Billy Embody: What's the latest on the Baylor injury front?
Tim Watkins: "The last couple weeks it has kind of calmed down a bit. The Northwestern State game, Baylor escaped it pretty healthy. Running back Johnny Jefferson looks like he'll be out at least one more week, but nickelback Trayvon Blanchard will be available after the car accident and foot injury. He might not start, but if they need him, he's available. Taion Sells is probably done for the year, he was going to be starting. in the defensive secondary and Chance Waz is suspended for the SMU game. KD Cannon is still trying to come back from that knee issue that he had. I don't think his explosion is all the way there and burst that we're used to seeing him have. All the routes he did were short little 5-8 yard curls."
BE: What were the takeaways from the Northwestern State game?
TW: "The secondary wasn't tested at all against Northwestern State. They couldn't even get a pass off. Baylor did what they needed to do and looked better defensively than I thought they would. 1.3 yards per play is good against anyone though. That slot receiver has been a tough one for the Bears defense in the past especially those quick guys if they can get them isolated on the safety. That would have been Chance Waz, but now it's Davion Hall, the former 5-star wide receiver who is in his first action at safety. If they can move Proche into the inside and take that as a 1-on-1 on the inside, Hall is as athletic as they come, but he just doesn't have a lot of experience at the safety position in coverage. That might be a big advantage and something to watch.
Northwestern State was playing 8-15 yards off the ball and the Bears were just quick hitting it down the field hoping to get 15 yards and then run the ball the next play. NSU wasn't giving them anything down the field. There was really only one ball that was pushed down the field and completed. They just didn't need to. It was a pretty vanilla attack. The offensive line is beginning to get in sync with a couple guys coming up from walk-ons and JUCO transfer plus a scholarship player out with a concussion. They've got a two-deep, but after that, they've got nothing. If one or two guys go down, it could be pretty bad for the offense. They just don't have the depth."
BE: What's the area of concern for the Bears in this matchup?
TW: "The Bears lost their top corner in Xavien Howard to the draft last year. Ryan Reid is a three-year starter and he'll really be playing the field side of the field. Really there wasn't much to learn from the NSU game for the secondary. We just really don't know how the pass defense will look. Morris has been able to build an effective passing attack. He got a few big plays last year like that. If they can cover Sutton and cover that second or third option, we'll see what they can do."
BE: Can SMU's offense give Baylor trouble?
TW: "SMU does a lot of things to watch with the Bears new defense like misdirections. They've got a young defensive line. There's a lot of depth and I like their two and three deep, but it's young and untested. It's even more athletic than it was. Ira Lewis was just the best player on the football field Friday night. If they can get more from one or two defensive tackles to carry that load and be that anchor in the middle, that would be massive for their run game. The Bears went with a three-man front against NSU and it'll be interesting to see if the blitzes can get there. Taylor Young is like an Erik Striker from OU as a standup linebacker, but mainly being a standup edge rusher and he was excellent and had consistent pressure all night. SMU's offensive line will be much more capable though."
BE: If SMU gets a Ben Hicks that can step up and make throws, you never know what can happen in this game, right?
TW: "He absolutely has it in him to make a statement. If they have a passing option and a running option with SMU's attack, that'll help. The Bears destroy one-dimensional teams, even with an average defense. Traditionally, they've destroyed teams that only could pass or only could run. That's thing that I'm interested to see. NSU was zero-dimensional. I think your running game will provide you something especially with the way the Bears are going to defend the field. They are more susceptible to the bigger rushing attacks so your backup might have a few words to say to our linebackers, but if Hicks can provide some type of aerial attack to keep the Bears honest, then you're going to score points."
BE: What do you expect with Round Two for Chad Morris at SMU vs. Baylor? Last year could have ended closer than it ended.
TW: "I think without Davis, there's a lot of unknown for the Bears especially on the prep side. They know what Davis is going to do. They know they have to keep him in the pocket and keep him from extending plays too much. With Hicks, it's more of do we do the standard operating procedure of rush the freshman and try and get him scared? I think it's going to be a similar game. I think it's going to be close within a score or two at halftime and then the second half is going to all come down to adjustments. The Bears have the same coaching staff minus one very large figure, but the guys doing the adjustments are still there.
SMU is a lot better are there. They won't be playing with the emotion of home and the first game of the season, which I think gave them a bit of an edge. Every time you have a new coach, everyone is amped up. I'd expect something similar. With it being in Waco, they've really been unbeatable with Seth Russell. I was happy to not see the chest bumping in the past. Coach Grobe said before they went on the field, be sure to play up to what Baylor is. Keep everybody proud and play the right way."