1. Four days until the itch is scratched and Baylor football is back in our lives. Monday afternoon, we started to see the Bears depth chart for the Northwestern State game released, though there will probably still be changes to it.
The biggest surprise is the presence of Ishmael Zamora at wide receiver. Zamora made headlines the past few weeks for abusing his dog, and presently has charges filed against him. It would be shocking to see him play against Northwestern State, especially in light of the turmoil it has caused the past few weeks. Head Coach Jim Grobe has maintained that Zamora will be punished, by the University, football team and maybe the city, and that we would have clarification on that this week.
(****Update - Coach Grobe has said that he is listed as a starter due to his performance this summer and fall. However, the University has not decided his punishment yet. In addition, if the University doesn't decide by game time, Zamora will be held out of the game).
The other big take away is the shake up in the defensive secondary where Davion Hall finds himself at the top of the close safety position. Both Chance Waz and Taion Sells are missing. Waz had surgery in the offseason while Sells is battling a foot injury that has plagued his time in Waco. Hall, Henry Black and Chris Miller are listed as co-starters at the Deep Safety position, but bets are that Hall will be making the start.
2. Interestingly, the Bears are showing a 3-4 look on the depth chart for the first time. With Ira Lewis anchoring the nose tackle spot, the Bears will have three linebackers and a nickel back on the field. The three listed linebackers are Aiagion Edwards, Taylor Young, and a trio of options at the third spot. Patrick Levels will start at nickel back with Travon Blanchard injured. This slides up Eric Ogor to the 2-deep, with Clay Johnston making an appearance behind Taylor Young. This switch in philosophy has been a long time coming, and necessary with the Bears lack of proven depth in the interior of the defensive line. Speaking of which, true freshman Bravvion Roy is listed as the backup to Lewis, along with Andrew Morris.
3. Offensively, the Bears depth chart is pretty much as expected, with the exception of Zamora. Mo Porter is now on the top-line of the offense, earning an "or" with Patrick Lawrence, who had held a starting spot at either tackle since the 1st spring release. The former junior college all-american redshirted last year, along with Dom DeSouza, who is listed as the starter at left tackle.
Whoever starts, the backup will get reps, and probably lots of them. With Kyle Fuller anchoring the middle, Baylor expects to rotate Porter, Lawrence and DeSouza at tackles. The guards are a little cleaner with Blake Blackmar and Ishmael Wilson starting at guards and Tanner Thift backing them both up. One key is Tyrae Simmons, who after practicing at guard is listed at the backup left tackle spot. Simmons is a guy the coaching staff loves, and could have the flexibility to play any of the 5-spots on the line. Can he learn the offense in time though?
4. Do not read into KD Cannon and Quan Jones being co-starters. Cannon is the man there, just might be a bit limited due to practice time. He is still recovering from knee surgery, and while he is 100% cleared, he isn't 100% caught up on conditioning and reps. That will take time. Of course, the last time Cannon played against Northwestern State, it went okay. 3 touchdowns in a half with then backup quarterback Seth Russell.
Do not be worried about Shock Linwood and Terence Williams being listed as co-starters as well. Shock is still coming back from injury and is very close to 100%. Williams will step up into a larger role, especially with Johnny Jefferson out for this game. The Bears will run the ball, and those two, along with JaMycal Hasty, will get plenty of action.
5. There are three spots on the depth chart with three options to start. The dreaded and confusing "OR". All three are on defense with right end, linebacker and deep safety being the culprits of confusion. At end Jamie Jacobs, Greg Roberts, and our most interesting man, Tyrone Hunt, make an appearance. Jacobs is the safe bet to start, especially after several strong scrimmages. All three will play and rotate in and out, even in a 3 or 4-man front.
The 3rd lienbacker spot is also a question mark with Raaquan Davis, Thomas Cletcher and Lenoy Jones Jr. listed as co-starters. Davis is the only one with experience in the green and gold, but Cletcher was a top get late in the recruiting cycle for the Bears from junior college. Expect Davis to start, but you could see him slide over to Aiavion Edwards spot at times with Cletcher of Jones next to him.
The final spot is safety, where Davion Hall is expected to start. Hall, the former 5-star athlete who played his first two years at wide receiver for Baylor, brings all-american type athleticism and abilities to the defensive backfield. Will he crash course and reintroduction to the defensive side of the ball be a success this quickly though?
The Bears depth chart will still move quite a bit in the next few days. The picture will become clearer when the lights come on and the step on the field.