Steady climbing: Bears complete first scrimmage at McLane

The Bears' offensive line blocks the Mountaineers' defense as senior quarterback Charlie Brewer looks for a pass option during Baylor's 17-14 victory over West Virginia on Oct. 31, 2019 at McLane Stadium. Lariat File Photo

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

Baylor football hit the field at McLane Stadium for the first time this fall, holding its first scrimmage of camp Saturday.

Head coach Dave Aranda was quick to emphasize how important the scrimmage was during a Zoom press conference held immediately after, saying that it will set the tone for how the team will play this season.

“We will end up playing the way we practice,” Aranda said. “The more competitive, the more contested, the more animated and the more excited the practices are the better.”

While Aranda was happy with the overall effort in the scrimmage, he said that the team is not quite at what he calls “the Baylor standard of performance”.

“Collectively, that’s still a work in progress to get 11 guys held to a same standard and a same expectation,” Aranda said. “There’s still some work to do there.”

However, Aranda was still impressed with the improvement that the defense showed during the scrimmage as they continue to adapt to a new defensive system.

“Defensively the effort was very good, and communication has improved,” Aranda said. “I thought our tackling was better than what I expected it to be in terms of angles on the perimeter and using help.”

One of the main catalysts behind the defense’s improvement during preseason practice has been senior linebacker and recent graduate transfer William Bradley-King, who defensive coordinator Ron Roberts called an “elite pass-rusher”.

“He’s athletic, football’s important to him, he’s been impressive in the way he’s handled everything, his character, his attitude, those types of things,” Roberts said. “He’s what we’re looking for prototypical on that jack position.

The scrimmage marked Bradley-King’s first time to play in McLane Stadium, which he called a “blessing”. Bradley-King said the teams welcoming atmosphere has helped make his transition to Baylor much smoother and has allowed him to make an impact quickly.

“First of all, as soon as I came, the guys came with open arms. They told me the standard from the jump,” Bradley-King said. “I couldn’t ask for a better transition.”

According to Aranda, the scrimmage was also beneficial for the offense in that it allowed them to play an extended amount of reps and to improve on in-game situations. Aranda noted the improvement in the offensive line, a group that he said will be a “strength” for the team this season.

This has been an area of focus for Aranda and his staff as they seek to protect star quarterback Charlie Brewer. Junior left tackle Connor Galvin said that protecting Brewer has been a “big topic” for the offensive line during fall camp.

“Each time we throw the ball, our goal is to protect Charlie for as long as he needs,” Galvin said. “We’re trying to keep him up and safe and playing for as long as possible.”

Aranda also specifically named redshirt junior wide receiver R.J. Sneed and senior running back Trestan Ebner as impact players during the scrimmage.

“Ebner had some passes put out to him quickly and he was able to make some plays,” Aranda said. “R.J. made some contested catches.”

Aranda ended on a positive note, saying how the team’s performance in the scrimmage was a sign of the overall progress that they have made since returning to Baylor for practice.

“Everyone feels confident about the direction of the team, the improvements that the guys have been making and the accountability and integrity that everyone has off the field,” Aranda said. “The off-the-field stuff more than ever has a lot to do with what happens on the field and we are handling business in both realms so far.”

Baylor football will open its season against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 12 at McLane Stadium.