The Bears have been spread extremely thin on the D-line this season. After years of star power in the form of DEs Shawn Oakman and Jamal Palmer as well as DTs Andrew Billings (miss you) and Beau Blackshear, a young and inexperienced (how many times can I use that phrase this year?) defensive line has struggled to stop every Big 12 team after their first six wins.
The team lacks more depth on defense than offense as the only player with experience is DE K.J. Smith. Smith started eight games as a redshirt freshman where he recorded 45 tackles, five sacks, seven QB hurries, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He helped the Bears earn their second Big 12 championship title in 2014 and is a veteran leader on the defensive side. In his “sophomore slump” season, Smith started three games and he totaled 23 tackles, eight QB hurries, one pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Although the Baylor defense lost some of its spark, Smith has been a figurehead with tackles galore. Greg Roberts and Jamie Jacobs have been interchangeable this season where Roberts has seen more starts. Both Roberts and Jacobs have saved the defense with extra tackles and key points in the game. Where Baylor struggled, Roberts prevailed. He has proved to be an extremely powerful and diligent member of the defense who doesn’t give up even in the worst conditions. Ira Lewis has started at DT as DC Phil Bennett tried to fill the gaping hole Andrew Billings left with his departure. Lewis saw some action last year as a redshirt freshman, but has contributed more this season. Lewis has totaled 33 tackles and three sacks previous to the Texas Tech game and although he’s not as agile as Billings, will improve with coaching help and more practice. The other defensive ends are Tyrone Hunt and Xavier Jones; the tackles are Byron Bonds, Cody George, Michael Johnson, Will Jones and Bravvion Roy (my favorite!).