Bears to face nation's 'elite' Longhorns in familiar battleNov. 4, 2005
by RIAZ DHANANI, sports editor
It was 1941. The undefeated and Rose Bowl-bound Texas Longhorns made their way up to Waco to take on a Baylor team that had no chance and was basically looked at as a bye week. Sound familiar? Baylor pulled off the unimaginable and ended the game in a respectable 7-7 tie.
The Bears will get their chance to repeat history as they meet Vince Young and the No. 2 Texas Longhorns at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Baylor head Coach Guy Morriss realizes the task at hand -- knocking off the No. 2 team in the nation -- and is preparing for the game just like any other.
The fact that the Longhorns are among the nation's elite changes nothing for the Baylor football team this weekend. In fact, many of the players are eager to measure up such an elite squad.
"I think they are really getting excited about it," Morriss said. "I talked to several of them individually. They are an amazing group of kids who have bounced back every week, ready to play the next opponent. I fully expect them to be that way this week."
Starting linebacker Jamaal Harper is one of those players.
"I think we can win these last three," Harper said. "We can beat Texas, we can beat anyone we play against. All three aspects of the game just need to come together."
A key question going into Saturday's game is who will start as quarterback. Down 6-0 in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech Saturday, Morriss decided to replace Shawn Bell with Terrance Parks.
"The thought to make the change was the fact that we just weren't playing with a lot of energy or life (on offense)," Morriss said. "And by the nature of that position, that guy can sometimes provide the spark you're looking for."
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease was still unsure of who would start as quarterback as of Tuesday's press conference.
"Right now the decision hasn't totally been made. We are still in the evaluation process," Pease said. "Going into this game, we have a week of practice and we'll see what goes down."
Parks has been taking most of the snaps at quarterback in practice this week.
"All of the quarterbacks have to prepare as if they are the starter," Parks said. "So I'm prepared. If (the coaches) put me in, I'm going to execute the offense the best I can."
Parks has completed eight out of 17 passes for 77 yards and an interception against Texas Tech on Saturday. Parks also fumbled at the 6-yard line on the final play of the game. The Baylor offense, which is failed to score against Texas Tech less than a week ago, will take on a Texas defense that ranks seventh in the nation. The Longhorns have only allowed 16.1 points per game and are the best defense the Bears will face all season.
Pease said the key to holding off the Horns' defense starts with protecting the quarterback.
"Our plan is to be very sound and control the line. Give enough time to throw it and maintain the pocket. We have to find that lane or edge to get to those spots for running. They don't give up a lot of big plays and they get to the ball."
On the defensive side of the ball, Baylor is ranked 32nd in the nation. The question is, though, if the defense can stop Heisman hopeful Young.
Bill Bradley, Baylor's defensive mastermind, faces the task of slowing down the third best scoring offense in the nation.
"Our key is to first try to stop (Young), try to get as many people around him as you can," Bradley said. "Our defense has to play as a total defense. We have another big task defensively to give our team a chance to win."
Young sports a 163.65 quarterback rating, passing for 1,835 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He is also one of the biggest threats at his position on his legs. Young has run for 725 yards and eight touchdowns this season, including a 267-yard ground game against Oklahoma State University on Saturday.
"We've been working hard, watching film," Harper said. "We've all seen Vince Young and the highlights of him and the whole team. We know what we're up against and we know we can do it."