Here, we’ll take at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed, and another that needs improvement.
Leading receiver Kendall Wright returns after upping his reception total to 66 from 50 as a freshman. His 740 yards and four touchdowns should see another bump with the return of quarterback Robert Griffin. Wright, a rising junior, caught less than three passes in a game just once last season, and finished with 26 catches in his final four games. He’ll need to remain consistent as defenses target him even more without outside receiver David Gettis, a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, to take some of the pressure off Wright, an inside receiver who is just 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.
But when Wright has been successful, so have the Bears. Last season, he raced for 149 yards on 10 catches and a pair of touchdowns in Baylor’s lone conference win, a 40-32 win over Missouri in Columbia.
More big days for Wright should lead to more big days for the Bears.
Last season, Baylor had one of the Big 12’s most experienced back lines with senior safeties Jeremy Williams and Jordan Lake patrolling the secondary. Their experience leaves, along with their combined 146 tackles. Another senior, JUCO transfer Byron Landor, could step in as a permanent starter and played in 11 games last year, racking up 11 tackles. But the other safety spot could go to a much less experienced player. Mike Hicks, a sophomore, or incoming recruit and Waco native Ahmad Dixon, the nation’s No. 3 safety, are possible replacements.
Either way, Baylor can’t replace Williams and Lake's seasoning and chemistry. The two were a pair of redshirt seniors with years of experience beyond what their replacements will have. Growing pains, at least in the beginning, are almost a guarantee.