For the second straight game, the No. 4 Bears got off to a poor start against an unranked team. The Bears lead 35-14 over Lamar University at McLane Stadium.
Defensively, the Bears again struggled against a mobile quarterback. Offensively, Baylor could not secure a rhythm all half, with junior quarterback Seth Russell committing three turnovers.
Outside contain has been a problem with the Bears’ defense all night. Lamar has rushed the ball 18 times for 95 yards, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The Cardinals also rushed to the end zone for three scores. Lamar quarterback Carson Earp was responsible for 36 of those yards, including a 25-yard dash up the gut.
Earp would eventually be knocked out of the game, though Joe Minden’s entrance would only allow running back Kade Harrington to carry the load. With Minden in the game, Harrington has picked up where Earp left off, rushing for 40 yards and a score.
Lamar’s zone rush scheme has given the Bear fits all night. Missed tackles and missed assignments dot the Bears’ defensive landscape. Lamar has been eating clock and grass, running off the tackles for reasonable gains on the outside.
While the Bears have improved on their passing defense allowing the Cardinals only 77 yards through the air, the rush is killing Baylor.
Russell has accounted for all three of Baylor’s turnovers on the night, all in the second quarter. He fumbled on a scramble on Baylor’s opening drive of the second quarter. Russell was also picked off by Lamar’s Xavier Bethany.
Following that turnover, Russell attempted to hit receiver KD Cannon down the middle of the field but overthrew the ball right into Bethany’s hands. After the Bears forced the Cardinals into a three-and-out, Russell again committed a devastating error.
Dropping back to find receiver Corey Coleman in the flats, Russell misread the route and threw the ball right to defensive back Seth Ellis. After starting off 12 of 13 for 182 yards, that success did not translate to the second quarter. Russell ends the half going 18 of 22 for 286 yards, 3 scores, and 2 picks.
Despite Russell’s woes, senior receiver Jay Lee and junior receiver Corey Coleman have picked up right where they left off. Lee has reeled in 8 balls for 109 yards while Coleman grabbed five receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns.
While Baylor has posted 395 yards of total offense on the night, turnovers have given Lamar good field position for each drive.