Jordan Smith | Sports Writer
The Bears look to remain undefeated this season as they open conference play against Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear gold to be a part of the annual “gold out” event.
The Bears are coming off a 38-10 road win against Rice University last week.
Baylor has won three of the last five match-ups against the Cowboys, including its latest victory last season at Boone Pickens Stadium, 45-35. In this game, senior running back Shock Linwood ran for 91 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. With senior quarterback Seth Russell out due to injury, former Bear quarterback Jarrett Stidham passed for 258 yards and one touchdown on 12 for 21 passing. In the 35 all-time meetings between the two, the Cowboys lead the all-time record at 19-15-0.
The Bears have had trouble in the first half of their games in the past two weeks. Head coach Jim Grobe noticed that this is unusual for the Bears and realized that it is an issue that needs to be fixed.
“Well I think, as much as anything, it’s just execution. We are having nine or 10 guys doing the right things and one person breaking down; whether it’s Seth with a throw that’s a little off target, a receiver dropping the ball or a running back not finding the seam in the defense or even possibly missing a block up front,” Grobe said. “We’d like to figure things out a little bit quicker. The slow starts have been a little bit of a problem overall, and so I think going forward with the Big 12 games getting cranked up we would probably like to start faster. No question.”
Grobe also recognized that Oklahoma State is a team capable of producing both the offensive and defensive ends of the field, and saw this in their performance against the University of Pittsburgh last week.
“Well the thing that certainly they did against Pitt was that they hit the deep ball, and that got everybody’s attention. I don’t think that there was anyone that watched that game that wasn’t impressed with not only how well the receivers got down the field and got behind the corners and caught the football, but how well the quarterback throws the deep ball,” Grobe said. “He gets great height on the ball, and that makes it really tough on the defensive back because it kind of drops in over them. That was really impressive.”
Junior nickleback Travon Blanchard, who is coming back and playing in his first game this season after having surgery in the off season, is pumped and ready to get back out there and play again. However, he said his experience on the sideline was humbling.
“One of the hardest things I’ve had to do since coming to Baylor. This was the first two games that I have ever missed, my first injury and my first surgery,” Blanchard said. “These first two games, it was a first for a lot. Standing on the sideline, it was bittersweet. I could kind of coach a little bit on the sideline and see everything from the secondary down to the line, but at the same time, it was like if I was out there, then I could do this or I could make this play or something like that. It was bittersweet. I was able to watch our team and see what we needed to improve on. Our defense showed some really good things. It was really good to see that we could bend, but not break.”
Senior wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne said the game against Oklahoma State will be a true measure of who the 2016 Bears are.
“The best measuring stick is going to be on the field Saturday,” Hawthorne said. “We’ll hopefully come together and put some points on the board and get our first conference win.”
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at McLane Stadium and will be televised on Fox.