Terrance Williams

NFL Draft on tap: A Texans brew -- What's Houston looking for in this year's draft?

Terrance. This is stupid stuff.

After viewing my fair share of NFL mock drafts, I’ve seen enough predictions that Houston would use their 27th pick on DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson to fill the need at wide receiver.

Although DeAndre Hopkins was the leading receiver in the ACC, he should not be the leading receiver on the Houston draft board.

In the search of a number two receiver, Houston’s ideal player would be a Tavon Austin or Keenan Allen; someone who could compliment Andre Johnson’s deep play ability with a threat in the short game. But Austin and Allen probably won’t go that far.

But instead of selecting Hopkins, I believe Terrance Williams is a better fit for Houston.

With almost 2,000 total receiving yards in his senior season, Williams has received a lot of flack for being a primarily deep threat receiver. Averaging 18.9 yards a catch, recording 40+ yard catches in eleven games, and touchdown catches that average out to 35 yards each, Williams is certainly one of the best deep threat wide receivers in the draft.

But he isn’t restrained to just deep passes. In Baylor’s high-tempo spread offense, Williams was a perfect role for the deep threat, but possesses the skills for quicker and shorter routes more than Hopkins.

In the NFL combine Williams recorded a faster 40-yard dash time, 10-yard dash time, and a faster 20-yard shuttle time; indications of a receiver who can move quickly in short routes. However, these are indications that do not have much game film to provide evidence for Williams as a short game receiver. That just wasn’t his role.

After the release of Kevin Walters, it seems the common conclusion in replacing Walters is finding someone relatively like him. That conclusion leads to what feels like a wish list of possible candidates:

1. Tavon Austin. Nah, he’s not going to be there later.
2. Keenan Allen. Nope. He won’t either.
3. DeAndre Hopkins. Well, he ain’t Austin or Allen. But he’s got ‘Andre’ in his
name… Why not.

Terrance Williams doesn’t quite fit the mold, but is it worth drafting the third-best of the type when you can draft a player that is not that far behind in short pass skills, and can also take one for 80? Since when is big play a bad thing?

And if Rick Smith feels at all like he is settling for a receiver, he should not draft either. There’s plenty more the Texans need.

The rushing defense of Houston got absolutely blasted towards the end of the season. After the loss of Brian Cushing to an injury, an investment in an inside linebacker would be a smart decision. If Manti Te’o falls back that far in the first round, he would be a good fit. Kevin Minter of LSU is also an option.

With Shaun Cody as the main talent at nose tackle, Jesse Williams out of Alabama could be a good decision. You need a strong presence in the middle to take on run blocks, especially in a 3-4 where the nose is getting double-teamed every play.

Even though Houston filled the free safety hole with Ed Reed in the off-season, I think it would be a wasted opportunity if the Texans didn’t select an exceptional safety at some point in the draft to gain Reed’s mentorship. Players don’t get that opportunity often, and Ed Reed may not be around long. Matt Elam could be a second-round choice, or possibly even Tyrann Mathieu. That kid certainly needs some kind of guidance to pull out his full potential.

But at this point, wide receiver seems to be the biggest necessity for the Texans. We’ll find out later tonight.

Players to Watch

Terrance Williams - Baylor Senior Receiver

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Nick Florence
Florence entered this season with possibly the toughest job of any other player in the nation; replacing Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. He isn’t the game changer RG3 was and doesn’t propel the Bears to that level, but the senior has put together a solid year. Florence has completed 63 percent of his passes this season, with 1,874 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Florence is a smaller quarterback standing at 6-foot-1, but his arm strength and accuracy are second to none in the Big 12 thus far in the season. Although the Bears are 0-2 in the conference at this point, Florence’s arm and poise have kept them in both contests. Against West Virginia, Florence had a career game passing for 581 yards and five touchdowns despite being overshadowed by Geno Smith. The Texas defense has proven vulnerable to solid passing attacks this season, so Florence should be a player to watch when the Bears takes on the Longhorns this week.

Terrance Williams
Every quarterback needs at least one reliable receiver to throw the ball to when the game is on the line. Williams fits that bill perfectly. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Williams possesses impressive quickness and the ability to pick up yards after the catch. in five games he has amassed 37 catches for 830 yards and eight touchdowns. It should be noted that 314 of these yards came in the shootout against West Virginia, but Williams has proven to be a man of consistency, compiling at least 100 yards and two touchdown catches in all but one game this season. Williams is a receiver that pads his stats with speed. He is currently averaging 22 yards per catch, and has recorded a reception for at least 45 yards in every game this season. The Longhorns have had a hard time tackling speedy receivers so the coverage should be tight with Williams. Fans should expect Terrence Williams to make a big impact in this game.

Bryce Hager
Hager currently leads the Bears in total tackles this season with 61 and is third nationally with 12.2 per game. Hager is a stocky defender who causes the most trouble in stopping the run game. Hager has also forced two fumbles. Two other factors that will boost Hager’s play are location and history. The sophomore defender is an Austin Westlake product and will probably look to step up his game in his hometown and his father, Britt Hager (1986-88), is Texas’ career tackles leader. A strong and compact run stopper, Hager should be a player for Texas to keep in their sights as he returns to Austin for a matchup against the rival Longhorns.

Baylor wide receivers Tevin Reese (16) and Terrance Williams (2) celebrate in the end zone following Williams' touchdown reception in the first half of the game against TCU Saturday, Oct. 13 in Waco, Texas.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

After former TCU quarterback Casey Pachall withdrew from the University last week, Baylor fans were already putting a check in the win column for the Bears.

But four interceptions and a pair of fumbles later, it was obvious things weren’t going as planned.

A win looked promising after a long touchdown pass from senior quarterback Nick Florence to senior wide receiver Terrance Williams 26 seconds into the game, but a lack of rhythm offensively and a need for defensive stops allowed TCU to carry the game away.

After the game junior nickelback Ahmad Dixon was asked what the defense was going to do in practice to prepare for Saturday’s matchup against Texas.

“We’re just going to go back to the basics,” said Dixon.

His response was met by a firm question from the media, “Wasn’t that what you did on the bye week?”

True, that’s what we had heard the team was doing but it didn’t turn out quite right.

With Baylor’s conference slate well underway, a loss like that was enough to set a spark under the Bears toward a better outcome at Texas.

This matchup has been a toss-up ever since the beginning of the season: both teams have things to prove offensively and teams to stop defensively.

While Texas wins the defensive battle on paper, Baylor wins on the offensive side.

Even after an uncharacteristic four interceptions last weekend, Florence leads the nation in total offense with 404.4 yards per game and ranks No. 2 nationally in passing yards per game (374.8) and quarterback rating (176.6).

“The thing we have to remember about Nick [Florence] is that he really hasn’t played that many football games,” Briles said. “We look at him like he is a really experienced quarterback, but his actual game-time experience is not that much.”

Surrounding him are four talented wide receivers: seniors Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, Darryl Stonum and junior Tevin Reese.

Williams leads the nation with 166 receiving yards per game.

The ground game for Baylor features senior running back Jarred Salubi, who could put up big numbers while facing a Texas defense that has struggled to defend the run. Texas has allowed 209.17 rushing yards per game, 103rd in the nation in that category.

Junior Glasco Martin and sophomore transfer Lache Seastrunk, from Oregon, could also see playing time and add diversity to the Bears’ running game.

One prominent statistic to Baylor’s wins and losses so far this season is the turnover margin.

During the team’s three-game win streak to open the season, Baylor’s defense forced 10 takeaways and lost only four turnovers, a plus-1.5 per-game margin.

However, during the past two games the Bears haven’t forced any takeaways and have lost seven turnovers, a negative-3.5 per-game margin.

Defensively, Baylor is dead last in the NCAA FBS, allowing 558.8 yards per game.

In order for the Bears to win this ball game, they must win the turnover battle.

When that happens, Florence and the offense find a rhythm that puts points on the board and keeps the defense on the sideline for a little while longer.

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: Offensive prowess gives Bears slight advantage

Baylor head coach Art Briles addresses media members at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. Briles and the Bears are looking to improve on a 10-3 record from a year ago.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

 The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

Griffin's top stats puts him in strong running for the Heisman

Baylor's Robert Griffin III deserved the Heisman this year, and few can dispute it.

First and foremost, his numbers were gaudy this season. Griffin completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts when opponents blitzed him with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He completed 50 percent of passes more than 25-yards . . . for touchdowns. . . 20 of them to be exact.  

For the Texas fan that needs reminding, you may recall the second play from scrimmage when the Longhorns rolled into Waco this season. Griffin threw a 59-yard bomb to Kendall Wright that was so perfectly placed, even the Baylor fans seemed to yawn.  

Second, people will say that winning matters, and that Trent Richardson, Alabama's bruising back, had both the wins and the stats to earn himself the trophy.  But the award is meant to go to the best player in the nation, the player the best lifts the talent around him. All season, Griffin gift-wrapped highlights for his wide receivers, Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams. He shelled out touchdown after touchdown, and rarely ever turned the ball over, all things that make his team look good.  

But I'd say the biggest reason he won the Heisman is because of  the grand trajectory of his college career and how he transformed the Baylor program.

"This is unbelievably believable," Griffin said during his acceptance speech. "It's unbelievable because in the moment we're all amazed when great things happen. But it's believable because great things don't happen without hard work."

Griffin shared the stage with four incredible collegiate football players. But for someone who took a program as obscure and unimpressive as Baylor's and turned it into one of the country's strongest, even if just for a few years, the decision to honor him as the nation's best seemed like a no-brainer. The program only has a few memorable season's to its name, and even less memorable players. The Bears are 540-539-44 since 1846, their first year to field a team. They haven't finished a season ranked since 1986, and the last time they won a conference championship was in 1994 with a sad 7-5 record in the old Southwest Conference.

This year the team is ranked 12th, its got a 9-3 record and it beat Oklahoma for the first time in school history.

"Everybody associated with Baylor has a reason to celebrate tonight," he said.

He's right. Every Baylor Bear should celebrate. Griffin has done more for the program than any athlete at that school has since former Bear quarterback and current NFL assistant coach Mike Singletary did in the late 1970's and then some. And while they party out there in Waco-town, they'll likely beg the junior to come back for one more season. Don't count on it happening Baylor-nation.