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Baylor 2013 season preview

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press
Cyril Richardson provides an anchor for a prolific Baylor offense that can score tons of points.

Overview


Even with that Robert Griffin III guy off capturing the imagination of the nation's capital, Baylor's offense hardly skipped a beat in a testament to head coach Art Briles and his staff. The Bears put up 40 or more points in all but three games last season, scoring 52 in an upset of Big 12 champion Kansas State and 49 in a Holiday Bowl romp over UCLA.

Baylor will continue to be prolific this season with massive guard Cyril Richardson opening holes for electric tailback Lache Seastrunk, both elite talents. But if an unheralded signal-caller like Nick Florence can essentially match RGIII's production, maybe it should be Briles getting a call up to the NFL and not just his players.

(AP Photo/Kevin Terrell)
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G Cyril Richardson: The mammoth Richardson (6-foot-5, 335 pounds) is an exceptional athlete for his size, playing in a demanding tempo. He demolished a UCLA defense anchored by defensive end Datone Jones (a first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Draft) and outside linebacker Anthony Barr as the Bears ran for 306 yards in the Holiday Bowl rout. Also has experience at left tackle. While he might not be on the same level as 2013 first-round picks Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack, Richardson is a special talent.

S Ahmad Dixon: One of the first major defensive signings for Briles, Dixon possesses a fine mix of speed and physicality. He started all 26 games the last two seasons at nickelback, so Dixon offers versatility to handle spread passing offenses. Ball skills might be a concern, as Dixon has only three career interceptions and six pass breakups.

RB Glasco Martin: The thunder to Seastrunk's lightning, Martin is a solid inside runner with good size and a nose for the end zone (15 touchdowns in 2012). Martin is not a factor in the receiving game with only two career catches. With only 228 carries the last three seasons and Seastrunk to share the load, Martin hasn't taken a pounding but is more than capable of delivering one as a sturdy volume runner.

LB Eddie Lackey: An athletic outside linebacker (totaled 110 return yards on four interceptions last season), the junior college transfer became an immediate starter and led the Bears with 10.5 tackles for loss. Lackey is more than capable of putting on a show at the combine (posting a 10-foot-6 broad jump and 4.53-second 40-yard dash in the spring).

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RB Lache Seastrunk: Capable of a highlight-reel play every time he touches the ball, Seastrunk is on the short list of college football's most exciting players. He averaged a whopping 7.7 yards per carry, going from bit player to main back over the final six games (averaged 138.5 yards per game with six touchdowns). Due to a limited involvement in the passing game, Seastrunk might have to refine those skills. He originally signed with Oregon out of high school. Seastrunk's combination of size and speed is just unreal and will have NFL executives salivating.

QB Bryce Petty: Based on Briles' track record, Petty should immediately become one of the most prolific passers in the game. Possesses the frame (6-3, 230) and arm strength of a prototypical pro passer.

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Three must-see games of 2013


Oct. 5 vs. West Virginia: Pinball wizard, part two? The Mountaineers and Bears combined for 133 points and 1,507 yards of total offense (1,237 through the air) in a wild affair that marked the height of Geno Smith's short-lived Heisman candidacy. Running backs Lache Seastrunk, Andrew Buie and Houston transfer Charles Sims should tilt the balance toward the ground game this time, but touchdowns and big plays should still be found in abundance.

Nov. 30 at TCU: Unlike their new Big 12 brethren, TCU actually enjoys playing defense and held the Bears to 106 rushing yards (3.3 yards per carry) and had six takeaways in a 49-21 thrashing. With defensive end Devonte Fields on the prowl, Bryce Petty must be quick in getting the ball out, but not so reckless that corner Jason Verrett can strike.

Dec. 7 vs. Texas: Baylor had taken two in a row from the Longhorns before last year's loss, even as they rolled up 50 points and 607 yards. Seastrunk was effective in limited action, with 56 yards on seven carries, but he is certainly capable of taking over the game, especially if Texas decides to continue its matador-like defensive tendencies.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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