What is Art Briles up to?
Just a week into spring training and it appears Baylor’s looking to make some rather massive changes, considering the player who is involved…410 pound junior LaQuan McGowan, who not only scored this spectacular touchdown in the Cotton Bowl this year, but also broke a desk in math class last semester (true story.)
It appears Briles was only giving a glimpse of what’s to come regarding McGowan’s role on the team, listed as a backup offensive guard on the team roster but is now lining up at TE as he did in the Cotton Bowl. Briles is a coach that loves to have his cake and eat it too, appeasing fans and being wildly successful as well.
Last year when Baylor missed out on the inaugural College Football Playoffs and was labeled co-champions in the “One True Champ” Big XII, he sounded off to the media, acting as a loudspeaker for Baylor nation. He’s usually a restrained character, but he knows how to work theatrics. That’s all this news of McGowan’s new position may be, but the possibilities that come with it are intriguing.
If Briles is truly making a special set for McGowan to line up outside on the line, that could be a sign Baylor’s going to be more committed to the run this year. It makes some sense. They’re losing star QB Bryce Petty to the NFL this year, replacing him with junior QB Seth Russell. Though Baylor’s known for their aerial attack, they also have a great ground game, utilizing a committee of backs led by junior Shock Linwood.
McGowan came in for goal line situations at H-Back last season, but lining him up in the trenches could open up more room for a running attack throughout the course of the season. McGowan’s presence on the strong side of the line could help with swing plays or at least divert the defense’s attention from the weak side. If he truly possesses some great catching ability, even better.
However, the Bears were not one to throw to the TE last season — starting tight end Tre’Von Armstead had just five receptions. Interestingly enough, Armstead moved over to TE from the offensive line as well. So it’s not so much a matter of McGowan’s ability down field. It’s the potential he has to be an extra pass-blocker for Russell.
If this is indeed going to come to fruition, you can expect Baylor will show this formation sparingly. Were McGowan to put his No. 80 jersey on, it’ll likely be for low-stakes games such as their three non-conference games. If it works in those games, and helps Russell’s development early on, everyone will be more confident in the first-time starter and also keep Baylor’s name in the news even in games of less impact.
We won’t be surprised to see a 410 pound TE in September, but we’re sure to be surprised by the nation’s most prolific offense somehow. All we can do right now is assume what’s going on in practice and what the intent is behind it. Even if we never see McGowan in action like we did on New Year’s Day, at least Briles has us talking about them again; that’s something not every team can claim during the off-season. It’s innovations like this that could set Baylor up to be a household name someday.