No. 4 Bears hurdle another slow start, win home opener 66-31

Junior running back Shock Linwood celebrates a touchdown during the Bears' game against Lamar on Saturday at McLane Stadium. Linwood led the Bears' running corps with three touchdowns. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

The Baylor Bears overcame another slow start to beat the Lamar Cardinals 66-31 Saturday night at McLane Stadium. For the second straight game, the Bears were very underwhelming in the opening half.

“I think through phases of the game, last weekend and this weekend, we’ve been [dynamically polished]. i think we’ve shown what we are capable of doing, you just got to do it over the long haul,” said head coach Art Briles.

Junior receiver Corey Coleman caught six balls for four touchdowns and 182 yards. The four touchdowns broke the school record for scores in a game, previously set by KD Cannon against Northwestern State last season.

“He’s very dynamic with the football. He’s very aggressive when he has the football in his hands. Very sudden, very strong, very powerful, and very confident,” said Briles of Coleman.

Coleman was a blur on the outside all night, blowing by the Lamar secondary for scoring receptions of 42, 21, 61, and 34 yards.

“It feels amazing to get the record but the most important thing is that we got the win,” said Coleman.

Senior receiver Jay Lee had a big night as well with 9 receptions for 111 yards. The receiving duo accounted for 37 percent of the Baylor offense on the night. However, the Bears were not without their struggles Saturday night.

Although junior quarterback Seth Russell completed 67 percent of his passes, he committed multiple turnovers. Russell was responsible for all four of Baylor’s turnovers with a fumble and three interceptions.

“All three of those [interceptions] are on me and I can’t make those dumb decisions,” said Russell. “I have to get better. With the interceptions, we can’t have those.”

Russell overthrew receivers numerous times and misread coverages. Coleman’s performance may have overshadowed Russell’s spotty night, but the Bears’ running game was also alive and well against Lamar.

Junior running back Shock Linwood toted the rock 18 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Linwood’s performance led a Bears’ rushing attack that totaled 412 yards on the night.

Sophomore running back Johnny Jefferson and freshman running back Terrence Williams also ran well, posting 121 yards each. Jefferson posted a touchdown near the tail end of the game when most of the second-string and third-string players were on the field.

9-12 BU vs. Lamar_863.jpg
Baylor song leaders cheer from the sidelines at Baylor's home opener Saturday night against Lamar University at McLane Stadium Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

“Our run game is good this year. It’s better than last year. We have guys up front that have experience on the line, so we have a good running pattern,” said Shock Linwood.

Defensively, the Bears were slightly improved from last week. After regaining the services of senior defensive end Shawn Oakman and junior safety Orion Stewart, Baylor allowed the Cardinals 340 total yards, 173 on the ground.

Baylor struggled all night with Lamar’s zone blocking scheme, failing to collapse or penetrate upfront and exchange gaps over the top from the linebackers. The Bears also only registered one sack on the night, a very low number against an FCS offensive line.

Through the air, the Baylor secondary did improve. After getting torched in the first half against SMU last week, the Bears limited the Cardinals to 167 yards passing for the entire game. Junior cornerback Xavien Howard also came away with an interception on the night.

“We just have to dominate up front and take care of stuff in the [secondary]. We have to start and finish strong. we have to play four quarters, not just one half,” said Howard of the defense.

Penalties were also an Achilles heel for the Bears yet again. Baylor was flagged 12 times for 93 yards, eerily similar to last week’s 13 penalties for 105 yards. Texas Tech remains the only team in the Big 12 to be more penalized than the Bears so far this season.

The Bears will enter their only bye week of the season next week, looking to improve for the upcoming conference play. The Bears play again Sept. 26 against the Rice Owls (1-1), 2:00 p.m. at McLane Stadium.