By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
While Baylor's "Friday Night Lights" showcase scrimmage was postponed by expected inclement weather, the Bears wrapped up their third full week of spring drills Friday night with a 91-play, 1 ½-hour scrimmage in the Allison Indoor Practice Facility.
The defense dominated the first half of the controlled scrimmage, coming up with some big stops and getting a pair of picks from safeties Davion Hall and Mallory Franklin. But quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham led scoring drives on their final series to finish things off on a good note.
"It was kind of difficult," said Russell, who completed 13-of-19 for 114 yards and one touchdown in his first scrimmage action of the spring after undergoing neck surgery in the fall. "The defense was really flying around. I felt like the offense started slow, some of the guys had to get their legs back under them. I felt like after a couple series, the rust wore off a little bit and the guys started picking it up and playing."
With several players already sidelined with injuries, head coach Art Briles said the biggest thing is the Bears "stayed healthy."
"We showed flashes, both sides of the ball," he said. "The defense made some plays, offense made some plays. We ran about 30 plays (with the first-team offense versus the first-team defense), and then about 20 with the 1s versus the 2s, so we got in what we needed to get in."
Safety Davion Hall, a converted wide receiver, made one of the more spectacular plays of the night when he wrestled the ball away from receiver Blake Lynch on a deep pass down the sideline by Stidham for one of the defense's two interceptions.
"He's a good football player, and good football players show up," Briles said of Hall, who also tied for second on the team with six tackles.
Chris Callahan, who was 4-for-5 for the night, had plenty of leg on a 48-yard field goal attempt but was wide right.
The first-team offense finally broke through on its next series, with Russell hitting Lynch for 11 yards and KD Cannon for 15, then running for another 12. Russell capped it with a five-yard TD strike to tight end Jordan Feuerbacher.
Russell just enjoyed being back on the field after missing the last six games with a broken bone in his neck.
"This is what I do," Russell said. "It's tough when you're used to being on the field. Sitting through the end of last season, it was tough just watching. But that's the only thing I could do. Being able to be back on the field is a real blessing."
After losing eight of the nine combined starters on the lines, Briles said the Bears "have to have great energy, great effort, great intelligence, great determination, and just be a fearless football team."
"We lost a bunch of guys up front, both sides of the ball, that were pretty physically intimidating, which we don't possess right now," Briles said. "So, we'll play a little different style of ball, but it will still be very effective. . . . We've got a buzz around us that the teams prior to this one have earned. So, we have a great responsibility to make that buzz a reality."
Callahan booted field goals of 32, 34 and 42 yards, then Russell engineered a sustained drive that ended with a one-yard TD run by Johnny Jefferson. The bowl game MVP finished with just 19 yards on 10 totes.
Stidham, who was 10-of-15 for 84 yards, led the second-team offense on another lengthy drive that included a pair of hookups with redshirt freshman receiver Pooh Stricklin (4-43 yards). And Callahan completed the scoring with a 42-yarder through the uprights.
"It's all about production," Briles said. "We were a little long into our drives. We like the one-play drives, and had some eight- and 10-play drives. I think that's attributed to us still feeling out our personnel and both sides of the ball knowing other a little bit, to where we might not get the clean looks on offense that hopefully we'll get on Saturdays."
This is also a defense that has shown promise this spring. Travon Blanchard had a team-high seven tackles and also batted a Russell pass, while Josh Malin, Jeremy Faulk, KJ Smith, Ira Lewis, Jamie Jacobs, Eric Ogor, Henry Black and Jordan Williams each had a sack.
Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty took up the slack with Shock Linwood sidelines with an injury, rushing for a combined 123 yards on 21 carries. Cannon had a team-high five catches for 52 yards, with Lynch and Stricklin grabbing four apiece.
After taking the weekend off, the Bears will resume workouts next week and are scheduled to finish up spring drills April 5. Baylor will reschedule the "Friday Night Lights" showcase scrimmage for a later date.
KD Cannon 5-52, Blake Lynch 4-43, Pooh Stricklin 4-43, Chris Platt 3-19, Ishmael Zamora 2-17, Jordan Feuerbacher 1-5 TD, Cole Edmiston 2-9, Chris Johnson 1-9, JaMycal Hasty 1-4, Lynx Hawthorne 1-4, Sam Tecklenburg 1-2.
Travon Blanchard 5-2-7, Davion Hall 4-2-6, Taylor Young 3-3-6, Jamison Houston 5-0-5, Eric Ogor 3-2-5, Jordan Williams 3-2-5, Lenoy Jones Jr. 1-4-5, Ira Lewis 4-0-4, Jarrod Koym 3-1-4, Ross Matiscik 3-1-4, Clay Johnston 2-2-4, Jourdan Blake 3-0-3, Raaquan Davis 3-0-3, Jeremy Faulk 2-1-3, Pat Levels 1-2-3, Greg Roberts 1-2-3, Iain Hunter 0-3-3, KJ Smith 2-0-2, Chance Waz 2-0-2, Henry Black 1-1-2, Aiavion Edwards 1-1-2, Jamie Jacobs 1-1-2, Xavier Jones 1-1-2, Josh Malin 1-1-2, Orion Stewart 1-1-2, Verkedric Vaughns 1-1-2, Tyler Jaynes 1-0-1, Baylor Black 0-1-1, Mallory Franklin 0-1-1, Brian Nance 0-1-1.