) prior to his arrival. He and his staff have already posted more wins both overall (18) and in Big 12 play (seven) in five years than the Bears registered in the seven previous years (17 overall/four Big 12) before Morriss' Central Texas arrival.

            Morriss has directed Baylor to seven of its 11 all-time Big 12 Conference victories and its only two conference road wins, while improving the Bears' league win total in each of the last three seasons. He owns a 18-36 record in five seasons at Baylor and is 27-50 in seven seasons as a head coach overall.

 

OVER THE AIR

            Bear football games can be heard live on the Baylor/ISP Sports Radio Network. The network includes nine affiliates across Texas, including flagship stations ESPN KRZI-AM (1660) in Waco. All Baylor games are broadcast by the "Voice of the Bears" John Morris, a veteran broadcaster with 21 years' experience in the Baylor broadcast booth and in his 13th season as the signature voice of Baylor Athletics. Former Baylor football standouts J.J. Joe (color analyst) and Ricky

 

 

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