In a season that has had some disappointments, both on and off the field, it can be hard to find some positivity. If I’m being honest, the two games that Baylor has actually played have been a little boring, and the off-field Covid issues have only exasperated the frustrations. But this season hasn’t been without some pleasant surprises. Best of all has been the Baylor linebacker position group.
This is a position group that is playing with a lot of pressure. In front of them is a defensive line that is mostly inexperienced and still trying to find a solid rotation. And behind the unit is a talented defensive backfield that still needs time to gel and prove they can be consistent. Fortunately, the Baylor linebackers have been up for the challenge. So far this season the starting unit has combined for 50 tackles, including 7.5 TFL (Tackles for Loss). Throughout his career Terrel Bernard has gone from being a nice kept secret for Baylor fans, to emerging as one of the premiere defenders in the Big XII. And the best part is he is doing it in multiple ways, showing off his versatility every game. Not many linebackers have the ability to be excellent pass rushers, solid run defenders, and good in pass coverage as well. I wonder how many other linebackers in the country can boast that they have forced a safety, intercepted a pass, and have 3 TFLs in just two games? Alongside Bernard, Dillon Doyle is adjusting well to his new role. He hasn’t been the flashiest player, but that’s not really what Baylor needs out of him anyway. He just needs to continue to be a solid tackler for the Bears. Last, Jalen Pitre has quickly answered any questions that fans might have had on his ability to be an “every down player.” He leads the team in TFLs and has a forced fumble to his credit. But my favorite aspect of his game has been his aggression. On more than one occasion I’ve witnessed him run down ball carriers from the backside when the play was ran away from him. If the play was popped for a big gain it wouldn’t be his fault, and the casual fan certainly wouldn’t notice if he wasn’t in on the play. It’s just plain determination and it’s a joy to watch.
It’s early in the season (as far as games played) but I am not sure there is much of debate at which position group has performed best. Even with over 10 years of experience gone from the linebacker position in 2019, this 2020 group is showing no signs of taking a step back in production.