Louisiana-Monroe-Baylor Preview

The Associated PressSeptember 17, 2013

Baylor is clicking at a higher level offensively than any team in the nation through two games, with only a strange lull in its September schedule seemingly capable of slowing it down.

Just don't expect the 20th-ranked Bears to be overlooking Louisiana-Monroe.

Baylor plays its only game in a 27-day stretch Saturday when it hosts the Warhawks, who went toe-to-toe with the Bears a year ago before being undone by a fourth-quarter turnover.

Baylor (2-0) piled up 692 yards in a 69-3 rout of Wofford in its season opener, then outdid itself with a school-record 781 yards while putting up 56 first-half points and drubbing Buffalo 70-13 on Sept. 7.

The Bears' 69.5 points and 736.5 yards per game are far and away the most in the nation, but they now find themselves having to focus on staying sharp. Baylor had a week off after beating the Bulls, and has another week of downtime between Louisiana-Monroe's visit and its Big 12 opener against West Virginia on Oct. 5.

"It is what it is," coach Art Briles said. "It just depends on how you use it. We feel like we use it the best we can to keep our players at the point mentally and physically that we want them at this stage of the season.

"We'll get out there Saturday and hopefully not need a boost to get going. You like to get in a flow and get going and we'd like to start where we finished the last game."

They won't want to waste too much time getting going against the Warhawks (2-1). Baylor fell behind 14-0 in its visit to Malone Stadium last Sept. 21 before pulling out a 47-42 win.

"The thing I remember most is that they tried to get after us," receiver Tevin Reese said. "They canceled all the high school games on Friday and it was on ESPN. They had a white-out. I just remember them trying to get after us. We're going to keep that in the back of our heads this year."

Louisiana-Monroe running back Jyruss Edwards fumbled with the Warhawks down 40-35 and driving in Baylor territory with 5:40 to play.

"We had to scrap a lot," Bears defensive end Terrance Lloyd said. "It's a game that I will always remember, but we will have something different."

The biggest difference will be at quarterback, where Bryce Petty has looked good early as the replacement for the departed Nick Florence. Petty completed 80 percent of his passes in his first two college starts, throwing for four total touchdowns while leaving in the third quarter of each.

Petty averaged 21.1 yards per attempt against Buffalo on his 16 throws, but knows it won't be nearly as easy Saturday.

"They're pretty unconventional," Petty said. "They load guys in the box, so that's more of an opportunity for myself and our receivers to get a little work in.

"I won't be 13 for 16 this Saturday. I will have more attempts. It gets guys chances to go down the field a little bit more. Same thing as the defense, we have a little bit of a motivational factor ourselves. We didn't play as hot against them last year. So we are going to come out hot and set the tone early."

Lache Seastrunk has been able to help the Bears do exactly that. The junior running back has gained 9.3 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns thus far after averaging 159.3 yards in Baylor's final four games last year - all victories.

Louisiana-Monroe's first test against a Big 12 opponent this season didn't go well, as it had only nine first downs in a 34-0 loss at then-No. 16 Oklahoma on Aug. 31.

But after a 48-10 rout of Grambling State, the Warhawks picked up a big victory over a major conference opponent last Saturday by winning 21-19 at Wake Forest. Senior Kolton Browning threw a career-high 68 passes, completing 43 for 315 yards with three TDs and a pair of interceptions.

"He's a quarterback that scrambles and runs a lot, and we haven't seen a quarterback that can do that," Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon said. "It's something that will get us ready for conference."