|Photo courtesy of Baylor Football|
Yesterday, the Baylor football team held an open scrimmage at McLane Stadium to conclude their spring practices. Fans and spectators were allowed a peek into the future of the football team as new linemen took their places in the trenches and young players showed off their skills. Of the bunch, RB/IR JaMychal Hasty outshone them all. The redshirt freshman out of Longview, Texas was a national top 300 recruit and showed his talent on the field during the scrimmage. He totaled 13 carries for 68 yards and also caught a 27-yard TD pass from second string QB Zach Smith (QB Seth Russell wasn’t playing). Among other productive players was S Davion Hall, who recently made the switch to DB from WR. Hall has the prototypical speed of players in Baylor’s WRU and easily transitioned from offense to defense. Look for him to make big plays during the 2016 season.
Starting QB Seth Russell suited up for the practice but didn’t step foot on the field due to a pectoral injury. Although it seemed as though he was trying to bargain with Coach Briles about getting to play, he ultimately didn’t take any snaps. Backup QB Jarrett Stidham started throughout most of the scrimmage and had some impressive stats. Stidham recorded 21 completed passes of 27 attempts for 176 yards and ran in one TD for the final score of the scrimmage. QBs Zach Smith and Zack Bennema also made their debuts with the 2nd and 3rd teams respectively. Smith was 11 of 24 for 106 yards and Bennema was 2 of 5 for 8 yards.
The most notable difference in this team compared to last season’s one is the offensive line struggle. While the defense secured their 3-4 front throughout the majority of the game, the O-line was a work in progress, which is to be expected as the team lost four out of five starters. With C Kyle Fuller as the only OL with playing experience, it wasn’t shocking to see that the line was struggling to find cohesion. OC Kendal Briles rotated men in and out through the duration of the scrimmage but toward the end, it seemed like the starting trench men were almost solidified. The best working line up consisted of LT Dominic Desouza, LG Brandon Autry (JUCO transfer), C Kyle Fuller, RG Rami Hammad, and RT Patrick Lawrence. A couple of OL injuries were notable as sophomore Josh Pelzel was helped off the field on crutches and junior Ishmael Wilson hobbled away with a leg injury as well.
The defense went for almost exclusive 3-4 fronts with starting front DEs K.J. Smith and Brian Nance along with DT Jeremy Faulk (JUCO transfer). The LBs employed were Aiavion Edwards, Taylor Young, Raaquan Davis, and Travon Blanchard. Nance and Edwards held two sacks each while Edwards and Davion Hall each had 10 tackles. The defense also forced 12 sacks, showing the O-line’s lack of clear communication and experience.