WACO, Texas — When asked to think back to his first season at Baylor, defensive coordinator Ron Roberts had to laugh.
"You kind of want to forget that one," he said. "It was a good time, being around the kids. But no spring ball and all that kind of stuff was rough."
Now, as he enters year three, Roberts believes his players understand his scheme better than ever before.
"As a defense, as a whole, we are way further than anywhere last year," he said. "Even at the end of the year."
Roberts admitted the Bears are missing several playmakers on defense from the 2021 Big 12 Championship team. Seniors Jalen Pitre, Kalen Barnes, Terrel Bernard, JT Woods and Raleigh Texada all left to pursue their dreams in the NFL Draft.
Still, he says he has seen several glimpses of brilliance across the board this spring. One area that stood out to him was the safeties, saying they likely made the biggest improvement from the beginning to the end of the spring season.
The Baylor defense will likely be led in the trenches in 2022. Baylor returns its entire two-deep roster on the defensive line, including five players listed as seniors or older. The Bears also added a key transfer on the defensive line, former Midway High School and Tulsa star Jaxon Player.
As the Bears turn their attention to Saturday's Green and Gold game, Roberts hopes they will be able to translate their mental discipline and defensive understanding into success on the field.
"It's about how they're doing their jobs as opposed to, 'Hey, I got eight tackles,'" Roberts said. "That's not really what I'm looking for. I'm looking for some guys to move from the question mark category to the can-do. Some of them are still in that phase, teetering right on it. showing some glimpses. But when the lights come on, it's time. Saturday's about execution and when their number is called and they've gotta make a play, they'll make a play."
Baylor ends its spring season with the annual Green and Gold game, scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at noon.