By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
WACO, Texas - Running a controlled scrimmage with a lot of starts and stops, the Baylor offense lacked the rhythm and dynamic quality on Saturday that it showed in previous scrimmages.
But the defending Big 12 champions closed out their spring drills by "keeping everybody healthy" in a 51-play scrimmage that attracted an estimated crowd of 3,750 at the Highers Complex practice fields.
"I'm just tickled to death with the crowd," said seventh-year head coach Art Briles, "because we didn't really promote it. And all of a sudden, you look up, there are people everywhere. It's certainly evidence of how they respect what our players have done and how they feel about the direction of Baylor football. That's what we talk about all the time with our players is we have a responsibility to keep the level where it's at, and keep finding ways to get better. And that's what we're doing."
Senior quarterback Bryce Petty had a solid finish to his second spring as the starter, completing 10-of-15 passes for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He hooked up with Jay Lee on a short sideline route that turned into a 40-yard TD and then hit Robbie Rhodes inside for a 38-yard scoring strike.
Corey Coleman led all receivers with five catches for 47 yards, while Lee hauled in two passes for 46 yards and the touchdown.
"Yeah, he's going to be a target," Briles said of Coleman, "but so is Robbie, so is Jay Lee and some of these other guys, because we've got to do a good job of making sure we open up Antwan (Goodley). That was our goal this spring was to develop guys around Antwan. We know what he can do, so we've got to make sure people can't just key on him."
With Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin limited to just three combined rushing attempts, freshman running backs Johnny Jefferson and Terence Williams stepped up to rush for a combined 43 yards on 10 carries.
"Those guys are good, and they're going to have to be good," Briles said of Jefferson and Williams, "because we've got four running backs. That's not a situation we're proud of; it's just the reality of where we're at. And one of them is a true freshman (Williams). It's a concern right now, without question. But they can play. That's a good thing. Every one of them can play and help us win."
Junior end Shawn Oakman stood out on the defensive side, racking up two of the team's five sacks.
"Same thing I've thought all spring," said Briles, when asked about Oakman's play on Saturday. "We can't block him, and I don't think anyone else will, either. I've been saying all along, I think our d-line is as good as anybody in America. He's just one of about six or seven in there that are going to be dominant, dynamic players for us in the fall, no doubt."
Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said "going against our offense is a humbling thing for a young redshirt freshman or junior college guy, because the tempo is so dramatically faster."
"After the first practice, (junior college transfer Grant Campbell) looked at me, and I said, `That's an Eddie Lackey look,''' Bennett said. "Eddie gave me that same look. It's like, `Am I going to make it here?' And it gets better. I tell our guys, I think we're the best offense in the country. And if you can get to where you can defend our offense reasonably well, then you're going to do some great things."
After closing out the 15-date spring drills, the Bears will return for fall camp in August and begin preparation for the Aug. 31 season opener against SMU in the new state-of-the-art McLane Stadium on the Brazos River.
"From everything - good weather, good crowd, good day to be around Baylor," Briles said, "it was a great day."
Seat selection process for the new stadium begins Thursday, April 12.
You can get updates on Baylor football by following @BUFootball on Twitter or Instagram.
Corey Coleman - 5-47; Jay Lee - 2-46, TD; Carl Spangler - 2-45; Andy Ritter - 2-19; Brandon Brown - 2-10; Robbie Rhodes -1-38, TD; Quan Jones - 1-10; Antwan Goodley 1-3; Levi Norwood - 1-1.
Collin Brence - 3; Grant Campbell - 3; Austin Jupe - 3; K.J Smith - 3; Terrell Brooks - 2; Brian Nance - 2; Sean Oakman - 2; Taion Sells - 2; Travon Blanchard - 1; Trevor Clemons-Valdez - 1; Raaquan Davis - 1; Kiante' Griffin - 1; Xavien Howard - 1; Patrick Levels - 1; Javonte Magee - 1; Xavier Phillips - 1; Alfred Pullom - 1; Ryan Reid - 1; K.J. Smith - 1; Terrence Singleton - 1; Taylor Young - 1
Lee 40 yard pass from Petty (No PAT attempted)
Callahan 42 FG
Rhodes 38 yard pass from Petty (No PAT attempted)
Callahan FG 37
| Head Coach Art Briles
On the crowd:
"I was really impressed with the crowd because we didn't really promote [the game], and then you look up and there are people everywhere. That's a great thing. I certainly think it's evidence of how they respect what our players have done and how they feel about the direction of Baylor football. That's what we talk about all the time to our players is that we have a responsibility to keep the level where it's at and keep finding ways to get better and that's what we're doing."
On if he can see the game being played at McLane Stadium next year:
"I can. And it's going be nice. The thing you got to watch yourself for though is that if you're always looking for tomorrow you don't take care of today. So our job right now is to be the most dynamic, physical, tough, intelligent, and aggressive and determined football in America and that's what we'll focus on for the next four months."
On Shawn Oakman's spring:
"I think the same thing I've thought all spring - we can't block him. And I don't think anybody else will either. It's what I've been saying all along, our defensive line is as good as anyone's in America. He's just one of them out of six or seven that is going to be a dynamic player for us in the fall."
| Freshman Running Back Johnny Jefferson
On redshirting last year:
"At first I was very frustrated because I wanted to come in and play. But sitting a year out and watching Glasco, Lache and all them, it really helped me out because I can really see the hole now and I can be patient. Taking a year off was one of the best decisions I made in my life."
On his Dad following the game on Twitter:
"My dad really hasn't seen me play a lot of football. I think he saw me my senior year of high school. He's over there [in Iraq] defending our country, so I can't blame him, but he keeps me up when I'm feeling down. He tells me to keep striving. When I had to sit out a year, I was very upset, but he calmed me down and told me that God has everything happen for a reason, so he's a big part of my life in football still while he's over there."
| Sophomore Wide Receiver Corey Coleman
On how are things coming with the receivers and Bryce Petty:
"This spring helped us out a lot because we have a lot of young receivers so it just helped us get our timing down, and with Bryce, he knows where we're going to be at and our mind set of just doing everything right with little details."
On overall thoughts of today:
"I think that we did pretty well for a scrimmage. You know, there's always room for improvement. When we come back out here, we just have to keep on getting better."
| Senior Quarterback Bryce Petty
On thoughts of today's game and spring overall:
"I have to be honest with you. It was okay...just okay. It wasn't as good as I wanted it. But the whole thing about spring is staying healthy and getting guys looks that haven't had looks, and we've done that. Overall, I thought spring was really productive, maybe not today. We missed some throws here and there, but it's kind of hard when you're going against the same people every day. You try not to game plan too much, but you kind of have to. Guys got looks and that's what we wanted."
On remaining patient when expecting explosive plays:
"Yeah...expectations are different, especially for us and myself as well. I expect to hit those big throws. I expect to make big plays, so when you don't get those all the time it gets kind of frustrating. You're right. You've got to stay patient with it. You have to be persistent. That's just the nature of football."
On it being different from last year:
"Yes and no. I want to say that I came out with the same mentality today. I still have to prove. It's not just about proving to the team that I can play, but it's about proving to the nation that I'm the best. That's why I hold high expectations for myself, so when I miss throws I get upset. If things don't go the way that I want them, I get upset. That's the part about being patient. You have to keep going with the `next-play' mentality."
| Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett
On if the defense is where he wants it to be, even with injuries:
"No, we still have Bryce Hager, who's a leader, and Terrell (Burt), so we've got a lot of guys who we still need to implement back into our system when they become healthy."
On whether he can now reload on defense as opposed to having to patch up weak spots:
"I think that we have started evolving with our recruiting, and I think we're more talented now, but there's experience in the way that we've developed. With last year's defense we were two things, mentally and physically tough, we had guys that would rock your world, and they took great pride in what they did. That's what I want us to progress to, and I think, by looking at these guys, that we do have talent."
| Sophomore Safety Orion Stewart
On the young guys on defense and how they've done and progressed this spring:
"We have made tremendous progress since the first day that we stepped out here, but we still have a ways to go, and I'm sure that we'll all get it together."
On how he goes about trying to be a leader:
"You just have to show it in practice every day. These guys have seen me play and making plays last year, so we just have to show it every day in practice by going 110 percent, and just communicate with the other players."
On replacing Ahmad Dixon:
"I've got a long ways to go. Everyone knows who Ahmad Dixon is, and he jokes with me all the time that there's no way I can replace him, but I tell him that I'm going to be better than him."