Sept. 2, 2007
After opening the season with a 27-0 loss at 22nd-ranked TCU Saturday night in Fort Worth, the Baylor football team now sets its sights on its 2007 home opener this Saturday against Rice (0-1) with kick off set for 6 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Here are Head Coach Guy Morriss' thoughts on the Bears' loss to TCU and Saturday's game against the Owls:
Opening Statement From Coach Morriss:
"A lot of people thought that this was all about Blake Szymanski, that's not the case. Early on in the game he was getting banged around pretty good, and I think that rattled him a little bit. And I think that first play of the second half, he nearly had his head taken off, and I know that shook him. We were really tentative last night, we weren't as aggressive as I thought we should have been. I thought that we were playing like we were afraid to make a mistake instead of just cutting it loose. We didn't run the ball as well as we had hoped. They were doing a little bit of stunting and moving and that kind of stuff. We didn't handle that very well. We are going to continue to work on our running game. That's got to get better. That's one of the things that will take some of the pressure off of our quarterback if we can give him some help with the running game. We just have to go back to work and get our mistakes corrected. They just have to learn to play faster and play wide open."
What did you see last night that you liked?
Morriss: "We had individual plays throughout the game, but we were very inconsistent with our execution. We had a couple drives that were good. When we've got all of the positions doing their job, we move the football. We need to do a better job of taking care of the football."
Will Blake (Szymanski) have the opportunity to start at least a couple more games?
Morriss: "We haven't sat down as a staff and gone over it, but in my mind you can't put it all on Blake. We need to protect him better. I don't care who you are when you get hammered around back there it rattles you. At the same time thought, he has to take responsibility for maybe a bad decision or a poor throw. For the most part, I thought our receivers were where they were supposed to be and they were working hard. You know, everybody has to stand up and be responsible for it. I'm not to the point where I'm going to give Blake a quick hook or anything."
Do you think you should have announced the starting quarterback earlier in the week?
Morriss: "Well the decision was really made early in the week, we just didn't announce it. Every time we talked about the first team offense that included Blake. I understand there was some comment about us not letting him know until Saturday morning, but they knew for a whole week."
How is Jason Smith doing today?
Morriss: "I haven't seen him today, but I was told last night that he has a sprained knee. They had to wait and see how much swelling or how much damage before they can make any kind of prediction about how long he is going to be out."
Do you think Szymanski is showing any ill effects from getting beat around last year?
Morriss: "That's a good question. I don't know. I didn't think so. I don't know if those three games last year had any bearing last night, but I know he was getting pressured and harassed pretty good in the first half. We didn't give up but one sack, but they were banging him as he released the ball and couldn't follow through with the throwing motion. He wasn't quite able to step into the throw and then somebody would just slam into his leg. That kind of stuff unnerves you. And then to come out in the second half, and he almost gets his head taken off, that probably rattled him a little more."
How much of an emotional let down was it to take the opening drive down the field and end up with no points?
Morriss: "Well, it was a disappointment. And looking back at the film, if (Justin Akers) had just held onto the ball, we probably would have scored right there. I thought in the game that he was trying to switch hands, but he just got the ball out away from his body and it just popped out. Actually, I guess we were pretty fortunate just to fall on it. We had three fumbles, we didn't lose any of them, but that's concerning to me that we put the ball on the ground three times. As much as we talked about taking care of the football, we just got careless again."
How concerned are you with the kicking game?
Morriss: "We are concerned about that. We might have a little kick off to see who we send out there. On the punt return, we just had a couple guys out of the lane, and we didn't squeeze it like we should. It was a great punt. We just didn't make a tackle. We are looking at some personnel changes on our special teams. There are some guys that need to be replaced. I think we were just a little bit tentative all the way around."
How did the offense handle Jason Smith being injured?
Morriss: "Well Jason went out right before halftime. The second half, we didn't run the ball very well. It was necessarily because of the left tackle spot. We were just very inconsistent."
What was the mental state of the players after the game last night?
Morriss: "They seemed to be okay after the game. They were still very positive. The key is how we respond this week after looking at this film and seeing our mistakes. We just need to play loose. Everyone was afraid to make a mistake. I don't doubt anybody's effort. The effort was there. We as coaches need to step up and find out how get them to operate at full speed and let our playmakers make plays."
Were the interceptions caused by receivers busting a route, or was Szymanski at fault?
Morriss: "They were probably on Blake for the most part. I think maybe a couple of them had something to do with not being able to follow through with his throw, so it sailed on him."
What are your early impressions on playing Rice?
Morriss: "Well, I would imagine they are pretty fired up about playing us. That's why I think we need to get some things fixed pretty quick and come out really revving. Don't give them any hope."
How important are these non-conference games with former SWC opponents?
Morriss: "Well, because of the history, I think that probably the fans from Rice and from Baylor remember the Southwest Conference days. I don't know of any current players that have a lot of knowledge about the old Southwest Conference, to be honest. I guess it is good for the fans and for in state rivalry and recruiting."
Baylor Sunday Notes: OT Jason Smith, who was more career starts (21) than any player on the 2007 Baylor roster, will likely miss 2-3 games with a strained MCL sustained late in the first half of the TCU loss ... The Bears have now lost 22 straight games to ranked opponents away from Waco since a 9-5 victory at 24th-ranked Arkansas in 1991 ... Baylor played 16 freshmen against TCU--seven true and nine redshirt ... Seven Bears made their first career start last night--OG James Barnard, CB Josh Bell, DT Trey Bryant, OT Jordan Hearvey, FS Jordan Lake, C J.D. Walton and SS Jeremy Williams ... Fifth-year senior CB Josh Bell, in his first career start, had a career-high nine tackles (eight solos) and a career-best two pass breakups ... Sophomore FS Jordan Lake had a career-high eight tackles, all solos, in his first career start as a Bear ... Sophomore DE Jason Lamb had a career-high tying seven tackles (four solos), while junior DT Vincent Rhodes also was credited with a career-high tying six stops (three solos) against the Horned Frogs ... After yielding 180 yards on 27 plays (6.7 ypp) in the first quarter, the Baylor defense allowed just 206 the rest of the game (4.3 ypg), including a combined 83 in the second and third quarters ... Only twice since 1993 has Baylor started the year 0-2 (1999 and 2003) ... Baylor and TCU will take a two-year break in the series before meeting in Fort Worth Sept. 4, 2010 and in Waco on Sept. 3, 2011 ... Baylor's three scheduled non-conference opponents in 2011 are former SWC rivals TCU, SMU and Rice ... The Baylor Athletic Ticket Office will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Labor Day for fans looking to purchase either season or single-game tickets.