By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
Baylor football (2-0) is traveling to Lawrence, Kan. to play the University of Kansas (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for Baylor’s first game against Big 12 competition. Head coach Dave Aranda said he’s excited to play a team with Kansas’ level of effort.
“Looking forward to this next week, one thing particularly with Kansas is you can see their improvement, and you can see their level of effort,” Aranda said. “You can see their level of buy-in … when you pop on the film, their level of effort and care factor jumps off the video at you and so we’re excited about the opportunity.”
Kansas has a new head coach in Lance Leipold. Leipold previously coached at the University of Buffalo and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Since Leipold’s schemes are still being implemented with Kansas, Aranda and his staff have been looking at footage from both of those schools and had to use a different strategy for game planning.
“I think there’s a real strong identity with what they got,” Aranda said. “We have to prepare for how they play, more so than what they’re doing.”
Coming off of back-to-back wins with the most recent being a 66-7 win over Texas Southern University, the Bears have a lot of momentum and confidence heading into this one. However, senior offensive lineman Xavier Newman-Johnson said the team is worried about what’s happened in the past.
“One thing I would just say for us man is just keeping our head down, steady working,” Newman-Johnson said. ”We try not to listen to the media and stuff, that’s rat poison. We try not to focus on last week. Yeah, we enjoy it the day after the game, but we know when we come in on Monday, it’s onto the next opponent; that’s behind us.”
An area of emphasis for Aranda is keeping tabs on Kansas’ junior quarterback Jason Bean who Aranda feels is one of their strongest weapons.
“Dangerous and fast,” Aranda said about Bean. “Some of the issues that came up with Texas State and our rush and our lack of pass rush integrity is a concern with him. Speaking earlier in some of the schemes that Kansas has, there’s some beginning parts of wide zone and maybe counter and split zone what they’re doing. A lot of it is going to be, there’s a play, it breaks down and their quarterback runs for 30 yards, and so we have to be much improved in that phase of it. Both coverage and vision, and then the rush lanes and the rush integrity because he could be one of their stronger weapons.”
Senior cornerback Kalon Barnes said for the Bears’ defense to be successful, they have to trust what they’ve been working on so far this season.
“They’re good players,” Barnes said. “They got good playmakers, we just got to fall back … and trust our technique.”
While defense may be the main point of emphasis going into the game Saturday, the entire team is locked in on doing their job against Kansas.
“We’re going up to Kansas for a business trip, it’s nothing to play about,” Newman-Johnson said. “We’re going up there to handle a job and we’re gonna come back to Waco.”