COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS

Briles says Baylor needs an attitude adjustment

Sports Xchange

September 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm.

Sep 12, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive end Shawn Oakman (2) forces Lamar Cardinals quarterback Joe Minden (10) into a intentional grounding call during the second quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 12, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive end Shawn Oakman (2) forces Lamar Cardinals quarterback Joe Minden (10) into a intentional grounding call during the second quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

WACO, Tex. — Baylor coach Art Briles acknowledged on Monday that his team needs an attitude adjustment beginning with himself.

Apparently, the fifth-ranked Bears have become a little too happy with their place in college football.

The change is easy to spot for those who have been watching Baylor the last few seasons. The Bears quickly went from perennial doormat of the Big 12, to a team on the rise, to a dangerous team that could devour an opponent in the blink of an eye.

But from the time Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to 410-pound tight end Laquan McGowan in the third quarter of the Cotton Bowl that prompted much laughing and dancing on the Bears’ sideline, Baylor’s tenacity has been replaced by something else. Michigan State surged to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and won the Cotton Bowl. This season, the Bears have failed to put away nonconference foes in its usual fashion.

Call it swagger or entitlement creeping in, but Baylor has mentioned its back-to-back Big 12 titles more than a few times and that has perhaps become a problem.

“Anytime you think everything’s ok and everything’s good, it’s not,” Briles said during his Monday press conference. “If you get happy, you get beat. Happy teams get beat because somebody unhappy is going to take you down.”

Briles said after Baylor’s win over SMU that food could taste good again after the bad taste in the Bears’ mouths following the Cotton Bowl loss. But on Monday, he seemed to be saying maybe those morsels shouldn’t be so tasty.

“It’s something I haven’t done a good job with this year,” Briles said. “I did a little better last year, I think, of really making sure that we’re still the hunter. I think I’ve lost my edge a little bit, quite honestly, and it’s something I don’t want to happen.”

To add to the Bears’ uneven performances in wins over SMU and Lamar, Baylor continues to have coaching staff mishaps. Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and receivers coach Tate Wallis were suspended for the Lamar game for violating recruiting contact rules in the spring. Last week, Baylor passing-game coordinator Jeff Lebby showed up on the sideline at the Oklahoma-Tulsa game. It’s unclear whether that constituted an NCAA violation, Briles said, but the Bears’ coach was clear it violated his sense of etiquette.

“I actually called (Oklahoma coach Bob) Stoops and told him I was sorry that we had a guy on their sideline,” Briles said “It’s embarrassing to me, quite honestly.”

Given Briles mood, it would probably be unadvisable for any of the Bears to have less than a precise and productive game when Baylor hosts Rice on Saturday.

NOTES, QUOTES
PLAYERS TO WATCH

–WR Corey Coleman has taken firm grip on the leading role among Bears wide receivers. Against Lamar, he caught six passes for 182 yards and four TDs, including a stretched-out diving touchdown catch.

–RB Johnny Jefferson could possibly have nudged his way into the No. 2 role in the Bears running game. Baylor RB Devin Chafin is nursing a hamstring injury, giving Jefferson more carries. But Jefferson’s darting running style is more of a departure from the hard, straight-ahead force of Shock Linwood that Jefferson is the better change-of-pace back.

–DE Shawn Oakman made a somewhat convincing season debut against Lamar. After he was suspended for the season-opener for a violation of team rules, he led the Bears in the second game with six tackles, including 3.5 for losses of 13 yards.

SERIES HISTORY: Baylor leads Rice, 47-30-2.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The thing about this time of year, it’s kind of like getting in a car and taking a long trip. After 30 minutes the kids say I need to use the bathroom. That’s kind of what an open date is this early in the season.” — Baylor coach Art Briles on the start and stop nature of the Bears’ schedule so far this season.

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