Big 12 notes: Baylor coach sees room to improve record-setting offense

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Big 12 players of the week Offense RB Johnathan Gray, Texas: The former Aledo High star set career highs in yards (141), carries (28) and rushing touchdowns (2) in the Longhorns’ 31-21 win over Kansas State. He also had two receptions for 14 yards for a career-high 155 all-purpose yards. Defense S Terrell Burt, Baylor: The sophomore had a career-high seven tackles and returned his first interception 63 yards for a score in the Bears’ 70-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: The senior had five tackles, including two sacks, and two quarterback hurries in the Longhorns’ 31-21 win against Kansas State. Special teams K/P Trevor Pardula, Kansas: The junior set a Kansas record with 57.6-yard average on five punts in the Jayhawks’ 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech. Three of his five punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. His 78-yard punt tied for eighth-longest in KU history and was the longest at the school since 1986. Quotable “He gives a big-play spark. Every time he touches the ball there’s a chance he might score so that’s what he means to us. He gives us an opportunity to win football games.” — Baylor coach Art Briles on running back Lache Seastrunk, who has 417 yards and six touchdowns despite only 38 carries.

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To the untrained eye, Baylor has little room for improvement.

In three games, the 19th-ranked Bears have outscored opponents 209-23, the largest scoring margin for an FBS team in its first three games in the past 10 years.

But Baylor coach Art Briles knows that Big 12 opponents offer a different kind of test than the Bears’ first three opponents — Buffalo, Wofford and Louisiana-Monroe.

“We understand it’s early and we’ll get tested more as we come on down the line,” he said during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference. “We’re not really looking at it and saying ‘wow’ or anything like that. We’re just looking at it like we need to improve here, execute better here, we need to be able to pick up this fourth-and-2. We don’t need this many incompletions. We missed this block.

“We’re looking at it like we’re just getting going. And that’s really the reality of it. I mean we’ve had three football games. We’re just trying to figure out what we’ve got and what we can do.”

Regardless of their opponents, the Bears numbers are staggering.

Quarterback Bryce Petty, following in the shadow of Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, leads the nation with a 239.5 passing efficiency rating. He has eight passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and hasn’t thrown an interception in 67 attempts.

The Bears have already compiled 2,254 yards of total offense. That’s more than half the yardage 28 FBS teams gained the entire 2012 season.

“He’s been OK,” Briles said with ho-hum charm. “And that’s the good part, that he can be better. He had a couple mistakes the other day. We had nine incompletions and we really shouldn’t have that many with the caliber of player we’re playing with — him and our receivers. He is just a three-game starter and he has done well, but the potential to improve is certainly there and he will get better as the season goes along.”

Baylor (3-0) has its second bye week in three weeks before beginning Big 12 play with West Virginia (2-2, 0-1 in Big 12) on Oct. 5 in Waco.

“Yeah, we’d like to keep rolling along but maybe on the flip side we need a little downtime,” he said. “Settle down and get ready for a run in conference so that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”

Mountaineers struggle

So far in 2013, the West Virginia offense has been futile.

In the Mountaineers’ 37-0 loss to Maryland, WVU threw 22 passes and completed just one to a receiver. It’s the fewest passing attempts since coach Dana Holgorsen has been a head coach or called plays at Oklahoma State and Houston.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” Holgorsen said. “The one that can be blamed more than anybody is me, that’s for dang sure. That’s not an acceptable performance.”

Briefly

• Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon (bruised forearm) will be available for the Bears’ next game Oct. 5 against West Virginia, Art Briles said.

• Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer (back) is close to returning to the field, coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

• Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight (knee) was cleared to practice Monday, coach Bob Stoops said.

• Iowa State center Tom Farniok (knee) will play against Tulsa, coach Paul Rhoads said. Farniok was injured in the Cyclones’ opener.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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