In an extremely humid day in Waco, the Bears come away with the most important stat of all, a W. Dominating the entire way, Baylor took control of the Albany Great Danes, winning 69-10. Blake Shapen, who earned the starting job over current USF starting QB Gerry Bohanon, played about 2 and a half quarters and was 17/20 for 214 through the air and 3 total touchdowns. A stellar debut for the Bears new QB.
The running game wasn’t as dominant as we came to expect last season, but overall it was respectable. Taye McWilliams got the most carries and finished with 12 rushes for 45 yards. Freshman Richard Reese was the hot hand though, as he exploded in the 4th quarter to finish with 9 rushes for 62 yards and 2 TDs. Craig “Sqwirl” Williams added in 3 rushes for 13 yards, including a touchdown. We also got a look at a familiar play with Monaray Baldwin, who took an end around 50 yards for a touchdown. Baldwin also added in 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Bears fans also got a chance to finally see Kyron Drones in some extended action. Drones looked great, showing off a cannon of an arm and some seriously good accuracy, finishing with 100 yards on 5 of passing and a 9 yard touchdown run. Baylor fans have to feel really good about the QB room right now, which is a special thing considering the QB that led us to a Big 12 titles last year is playing elsewhere. But, what I was most excited to see was Gavin Homes dominate in the return game. Holmes is a multi-year single digit wearer who’s had some horrible luck with injuries that have kept him off the field. Seeing him take a 72 yard punt return to the house was a special moment.
The Defense also spent most of the game in control, though they did look vanilla with their scheme and playcalling, something that’s expected in a game like this one. Jaxon Player showed flashes of some serious inside dominance in his first game with Baylor, and Gabe Hall is an absolute monster who is going to a problem for other teams this season. I expect the defense to be a little bit more exotic when we head to Provo to face BYU next week.
My one criticism in this game would be for the offensive line. There’s been a lot of offseason hype for this group all offseason, deservedly so. But tonight they did not appear to be their dominant selves from 2021. The running game struggled to get a rhythm behind them, and the pass blocking wasn’t anything special for the first half of the game. It was a humid day, the opponent wasn’t exciting, and the running plays weren’t all that special, so there’s some reasoning there, but lets hope the group looks more like last season moving forward.
Overall, a great start to the season for your Bears. Shapen clearly had control of the offense. We have a stable of running backs. The defense was the defense we expect. And, we came away with the win. After 245 days, Baylor football returned with a bang, handling their business so they can begin preparing for a daunting road test in Utah.