Scouting report

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STRENGTHS

Quarterback: When Robert Griffin III went down with a season-ending knee injury last season, the identity of Baylor’s offense totally changed. With Griffin back under center in 2010, the Bears are off to a 5-2 start and have Big 12 fans across the nation wondering what last season could have been in Waco. Griffin, a sophomore and dual-threat option, has played significant roles in both the passing and running games this season. Through seven games, he’s racked up 1,969 passing yards. His average of 281.29 passing yards per game ranks 14th nationally, while Baylor ranks 13th in passing offense.

Griffin is also the Bears’ second-leading rusher. He’s carried 70 times for 376 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. K-State has had issues with dual-threat quarterbacks this season, and Griffin could pose several more problems.

Wide receiver: A team’s receiving targets should obviously be considered a strength when the quarterback has racked up nearly 2,000 yards halfway through the season. Six players have recorded at least 100 receiving yards this season, but the Baylor receiving corps has been led by junior Kendall Wright in 2010. Wright, one of the top receivers in school history, leads the squad with 40 catches for 535 yards, and he’s tied for second on the team with three touchdowns. He is just 27 catches short of the school’s career record.

The Wildcats will also have to look out for sophomores Josh Gordon, who leads the team with five touchdowns,  and Terrance Williams, who had accounted for three touchdowns. Williams has also established himself as a special teams threat, as he owns 491 return yards through seven games. He currently leads the team in all purpose yardage with 759. This unit should provide a good challenge for K-State’s pass defense, which enters the contest with a No. 12 national ranking.

Tight end: Starting tight end Brad Taylor, a senior, has only caught eight passes this season, but they have gone for 111 yards and a touchdown. Taylor has also played a factor as a blocker on a team that has only allowed six sacks through seven games. Don’t expect Taylor to get a ton of looks in tomorrow’s game, but the Wildcats will need to keep an eye on him since he has proved to be an ample set of hands.

Offensive line: As mentioned previously, the Bears’ quarterbacks have only been sacked six times this season, thanks in large part to an experienced starting front five. The unit is led by senior left tackle Danny Watkins. Watkins, a Canada native and All-America candidate, has started every game at that position since arriving at Baylor in 2009. Junior center Philip Blake also started all 12 games last season. K-State’s run defense improved significantly last week against Kansas, but the Wildcats will need a big day from the entire front seven to make plays in the Bears’ backfield.

Linebacker: While Baylor’s defense hasn’t performed particularly well in 2010, the linebacking corps has posted solid numbers. Each of the three starters ranks in the team’s top-five in tackles, including senior Chris Francis, who ranks second on the squad with 47 stops. So far this season, the starters have combined for 126 total tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage.

WEAKNESSES

Running back: As is usually the case with teams that include dual-threat quarterbacks, the Bears don’t have a running back who has posted dominant numbers in 2010. Senior Jay Finley currently leads the team in rushing yards, but he’s averaging just 63.9 per contest and has only crossed the goal line three times. Junior Terrance Ganaway has only netted 216 yards this season, but he’s averaging 6.8 yards per carry. K-State will likely keep its main focus on Griffin, but Finley and Ganaway both have big play capabilities, so they can’t be ignored when in the game.

Defensive line: The Bears have struggled against the run this season, as they rank 72nd nationally in rush defense. Freshman defensive end Tevin Elliott has posted eight tackles for loss and five sacks, but that doesn’t change the fact that Baylor is allowing 156.71 yards per game on the ground. That could mean a big day for K-State’s Daniel Thomas, who got back on track with 91 yards and a score against KU.

Secondary: Baylor’s back line of defense hasn’t fared much better than the front, as the team ranks 79th in pass defense after seven games. Senior safety Byron Landor leads the team with 60 total tackles, but opponents have averages 225.86 yards through the air against the Bears’ defensive backs. Don’t expect a repeat of his performance against the Jayhawks, but Wildcat quarterback Carson Coffman will likely look to throw at the Baylor secondary at least enough to keep the Bears from stacking the box against Thomas and the run game.

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