We hosted our first ever slack chat last Friday with a handful of ODB contributors. If you are unfamiliar with the format, essentially we throw questions out there and .. chat. It's as simple as that.
Our hopes are that you will continue the conversation in the comments, as chances are: we won't be able to cover everything in an hour long chat. So check it out below and let us know your thoughts!
Please also note for context purposes that this conversation took place last Friday, May 13th.
tedvid (Ted Harrison, Editor/Resident Music Extraordinaire): Welcome to the first ODB slack chat folks. Hope you're having a good one out there. Without getting too verbose, we are hoping to make this a regular feature so as always, please let us know your thoughts in the comments. I thought we'd start off the chat with a question that seems to be top of mind for the football fans out there - What are your thoughts about the offensive and defensive lines now that we are in the dead of the off-season? Will the turnover hold the team back, or is there enough raw talent at each position to overcome the lack of experience?
dfank_bu (: For as much as people like to bag on our non-conference schedule, I think it's a good thing for us this year that we'll have basically 3 games to work in the new lines on both sides of the ball. The talent is there, but the cohesion needed can only be created with repetitions.
pocketchange (Michael Nichols, Contributor/Basketball Maven): The schedule will certainly give some space for experimenting and cohesion, but I think the offensive line will benefit much more than the defensive line. Coordinating against inferior talent seems better for offense than defense, right?
matthewtennant (: Absolutely. I'd much rather play South McWest Directional School than Alabama in the first real game. At least the Big 12 doesn't play those games in November...
matthewtennant: I think the offensive line will be fine; it always has been under Briles. I'm curious how the defensive line will turn out though. Will Bennett switch to the 3-4? Will it work? That's probably my biggest concern going in to the season.
pocketchange: The defensive line is more concerning to me, as well. It's harder to get a handle on how it will function in tandem with the defensive backs, who, while more athletic and talented than in the past, lack experience overall. If the defensive line can't provide pressure against the pass, there will be plenty of trouble. Plus Andrew Billings is no longer around to chase down running backs from behind or stuff them in the middle.
dfank_bu: I think I like the move to the 3-4 this year because it fits our personnel and also allows us to get more speed on the field. In the Big 12, there's a lot more teams that would rather try to run around you instead of right through you.
matthewtennant: As a noted hockey fan, I am intrigued by line changes, er, platooning being used in a football setting.
dfank_bu: I'll be interested to see if Bennett is more aggressive blitzing out of the 3-4. We had too many times last year where we counted on our base defense to get in the backfield and often the QB had a lot of time to dissect us downfield. We have the speed at LB to make it work and to confuse a QB with different blitz packages. Just interested to see if that's what Bennett is thinking as well.
pbpope (Peter Pope,: I went into the offseason definitely more concerned with the depletion of the defensive line, for obvious reasons. But as spring ball happened and Mark gave us his report from the spring game, I think my concern about the offensive line overtook the concerns about the d-line, given what folks were saying about how well the defense played. The reports about platooning are interesting, though I'm guessing that will shake itself out during the non-conference schedule.
kkaut (Kendall Kaut, Managing Editor): The turnover on both lines is the most worrisome. Five of the first 6 games shouldn't be close, but Oklahoma State on September 24th is one tough September game.
pocketchange: Maybe this is a bit too specific, but the ODB commentariat loves Brian Nance talk, so I'll ask: is he really suited to play defensive end, or might he be better used as the OLB who puts his hand in the dirt?
matthewtennant: I'm not sure how fast he is, but I could see him at OLB. He could be an option player who plays LB on passing down for a 3-4 and plays down for runs in a 4-3. I have no idea if that would work, but it's an option.
tedvid: So to get a sense of where everyone is at, on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being most worried)where would you put your worries for the offensive line and the defensive line, respectively?
matthewtennant: 4/8, respectively.
mattisbear (mattisbear, mattisbear): Rank my worry? A 4. I trust this coaching staff too much to develop the less experienced guys. Plus, these guys aren't COMPLETELY raw.
pocketchange: would rate my offensive line concern at a 5 (replacing Spencer Drango is obviously the biggest concern) and my defensive line concern at a 7.
pbpope: I really don't know why I'm less worried about the D-Line than the offensive line. Someone talk some sense into me.
dfank_bu: The thing that gives me hope with the O-line is that a lot of those guys got some experience in the last couple games of last season when we were just pile driving people up front. Obviously a few plays at a time is not a starting role, but like I said earlier, the talent is certainly there.
kkaut: This largely depends on what the expectations are for this team. Phil Steele has the team ranked in the top 10, and I expect the Bears will come in 2nd or 3rd in the preseason Big 12 rankings. Given that spot, making the playoff is a realistic expectation. I would say an 8 because it seems tough to finish 11-1 or 12-0 with so much turnover up front.
tedvid: All of this offensive line talk lends itself to a combination of the first reader question, and something we wanted to discuss collectively. David Hornbeak asks on twitter:
@tedvid What are the odds we see a formation to get multiple RBs on the field along side a QB? Make use of the logjam at RB?— David Hornbeak (@davidhornbeak) May 13, 2016
tedvid: Speaking of this, another big question in general, how much are we going to see the wildbear offense this year?
matthewtennant: Multiple RBs where one is blocking: very probable. Where both are run options: not so sure. 1:24 I think we see Wild Bear in games where the standard running game isn't working or in situations were previously a WR would play RB to prevent the defense from substituting.
pbpope: I'm not sure I agree that it's very probable that we'll see multi-RB sets. We generally line up the TE in the backfield if we're going with a lead blocker.
pocketchange: Some light triple-option seems possible. Get Shock Linwood out there with Terence Williams and Seth Russell? Good luck stopping that.
kkaut: The wildbear (embrace the name!) seems like a strong option if the run game can't get going so well like it did in the Oklahoma game. My guess is that we won't have Seth Russell on the sidelines too much.
matthewtennant: that's what I meant. TE/FB lead blocker type.
dfank_bu: Yeah I don't see the multiple RB formations becoming a thing unless one of them is lined up in the slot.
tedvid: I obviously wrote a bit on this topic earlier in the week, though I'm not sure I was clear in pointing out that I think the WildBear is more of a situational option than something we ought to see every game. I'm hoping we see some ingenuity when the standard offense sputters instead of forcing the issue like we have done in the past. I know it is a spoiled thing to say, considering the offense has consistently been tops in the NCAA for years, but we all know how frustrating it is to watch an Art Briles offense when it just flat out isn't having its day.
pbpope: I absolutely LOVE the wildbear for shifting gears into the "clock management" mode. In past seasons, it felt like the offense didn't really want to slow down to that pace and would stall out when it tried to go all-run (SR-71 Blackbird reference goes here). I really like the wildbear in those situations. I think it could be used there to great effect.
mattisbear: Anything that gets the ball in Terence Williams hands. Anything.
dfank_bu: Terence Williams is a dang bowling ball. And he runs pissed off which I love. I'm on board with what Matt said 100%.
matthewtennant: I do like that some of our running backs can throw the ball. Obviously not a thing to do often, but I'm a huge fan of trick plays.
matthewtennant: But set up in Wild Bear and then throw the pop pass every now and then to keep the linebackers guessing? Yes please.
kkaut: I agree with basically what everyone is saying. Linwood, Jefferson, Chaffin, Williams, Hasty is unbelievable depth. That 5 may be the best I've felt about a position group for Baylor football ever.
dfank_bu: Trick plays are cool until you start handing off to Laquan on a 2nd & 8 from midfield down by 10
tedvid: This is a chat, so I couldn't actually hear it - but I'm pretty sure I felt the collective groan all the way here in New York after being forced to recall that.
matthewtennant: Fank hates LaQuan: confirmed.
pbpope: That was the most befuddling call of the entire 2015 season.
tedvid: So, time for another reader question - a pretty good one if you ask me. Scotty Swingler on twitter asks:
@tedvid You're starting a Briles-era Baylor super team. Who's your first pick at LB? Hager, Young, Lackey, Coffey, A. Johnson...JoePa?!— Scotty Swingler (@ScottyRossSwing) May 13, 2016
dfank_bu: I think if I was picking 3 I would go 1) Hager 2) Lackey 3) Young
kkaut: I think Bryce Hager. He was injured some his senior year, but his junior year and the work he did was outstanding. I'd go 1) Hager 2) Lackey 3) Pawelek
pbpope: Well, I'm with you fellas.
pocketchange: That's tough. Hager is the most reliable of the group. Lackey's playmaking is enticing, though. Hager is probably the choice.
tedvid: I think I agree with Kendall - with the caveat that depending on how Taylor young performs over the next two seasons, things could change.
dfank_bu: Hager might get the nod just because he had time to build a bigger body of work. We only had Lackey for 2 years.
kkaut: Does Taylor Young being so small make it hard for him to become the Perry Ellis of football? It blows my mind he's still only a junior.
tedvid: I'm kind of sad Pawelek never got to play in McLane, but I'm more sad that Floyd Casey will be finished off tomorrow. Best Floyd Casey memory?
pbpope: The first game there was pretty fun.
tedvid: Peter dropping the best Peter is old joke is peak ODB.
pocketchange: The 2011 Oklahoma game was euphoric. Beer and chewing tobacco spit rained down on my head at the Terrence Williams touchdown, and I cared not a bit.
pbpope: Now that I've got my old joke in, this is a really difficult one for me. It's between 2012 K-State, 2013 OU (the inaugural blackOUt) and 2013 Texas, the Ice Fog Game.
dfank_bu: I think my favorite might have been the Ice Fog game. Although I still get cold thinking about it.
tedvid: The Ice Fog game was the first time I met most of you, so obviously I have to rule that one out of contention.
kkaut: The OU game in 2011 is my favorite game because of the Heisman moment. The TCU game that year was great both because it showed the turnaround was real and 2010 was not a fluke, and it was an incredible game. I wanted to believe the Stork would make that kick, but I still can't believe the Stork made that kick.
dfank_bu: A personal deep cut for me: 2006 against Kansas coming back from down 18 in the 4th quarter. There might've been 8000 people left at the end but it was pretty awesome. One of my first AHHH I LOVE BEHLER moments.
tedvid: Okay so here is my first attempt at a forced transition. The Floyd Casey Era was definitely up and down. We're coming off of back to back years where Scott Drew's teams have made early exits in the NCAA tournament, we also aren't landing one-and-done type of recruits anymore. How do we feel about this new "era" of Baylor Basketball?
pbpope: If anyone says "Fire Scott Drew," I'm burning this thing to the ground.
kkaut: I like it a lot. I don't think we're totally out of getting one and done guys. I think we transitioned some of our recruiting at the right time. Duke, KU, and Kentucky dominate recruiting these guys now. Our success with JuCo guys- Chery, Medford, and hopefully soon Acuil, while also getting transfers- O'Neale saved the 2014 team and helped 2015.
pocketchange: Generally, I feel better about the basketball program than in years past. The lack of elite talent is a bit troubling, but having such a high baseline of talent is huge for a perennially excellent program.
kkaut: The 2018 Bears, if Motley stays, should be really good.
dfank_bu: We are going to have some insane guard depth the next couple years. I really like adding Lecomte who will be more of a scoring PG than Medford was. And I expect McClure and Freeman to make big jumps next year, especially King.
kkaut: I'm not super confident Motley stays for his senior year though. I feel pretty confident Lecomte, Freeman, Ish, and Motley are starting, but I'm not sure if we'll start King and try and play smaller, or start Acuil or Maston and play bigger.
mattisbear: I think Baylor will always play as big as possible while remaining mobile. At least, this is the Drew preference.
pocketchange: love the combination of Johnathan Motley and Terry Maston in the front court with Ish Wainright capable of sliding up to power forward on demand. With Lecomte and King capable of pouring in points and Jake Lindsey providing steady play off the bench, the guards should be capable of complementing the talents of the big men. I agree with Matt. Drew always prefers to play big, and it was only because of how strong and versatile Taurean Prince was that the starting lineup was a "small ball" lineup. I think Maston and Motley will be the starters at the beginning of the season, but Acuil could supplant one of them eventually. Drew always goes with the known players first, though.
dfank_bu: Do we know for certain that Acuil is going to be cleared for next season?
pocketchange: The lack of a player of Prince's caliber is worrisome, but this roster doesn't have any obvious weaknesses as I see it. I haven't seen anything that is definitive about Acuil's health yet. If he never plays for Baylor, I wouldn't be surprised.
kkaut: John Werner said in February he still had not been cleared.
dfank_bu: I think Acuil might be the difference between 2017 Baylor being good or great. Drew's best teams have had an anchor in the middle of that zone to block shots and limit guard penetration. It's a Scott Drew team, therefore the offense will probably be top 20 in the country. The defensive end will make or break.
mattisbear: I still don't know who the assh*le on this team will be. Baylor lost it's two biggest vocal pieces. That needs to be determined. You know how I feel about this. The team needs at least one trashtalker / team spiritual guidance consultant / Draymond.
pbpope: eyes glaze over
tedvid: If the readers didn't know, mattisbear is our Draymond.
dfank_bu: So changing gears here. How about that Baylor baseball team and their big series starting tonig-
*Cue the chorus of "Thanks, Ted."