Football Begins New Era

September 2, 2008

At every stop in his career, Art Briles' teams have been known for their prolific scoring. Baylor fans hope to see that translate into wins in 2008 as Briles begins his first season leading the Bears.

The team returns nine starters on offense from last year's unit that averaged 351.2 yards per game, the team's highest mark since 1995. Baylor entered the fall with four players competing to start at quarterback: senior Kirby Freeman, a transfer from Miami; junior Blake Szymanski, a 10-game starter for the Bears a year ago; true freshman Robert Griffin, a Baylor track all-American from nearby Copperas Cove High School who went through spring ball with the Bears; and junior Jeremy Sanders, a junior college transfer from Navarro College.

All-Big 12 selections Jason Smith and Dan Gary, both seniors, are two of the four returning starters on Baylor's offensive line, which allowed just 21 sacks last year--the program's fewest since 1995. The Bears also return eight of their top nine receivers from a year ago. 

After playing a 4-2-5 defense the past five years, Baylor has switched to a 4-3 look in 2008 with the arrival of new defensive coordinator Brian Norwood from Penn State. The Bears return six starters on defense from a year ago, including 2008 All-America candidates Jordan Lake, a junior safety, and Joe Pawelek, a junior linebacker. All-Big 12 honorees Jason Lamb, a junior defensive end, and Jake La Mar, a senior safety, also are back this fall.

Three of Baylor's four non-conference games have already been picked up for television, including national broadcasts of the season opener August 28 against Wake Forest (FSN, 7 p.m.) and the Bears' game at Connecticut (ESPN2, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.). Live audio broadcasts of all 12 games will again be carried across Texas on the Baylor/ISP Radio Network, including flagship station 1660 AM in Waco, as well as via satellite radio on 

Sirius channel 161 and on the Internet at