Baylor is still trying to figure out its identity on offense, a difficult task with a new coach in an uneven season interrupted by the pandemic.
The Bears are playing their first home game in more than a month, and their first game in three weeks, after a week-long pause of activity and the postponement of another game because of positive COVID-19 cases. They host instate Big 12 rival and defensive-minded TCU on Saturday.
“We haven’t had all our guys, so it’s been kind of hard, because if you can’t do it in practice, how are you supposed to do it in the game?,” receiver R.J Sneed said. “Because we have all of our O-line, receivers, quarterbacks, I believe this week will be the week. As long as we get the time and the timing down with the QBs, I think we’ll be able to throw some deep balls this week.”
Even with fourth-year starting quarterback Charlie Brewer, the Bears (1-2) haven't had many big plays — their longest pass play is 35 yards, and their longest run has been 26 yards. They are ninth in the Big 12 in total offense at 308 yards a game, more than 110 yards below last season's average.
“I think just honing in on an identity, just runs and types of passes that we can hang our hat on,” first-year head coach Dave Aranda said. “Just throughout the week, there have been different personnel different weeks available. I’ve been guilty of this as we are just trying to make things work for that given moment. I think the key is to build and hone in on `this is us.' and build on those things week after week.”
Neither Baylor or TCU (1-3) got to play a nonconference game, losing their scheduled league tune-ups because of virus issues. One of them will go into November stuck on one win.
The Horned Frogs followed up a win at Texas with home losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma, when they scored only 14 points in each game.
“You’ve got to stay upbeat, what these kids have gone through, what they’ve done up to this point,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “You can’t control injuries ... getting ready to go and know you’re working toward the future. That’s what we try to get accomplished.”
Frogs sophomore quarterback Max Duggan has a stable of freshman running backs behind him, and the quarterback so far is the leading rusher with 150 yards. TCU also had a completely revamped offensive line this season.
This game features the Big 12's top three tacklers. Baylor junior linebacker Terrel Bernard is the league leader with 13.3 per game after the second 19-tackle game of his career, last week at Texas. Junior linebacker Jalen Pitre is third with 8.7 tackles per game. Between the two Bears is TCU senior linebacker Garret Wallow, with 9.0 tackles per game.
COUPLE OF BIG WINS, SOME CLOSE ONES
Patterson is 8-4 against Baylor. Those four losses have been by a combined 14 points. The wins have come by an average margin of more than three touchdowns, though that is a bit skewed by a 62-22 win at Waco in 2016, and a 49-21 win there four years before that. The Frogs won 16-9 in their last trip down I-35 two years ago.
Patterson and Aranda both served as defensive coordinator at Cal Lutheran. Patterson was at the California school in 1987. Aranda, a Cal Lutheran graduate and assistant, was the school’s DC during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
“Very detail-oriented and he’s a stickler for his standpoint. I remember as a really young coach ... and just trying to come across anything with Gary Patterson clinic, anything with Gary Patterson defense,” Aranda said. “And I remember I would watch it, and I would always be searching out clinics of coaches and all of it, and Gary’s were always different because of the level of detail because of the time that he took.”
Baylor and TCU are the Big 12's only private schools, and both were located in Waco from 1895-1910. The former Southwest Conference rivals who reunited in the Big 12 when TCU joined the league in 2012, are playing for the 116th time. The Frogs have a 55-53-7 series lead. Baylor won in three overtimes at Fort Worth last season.
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