One week away from game day, Baylor football works on finetuning small things

Sophomore kicker Noah Rauschenberg completes a touchback against UTSA in Baylor's 63-14 win on Sept. 7, 2019 at McLane Stadium. Lariat File Photo

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

It’s almost time for football to return to the banks of the Brazos River. Kickoff for Baylor football’s opening game against Louisiana Tech was announced Tuesday so the Bears and the Bulldogs have a date with destiny at 11 a.m. on Sept. 12.

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Baylor has a 85.3 % chance of coming out the winner in the opener. But with just one week left until game time junior linebacker Terrel Bernard said there are still a few things the Bears have to iron out during the team’s scrimmage this weekend.

“I think the focus this week is fine tuning our details,” Bernard said. “I know that’s what the coaches have been preaching to us, and that’s what we know we need to fix. I think going into Saturday if we can fix that we’ll be a lot better and a lot more prepared going into game week.”

Saturday will be Baylor’s final scrimmage of fall camp and head coach Dave Aranda agrees that there is “more improving to do,” but said he is impressed with the way the secondary and special teams have progressed. Aranda named Jalen Pitre’s blitzing ability and Jairon McVea’s zone coverage as positives in the star position as well as the length and speed of MarK Milton, Kalon Barnes and Raleigh Texada at cornerback. And the defense’s versatility and interchangeability will be a strength for the Bears in terms of adjusting to the opposing offense.

In terms of special teams, the first-year coach said he was proud of the work assistant coach Matt Powledge has done with the Baylor group.

“It’s important, special teams is, it’s the first play of the game,” Aranda said. “I think for example if you watch field goal block, and I think when you watch that on Saturday, you watch the effort, you watch the intensity, you watch the intent, that tells you a lot about your team.”

On the other side of the ball, senior quarterback Charlie Brewer said being consistent is key for the offense and while there is room to get better, he’s sure the team will be ready to go.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to put in,” Brewer said. “We’re not close to where we want to be yet, but that’s OK. Just as long as we get better each day, and I think we’ve done that for the most part.”

And while the Bears still have to wait another week before they can kickoff, several other schools have already hit the field this week. Aranda said it was interesting to see what the “new normal” of college football looks like.

“I was able to watch the game here just recently that was on TV. I feel like you’re watching that thing: ‘Oh, are their masks on? Are they distanced?’ You’re so used to that, so you can’t help but think that when you’re watching those things,” Aranda said. “It was really cool to see just how much fun they were having, the coaches and the players, and it was just great to see football again. But, it does look different.”