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Baylor using open week to address sloppy starts

Seth Russell and the Baylor Bears didn't exactly break from the gates against SMU. AP Photo/LM Otero

The Baylor Bears are 2-0, but both wins included sloppy first half showings in which a pair of inferior opponents in SMU and Lamar were allowed to hang around.

Art Briles was happy with the wins, but he isn't happy with the performances.

“We’re not near where we need to be to have a run at another Big 12 title,” Briles told the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner. “We have a lot of work to do. It’s evident we have to bring a lot more energy to the table on both sides of the ball and special teams. We’ve just got to match other people’s desire and expectations with our own. That’s something we’ve always been real good at but we’ve kind of fallen into an everything’s-all-right category, and you can’t do that.”

Penalties, turnovers and defensive lapses are three areas the Bears have addressed specifically during this open week. Baylor ranks 120th nationally with 198 penalty yards through two games. Quarterback Seth Russell has already thrown four interceptions, including three last weekend in Baylor’s 66-31 win over Lamar; he also lost a fumble. And finally, the Bears have given up 21 points in the first half in both games.

“It’s just the consistency factor,” Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett told Werner. “As a team we just haven’t gotten in a groove yet. There have been a few things going on, but no excuses because we’ve got to get our rhythm down.”

The Bears have some time to work out the kinks. But not too much time.

Baylor opens Big 12 play Oct. 3 in Arlington, Texas, against what appears to be an improved Texas Tech. Two weeks after that, the Bears play host to West Virginia, which is also 2-0.

Despite failing to make a bowl, Texas Tech took the Bears down to the wire last season; the Mountaineers handed Baylor its only Big 12 loss of the season.

“We’re not sitting around patting ourselves on the back,” Briles said. “At the end of the day, it’s about being precise and consistent and productive. We’ve got to get out of our lull fast because we have some big games coming up.”