The Baylor defense played noticeably inspired in the Bears’ 70-17 victory over the Rice Owls on Saturday at McLane Stadium. The defensive effort marked the least points allowed in a game for Baylor this season.
“Everybody was hungry and ready to prove people wrong.” – Sophomore linebacker Taylor Young
Linebacker Taylor Young accredited the defensive performance to the week of preparation.
“Coach [Phil] Bennett put in a good game plan and it showed up … everybody did their job and it worked out really well,” Young said.
Sophomore linebacker Taylor Young made his home season debut on Saturday. After sitting out of the game against the Lamar Cardinals two weeks ago, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2014 registered four tackles (1.5 for loss) and a sack.
“It was great just being back in McLane because this is a great atmosphere. [The fans] are yelling and everybody’s blood is boiling, so it was just a great feeling,” Young said.
It was evident that the DeSoto native’s presence against the Owls gave the Bears’ defense an added confidence and consistency.
“[Young] is a sparkplug for us and brings a lot of energy.” – senior linebacker Grant Campbell
Head coach Art Briles said Young was a difference maker and spoke about the team’s need to regain their edge ahead of Saturday’s game. Young said the team took Briles’ words to heart.
“It showed up on the first day [of practice]. Everybody was hungry and ready to prove people wrong,” Young said.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Rice boasted a formidable rushing attack of 5.6 yards per carry. However, Young and the defense were able to limit the Owls to just 2.1 yards per carry for 94 yards.
The stability in the linebacker spot allowed Baylor to get to the quarterback for five sacks and numerous quarterback hurries. The Bears limited Rice’s offense to 152 passing yards on a 52 percent completion percentage.
“It was great [having Young back]. He’s a sparkplug for us and brings a lot of energy. He’s a playmaker and you have to love having a playmaker on defense,” senior linebacker Grant Campbell said.
Young’s return had an impact on the defensive line as well. Defensive ends Shawn Oakman and Jamal Palmer looked more confident to rush the quarterback without having to account for the run.
After recording a sack in today’s game, Oakman is now tied for No. 1 on Baylor’s all-time career sack list (15).
Young added that the playstyle of Rice helped the defensive line be able to rush the passer more effectively but agreed that today’s performance was the most dominant for the defense this season.
Overall, the Bears’ performance on defense was exactly what Briles said the team needed. Earlier this week, Briles insisted that the defense needed to be more dominant. After limiting Rice to 246 total yards and 17 points, the case can be made for Young’s positive impact on the Baylor defense.
“Coming into this game, this was our statement, saying ‘this is where we start.’ And now we want to keep [the momentum] going,” Young said.
An impressive showing from the Bears’ defense came at a critical time. Baylor will look to carry momentum in as they begin Big 12 play next week against the explosive offense of Texas Tech.