Bears Defense: Springing to Life

Coming into the Spring, the Baylor defense faced what appeared to be a daunting task: replacing 7 starters. Their development as a unit culminated with a strong performance in the Green & Gold Game. BearsIllustrated.com breaks down the development of Bill Bradley's unit.

During Saturday's spring game the defense came out fired up and playing like they had a chip on the shoulder. They started the game off stuffing the first seven attempts in the red zone against the offense. They controlled the line of scrimmage early and did anything they wanted to in the offensive backfield. This started by the overwhelming pass rush coming from the defensive ends. The tackles weren't quick enough to handle the quick pass rush speed of Julian Hill, Damien Taylor, and Marcus Foreman early on.

Another asset to watch on the defense would be Paul Howard due to his multi position talent. He will mainly line up as a linebacker this upcoming year; however he is also able to put his hand on the ground and play defensive end. This experiment was tested on Saturday in a few series. The defensive tackles also made their fair share of plays this weekend, beginning up front with M.T. Robinson and Lequantum Mcdonald. These guys wreaked havoc in the center all day and both running backs had limited holes to run in throughout the day. The defensive tackle spot will be key this year and pivotal in the team's success to stop any opposing teams run offense. Coach Wnek has tried to engrave an impression of having a non stop motor in the trenches for these linemen and it will soon appear to have panned out or not in the fall.

When many people think about the linebacker position, they usually think first of how much we lost from last year and automatically anticipate a drop off in performance. However by the end of the fall next year this may be one of the team's strong suits. This position is young but don't mistake for less talented. Nick Moore had a great spring and carried it over into the spring game showing good speed and awareness. He made two great plays on Saturday, one being taking on two blocks, shifting them and stuffing a run play in the backfield. The other would be dropping back into pass coverage and nearly intercepting a pass intended for Jordan Adams by jumping the route.

On the other side is the young Antonio Jones, except this kid doesn't play like a freshman. He has good lateral speed getting from sideline to sideline. His aggressiveness is what the team won't be able to keep off the field this fall; wherever he is going during a play, he is going all out to that spot. Paul Tolbert will be strong as well and really can deliver a hit at the point of contact. This was visible during a play Saturday where he decked Brandon Whittaker at the line of scrimmage sending him soaring backwards.

At the end of the spring, I would say that the secondary is the strongest position for the football team. It's the deepest and most talented while also holding the most swagger of all the positions. The corners are looking to have a big year and are four deep with playmakers on both sides. C. J. Wilson will be one of the senior leaders and be a key ingredient of the defense's success. Anthony Airline might have more potential than anybody on the defense and it was proven during Saturday's performance. Airline was able to nab one interception nearly returning it for a touchdown and also deflected two more passes. He is a tall cornerback with good speed and reaction time from the quarterbacks throws. If he continues to improve he will have a chance to play at the next level and this should serve as motivation to have a big season. James Todd and Josh Bell are great backups that will see playing time regularly to keep the depth strong.

Another intangible for fans to remember is that if Braelon Davis comes back healthy and in full form it will only add to this deep position. The safety spot will be one to watch with two men already stepping up in Maurice Linquist and Dwain Crawford. Linquist already has the experience should have a solid contribution this year. Crawford is standing out more and more having a good spring game breaking up a couple passes. He packs a punch with his hits and he takes pride in it as well. He has a headhunter's mentality for a safety and the aggressiveness will be welcomed by Defensive Coordinator Bill Bradley.


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