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WHAT CHOICE DO YOU HAVE? #8/9 Bears Ready to Bounce Back After OSU Loss

Nov. 26, 2013

By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

Early Sunday morning, a matter of hours after a crushing 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty tweeted: "One loss will NOT define us. We will learn, we will fight, we will never give up."

"I just wanted people to know that we're not hanging our heads down," Petty said at Monday's weekly press conference. "Were we bummed? Yeah. Were we disappointed in ourselves? Yeah, of course. But this is a special team, it still is. One loss doesn't make it not a special team or not a great team. It's about what you do after your loss that makes you a great team. And I think we're going to prove that, for sure."

The Bears (9-1, 6-1), who fell to eighth in the USA Today coaches' poll and ninth in the BCS rankings and Associated Press poll, are back in the proving business after getting knocked out of the BCS National Championship picture. Baylor will face TCU (4-7, 2-6) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

"What choice do you have?" said Baylor coach Art Briles, whose team had its school-rcord 13-game winning streak snapped. "They made the plays when they needed to make them, and we didn't, and it didn't turn out our way. . . . To me, it's a great chance to show our resolve and show our toughness and show where our direction is, because we're still a work in progress."

The Bears will get a well-rested TCU team that has been off since losing to Kansas State, 33-31, two weeks ago on a field goal with three seconds left. TCU coach Gary Patterson said the Horned Frogs are treating this as their bowl game after having their own streak of eight consecutive bowl games snapped this year.

"I don't know how they're going to approach it," Briles said. "I certainly would expect them to come out and play with everything they've got, because there is no future past Saturday for this season for them. This is their last game of the year. I don't know if this is going to be their bowl game, or how they're going to view it. That's up to Gary and his staff and how they want to view it. We're viewing it as we've got to go play hard for 60 minutes and try to scratch a win out of that stadium."

That's easier said than done. Baylor's been outscored 72-10 on its last two trips to Fort Worth and hasn't won there since beating TCU, 42-18, on Oct. 1, 1994, back in the old Southwest Conference days.

Briles also remembers how the Horned Frogs took advantage of six turnovers in a 49-21 dismantling of the Bears last year in Waco. That was actually a one-score game before Baylor turned it over on three straight fourth-quarter possessions.

"What you don't look at is the results," he said of the Horned Frogs, who have lost six times with a chance to win in the fourth quarter or overtime. "You look at the product on the field. They're people are good and they're well-coached, and they have been in a lot of wars this year. They came in here and soundly defeated us a year ago. So we know what we're getting into, and we know it's going to be a dogfight, without question."

One thing that plagued the Bears in Saturday's loss was another slow start on offense. After scoring touchdowns on their opening drive in the first five games, they've struggled out of the gates in the last five.

Against OSU, Baylor actually threatened on its first two series, moving into Cowboy territory on the first drive and then fumbling at the 1-yard line after Petty inexplicably stumbled and fell within a few feet of the goal line.

"Each team kind of comes out different against us, which is what we want," said Petty, who was 28-of-48 for 359 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's loss. "We want to be that standard that makes people change. . . . If you haven't seen something, and then they change it, you're not really ready for it. That's something that we, as players, have to be able to execute kind of on the fly."

After back-to-back performances of 180-plus yards, redshirt freshman Shock Linwood was held to 29 yards on 14 carries and fumbled twice. But for the season, he's third in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (93.4) and is two yards shy of Baylor's freshman rushing record set by Robert Griffin III in 2008 (843).

"I think coach Briles actually said it best: 'We loved you after Oklahoma, so why would we not love you after Oklahoma State?''' Petty said of Linwood. "Things happen. Honestly, the first fumble is not his fault, it's my fault. If I don't stumble on the goal line, then we don't have to worry about that and we're up seven points. I put that on myself. . . . As a young guy, as a competitor, he wants to contribute. So, I think that got to him a little bit. But he understands that those things happen."

Linwood said injured senior running back Glasco Martin "was there with me through the whole game."

"He was right there by my side, just telling me that it was going to be OK. True enough, you did fumble, but you just have to keep playing. Sooner or later, you're going to give a spark to the team."

Much like last week, Briles expects either Martin (strained knee) or leading rusher Lache Seastrunk (pulled groin) to be back this week. Both of them have sat out the last 2 ½ games with injuries.

"I thought both of them would be ready last week. I wasn't trying to be coy with anybody," Briles said. "One of my faults is if you ask me something, I'll be pretty honest. But I think there's a good chance that one of those two will be back this weekend."

Middle linebacker Bryce Hager, who sat out the last game with a pulled groin, "is a little bit of a long shot" to play in Saturday's game against TCU.

Against the Cowboys, the defense reshuffled, moving Eddie Lackey to middle linebacker and Ahmad Dixon to one of the outside spots and starting redshirt freshman Orion Stewart at Dixon's down safety spot.

"I thought it worked well, quite honestly," Briles said of the changes. "It just didn't finish like we wanted it to, but it started out well."

But Briles indicated that Dixon would return to safety, possibly leaving redshirt freshman Aiavion Edwards as the starting middle linebacker.

"I think there will be some changes that could occur on the defensive side," Briles said. "We will wait till Saturday to find out exactly what's going to happen."

The defense will have to contend with TCU's two-quarterback system that uses senior Casey Pachall as the passer and sophomore Trevone Boykin as more of a running threat. That duo has combined for 2,378 yards and 10 touchdowns passing with 14 interceptions, while Boykin is the team's second-leading rusher with 320 yards and seven TDs.

"They've fallen into a system that I think they feel really comfortable with right now," Briles said. "They've played great defense all year, but I think offensively they're at kind of the peak of their season right now, since Casey's gotten back healthy. They've kind of gotten into a rhythm of what they want to do and when they want to do it."