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With Rice next on the schedule for the Bears, we take a look at 5 keys to the game

With Rice next on the schedule for the Bears, we take a look at 5 keys to the game

The Bears are looking to put a rather lackluster performance behind them, as they head to Houston to take on the Rice Owls. The Bears were very sloppy in a 40-13 win over the Mustangs. With conference play looming, the Bears will look to improve in several areas.  

As we continue our game preview series, we take a look at 5 keys to the game versus Rice.

  1. Stay Healthy. This will continue to be a key every week. The Bears got out of the Northwestern St. game unscathed, but weren't so lucky against SMU. With key injuries to Senior CB Ryan Reid and Redshirt Freshman WR Pooh Stricklin, the Bears will need to rely on a couple of young reserves to carry the load. Neither injury looks serious, but it is still something to be concerned about with the lack of depth. Baylor does get some good news this week, however, as Junior NB Travon Blanchard returns to the Bears defense. 

  2. Focus. The Bears looked very disinterested in the game, this past saturday and the first half could have been much worse than the 6-6 score. With everything that has gone on this season, the one major question for this team, was how they would prepare for each game mentally. Physically, this is one of the best teams in the Big 12. Mentally, its hard to expect them to perform at the highest level after losing their leader 3 months ago. Still though, Football is Football. There is a lot to play for and this team is talented enough to win the Big 12. With conference season beginning next week, it will be important for Baylor to establish themselves against Rice. 

  3. Discipline. Baylor is notorious for committing several penalties a game, and they didn't prove anyone wrong on Saturday. The Bears had several careless penalties against SMU and were repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot. In conference play, Baylor can't commit these types of penalties and expect to win the game. Had SMU capitalized on mistakes, its possible the Bears would have found themselves in a 21-3 deficit early. Discipline has to be at the forefront of these players minds cause it could bite them in the rear later down the road.

  4. Special Teams. The special teams units have been a pleasant surprise so far. Coverage units have done an excellent job of pushing return units back and not allowing big returns. Tony Nicholson has been electric as a punt returner and has had two scores pulled back because of penalties. It's only a matter of time until he breaks one. If there was ever a game for Nicholson to break lose, its this game. j 

  5. Win the Line of Scrimmage. The offensive and defensive lines were pushed around by a smaller SMU front, during the first half of the game on Saturday. That should be very concerning for the coaching staff, who made great adjustments at halftime and pushed around the SMU front in the second half. It is imperative that the Bears continue to improve along the offensive lines. It will be important as they enter conference play. The lines they will be facing will be much more talented than SMU and Rice, respectively. 

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