Bears to battle Jayhawks in Kansas

Baylor defenders tackle Texas running back Daniel Young to the ground. William Barksdale | Multimedia Journalist

By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer

The Baylor Bears (0-8) have yet to secure a victory this season, will be looking for their first win against the Kansas Jayhawks (1-7), who sit one spot above them in last place in the Big 12.

The Bears will continue playing with a slighty banged up team, after suffering a 38-7 loss last week to the Texas Longhorns. Baylor head coach Matt Rhule said the team was “pretty beat up,” leading Rhule to cancel Monday morning practice with hopes of letting the team recover a bit more. Rhule said he has plans on playing “whoever is healthy” this week.

Only seven players have started every game for the Bears: sophomore offensive lineman Sam Tecklenburg, junior offensive lineman Blake Blackmar, junior Pat Lawrence, sophomore wide receiver Denzel Mims, junior defensive tackle Ira Lewis, junior linebacker Taylor Young and sophomore linebacker Clay Johnston.

However, that number is slated to decrease this week as Johnston is probably out for the rest of the year with a sprain in the middle of his foot, according to Rhule. The loss of Johnston only adds to the woes of seasoned players also out for the upcoming game.

Rhule said several of the players who have had to step into bigger roles this season are questionable or out for this upcoming game.

“[Tresten] Ebner would be questionable for the game, Pooh Stricklin is out for the game, and probably out for the rest of the season, [John] Lovett would be questionable for the game, Tony Nicholson, right now, I don’t know,” Rhule said. “So we’ll see if Tony can do anything, but right now I’d say Tony is questionable for the game as well.”

Except for Johnston, Baylor’s injuries continue to pile up the offensive side of the ball. Injuries to starting players and even second string players have continued to yield a much younger Baylor cast. As the season has gone on, Baylor has played up to 17 true freshmen at points throughout the game. Where the Baylor offense is lacking in depth, the Jayhawks equally are lacking on the defensive side of the ball.

Kansas senior offensive lineman Zach Hannon is questionable for the game, along with sophomore defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong Jr., who has an ankle injury. The absence of Armstrong may give freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer a bit of a reprieve as the Bears struggled to move the ball last week, producing under 250 total yards of offense. The Jayhawks will also be without linebackers freshman Dru Prox and freshman Denzel Feaster, along with senior cornerback Derrick Neal and junior defensive tackle Isi Holani.

Kansas head coach David Beaty said the Jayhawks have to deal with the injuries sustained this season and that it makes things more difficult.

“We’ve got people that are dressed up in our uniforms, and we have to train those guys and they have to be just as effective as the guy that was there before him,” Beaty said. “We’ll continue to work and look at our personnel. But is it a little bit more challenging? Absolutely. Absolutely it’s a little more challenging.”

The Bears will look to rely on players such as sophomore wide receiver Blake Lynch, who played his first game on the offensive side of the ball. Lynch, who was questionable going into play “because he was sick,” played both sides of the ball against Texas and was responsible for the biggest offensive play of the game, catching a 52-yard pass from Brewer in the second quarter.

Along with players who had a receiving touchdown in the first five games of the season, Mims ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 727 receiving yards and third in the Big 12 with seven touchdowns. Rhule said “people are trying to take him away” because of his potential threat down field.

Both teams will be looking to battle it out at 11 a.m. this Saturday at KU Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.

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