By Austin Eck
Baylor football enjoyed a day off on Saturday, but their bye week was used to shift attention to its Big 12 Conference opener against West Virginia University.
In the first three games, Baylor’s defense has not been truly tested, but they face their first genuine test against West Virginia, senior safety Ahmad Dixon said.
“Buffalo had a lot of a passing game, but that was the only team that we had been tested by before,” said Dixon.
To prepare for West Virginia, the team has been watching film from last year’s game against West Virginia, he said.
But, watching old game film does not merely prepare the team for the upcoming game.
“Flashing back last year’s game against West Virginia; that will keep them engaged,” said head coach Art Briles.
Coaches can struggle to keep their team focused with two bye weeks in three weeks, but the players have maintained focus during the early bye weeks without much help from the coaches.
“There is nothing they do,” junior quarterback Bryce Petty said. “It’s all a reflection on this team, and how it’s different from what it has been in the past. We don’t have to say, ‘Hey guys, we got to keep focus.’ That’s the difference from year-to-year that we have on this team that we might not of had previous years.”
With two early bye weeks, players are ready to return to the field and start conference play on Saturday.
“We don’t like bye-weeks,” said Petty. “We come here to play football. It stinks when you get-to-go, get-to-go, get-to-go, hype it up and then you got to settle down and have an off week. Especially going into Big 12 play, it is what we’re excited for and have been excited for.”
Baylor’s offense has been dominant in its first three games this year and leads the nation in points scored. University of Louisiana at Monroe, the best defense Baylor has faced, is ranked 98th for points against.
Even though the offense has not been placed in a situation where a key play was needed, coaches are not simulating those situations where the team is behind in down and distance and has to make a play, said Petty.
Having a week’s rest has helped some players return from injury including running back Glasco Martin.
“We’re treating him like he is 100 percent,” said Briles.
Briles has been pleased with the players that have stepped up to fill the holes left by injury.
“It’s a team,” said Briles. “Like I said in spring and summer, we’re at good quality depth. It’s really the first time we’ve been there. That’s comforting from that standpoint, but we never want to see anybody go down. We want everybody to be at full speed and ready to play.”
Baylor will open conference play with their game against West Virginia at 7 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.