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February 23, 2006

Football is in the air

GIVE SICEMSPORTS.COM A TRY. CLICK HERE to take advantage of SicEmSports.com's 7-Day Free Trial and get all the info you need on Baylor football, basketball, recruiting and more. Spring practice is near, and not only will Baylor take the field but also 2007 prospects will be making there way to Waco to check out the action. Join SicEmSports.com today!

It's been said there are only two seasons in Texas - football and spring football.

Well season two is almost here. On March 6, just 10 days away, the Bears will take to the practice field.

It's been a long time coming, and Baylor fans started the countdown as soon as the clock hit 00 versus Oklahoma St, with the Bears 44-34 win giving a reason to anticipate the offseason.

Baylor proved a lot in 2005, winning at SMU, Army, and Iowa St. to go along with the season finale over OSU. Of course it also came within inches of upsets at Texas A&M and Oklahoma, as well as showing Texas Tech, Missouri, and Nebraska that they were not to be taken lightly.

If you asked Baylor players they would say they have more in store for 2006, and you don't even have to ask Guy Morriss about his expectations, his actions spoke louder than any words.

Following the season, the Bears saw the departure of quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Brent Peace and associate head coach and running backs coach Gerald Carr.

The Bears then went out and brought in offensive coordinator Lee Hays and quarterbacks coach Wes Phillips who bring with them a style Hal Mumme, Mike Leach.

Then the Bears saw linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Mark Nelson leave for Tulsa. The Bears didn't let the position sit for long bringing on National High School Coach of the Year and former Baylor linebacker Gary Joe Kinne.

The coaching changes coupled with graduation have had a ripple effect leading to a number of questions as the Bears enter spring practice.


Quarterback Controversy?

Of course discussion of spring ball starts with the quarterback spot.

The Bears have three scholarship quarterbacks ready this spring, and Shawn Bell, who started 9 of Baylor's 11 games in 2005, returns as the frontrunner. However, if history has taught us anything it's that it wouldn't be spring football without a quarterback controversy. That holds true especially when you have a new quarterback coach and a new coordinator.

The question of the spring is can Bell finally separate himself from Terrance Parks once and for all, or will redshirt freshman Blake Szymanski make a run and cause a whole new argument for Baylor fans.


Position changes and more

On signing day coach Morriss made it public knowledge that sophomore tight end Jason Smith and sophomore defensive tackle Dan Gay were slotted for moves to the offensive line. Smith is expected to vie for time at tackle while Gay is looking at time on the interior, but will these be the end of the moves?

Word is circulating that utility man Carl Sims who saw action at receiver, quarterback, and on the wing could also see time at running back in 2006. It looks as though those rumors may be just that, rumors. However, don't be surpristed if you see Sims as a frontrunner for the punt and kick return positions.

Queito Teasley is another one to watch. He was used at several positions, and with the new offense and openings in the return game he too could see action at several spots.

Along the defensive front there are thoughts that a few defensive line prospects could be used at both tackle and end, and in the defensive backfield there are a number guys that could be used at multiple position.


Taking over for the departed

The Bears saw quite a bit of experience leave after the 2005 season, with the defensive backfield losing the services of two of the Big 12s best.

Who will step in for safety and return specialist Willie Andrews and free safety Maurice Lane?

There are a number of options with Dwain Crawford, Jordan Lake, Marlon Price and Jake LaMar coming back to name a few. Also look for junior college addition Brandon Stiggers to make a strong run.

At linebacker both Colin Allred and Jamaal Harper stepped up as seniors in 2005, and now the Bears are hoping for a follow up performance from Nick Moore and Paul Tolbert. Although expect underclassmen Ben Hixson and Marcus Mead to put up a fight, as well as a pair of redshirt freshmen, Antonio Jones and Joe Pawelek, who showed well on the practice squad in 2005.


The new guys

The Bears were able to grab a solid class of early signees with linebacker Tolbert, safety Brandon Stiggers, and defensive tackle Connor Redfearn joining the Bears from the junior college ranks.

Each of the junior college players are expected to mix it up this spring, and will be joined by the defensive end Jameon Hardeman, a non-qualifier from the 2005 class, who also is ready to go this spring.

These aren't the only things to look forward to, and Spring Ball won't provide answers to everything. However, there will be a lot of action and SicEmSports.com will be providing intensive coverage, starting with position breakdowns leading up to the first whistle as well as practice reports, photo galleries, and updates from March 6 until the final horn of the Green and Gold game April 8.

GIVE SICEMSPORTS.COM A TRY. CLICK HERE to take advantage of SicEmSports.com's 7-Day Free Trial and get all the info you need on Baylor football, basketball, recruiting and more. Spring practice is near, and not only will Baylor take the field but also 2007 prospects will be making there way to Waco to check out the action. Join SicEmSports.com today!


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