The team that produced a Heisman trophy winner just last year is playing University of Louisiana-Monroe? What a joke. This should be easy.
I am sure that is what most fans thought when they first saw Baylor’s 2012 schedule. And now we’ve all had to eat our words.
In case you haven’t heard, or just haven’t cared, Louisiana-Monroe is a threat. In their past two games, the Warhawks faced two SEC teams that have traditionally been dominant on the field. And they didn’t get crushed.
In their first game, the Warhawks shocked Arkansas when they beat the No. 8 team in overtime in Fayetteville. Last week, ULM went to Auburn, another SEC standout. They ended up losing to Auburn by only a field goal, but not until pushing that game into overtime as well.
They aren’t just that wimpy little Sun Belt team everyone expected, and they surely have an advantage going in to this game against Baylor.
“It’s a good combination for them (ULM) having a Friday night ESPN game for their opening home game of the season, getting to play a team like Baylor after coming off two SEC schools. That’s a lot of positives in their favor,” said head coach Art Briles.
Baylor’s first game of the season, against SMU, was dominated by the offense. In a stark contrast to that, during their second game against Sam Houston State, the Bears depended on the defense to turn the game around during the second half.
So what is Baylor’s strategy tonight?
“Our approach is not to be heavy on one side of the ball or another,” said Briles. “It’s to be dominant on both sides of the ball and special teams.”
Briles said he is expecting his team to learn what they can and cannot do as the season continues, whether it be offensively, defensively or in special teams.
Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that it takes a whole team to go out there and win a game, but I hope Briles and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett have some tricks up their sleeves ready to pull out tonight.
Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning has just one interception in 113 attempts. He has 649 passing yards and has passed for six out of the nine touchdowns the team has scored this season.
Briles said the momentum ULM has coming in to this game after taking two SEC teams into overtime certainly plays in to the hands of the Warhawks. However, if the Bears can stop that momentum in the first drive, they definitely have the ability to win this game.
Baylor has intercepted five passes in its first two games of the season with all interceptions coming from different Baylor players. Since the introduction of Bennett to the team, Baylor’s defense has recorded at least one takeaway in all 15 games and is 10-0 when recording two or more in a game.
This will certainly be a quarterback vs. pass defense game. Unfortunately, at this point it isn’t a question of if Baylor’s defense is good enough to grab the win, but a question of the Bears being able to go out on to the field confident and ready to fight from the very beginning.
If they can create turnovers from the beginning and keep ULM on its toes, this game should turn out how all Baylor fans expected it to at the beginning of the season.
The Baylor vs. University of Louisiana-Monroe game will be broadcast tonight from Monroe, LA on ESPN with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. --Savannah Pullin