Baylor lost a key piece of its offense with Monday's announcement that running back Lache Seastrunk has decided to enter this May's 2014 NFL draft.
It's hard to blame the guy, however, as he put together an solid junior season rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 7.4 yards per carry. All that while missing two games with a groin injury.
Seastrunk finished what turned out to be his final game as a Bear with 117 yard performance in Baylor's loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.
"Playing in the NFL has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I'm fully prepared to take the next step toward realizing that goal," Seastrunk said in a prepared statement. "I'm excited for the opportunity to compete in the NFL draft process. I look forward to giving teams every ounce of energy I've got and proving to them that I'm a good person, a relentless competitor, and a great player, too."
Seatrunk's loss means Baylor will be losing their top two running backs this season as Glasco Martin has already played out his eligibility.
Even so, it's not like the Bears' cupboard will be bare entering next season. Both of the Bears' redshirt freshmen backs, Devin Chafin and Shock Linwood, have already proven their more than capable of picking up the slack.
Linwood put together four 100 yard games this season, two coming against Oklahoma and Texas Tech when Seastrunk went to the sideline. Chefin didn't get as many opportunities, but he also rushed for 100 yards against the Red Raiders.
The duo will be joined by redshirt freshman Johnny Jefferson and incoming freshman Terence Williams giving Baylor no shortage of options to fill Seastrunk's shoes.
As for Seastrunk, he's projected to go in somewhere in the first three rounds of the draft, but it's hard to imagine him falling far. There simply aren't many backs available that possess the same kind of explosiveness and big play ability that he's bring to the table.
It appears as if the Texas Longhorns search for a head coach has come to an end.
After a 24 hours that saw reports of Louisville head coach Charlie Strong accepting the job only to find out it wasn't a done deal just yet, Texas is expected to finally announce Strong as their replacement for Mack Brown on Sunday.
Charlie Strong will be the next head coach at Texas. He informed Louisville AD tonight, source tells @McMurphyESPN.— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 5, 2014
Y Sports source: Charlie Strong has informed Louisville he is leaving for Texas. Announcement expected Sunday.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) January 5, 2014
That ends weeks of speculation about who was or wasn't going to be packing their bags for Austin following Brown's announcement that he was stepping down after 16 seasons at the helm.
There will be plenty more to come on Strong's hiring over the next couple days, but it appears Texas has made themselves a solid hire. Strong was 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville taking the Cardinals to bowl games every year including a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida last season.
Bob Stoops has taken plenty of flack over the course of the season for his preseason comments regarding the SEC and fans being fed propaganda.
There are plenty of people today claiming Stoops backed up those comments in the Sugar Bowl and on some level, I guess they're correct. Coming at it from a different angle, however, I'm not sure exactly what Stoops and his Sooner squad backed up.
Oklahoma beat Alabama who has obviously dominated college football winning three of the last four national titles. Unless I missed something, Oklahoma didn't beat the entire SEC or some kind of SEC All-Star team. Of course, I think that was Stoops point the entire time.
Friday morning, Stoops went on the Colin Cowherd show and tried to put the matter to rest.
“When I made the comment, the bottom half of the SEC was like zero-and-36 against the top half of the SEC. You realize that? A year ago…nobody talks about that. My point was, don’t say SEC like they’re all doing that (beating everyone). One or two or three top teams…sure, you give them the credit. Alabama…I’ve got the utmost respect for them. Are you kidding me? How could you not? But in the end, don’t talk about the entire conference that way. It’s just not true.
“Hey, I’ve got total respect for Alabama, but you can’t deny what we did last night. Obviously, we can play with anybody, whether it’s the SEC or anyone else. And to say we can’t…well, Alabama’s been rolling the SEC for the last three years and we didn’t seem to be overwhelmed last night. I’m done with that talk.”
All Oklahoma did in New Orleans was beat the team who had been the best in the SEC over the past several seasons. What does that say about the rest of the SEC? I'm not sure other than to say Oklahoma could probably beat every other team in the league, as well, on a given night. Seems logical enough, no?
Does that mean the SEC still isn't the most dominant conference? No, of course not. The fact is a team from the SEC has still won the last seven national titles with an eighth in a row possibly coming on Monday night.
What's a much better gauge of conference superiority comes his comments that followed. What better way to compare two leagues than to take a couple teams from one and throw them into another and see how they fare?
“What about Texas A&M and Missouri?” Stoops said. “They’ve been in the Big 12 for 100 years…they don’t seem to be overwhelmed in that league. And they haven't been ruling the Big 12 the entire that they were here, right?”
Exactly. Texas A&M won one Big 12 title in 1998. Missouri never won the league although they played for the title twice in 2007 and 2008 each time getting waxed by Oklahoma.
So is the SEC still the most dominant conference? Sure, probably. But whatever side you're on, the debate will continue on with no firm answer in site. Let's just quit asking Stoops about it for a while. He proved Thursday night Oklahoma is every bit as good as Alabama and when it comes down to it, what else really matters?
The SEC is still a great conference. So is the Big 12. And nobody was laughing at the PAC-12 this year, either. The B1G might have two of the top three ranked teams in the final poll when it's all said and done. And the ACC might just have this year's national champion.
You can carve the argument any way you like, but this year more than most, coming to any type of conclusive answer is, well, nothing more than a bunch of propaganda (see what I did there) coming from whichever team in whatever conference is trying to make the point.
The search for new coach at Texas rages on with plenty of rumors floating around the internet about who will be the new head man in Austin.
Will it be Charlie Strong? He's apparently interviewed. James Franklin, maybe? The Longhorns also apparently have their eyes on UCLA coach Jim Mora as there have been reports the two sides have spoken.
Baylor coach Art Briles has also been long believed to be a top choice of athletic director Steve Patterson, as well. Briles has held firm to the stance that he's happy at Baylor but reports surfaced earlier in the week that he would take the Texas job if offered.
Who knows what to believe although Briles tweet on Thursday morning is likely very good news for the folks in Waco.
Contrary to reports and rumors I am a Baylor Bear - 2013 Big 12 Champs— Coach Art Briles (@CoachArtBriles) January 3, 2014
Does this mean he's not going to Texas? Not necessarily, but I'm falling in agreement with Mr. Trotter's stance on this. Why tweet it if he's not staying. Better to say nothing if he's giving it any consideration whatsoever.
I don't know why Art Briles would send out that tweet, unless he fully intended to remain at Baylor. Very interesting.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 3, 2014
It stands to reason, however, that until Texas officially hires somebody, anything is possible. That being said, Baylor fans have to be breathing a sigh of relief this morning.
And if Briles tweet wasn't enough for you, Baylor has also just released a statement confirming his commitment to the Bears.
"I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions," Briles said. "As I've said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here. I look forward to leading the Bears onto the field next fall at McLane Stadium and defending our Big 12 championship that our players and coaches worked so hard to win this season.
"There is tremendous excitement for our program's future, and I look forward to many more great seasons at Baylor," he added. "There is tremendous commitment from our University leadership, athletic administration, coaches and student-athletes - it truly is a great time to be a Baylor Bear."
I think it's time we can put the Briles to Texas rumors to bed.
Coming into Thursday night's Sugar Bowl, most of the quarterback talk centered around Alabama's AJ McCarron and for good reason. On the other sideline, nobody knew for sure who would even get the start for Oklahoma.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight was injured in the Sooners final game of the season and Blake Bell - who Knight replaced after he was injured against Iowa State - came in and played a phenomenal second half leading the Sooners to the win.
It was Knight, however, who got the start and by the end of game, his performance was all anybody could talk about.
Congratulations to Fr QB Trevor Knight. 348 yds passing w/ 4 TDs!! What a talented young man. Also Sooners Defense creates 5 TOs & 7 sacks— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) January 3, 2014
Back in the preseason, Oklahoma folk were really, really high on Trevor Knight. Said he had “it.” … Guesss we saw what they saw “it” tonight— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) January 3, 2014
Trevor Knight set a Sugar Bowl record w/32 pass completions against Alabama. #Sooners didn't have more than 27 in any regular-season game.— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) January 3, 2014
Trevor Knight. Wow. A #9 playing lights out in the Superdome, Brees style. Bodes well for OU in '14 if he can build on this.— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) January 3, 2014
Knight finished his freshman season with a performance that people will be talking about for a long, long time. Not only because of his stats - 32 of 44 for 348 yards and four touchdowns - but because of who it came against.
Nobody outside of Johnny Manziel has sliced and diced the Crimson Tide defense the way Knight did on Thursday night. There were crucial third down throws and touchdown passes dropped perfectly over receivers' shoulders. Nearly every time OU was in need of a big play, Knight was there to make it. And this from a guy who had essentially started and completed three games the entire season, heck in his entire career.
"Trevor Knight, of course, was exceptional," Bob Stoops said during his post game press conference. "I think he showed the whole country what we've been watching for two years in our practices and our scrimmages and things like that. The game has started to slow down for him where he's really starting to feel comfortable in what he can do. He's got a very live arm with great legs."
Alabama had undoubtedly watched Knight on film with a month to prepare, the problem for Nick Saban's crew came in the fact they hadn't seen this Trevor Knight. Nobody had, well, except for the OU coaching staff as Stoops alluded to in his previous comments.
His best game of the season to this point had been his performance at Kansas State in OU's 10 point victory when the completed 14 of 20 passes for 171 yards while also gaining 82 yards on the ground. That was good but Thursday night's performance will be hard to top anytime soon.
The victory over Alabama will no doubt to wonders for the Sooners confidence heading into next season. It'll also likely make them the early favorites in the Big 12 and could very well land them a top five preseason rating not only because Knight showed what he's capable of, but because nine of the starters you saw on defense will return, as well.
"The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you feel," Knight said in the aftermath. "The more completions you get, the more comfortable you feel. And it's all about just getting in that rhythm hitting a few shots early, set the rhythm, set the tone for the game. The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you are."
Alabama found out the hard way the truth in that statement. And if the rest of the Big 12 sees the Knight we all saw in the Sugar Bowl after another offseason of work, well, we might want to go ahead and reserve OU's spot in next season's four team playoff.
Sugar Bowl highlights: Oklahoma 45 Alabama 31
There were times this season when it appeared all Baylor had to do was step on the field and they would score 50 points and then play the second and third stringers for most of the second half. The victories were just that easy.
Then the loss to Oklahoma State happened and people were left scratching their head given the ease in which the Cowboys took care of business. Baylor responded with two wins to close the season earning a Big 12 championship thanks to Oklahoma's victory over Oklahoma State during the season's final week.
Even though questions about Baylor's dominance came to the forefront after the Oklahoma State game, few thought they'd have any trouble dispatching Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. The odds makers had installed the Bears as 17 point favorites but UCF quickly proved Wednesday night their victories at Penn State and Louisville and a close loss to South Carolina were no flukes.
The Knights jumped out to a 14-0 lead after their first two possession needing only 11 plays to do so and never looked back despite Baylor's potent offense. The Bears managed to tie the game at 28 in the third quarter but UCF answered each and every time Baylor threatened.
Baylor's defense simply had no answer for Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, or really any member of UCF's offense. The Knights ran (255 yards rushing), they threw (301 yards passing), and basically did whatever they wanted against a Baylor defense that had shown major improvements throughout the season.
With as much success as Baylor had this season, Wednesday night's loss in the Fiesta Bowl proved there is still plenty left to accomplish if they want to be considered among the nation's elite.
And it starts with the guys in the trenches. As good as Baylor's offensive line was this season, the group appeared to take a significant step back following the season ending injury to left tackle Spencer Drango prior to the Oklahoma State game.
You can view Drango's loss however you like, but depth up front still appears to be an issue. Baylor's offensive line had trouble with the UCF pass rush and were plagued by false start penalties Wednesday night and quite frankly, the group wasn't the same over the last quarter of the season.
The same can be said for the receiver position. Make no mistake, there is still plenty of talent there, but Baylor's offense struggled after Tevin Reese went down with his wrist injury. The loss of Reese's speed on the outside meant Baylor's ability to stretch the field took a hit and made defending their other weapons just a bit less complicated.
Reese returned for the Fiesta Bowl and finished with five catches but considering the Bears then lost Antwan Goodley to an ankle injury in the second quarter, Baylor was still without one of their biggest offensive threats. "Tevin provided a spark for us. I'm disappointed we couldn't get the ball down the field to him and let him exploit his greatest strength which is his speed," Art Briles said following the game.
On the other side of the ball, Baylor's defensive line was pushed around by the Knights. Their performance validated that the improvements made this season on defense are still a work a work in progress.
Not that it should be all doom and gloom, however. The good news is there is plenty of youth among the group especially on the interior meaning they'll likely improve with another year of experience.
But if an offense scores 42 points, a team should win most if not all of those games. It still wasn't enough against UCF.
"We didn't execute tonight," linebacker Eddie Lackey said. "When you don't execute and you get to the point of attack, you don't get things done, you can't play good defense. I think that's what really what happened with us tonight is we weren't strong at the point of attack."
Baylor will have big shoes to fill next season especially among the secondary, but Wednesday night's performance notwithstanding, the defense still has plenty to build on considering where they were coming from just a season ago.
And let's reconsider for a moment what we're talking about; Baylor being thought of among the nation's elite. It was just a few short seasons ago, Baylor was fighting tooth and nail just to make a bowl game.
Not that going bowling should ever be taking for granted, but Briles has officially raised the bar in Waco. With the increased success comes increased expectations and that's exactly where Baylor finds itself at the moment.
Is an 11-2 record and a Big 12 title just a flash in the pan? We will find out next season but that is the new challenge going forward. The Fiesta Bowl only proved there is still a ways to go.
"I'm extremely proud of our football team. What they did this year was a first in Baylor history. The seniors have done a tremendous jog of setting the standard high," Briles said. "And it's my job and it's our job for those that are going to be there to continue to try to attain and surpass it. That's our motivation right now. We've got to do a better job with the people we have on campus, the people we have coming in, to reaching that height and surpassing it."
Getting to a Big 12 title hasn't been an easy road. The Bears were 15-20 during Briles first three seasons on campus. Now, they've won at least 10 games in two of the past three seasons.
No, getting there wasn't easy but staying there while trying to raise the bar one more notch isn't going to prove to be any easier. Central Florida made that abundantly clear.
The Discover Orange Bowl is set for Friday night. Twelfth ranked Clemson will take on seventh ranked Ohio State in what is one of the better matchups of the entire bowl season.
Before the action happens on the field Friday night in Miami, Discover is allowing fans to show their support via their social media program called Cheer on your Champs.
All you have to do is visit Discover's social media dashboard and use the #Discoverorangebowl hashtag on twitter along with who you think is going to win, #Clemson or #Ohio State.
By doing so, you not only show support for your team but also have the chance to have your fan photos shown and the Jumbotron at Sun Life Stadium during the game. When you visit the Discover dashboard, just follow the link to upload your photos.
On top of that, fan tweets will be featured on the ESPN pregame broadcast as well on the Discover.com/OrangeBowl site, as well.
I'll go ahead and cast my vote for Ohio State. You can bet the Buckeyes will be looking to prove their loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game was nothing more than a fluke. The sting of not playing on the national title game has to hurt and what better way to prove their point than by knocking off Clemson who had one heck of a season of their own.
On top of that, you won't find a better quarterback matchup all bowl season than the one in the Orange Bowl between Tajh Boyd and Braxton Miller. Boyd has thrown for 3,473 yards on the season with 29 touchdowns.
Miller, on the other hand, has been doing his damage with his legs having rushed for at least 140 yards in each of the past four games.
So what are you waiting for? Who's it going to be, Clemson or Ohio State?
Head on over to the Discover Cheer on your Champs site and let your voice be heard.
Disclaimer: I am a paid brand Blogger for Discover Products Inc. My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Discover Products Inc. and its affiliates.
Following another solid performance against Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro announced he will forego his senior season and head for the NFL draft.
“I feel like it was the best decision for me personally. It took a long time and if it was about money or anything else, I wouldn’t have been debating it for so long," Amaro said. "It was a really hard decision for me because I love all these guys. They mean the world to me, and of course I want to come back. At the same time it’s just too much of an opportunity to pass up.
The announcement shouldn't come as a huge surprise. He was not only the best tight end in the Big 12 but likely the entire country. And considering he'll likely be a first round draft pick, it's not hard to see why he made the decision.
In the victory over Arizona State, Amaro finished with eight receptions for 112 yards. He also broke the receiving yardage records for a tight end in the game finishing the season with 1,352 yards on 106 receptions.
It was the tenth game of the season in which he had eight catches or more.
Whoever drafts him is going to be getting a big target that can run and change a game from the tight end position. It's hard to imagine what Tech's offense would have been this season had he not been of the field.
“I feel like I did a good job this year and I know what I can do next year,” Amaro said. “I can improve on a lot of things. For my sake, it’s my time to go. Thank you for everything Texas Tech’s done for me and my family.
Entering Monday's night Alamo Bowl, if you had known Texas would hold Oregon to just one offensive touchdown not only would you have been surprised, but you would have thought the Longhorns would have a better-than-average chance of pulling the upset over the 10th ranked Ducks.
As it turns out, that wasn't the case and really it wasn't even close despite Texas' defense holding up its end of the bargain against one of the best offenses in the country.
That's because the Texas offense fell flat despite a strong showing from Malcolm Brown who finished with 130 yards on the night 113 of which came before halftime.
Not helping matters was the fact that the UT offense became Oregon's best scoring threat as Case McCoy threw two interceptions both of which were returned for touchdowns including one on the opening drive of the game that set the tone for the rest of the night.
In the end, it was the fifth defeat on the season for the Longhorns and sent Mack Brown out with back-to-back defeats after putting together an impressive run through the middle part of the season as Texas fought their way back into the Big 12 race. Texas failed to reach nine wins for only the third time in Brown's 16 seasons at Texas but unfortunately all three have come in the last four years and well, you know the rest.
''I think it's best for Texas. It's best for me, it's best for the players,'' Brown said. ''We need to win more than eight games. Last year was nine. I really thought we had a chance to win all the games this year. It didn't work. It's my job to make that work. I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn't win enough games this year.''
For the game, the Longhorns completed just nine of 23 passes for 56 yards although McCoy and Tyrone Swoopes weren't helped by UT's receivers who had at least four drops that kept Texas from building any kind of momentum. All told, it was more of the same for Texas, however, as shaky quarterback play once again was the story as it has been for much of the past four seasons since Colt McCoy led Texas to 13 wins in 2009.
"They obviously knew we wanted to run the ball and protect our quarterback a little bit so we came out in the second half with a little bit more quick game, throwing the ball little more on first down just because they were loading the block so much," offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said afterwards.
Protecting the quarterback? Unfortunately that's been the case far too often of late and one of the main reasons Texas is looking for a new coach. And that's not to throw any of Texas' quarterbacks the past four years under the bus, but rather to make note of the misses in recruiting Texas has had over that time.
Just take a look around the league and it's not hard to see what we're talking about. Baylor has thrived at the position. The same goes for Oklahoma State as well as former Big 12 mate Texas A&M. Texas Tech won eight games this year and finished second in the league in total offense playing two true freshmen quarterbacks for the bulk of the season. Oklahoma parlayed Blake Bell and Trevor Knight into a BCS bowl bid following Landry Jones graduation. The list goes on.
All the focus now turns to who will be the next head coach in Austin. We should have the answer to that question in the next two weeks as Steve Patterson has said he'd like to have someone in place by January 15th. Whoever it is, it'll be strange to not see Brown walking the sidelines.
"It's been a wonderful 16 years. It's been a great ride," Brown said.
That is has been even if Brown fell victim to his own lofty standards set during a nine year stretch when Texas won at least 10 games every season including a national title. But in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, Brown's tenure has come to close and we now wait to see who UT's brass chooses to fill his shoes.
Alamo Bowl Highlights
It's often said that winning a bowl game can be a catapult for positive momentum heading into the following season. If that is indeed the case, then Kansas State has plenty to look forward to following a dominating 31-14 victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Kansas State led from the start putting together two impressive scoring drives to open the game while the defense rose to the occasion in the red zone holding the Wolverines to two field goals after two impressive drives of their own. From there, Kansas State never looked back.
Jake Waters was on target all night completing 21 of 28 throws including three touchdown tosses to Tyler Lockett who was on the receiving end of 10 of Waters' completions.
On the other side of the ball, K-State's run defense never allowed Michigan's running backs a chance to breathe. Take out a late 40 yard run by Wolverine quarterback Shane Morris and the K-State defense held Michigan to just 25 yards rushing on the night.
Take a look at the totals for Michigan's three running backs and you get the story on why the UM offense finished with just 261 yards. De'Veon Smith, 4 carries for 8 yards. Derrick Green, 1 carry for 5 yards. Fitz Toussaint, 2 carries for 3 yards.
Morris was making his first career start for the Wolverines and by and large, had a solid showing completing 24 of 38 passes for 196 yards. But as it turned out, he was the least of Michigan's worries.
That's because the Michigan's defense could do nothing to slow down the KSU offense. The Wildcats only had four first half possession and scored touchdowns on the first three. The fourth possession only ended because the clock ran out for halftime.
The Wildcats punted only once the entire night.
Michigan on the other hand, punted on five straight possessions following the opening two drives that resulted in field goals. After running 24 plays on those opening two drives, the Wolverines ran only 31 plays the rest of the game.
All told, it was the dominating performance KSU was looking for following five straight bowl defeats. Bill Snyder even had to spend time in the fourth quarter trying to dodge a Gatorade bath.
The season may be over but who knows, Ryan Mueller may be running stadium stairs when they get back to Manhattan.
Bill Snyder on Ryan Mueller: "He's going to get his. And it won't be a water bucket."— D. Scott Fritchen (@DScottFritchen) December 29, 2013
Kansas State ends the season with an 8-5 record which is an impressive turnaround considering at the season's halfway point they stood just 2-4. They also gave the Big 12 a nice start out of the gate in the conference's first bowl game although the road will get tougher on Monday with Texas Tech and Texas set to face Arizona State and Oregon, respectively, on Monday.
Nebraska 2014 Schedule
|9/13/14||@ Fresno State||9:30|
|10/4/14||@ Michigan State||7:00|
|11/28/14 (Fri.)||@ Iowa||TBA|