Concluding our series checking in with the beat writers who cover Oklahoma State’s Big 12 opponents as we march closer to the start of college football season. I’ll check in again with each of these reporters the week that OSU plays the team they cover.
Texas with ESPN.com HornsNation’s Carter Strickland
Kansas with the Lawrence Journal-World’s Matt Tait
Texas Tech with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Nick Kosmider
TCU with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Stefan Stevenson
West Virginia with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jenn Menendez
Iowa State with the Ames Tribune’s Bobby La Gesse
Kansas State with the Wichita Eagle’s Kellis Robinett
Baylor with the Waco Tribune’s John Werner.
Here’s our exchange:
Gina Mizell: Let’s start with the obvious one. What’s life like without RG3? Does it still feel like his aura is hovering around, just based on what he meant to Baylor?
John Werner: All you have to do is walk into the lobby of the athletic building and see RG3′s Heisman Trophy to know his presence is still there or turn on the TV and see one of his many commercials.
GM: Nick Florence is obviously used to fielding the questions about replacing Robert Griffin III by now. How has he handled that? It sounds like he has great intangibles, but what are his best attributes as a quarterback? How has he grown from his freshman season, when he stepped in for RG3 after the torn ACL?
JW: Nick realizes he’s not going to be the next RG3, but also knows he has plenty of offensive talent surrounding him. He’s very intelligent and has considerable experience, and also earned the admiration of his teammates when he burned his redshirt in the 11th game of last season to lead Baylor to a win over Texas Tech after RG3 suffered a concussion just before halftime.
GM: Two other huge offensive weapons, WR Kendall Wright and RB Terrance Ganaway, are also gone. Give me the scouting report on the guys who could fill those roles this season.
JW: The Bears are still loaded at receiver with Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese returning, and Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum joining the team. Redshirt freshman receiver Jay Lee is an up and coming talent. Senior Jarred Salubi is expected to take the lead role at running back, while Glasco Martin will supply some power and Lache Seastrunk will add breakaway speed.
GM: The Alamo Bowl is still fresh in my mind. So is the Bears’ defensive performance against OSU last season. What’s been done to shore up that side of the ball?
JW: The Bears will have more experience and depth, and they need veterans like defensive end Gary Mason, nickelback Ahmad Dixon and cornerback K.J. Morton to step up. But they’ve got a long way to go to become a good defense.
GM: What are the realistic expectations for Baylor this season?
JW: I can see them winning six to eight games and reaching their third straight bowl, which would be a first in school history.