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Thursday, March 17, 2011
Baylor practice notes and observations

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

WACO, Texas -- Baylor practiced for about two hours in full pads on Tuesday, the second practice in two days after a week-long intermission for spring break. It was their fifth of 15 spring workouts.

The big story at Baylor on the field is the progress of its defense. And based on the early returns, it has a good ways to go. Most of the practice was spent in team drills, both in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11. They were constantly beat over the middle, on the outside and over the top and running backs gashed the defense in the middle.

Keep in mind, however, that the Bears' offense has been at it awhile and is also one of the Big 12's best. The defense under Phil Bennett is in practice No. 5. The depth chart is still fluid, and every player on the roster is getting a chance to run with the first or second team at some point, according to Bennett. That accounts for some of the mistakes, surely. Their work is clearly cut out for them, but they've got the rest of spring and fall camp to make it happen. The talent and athletic ability are there, and the only guys getting beat physically were the corners. Most of the other mistakes looked like mental ones that Bennett and new linebackers coach Jim Gush were animatedly trying to correct throughout the practice.

For now, it looks like there's a lot more thinking than playing going on, but that's to be expected five practices in. I'll be writing more about the defense on Friday, but I do think Baylor fans can take some encouragement in the progress made in just one season by Texas A&M. The Baylor coaches I talked to aren't so sure about that comparison, but it could happen. Texas A&M's defense in 2009 was a lot worse than Baylor's in 2010.

A few other observations: