By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
WACO, Texas - Walking across the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Bridge and into McLane Stadium for the first time, head coach Art Briles and the Baylor football team took a moment to soak it all in before going through Saturday's one-hour scrimmage.
"It's like I told the players, I dreamed too small when I dreamed about a stadium," Briles said. "The people involved certainly had bigger, better, wiser, more glorious dreams, because there's not another place like it. It's the best stadium in the United States of America. First and foremost, we feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to put a good product on the field and to keep this thing going at the level it's been going at, for all the people that sacrificed to make this happen."
For most of the players, this was their first time in the $266 million, riverfront stadium and to see the spacious locker room and walk on the turf on John Eddie Williams Field.
"Coming over that bridge, once you hit the top of it and you start making that slope down, it all opens up and you know it's actually real," junior defensive tackle Beau Blackshear said. "It's not just pictures and stuff you're seeing on the internet, it's actually here, and it's time to get this thing going."
Fifth-year senior quarterback Bryce Petty said he had an idea in his mind of what the stadium was going to look like, but "this just exceeds far beyond anything that I could imagine."
"I think, honestly, that's what hurt us in the beginning," Petty said. "I think we got too amped up, too anxious, being in here. At the end of the day, it's football. We've got to take care of what we need to take care of on the field. . . . And then we can take it in when we've got the `W.'''
Overcoming a slow start that saw the first-team offense go backwards on its first two series, Petty completed 10-of-14 passes for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions. He hooked up with fellow All-American Antwan Goodley on a four-yard TD pass and then found a wide-open Lynx Hawthorne for a 38-yarder for the final score of the day.
The offense was missing several key pieces, including injured receivers Corey Coleman, Jay Lee and Clay Fuller and running backs Devin Chafin and Johnny Jefferson. Walk-on running back Silas Nacita, a Cornell transfer, split time with the first- and second-team offense and led the way with 62 yards rushing on seven carries.
"I kind of like it, honestly," Petty said. "Not that those guys aren't in there, but it makes me be a lot better than I have to be. When you've got young guys in there, you've got to be more communicative and you've got to be very detailed about what you're doing. And then with the young receivers, too, you've got to put it on them and you've got to kind of coach them up."
Hawthorne led all receivers with three catches for 56 yards, while freshman KD Cannon caught a 43-yard bullet pass from Seth Russell as the second-team offense put the first points on the board. Russell was just 5-of-14 for 76 yards going against the No. 1 defense.
Freshman safety Chance Waz was tops on the defense with seven tackles, while defensive end Shawn Oakman had two of the defense's five sacks. Redshirt freshman kicker Chris Callahan booted a 50-yard field goal before the scrimmage started and also connected on a 27-yarder to round out the scoring in the 58-play session.
"The scrimmage today was about what we wanted. We wanted a practice-like scrimmage in the stadium, so our guys could get a little acclimated," Briles said. "We did that, we stayed healthy.
"We've just got to trust that our guys are operating at the speed we need them to operate at, and at the intensity and technique we need. Then, we'll get out here on (Aug. 31) with a full house of Baylor gold out here, and make it happen. When it's show time, our guys will be ready to show."
The Bears, who are 12 days into fall camp, will make their much-anticipated debut in McLane Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 31 with a 6:30 p.m. matchup against SMU that will be nationally televised by FS1.
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KD Cannon 43 pass from Seth Russell (Chris Callahan kick)
Antwan Goodley 4 pass from Bryce Petty (Kyle Peterson kick)
Callahan 27 field goal
Lynx Hawthorne 38 pass from Petty (Peterson kick)
Chance Waz (3-4-7); Grant Campbell (1-5-6); Raaquan Davis (1-5-6); Orion Stewart (3-2-5); Taylor Young (1-3-4); Ryan Reid (0-4-4); Taion Sells (3-0-3); Terrell Burt (2-1-3); Shawn Oakman (2-1-3); Taylor Young (1-1-2); Patrick Levels (0-2-2); Alfred Pullom (1-1-2); Terell Brooks (1-1-2); Terrence Singleton (1-0-1); Bryce Hager (0-1-1); Xavien Howard (1-0-1); Travon Blanchard (1-0-1); Greg Roberts (1-0-1); Josh Malin (0-1-1); Suleiman Masumbuko (0-1-1); Brian Nance (0-1-1); Javonte Magee (0-1-1); K.J. Smith (1-0-1); Kendall Ehrlich (1-0-1).
Spencer Roth 4-172 (43.0)