When you think of the Baylor Bears‘ football program, your first thought is how many points they score. Next, you marvel at the offensive numbers put up by quarterback Bryce Petty. He has video game-like statistics. You might even wonder how head coach Art Briles has been able to pull this off at the tiny school in Waco, Texas. This seems like plenty to think about if you are a defensive coach in the Big 12.
One aspect the casual fan probably has not thought much of is the Baylor running game. In particular, the diminutive Shock Linwood.
Never heard of Linwood? That’s understandable. He was the third-string running back behind Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. He didn’t see a ton of action last season, but when he was on the field, he was lights out.
Linwood played mostly in the second half of games, when Baylor had already racked up outrageous offensive numbers and insurmountable leads. He had a 14-carry, 126-yard rushing day against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Baylor rolled up a Big 12 record 864 yards in that game. Two games later, he had 106 yards on nine carries as Baylor piled on 743 total yards on the Kansas Jayhawks. Only die-hard Bears fans stuck around to watch Baylor’s second- and third-string players in action in many of these blowouts.
Linwood’s coming out party was a prime time clash with the Oklahoma Sooners. This would be Baylor’s toughest test to this point in the season. The offense struggled early. To make matters worse, Seastrunk and Martin went down with injuries. Normally, a team is in trouble when it has to rely on the third-string running back.
Not Baylor. Not when you have a back like Linwood. The 5-foot-8, 200-pound bowling ball ran through the Sooner defense to the tune of 182 yards on 23 carries. Linwood helped jump-start the Bears’ offense and Baylor went on to dismantle Oklahoma 41-12.
Linwood received his first collegiate start the next week versus the Texas Tech Red Raiders. He sliced and diced the Red Raiders’ defense for 187 yards on 29 carries and Baylor rallied from an early first-quarter deficit to crush Texas Tech 63-34.
Seastrunk and Martin returned to action and Linwood saw limited playing time for the remainder of the season. He finished with 881 yards on 128 carries and eight touchdowns. His yards per carry average was 6.9.
In 2014, Linwood will be the feature back. There is youth and inexperience behind him. The bulk of the carries should belong to him. What could this mean? It could very well help Linwood join Seastrunk and Terrance Ganaway as the only Baylor running backs to lead the conference in rushing.
Looks like Big 12 defensive coaches have something else to think about this season.