Baylor football hits practice field after outbreak, set to take on strong Longhorn squad

Senior quarterback Charlie Brewer sets to throw against Kansas earlier this year. Baylor has struggled to be ready for games due to COVID-19 contact tracing, which has cut down the roster. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

After another week of uncertainty, Baylor football is finally back and able to practice in preparation for their upcoming game against Texas this Saturday.

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said the team was excited to return to the practice field, five days after the university shut down all football operations due to the coronavirus.

“It was great to be back,” Aranda said. “It was good to see the excitement on everyone’s faces.”

Aranda said the team was able to take the extended bye-week and use it to their advantage, getting a much-needed rest.

“I think some guys were able to spend some quality time with their families,” Aranda said. “Others were able to do studies and make some cuts of different systems. But I think everybody was waiting for us to be back.”

According to Aranda, the team had been on a roll during the practices Tuesday and Wednesday practices that proceeded the shutdown. Aranda said he hopes that the team will be able to carry that momentum into Tuesday’s practice.

“Tuesday and Wednesday of that bye week were two of our best practices. The energy, the physicality, the attention to detail on both of those days were really strong,” Aranda said. “I was anticipating a good Thursday, and then we’re stopped, and rightfully so. You’d love to be on the grass, but I feel we’ll attack it come Tuesday.”

During the return to action, Aranda said that the team will continue to focus on the “Baylor standard performance”, a mantra that the team has abided by all season.

“It’s doing all the ordinary things at an extraordinary level. We call that the Baylor standard performance,” Aranda said. “So, it’s being early to things, it’s dressing the right way to things. When we’re on the practice field, you run on and off the practice field. When we’re having walk-throughs, you’re communicating, you own it.”

The Bears hope that this mantra and standard of performance will help the team continue to grow and gather momentum in the coming weeks.

“All of those things add momentum to the day,” Aranda said. “And when you put little wins like that on top of each other, then you end up getting a bigger one.”

Following a sub-par performance by senior quarterback Charlie Brewer and the Baylor offense against West Virginia, Aranda said the team will also be focusing heavily on the offense side of the ball.

“When Baylor is at its best, it’s able to run the football,” Aranda said. “And I think our ability to do that and to not play Baylor, so to speak, but to play Texas, and kind of get out of our own way, that’s integral right there.”

While Baylor has struggled on offense, Texas head coach Tom Herman knows that the Bears have the talent to put up points in a hurry.

“Obviously, anytime you’ve got a quarterback as seasoned and as high performing as Charlie Brewer, you’re going to have a chance to score points,” Herman said.

Concerns have still surrounded the Baylor program as to whether they will have the numbers to play Saturday against Texas, but Aranda said that the team was heading in the right direction.

“As far as getting 11 guys on offense and defense, I feel really good about that,” Aranda said. “We had our tests yesterday, and everyone is negative, coaches, players, everybody. We’ve been in the right direction for the last couple of those. I feel like by the middle of the week we’ll have most everybody back.”

According to Baylor, the athletics program is currently monitoring 15 active cases across all of the university’s sports teams following the Monday COVID-19 test results.

As things currently stand, Baylor will take on the Texas Longhorns at 2:30 p.m. in Austin. The game will be televised on ESPN.