Despite the positivity, performance was mixed throughout. The offense struggled at times to get into rhythm, but it wasn’t necessarily the defense’s doing. More than anything, it really just looked like a practice with an offense that had spent all of two weeks together.
Quarterback was an inconsistent spot yesterday, but it’s hard to tell how much blame to put on the line. The backup lines allowed 17 sacks, including four from Brian Nance and two each from Xavier Jones, Jamie Jacobs, Byron Bonds and Suleiman Masumbuko.
Seth Russell was by far the best of the day, throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns on only 27 pass attempts. He also showed off his legs several times and threw on the move even more. Russell clearly brings a different skillset than Bryce Petty, but could be just as devastating.
Despite a couple of big runs, backup quarterbacks Chris Johnson and Jarrett Stidham combined for minus-41 yards rushing thanks to all the sacks. They also combined to throw 8-for-24 for only 73 yards and a touchdown. Neither got into much rhythm and both seemed to struggle with connections to their wide receivers.
That being said, there was plenty to like.
Zamora is a physical beast. Seeing him on the field, it’s easy to see why Art Briles has compared him to Josh Gordon. He only got one catch, but broke free several other times and either the throw was off target or he dropped the ball. He has a knack for getting open, but will need to improve his hands to take his game to the next level. It’s not surprising; his high school almost never threw the football.
Platt is a burner, every bit as fast as Tevin Reese but noticeably bigger. During a crossing route over the middle, Platt took a big hit from Verkedric Vaughns, but bounced right back up. He shouldn’t have too many durability concerns, but will be absolutely devastating when he stretches the field next to KD Cannon and Corey Coleman.
Speaking of Vaughns, I really liked what I saw from the defensive rotation. Whether Vaughns, Tion Wright, Jourdan Blake or Terrence Singleton, the cornerbacks did a good job of playing physically up the field. Vaughns was lined up on my sideline most commonly and he bodied up against Zamora and Davion Hall all the way up the field.
Returning starter Xavien Howard apparently aggravated his Achilles. We’ll bring you more when we have it.
At safety, Chance Waz had a brilliant game after getting obliterated by Corey Coleman on the first play for a touchdown. The Pflugerville native picked off a Chris Johnson pass into double-coverage, and would have had another if Chris Platt hadn’t grabbed him by the neck to prevent it. Taion Sells also had an interception off a tipped pass and he made several key plays throughout the night.
Several key Baylor players did not participate due to injury, including Shawn Oakman, Ryan Reid, Orion Stewart and Devin Chafin. All are expected to be back for the season.
It’s always hard to tell how much to take from a spring game, but there were good signs from many questionable areas heading in. Now, practices will continue until April 2 before a long and arduous summer. Stay tuned to BearsIllustrated.com for all the latest.