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Preview: Baylor Opens The Season Against Stephen F Austin

The line is 38.5 for a reason. The Bears should cruise in this one.

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Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer ooks downfield - Getty Images - Icon Sportswire
Getty Images - Icon Sportswire

It has finally arrived. Week one is here! After a long drought, we finally have football and a long holiday weekend to enjoy it. 

Coach Matt Rhule will be looking to get the 2019 season off to a fast start with a home win against Stephen F. Austin. The Bears finished last season 7-6 concluding with a win against Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl, and are looking to build off of that this season. 

Baylor is looking to improve on last years gains and improve even more in 2018. They will be lead by junior quarterback Charlie Brewer on the offense and senior linebacker Clay Johnston on the defense. Baylor is all too familiar with losing opening games against FCS opponents (see 2017) so I expect them to come out focused to open the season. 

Game Details 

  • When: SAT, AUG 31 at 6:00 PM CT 
  • Where: Mclane Stadium, Waco, Texas 
  • Forcast: Mostly Sunny, High of 94
  • Stream: ESPN+
  • Betting Line: Baylor -38, O/U 57.5

Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 

For the second year in a row, Baylor is opening with a team that has a new coaching staff. Colby Carthel takes over Lumberjacks squad that went 2-8 in 2018. Carthel previously coached Texas A&M Commerce to a D-II national championship in 2017. 

Stephen F. Austin is simply not a good football team, but they have experience coming back to hopefully make improvements in 2019. Among those returning is senior wide receiver Tamrick Price. The offensive line also has plenty of experience coming back. On the defensive side of the ball, saftey Alize Ward returns for his senior season after being selected second team all conference two years in a row. 

Coach Carthel is a well respected football coach and I expect he will have the Lumberjacks ready to play. One question mark that does remain is a big one in the quarterback position, Jake Blumrick had back surgery during the off-season and next in line is redshirt freshman Cam Arnold. 

The take-a-way here is that while Stephen F. Austin should take a step forward from last year, they are many, many steps back from competing with Baylor.

Baylor Bears 

Baylor is going to try to come out and set the tone for the season against the Lumberjacks. They want to build on momentum from 2018. Leading the charge on offense will be junior quarterback Charlie Brewer and proven senior wide receiver Denzel Mims. 

A major point of consternation for Baylor has been offensive line play. The unit showed some improvement in 2018 following the insertion of Connor Galvin into the starting lineup. Baylor is hoping that the offensive line can show marked improvement. It would be a bad sign if they struggle against the Lumberjacks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Baylor is moving away from their 4-man front and switching to a 3-down lineman front. By taking away a down lineman, Baylor will be adding a more versatile role behind the line that could get after the quarterback or drop back in coverage. Leading the defense will be seniors nose tackle Bravvion Roy and middle linebacker Clay Johnston. They are stocked in the secondary with talent with seniors Chris Miller, Henry Black and junior Grayland Arnold. All you want to see out of this unit is no silly mistakes.

Keys to game for Baylor 

Start Fast – Baylor does not want them to feel like they can play with them. They need to start fast and put game out of reach early. 

Impose Up Front – Baylor’s offensive line needs to dominate the line of scrimmage against an inferior opponent. If Brewer get uncomfortable against SFA, there will be bigger problems down the road.

Don’t Give Up Big Plays – The new defensive scheme has to show that it can limit big plays. This was a particular point of emphasis during the off-season. 

Game Prediction 

Baylor will jump out on the Lumberjacks early and put up a lot of points in the first half. Charlie Brewer will put on a clinic against the Stephen F. Austin secondary. That is, in the first half, because I don’t expect to see much of the starters in the second half.

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