On a very windy day at the Baylor football practice facility, Baylor Head Coach Art Briles watched his team conclude spring football drills with a controlled scrimmage in front of the 2,750 Baylor faithful in attendance. The Bears head into the new season with 54 returning letter-winners from last season and 16 returning starters from a team that won 10 games last season.
While a few questions were answered heading into the summer, there were still a few questions left unanswered as the season-opener against the SMU Mustangs on September 1st quickly approaches. Although Heisman quarterback Robert Griffin III is gone, Baylor will likely look to Nick Florence to take the reigns. Florence has been solid all spring and it showed again on Saturday. The senior signal-caller completed 14 of 18 passes for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns leading his team to scores on 5 straight series after opening the scrimmage with a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Back-up quarterback, Bryce Petty, performed well on the afternoon as well. Petty completed 18 passes in 27 attempts with 1 touchdown. Petty's touchdown throw came when he connected with tight end Rhett Butler with an 18-yard strike.
While the quarterback position looks to be somewhat settles with Nick Florence as the starter, the same cannot be said about the running back position. There are several talented runners lining the depth chart for the Bears in the backfield. Last season, Terrance Ganaway was the primary ball carrier for this Baylor offense. With him gone to the NFL, the Bears are looking for someone to fill the shoes of the record-breaking Ganaway. Saturday, 4 different runners auditioned for the part.
Senior tailback Jarred Salubi got the start and performed well. The Waco High School product rushed 7 times for 88 yards and caught 1 pass for 16 yards. Salubi will likely head into Fall camp on top of the depth chart, but it appears the running back by committee approach will continue heading into the first part of the season. Junior running back Glasco Martin got plenty of applause from the Baylor crowd as he rushed 8 times for 58 yards including a dazzling 14 yard scamper for a touchdown. The biggest play of the day, however, came from sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk. His 75 yard touchdown run earned him a standing ovation as he headed back to the sidelines. Seastrunk has been hampered all spring with an ankle contusion but showed strength and speed during the 56-play scrimmage. Seastrunk finished with 138 yards rushing and a score.
Even without senior wide receiver Terrance Williams (collarbone), the Bears wide-outs got plenty of work on the day. Senior Lanear Sampson led all receivers with 5 catches for 65 yards including an 18 yard fade pass for a score. Red-shirt freshman Jay Lee tallied 5 catches for 30 yards, and returning starter Tevin Reese hauled in 4 passes for 89 yards. Both Levi Norwood and Antwan Goodley hauled in touchdown passes on the day as well.
While the offense seemed to outperform the defense for most of the afternoon, the defense did cause several turnovers. The Bears defense, in its 2nd season under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, forced five turnovers on the day. Four different Bears recoveredfumbles and freshman defensive back Jemarcus Johnson picked off an Andrew Frerking pass for the day's only interception.
On the day, Baylor's offense tallied over 300 yards of offense in 56 plays during the 75-minute scrimmage.