After giving up 75-yard TD strikes on two of the first four plays, Baylor's defense stiffened and gave up just one more touchdown the rest of the day in Saturday's 64-play "Meet the Bears" scrimmage at the Highers Athletics Complex.
Senior quarterback Nick Florence put up Robert Griffin III-like numbers, hitting 8-of-11 passes for 223 yards, and led the first-team offense to scores on three of his four series. Florence's day ended early when he connected with Lanear Sampson on a 70-yard TD pass down the middle.
"I got tired sprinting that whole way," said Florence, who busted it down the field in time to celebrate with Sampson in the end zone. "But it was well worth it. I think overall, it was a decent day. We've still got to get better at some things, but that's what the film room is for."
Neither side had anything close to a perfect day - the defense gave up five plays of 42 yards or longer, including three scoring plays of at least 70 yards. But the defense also gave up just 48 yards on 24 running plays (2.0-yard average), got an interception from safety Sam Holl and applied pressure with four sacks.
"The thing about scrimmages is you could flip a coin," said fifth-year Baylor head coach Art Briles, whose team has gone to back-to-back bowl games and is coming off just the second 10-win season in program history. "If one side's completely dominating, that's where you get concerned. So we expect both sides to make plays. We're not going to freak out or panic if one or two plays go awry . . . We'll just coach it up and continue to get better. It's a 60-minute ball game, and you've got to play every second of those 60 minutes to have a chance to win."
A second-team offense led by sophomore quarterback Bryce Petty struck first when redshirt freshman receiver Jay Lee got by cornerback K.J. Morton and scored on a 75-yard TD pass on the second play of the scrimmage.
"Defensively, you can't get caught up in trying to jump-start and make huge plays," Briles said, "when all you've got to do is make an offense work down the field and hope that eventually you get them behind the chains."
Lee led the team in receiving yards with 117 on just two catches (58.5-yard average). But 10 other players caught passes in a deep corps that includes 1,000-yard receivers Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson and Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum.
"We think Stonum will continue to get better once he gets his legs under his body," Briles said of Stonum, who had one catch for 10 yards and added 12 yards on an end-around reverse. "We think he's got good range, a good frame. And once he gets used to catching balls with a little fire on them, I think he'll improve. Jay Lee's a guy that's been in the system for two years - big, strong, athletic, and has a good amount of speed. We're going to have good receivers. That's one thing about our offense, we're always going to have guys that can make plays."
The first-team offense got in the scoring act just two plays later when sophomore Antwan Goodley took a short screen pass from Florence, broke a tackle from safety Chance Casey and matched Lee with a 75-yarder of his own.
Kicker Aaron Jones also had a solid day, connecting on 3-of-3 extra points and 3-of-4 field goals with a long of 48.
Although it struggled early and had some blown assignments, the defense is a "lot further along than they were," Florence said.
"The days of accepting mediocrity are over," said second-year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. "We've got enough guys to make plays. We're not where we need to be yet, but we're getting there."
The Bears will be off Sunday before morning workouts at 9:30 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Baylor is nine days into its preparation for the Sept. 2 season opener against SMU, a nationally televised game (FSN) that will kick off at 5:30 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Season and single-game tickets are available online at www.baylortix.com/fb12, by phone at 1-254-710-1000 or in person at the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office at the Ferrell Center.
Jay Lee 75 pass from Bryce Petty (Aaron Jones kick)
Antwan Goodley 75 pass from Nick Florence (Aaron Jones kick)
Aaron Jones 48 FG
Aaron Jones 42 FG
Aaron Jones 47 FG
Lanear Sampson 70 pass from Nick Florence (Aaron Jones kick)
Jay Lee 2-117 TD; Lanear Sampson 2-82 TD; Antwan Goodley 2-73 TD; Terrance Williams 1-42; Terrance Nathan 3-32; Tevin Reese 3-20; Clay Fuller 3-17; Michael Valdez 3-15; Darryl Stonum 1-10; Cal Spangler 1-13; Levi Norwood 1-4.
Brody Trahan 1-5-6; Josh Wilson 4-1-5; Eddie Lackey 2-2-4; Chance Casey 2-1-3; Collin Brence 0-3-3; Ryan Reid 0-3-3; Sam Holl 1-1-2; Gary Mason Jr. 2-0-2; Chris McAllister 0-2-2; Suleiman Masumbuko 1-1-2; Jamal Palmer 2-0-2; Ahmad Dixon 2-0-2; Bryce Hager 1-1-2; Rodney Chadwick 0-2-2; Joe Williams 0-2-2; Prince Kent 0-2-2; Shamycheal Chatman 1-1-2; Donald Bryant 1-1-2; Cordarius Golston 1-0-1; Darius Jones 0-1-1; Terrell Burt 0-1-1; Mike Hicks 1-0-1; Demetri Goodson 0-1-1; K.J. Morgon 1-0-1; Kendall Ehrlich 0-1-1; Dominique Banks 0-1-1.
Sam Holl 1.
Aaron Jones 3-4 (made 42, 47, 48; missed 42).
|Head Coach Art Briles|
On the scrimmage today:
"It is a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation. It is like I told the players, there is one team in America from a big six conference that has the longest win streak and that is the Baylor Bears. We are fighting our tail off to make sure that stays that way. You can't stay on top unless you start on top. Anybody in America can say what they want to say, but we have the longest win streak and we are going to fight hard to keep it."
On the offensive performance:"We were ok, it was hit and miss. Our guys are a little worn to say the least. I thought the energy was pretty good. I thought we looked a little sluggish on both sides of the ball. We had a few unforced errors. Defensive side had a few broken assignments that led to huge plays on the offensive side of the ball, which you can't have. It is fall camp and is happening pretty fast and we will continue to get better."
|Senior Quarterback Nick Florence|
On the offensive performance today:
"I thought it was good. We didn't do a ton on offense. We tried to keep it pretty simple. There are a few things I want back, but that is part of camp, getting better. We are going to look at those things and we are going to get better from this."
On improving the offense:
"We had a little confusion up front. I think the biggest things for us is quarterbacks. Bryce and I are working on down and distance. If it is 3rd and 3 let's see what we can do and not try to do too much. I think we had a 3rd and 4 where I probably should have taken single coverage back side and it would have been first down easy. It is those little things we need to look at. We have got to know our down and distance and just play smart football."
|Sophomore Quarterback Bryce Petty|
On the overall scrimmage:
"We started out really strong and lagged a little bit in the middle. But, overall, a really good day. Scrimmages are fun just to get out here and show up for the crowd. I think we did our job as far as an offense. There are definitely things we need to work on, but we came out and showed out."
On being able to play with the first string:
"I love to do that. It is competition and you want to be with the best. That brings out the best for you. It is fun for me, going with twos and then going with ones. It is extra reps, but it is good reps."
|Junior Nickel Back Ahmad Dixon|
On the scrimmage today:
"We looked decent. We have a lot of stuff we need to work on. We gave up a lot of big plays, but we also made some big plays. There is room for improvement."
On the defensive performance:
"It was a little bit of confusion and a little bit of just starting out slow. We have to work on just coming straight out of the gate and hitting them right in the mouth and stop waiting until something bad happens to do something good."