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Bears look for second home victory against SHSU

Sept. 19, 2003

By Matt Richards, reporter

The Bears' football team faces the Sam Houston State University Bearkats in their final non-conference game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium. The meeting is only the second between the schools that are separated by only 150 miles.

The teams met last in 1990 with Baylor grinding out a 13-9 victory despite a frustrating offensive day. The Bearkat defense led by Michael Bankston held Baylor to only 56 yards of total offense in the first half. Bankston went on to play eight years for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Sam Houston State, a Division I-AA team, has struggled against Division I-A opponents since the inception of the league in 1978. Since joining the league 17 years ago, Sam Houston State is yet to win a game against a Division I-A school. In addition, Baylor never has lost to a Division I-AA team. However, head Coach Guy Morriss claimed after last week's 10-7 defeat of Southern Methodist University that he would not take SHSU lightly. The Bears have several areas of concern that they must address before entering Big 12 conference play in two weeks.

The first area will be the injuries that have plagued the defense. Last week, the Bears lost junior defense end Khari Long to a torn meniscus in his left knee. His knee was scoped Tuesday but he is listed out for three to four weeks. In addition, true freshman defensive end Marcus Foreman will miss the game because of a sprained ankle.

Senior defensive end Joe Simmons and senior linebacker John Garrett will have to help patch up the injured defense. Simmons played well against SMU, registering four tackles and two assists. Garrett was forced to move to defensive end to replace Long. Despite it being his first time ever to play that position, Garrett had four tackles and two sacks. He was named the Dallas Morning News Defensive Player of the Week following the game against SMU.

The other area of concern for the Bears is the offense that gained only 182 total yards last week, their second-lowest total in a win since 1956. Junior quarterback Aaron Karas threw for only 102 yards and no touchdowns. Also, the running game faltered for the first time all season last week. Senior running back Rashad Armstrong ran for 71 yards but fumbled once and averaged only 2.3 yards a carry.

However, there are a few offensive players to watch for this weekend. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Trent Shelton was a surprise last week, catching two passes for 29 yards. Sophomore defensive back Willie Andrews played on all sides of the ball last week, returning three punts and one kickoff for 59 yards, carrying the ball for six yards and breaking up passes for the defense. There's potential for Andrews to see action again when they play the Bearkats.

But there still seems to be more questions that answers for the Bears as they have their final tune-up before facing Big 12 opponents. Baylor must run effectively, pass consistently and patch the holes of defense if they hope to compete this year.