The Baylor Bears ended their 2014 spring practices with their Annual Spring Game. The BearsIllustrated.com staff was at the game, to break it down for you.
Bryce Petty looked like himself. He threw several great deep balls and got the ball out quickly. He also ran the ball a bit more out of the zone-read look and read that play very well. Petty finished the game 10-15, for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Seth Russell took most of the second team snaps along with Chris Johnson. Russell struggled a bit with accuracy, delivering the ball too low several times on shorter passes. Russell also had issues with the snap several times. Johnson also had some issues with the snap, but struggled to get to his 2nd or 3rd read for most of the scrimmage.
The Bears running game was rather pedestrian, as the offensive line did not open up many holes. Johnny Jefferson was the star of the scrimmage though with several long runs that were blown dead that would have gone for big gains. Terence Williams struggled with finding holes, but that could have been due to the offensive line.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
The usual suspects were the starters for the Bears, with Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman, Levi Norwood and Jay Lee getting most of the reps with the 1st team. The Bears spread the ball out quite a bit, with Corey Coleman leading the way with 5 catches for 47 yards. He caught the ball on short screens, curl routes and also several perfect slant routes.
The play of the game was delivered by Jay Lee, who caught a short pass and simply outran the Baylor defenders on the way to a long touchdown. Robbie Rhodes also caught a long touchdown pass later in the scrimmage.
Tre'Von Armstead started at tight end and displayed some very good blocking ability. He looked much thinner than he did last year, and absolutely looked the part of a tight end.
The Bears starting offensive line was very solid. With Kyle Fuller at center, LaQuan McGowan and Desmine Hilliard at the guard spots, and Jason Osei and Troy Baker at the tackle spots. That unit worked pretty well together, with Jarrell Broxton also getting a shot at the left tackle spot. The issue was everything outside of those 5 or 6 players. Fuller looked very natural at center, and snapped the ball well.
However, no other center could deliver the ball with any consistency. Also, the complete lack of depth at tackle gave the Baylor quarterbacks very little time in the pocket. This position is hard to gauge due to the massive amounts of injuries to key guys like Spencer Drango, Pat Colbert, Blake Muir, and Tyler Edwards.
The Bears rotated quite a few players with the first and second teams. The primary starters were Jamal, Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings and Javonte Magee. Oakman had some excellent plays, using his length and quickness to beat the Bears offensive line and get to the quarterback.
KJ Smith and Brian Nance got quite a bit of playing time with the 2nd team. Nance has put on some good weight but is still quite quick.
The other area hurt by injuries for the Bears was the linebacker spot. Aiavion Edwards, Taylor Young and Collin Brence got the reps with the first team. Taylor is really short, and got lost quite a bit behind the line. If you can get to him, he is very easy to block. Edwards was quick to the ball and made some solid tackles in the running game. Brence was aggressive to the ball and had some nice hits. He was not asked to cover very much though.
Kendall Ehrlich and Grant Campbell also got quite a bit of time with the second team. Campbell looks a lot like a slightly taller Eddie Lackey, even down to the same number. He might not be as fast, but he seemed to know where the ball is.
Kiante Griffin got a lot of time as well at the nickel back position and showed very well in coverage. Xavier Phillips also got some time on the outside as well.
This was the position group that impressed the most. They were very active to the ball and made some good plays. Ryan Reid and Xavien Howard got the start, with Reid making some very good plays on Antwan Goodley. Chris Sanders ran some with the first team, but was still in his red non-contact jersey. The second team featured Tion Wright and Tyler Stephenson. Wright is a bit smaller than KJ Morton, but he plays a similar style. Stephenson was beaten badly on a few plays and still looks to be finding his form still.
Orion Stewart and Terrence Singleton were the starting safeties, with Austin Jupe and Taion Sells getting a lot of time with the 2s. Singleton is very good in coverage and looks like he is starting to get it. He is a very fluid runner, and also got some time at cornerback. Stewart looks to be more comfortable than last year, and stepped up to get the back field lined up quite a bit.
Special TeamsThe best part of the special teams was the kickoff return unit, with Robbie Rhodes as the kick returner. Rhodes had a huge return on his one chance, and could have taken it all the way, as he ran out of bounds with Chris Callahan coming up on him. If that was not his teammate, Rhodes probably would have lowered the shoulder and kept the play alive.
Chris Callahan handled all of the kicking duties, making 2 of 3 field goals. He missed his first one badly, as it had a side-winder action and hooked violently to the left. His second attempt was better and made it through the uprights. His last attempt of the day was his best looking kick, as it had great height and split the uprights.
Spencer Roth handled the punting duties and was solid on both of his punts, booming one over Levi Norwood's head on his second one.
Overall, it was a good scrimmage, with no injuries and nothing terribly bad. It was one of the better crowds that have been to the Highers Complex. The team played okay for the most part. The offensive line will get healthier and start to gel in the fall, while you can hope to build on the solid spring practices for the younger defensive backs and several of the key offensive newcomers.