Big hit leads to defensive transition

Sophomore Brody Trahan participates in defensive drills as he makes the transition from quarterback to linebacker for the 2011 season. Trahan currently looks to be starting at weakside linebacker for new coordinator Phil Bennett.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Krista Pirtle
Sports Writer

Last November, the Texas A&M Aggies were in town for the Battle of the Brazos.

Running back Jay Finley had just run for a 69-yard touchdown, increasing the score in Baylor’s favor 30-21.

Aaron Jones’ extra point field goal attempt was blocked and picked up by A&M’s Terrence Frederick.

In Frederick’s eyes and almost all watching the game, he was about to score.

However, the holder, Dickinson native Brody Trahan, who was also listed as third-string quarterback, had a different plan in mind. He chased down Frederick and pushed him out of bounds at the one-yard line.

Trahan was glad he saved his team seven points, but his coaches were thinking otherwise.

“We set in there the next day in the coach’s office, went around the room and said, ‘Who else on our football team is going to make that play?’” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “There weren’t a lot of names that came up. He just kind of showed a competitive, tough guy, and it’s proved to be true.”

This play was the deciding factor that decided the move of third- year sophomore Brody Trahan from third-string quarterback to vying for a starting spot as weak side linebacker.

Now during practice he isn’t protected by the red jersey; giving and taking hits is making him stronger.

One major thing Trahan has had to work on is his size, going from quarterback to linebacker, increasing his weight to increase his strength.

“Coach Kaz [Kazadi] has a pretty good workout plan,” Trahan said. “He upped my weights so I’m doing a lot more shoulder stuff. I have to be a lot stronger and be mentally and physically stronger.”

New defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has noticed Trahan’s improvement and work ethic in the weight room.

“He’s a phenom in the weight room,” Bennett said. “He works extremely hard. He’s a conditioned athlete. He’s a football player.”

From the beginning of this transition, Trahan has been open to the idea of learning defense, not only because it brings about more playing time, but also because it offers him a way to help the team.

Baylor’s offense has come a long way in the past two years under the leadership of junior Robert Griffin III in the pocket. The main issue that is still under scrutiny for Baylor is the defense.

According to the Big 12 preseason all conference teams, Griffin, senior wide receiver Kendall Wright and senior center Philip Blake were chosen to the second team offense, but no one represents Baylor on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.

With the move of former defensive coordinator Brian Norwood to associate head coach, the entrance of new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has brought more accountability to the defensive side of the ball.

One big nugget of wisdom from Bennett is knowledge is power.

“If you know where you’re supposed to fit and you fit there every time, then the defense will be sound and we’ll make a lot of stops,” Trahan said.

When told that Trahan tried to make the phrase work on the gridiron, Bennett grinned.

“Well, it means that if you know what you’re doing, then you can excel,” Bennett said. “Knowledge, that comes from us as coaches. If you know your assignment, if you read things on defense, you can play well.”

Trahan is still working on increasing his knowledge of Baylor’s defensive strategy. Moving from a backup quarterback in the shadow of Griffin to a linebacker with great potential to start against TCU on Sept. 2 has been an intricate process.

“He’s had a good camp,” Bennett said. “He’s had a couple of rough days and he’s come back and had two really good days, so we’re very hopeful in the situation.”

The defense is not on the level it wants to be, but it’s continuing to climb.

“Before you can be good, people have to respect you,” Bennett said. “This defense has to earn some respect.”

The move of Trahan from offense to defense adds to the respect the Bears hope to receive this fall.

“He’s done well,” Briles said. “It’s innate. He grew up a coach’s kid. He’s been around football his whole life. He breathes and plays football. That’s what he does.”