Baylor Football

Tracking the Enemy: Big 12 running back groups threaten Baylor

May 19, 2017

Continuing Sic ‘Em 365’s look at the conference at large, Sean Cordy breaks down which Big 12 running back groups will be most in Baylor’s way.

9. Texas Tech

If not for DeAndre Washington, trying to name a recent Texas Tech running back would be an almost impossible task for most fans. Without Washington in the backfield last year, the Red Raiders struggled to steadily get past the line with Da’Leon Ward, Justin Stockton, and Demarcus Felton. Not to say they aren’t talented but they’re simply not used enough to provide a tangible threat.

8. Kansas

Coach David Beaty has been surprisingly effective reeling in recruits and transfers alike. He hit a home run with transfer receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez and looks to continue that trend with Octavius Matthews as the team’s power back. Adding some more finesse will be sophomore Khalil Herbert and junior Taylor Martin. Neither accomplished much against Baylor last year but have made some good progress nonetheless.

7. Texas

Oh how the mighty have fallen. If D’Onta Foreman stayed around the 40 Acres another year, the Longhorns would sit at the top of this list. But Foreman running to the NFL is certainly respectable as he’d only be chasing the Heisman this year. But as Tom Herman’s group stands, the talent is near as threatening. There is the former Baylor target Kyle Porter and one of the top backs of the 2015 class in Chris Warren but that’s nowhere near the potential to the 250 yards Foreman ran for last year against the green and gold.

6. Oklahoma

For a more in-depth look, take a look at this spotlight on Rodney Anderson. He’s the key to this backfield missing Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. He’s inexperienced himself as far as on-field action is concerned so Abdul Adams’ limited carries followed by three potential freshmen isn’t easy to promote. But it's a high ceiling in offensive guru Lincoln Riley's system.

5. Iowa State

I’m still a firm believer in Mike Warren, the 1,000-yard rusher in his freshman season two years ago. He fell down the ranks last season getting caught in the shuffle of Matt Campbell’s offense that favored freshman David Montgomery. But do you remember who Campbell played well against? If you answered Baylor, congratulations, you have won a cruise (not really but wouldn’t that be cool if you did?).

4. Kansas State

The Wildcats could be higher on the threat level list if there was one stud but that’s part of the beauty of a Bill Snyder system, it’s all about the group. Justin Salmon and Alex Barnes will be the two feature backs running behind fullback Winston Dimel. You might remember Barnes as the guy that ran all over Baylor in KSU’s route last season (fun fact: He’s exactly one year younger than me), which hardly bodes well for Baylor. It’s been five years since Baylor held KSU to under 100 yards rushing. Hopefully, the new defensive scheme resets that counter.

3. Oklahoma State

Go back to the last week of September when Baylor was still at the top of its competition. Oklahoma State played a sloppy game, hardly able to move the ball through the air per usual. It was the running game that nearly pulled out a win thanks to Justice Hill’s first career 100-yard game while Rennie Childs also punched in two scores. Childs has graduated by Hill still looks every bit the playmaker.

2. TCU

I’ll admit when I see talent no matter the team, and TCU has one of the most versatile weapons around in Kyle Hicks. But he’s not the back that makes me most nervous, that’s Sewo Olonilua (for the record, it’s pronounced Say-woo O-lahn-a-loo-ah. Get used to it.) Hicks has the makings of one of the best all-purpose backs in the same vein as Aaron Green from a few years ago. He had a field day against Baylor last year, punching in five touchdowns. Used right, Olonilua and Hicks could be the most dynamic duo in the league. It also helps that receivers Shaun Nixon and KaVontae Turpin can be used in the backfield.

1. West Virginia

Seeing a top running back leave for the NFL early is typically difficult to overcome with depth but it can build unexpected experience. That’s the case with the Mountaineers as judo transfer Justin Crawford was thrust into a key role in Morgantown after went to the NFL after his junior year. Crawford went surprisingly unnoticed throughout the 2016 offseason but quickly turned heads with five games over 100 yards including a 209-yard and 331-yard performance against Baylor and Oklahoma respectively. He’s only going to be better this year- incredibly scary considering he averaged 7.3 yards per carry in 2016.
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Tracking the Enemy: Big 12 running back groups threaten Baylor

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