Bear’s offensive line often is overlooked

Players anticipate the snap of the ball during the game between Baylor and Lamar on Sept. 12 at McLane Stadium. The Bears won 66-31. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

One of the biggest reasons for the No. 3 Bears’ success this season has been the five returning starters on the offensive line, head coach Art Briles said. The Baylor offensive line’s dominance was on full display against Texas Tech on Saturday.

Briles cited experience as a key ingredient in the team’s ability to play dominant football in the trenches.

The Baylor Bears are ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards per game (376.8) after four games in the 2015 season. Contrary to many beliefs about the Bears’ offensive style, it was the ground-and-pound game plan that helped Baylor win the matchup against Texas Tech.

“It’s safe to say that it’s the most experienced offensive line that we’ve been around,” Briles said. “What makes them so good is that right there – experience. Like I’ve always said, you can have all the money in the world but you can’t buy experience. You have to live, taste and breathe it.”

Baylor’s offensive line is one of the most experienced in the country, with a combined 126 starts in their careers.

“These guys have all played a lot of football, a lot of good football. They’ve helped us win a bunch of big games, and they still have a lot of hunger and desire,” Briles said.

The overpowering physicality from the offensive line is one of the most important aspects of running the football and controlling the game, Briles said

Junior quarterback Seth Russell said it is no coincidence that the Bears are one of the most powerful and well-balanced teams in the nation.

“They’re old guys,” Russell said. “They all started last year. They have a lot of experience, and that’s something that you want, as an offense, for the offensive line. I think that’s something that we have to have – a dynamic force on the offensive side.”

Senior left tackle Spencer Drango said it’s nice to finally be getting some national recognition for being an imposing unit up front.

“We like it,” Drango said. “It makes us feel good up front that we’re doing a good job. We don’t get a lot of love sometimes… but we don’t need love. It goes without saying that if we run for 400 yards, we’re doing a good job.”

The extra year with the same core group of guys has created chemistry and allowed for the offensive line to open up more holes for the running backs, Drango said.

The Cedar Park native added that the offensive line knows the benefits of intimidating and overwhelming opponents through physical play.

“When you can impose your will, regardless of anything that’s happening,” Drango said. “If you’re getting four, five, seven yards per carry, that hurts the other team and it’s disheartening for them.”

Baylor’s offensive linehelped the Bears run for 368 yards against Texas Tech last week. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior is certain the other Big 12 teams in the conference are aware of Baylor’s dominating O-line.

Baylor’s next opponent will be Kansas, who has yet to win a game. Although the Jayhawks have struggled through the first part of 2015, Drango said the team cannot overlook the squad from Lawrence.

“In 2011, they hadn’t had a very good season and we had to go into overtime to beat them,” Drango said. “You can’t go to sleep on Kansas because they’ll play up and beat you. They usually have that one game a year where they beat somebody or it’s close. We don’t want that to be us, so we have to stay focused.”