Is He Ready?

With the season on the line, just 2 games away from making it back to a bowl game, the Bears have just been dealt a hard blow by losing starting quarterback Shawn Bell. Is Blake Szymanski ready to take over?

A 6-4 quarterback who threw for over 4,000 yards as a senior at Wichita Falls, Texas, Baylor Bear football fans were excited to have Blake Szymanski signing in February a couple of years ago. It was said that Baylor was getting a "proto-tyipcal" college quarterback who could not only sling the ball around, but who also could make some plays on his feet.

In the midst of the 2005 football season, while Baylor fans debated whether then junior Shawn Bell should be starting over Terrance Parks, many thought Szymanski might be able to start as a redshirt freshman the next season.

Bell however emerged as the solid starter last Spring. Several months later, Baylor fans wonder if all hope of a bowl game is gone with news breaking today of Bell tearing his ACL in last night's heartbreaking loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. Bell has led the Bears to 3 Big 12 wins this year, and had everyone believing a bowl was squarely within reach.

With only a couple of minutes to make a miracle happen against the Aggies, Szymanski was called to action. He was 0 for 2, with one interception, and gained a quick 20 yards on the ground with 2 scrambles.

So is Szymanski ready to go on the road the next 2 games - with the Bears absolutely having to pull out at least 1 victory? Is he ready to lead this team to a bowl game?

"He's been getting reps here in the fall. We're going to find out pretty quick how comfortable he is. We haven't talked about that as a staff, but we'll have to par it down for him a little bit," said Baylor Coach Guy Morriss. "And we'll give him a list of things that he's comfortable with and that he feels good in his mind that he can execute. Don't overload him, you know. But we don't have a choice. He's our next best quarterback and that's what we're going to do."

If you've been with BearsIllustrated throughout the Fall, you've seen our thoughts on Blake, but our interest will be more keenly focused on him this week. The team's not giving up, we're not giving up. It's time to see what Blake Szymanski can do.

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