Baylor head coach Art Briles has every reason to be excited about his team’s offensive capability coming into the 2014 season, which for the Bears begins Sunday at home against former Southwest Conference foe SMU.
Who wouldn’t be excited, knowing that you have an All-American candidate returning at the key quarterback position in senior Bryce Petty. And Petty is just one of the big offensive weapons returning for the highest-scoring team in college football last fall.
To a large degree, Baylor’s hope of defending their first Big 12 title in football and making a run at a national championship again this season will depend on how effective the Bears’ can be playing defense. Anchored by big Shawn Oakman, a 6-9, 280-pound defensive end, the Bears should be pretty solid on the front line, but with only four starters back on defense from last season, there is always going to be the question, leading up to the first game of the new season, of how good can these guys be in slowing and stopping opposing offenses.
Briles had some things to say about that subject, albeit somewhat ambiguous, at his weekly press conference on Monday:
“Once again, time will tell. We think we feel really good on what is going to be out there. We know we feel good about what is going to be out there, what they (the defense) are going to do. It is just like Bryce (Petty). Last year we were sitting in here thinking the same thing: What is Bryce going to do? There is one thing, two or three things, that money can’t buy, and one of those things is experience. You can have all the money in the world, but if you have not done anything it doesn’t matter. You can’t buy it. You have to live it, taste it and feel it. That is what these guys are going to have to do defensively.
“Once these guys get out there and make a play, and gain some confidence and feel the crowd and feel the energy. All of a sudden you elevate up. Once you get talent excited, you have a chance to be pretty dynamic.”
We’ll get a pretty good idea on Sunday of what the Baylor head coach is talking about and how good his defense might be this season.