There were lots of ODB'ers (ODBians? ODBites?) at the game yesterday. I thought it would be fun to get different views on the gameday atmosphere, impressions from inside the stadium and the team from watching in person. What follows are those impressions. Enjoy!
I'm not talking about the heat here, which was absurd. My car registered at 106 as we were driving down Dutton to the stadium. I think that's probably a tad high, but not by much. I'm talking crowd atmosphere. This wasn't nearly the largest crowd that I've ever seen at The Case, and it wasn't the loudest. But everywhere you went, from the campus (we stopped by the bookstore on our way into town) to the tailgate scene to the fans inside the stadium itself, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air that I've never felt before at The Case. There's a buzz about this team. While expectations are high, I would call this anticipation. Excitement. People seem to feel that there's something special brewing. It's going to be fun to see how it builds if the Bears continue this kind of success.
The Baylor Line
This year's first Baylor Line running was by far the biggest I've ever seen. They had a full "tunnel" from the entrance tunnel to the sideline with about half of the members of the line, possibly less. They were active, loud, and engaged throughout the game. What really impressed me was how many stuck around after halftime. The student section started clearing out at halftime and there weren't many remaining at the start of the 3rd Quarter, but it seemed like the vast majority of the Line remained. It thinned out during the 3rd quarter and I'd say that probably 1/3 remained by the end of the game, but given the outcome, I'm not surprised by that. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Here's a short video I took of the Line taking the field.
As exciting and effective as the offense was, I was most impressed in person by our defense. Ahmad Dixon's first big hit happened right in front of me and it got the crowd fired up. Shawn Oakman was enormous, standing a head taller than almost all of his teammates, and he punished the Terriers' tackles at will. He is going to be VERY fun to watch this year. Overall, the defense came to play, and they were one of the most fun aspects of the game itself for me.
Best Player You Probably Didn't See on TV: The Freshman Punt-catcher
Somewhere in the 2nd quarter, Wofford punted the ball back to Baylor, punting it out of bounds inside the 10 yardline. A student wearing a Baylor Line jersey and a green BU helmet made a spectacular catch on the sidelines. After the broadcast went to commercial, the PA announcer tells us that the guy is going to attempt to catch three machine-punted balls, and if he catches them, he gets 2 free months rent (freshman rent? no idea) and a 60" flatscreen TV. Everybody who saw his catch started yelling that he should be given credit for the punt catch he already made. It didn't matter, though, because he caught all three of the "punts" with ease. It was an impressive display.
Aaron Jones, kissing his bicep after kicking the ball out of the end zone. He's always struck me as someone who doesn't take himself too seriously (obviously, with @storkthedork as his Twitter handle), but this had me laughing out loud every time I saw it.
Thoughts from dfank_BU Follow @dfank_BU
Opening day! The first game of the season is always a much anticipated day in the Fankhauser house. A second Christmas if you will. And thankfully Briles Claus comes down the chimneys with shiny toys and long-sleeve opulence rather than lumps of Kevin Steele coal. My thoughts on the first game of the 2013 season...
And that's exactly what we did. The Bears marched right down the field, going 70 yards in 6 plays for the opening touchdown, and it was on from there. It was a solid debut from Bryce Petty. For the most part, he made the right reads and got the ball into the hands of our playmakers. Aside from a few ball control issues, I don't know that we could have asked for anything more from a guy making his first career start. Lache Seastrunk was Lache Seastrunk. Offensive line was offensive line. These things we have come to expect. The guy who really stood out to me was Antwan Goodley. For all the talent we have at wide receiver, I feel like Antwan gets overlooked. I think he is primed for a huge breakout year and he showed why on Saturday. He is capable of beating you with his speed and his physicality on the outside. The other thing that stuck with me was the performance of the second team. It is incredible the amount of depth that Briles has built with the skill position players. Offense has a few minor things to clean up but no complaints from me when 69 points are on the scoreboard.
The thing that had me really excited though was the defense. Obviously the level of improvement from the defense will likely determine this team's fate when we look back on this season. I was concerned that our guys might be timid in attacking the option but that wasn't the case. The back seven was aggressive and flying to the football all night. I felt that they played with a different swagger than we have seen from recent Baylor defenses. In my opinion, a lot of this can be attributed to the leadership that Ahmad Dixon is showing in his senior season (this comment not approved by Mark C. Moore). Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey continue to do their thing. As for the D-line, we all knew Shawn Oakman was a large human being. It was just nice to see him destroy smaller, lesser human beings. My favorite stat of the night is that our defense actually scored more points than it allowed (thanks Chris McAllister!). It will be interesting to see an offense that can actually test our secondary vertically in the passing game but a great opener for the Baylor defense.
Overall, I don't think we could have asked for a better showing than what the Bears showed on Saturday night. It's a fun time to be a Baylor Bear. You're next, Buffalo.
Thoughts from colbyconner Follow @colbyconner
I’ll start out with the tailgating scene. I’m limited to just seeing the student tailgating, but from what I could tell people were out having a good time. It is hard to tell whether or not there were more people tailgating this year than last year, but I would say that the numbers were a little down this year. All in all though, I know everyone at my tailgate area had a great time, and the atmosphere, as always, was very friendly and good-natured.
I got to the stadium a little later than I wanted to and missed the line running on to the field, but I’ve seen pictures and it looked like the class of ’17 was well represented out there. The first thing I noticed when I finally stayed in one spot in the stadium is how full it was, all around. I didn’t expect much since we were playing Wofford, but from attendance alone you would have guessed Baylor was playing a conference opponent. The Case was pretty much full, and it was 95% Baylor fans. It truly was an awesome sight.
The last thing I’ll point out is that I really liked the jerseys. They’re nothing too fancy, but they get the job done. The font, styling, and coloration look really good together. Also, Shawn Oakman is a massive human being. Just. Massive. The 2 on his jersey alone might have been bigger than some of the players form Wofford.