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Football team ready for Buffaloes

Nov. 12, 1999

By TORIE JOHNSON

Sports Editor

The 1999 football season is drawing to a close, and the Bears begin a two-game homestand to close out the season. The first game in the series is the homecoming contest against the Colorado Buffaloes. Baylor will try to get into the spirit of the festivities by wearing throwback jerseys to commemorate the 1974 Southwest Conference championship team, but the game will focus on the effort of the present players.

'They are good guys, but they have had a lot of adversity in their football life at Baylor,' head Coach Kevin Steele said. 'It's painful, and they know that we are going to get this thing turned around, but the sad thing is that some of these guys are playing in their last homecoming game ever.'

To win this game will be difficult for Baylor. The Bears come into the contest having not won a conference game in 11 attempts and are 1-8 this season. Colorado, on the other hand, is just over .500 in 1999 with a 5-4 record and is 4-2 in the Big 12 Conference. The Buffaloes have also won the last three against Baylor.

'We are going to have to play field position, penalty, turnover-free football,' Steele said. 'That is an old, common thing, but if you look at the games Colorado won they didn't have a lot of penalties, and they didn't turn the ball over.'

The Baylor coaching staff takes a bit of pride in the fact that the defense has improved as the season progressed. The team lowered the number of total offensive yards for opponents and in most games tried to keep the offense close. However, the staff now faces a situation in which each member of the linebacking corps has at least a slight injury.

According to Steele, during the course of the week, the staff tried different players at the linebacker spot and even went as far as to seek out guys who played linebacker in high school. Although that is unconventional, the Bears are in a desperate situation.

'We are just going to have to manipulate and insert and twist and put guys in the best places we can and hope for the best,' Steele said.

As for the offense, the Bears continue to struggle. The team seemed to be coming out of the daze in the early minutes of last week's game against the University of Kansas Jayhawks, but the team fell back into old ways after the first minutes of the second quarter. On the whole, the team only averages 259 yards of total offense, while Colorado brings in more than 407 yards.

In addition, the Buffaloes have scored, on average, 17 more points per game than Baylor scored.

The team's leading receivers, junior Javon Green and senior Marcus Stiggers, have 62 catches for more than 1,000 yards. And in the Colorado running game, sophomore Cortlen Johnson and senior Dwayne Cherrington have piled 880 yards on the ground.

'A victory against Colorado would be very important for this team, and they deserve it,' Steele said. 'They've worked hard. They don't enjoy what they are going through.'