WACO, Texas — The high-powered offense for No. 3 Baylor hasn’t missed a beat with some big-play backups.
When the top two running backs both got hurt early in the same game, Shock Linwood stepped in and ran for 182 yards. He topped that in his first start last week.
The Bears also lost a 100-yard-a-game receiver to injury. Insert Levi Norwood, who had seven catches for 156 yards with two touchdowns starting in that spot. And in his regular role, he returned a punt 58 yards for another score with elusive moves around several Texas Tech defenders.
“I love Shock. ... Shock brings a lot to the table, a lot of passion, he’s very intelligent football-wise,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. “Levi’s slippery, that’s what they call him. It’s fun watching him just because he can do so many things after getting the ball. But it’s even more watching him out there just because you can tell he has fun with what he’s doing.”
Sixth-year coach Art Briles has repeatedly talked about the importance of building “Big 12 depth.” While that process has taken some time, it is certainly having a huge impact for the Bears (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) in maybe their best season ever — and heading into their biggest game so far.
“I wish we weren’t having to prove it,” Briles said. “We’ve been fortunate up to this point.”
Baylor, on pace to break major college records with 61.2 points and 684.8 yards per game, plays Saturday night at No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1), the league’s preseason favorite that has won six games in a row. The winner gets the upper hand in the race for the league’s automatic BCS berth but both still have big games to play after that. The Bears have never won a Big 12 title.
Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee) are both still questionable for Saturday, meaning Linwood will likely start again. The Bears are hopeful of getting senior receiver Tevin Reese back for the bowl game; he had surgery after dislocating his right wrist in the Bears’ 41-12 win Nov. 7 over Oklahoma, the same game Seastrunk and Linwood were hurt.
Linwood is now second in the Big 12 with 101.5 yards per game, behind only Seastrunk’s 111 per game, after the converted high school quarterback added 187 yards on 29 carries in the Bears’ comeback 63-34 win over Texas Tech last Saturday night.
Devin Chafin, another redshirt freshman, added 100 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.
“Those guys practice like they’re starters,” Petty said. “That result doesn’t surprise me, because how they practice. That’s how they work. Anyone that goes out there, I have full confidence in.”
Norwood, a fourth-year junior, has been a steady presence in Baylor’s offense with catches in 23 consecutive games while also returning kicks. But his only two previous starts this season came when the Bears opened games in four-receiver sets.
“Tevin is the heart and soul of the receiver group. ... We all knew we had to step up and work as hard as he does,” said Norwood, who has 26 catches for 468 yards and four TDs this season. “That was my mentality going into it. I have a great amount of respect for Tevin and wanted to really kind of put on a show for him, and I feel like I did that.”
Along with his TD catches of 40 and 58 yards against the Red Raiders, Norwood also had the impressive punt return.
As for the running back whose full name is Rashodrick Antoine Linwood, how did he become known as Shock?
“My mom gave it to me when I was a little kid,” he said, explaining it was during the prime of Shaquille O’Neal’s basketball career. “They had Shaq Attack, she said her son is going to be the Shock Attack. People at home were calling me Shock Attack, but they got tired of saying the whole thing, so we just shortened it down to Shock.”