By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor football is finally back as the Bears return to action against the Texas Longhorns this Saturday after a brief hiatus due to COVID-19.
Last Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State was canceled due to numerous positive tests of COVID-19 among the Baylor team. But Baylor head coach Dave Aranda believes the team will be able to bounce back after a week away from the field.
“There was great energy, and I think it was the start of some momentum,” Aranda said. “You felt it, so it was pretty cool to be a part of that.”
Texas enters the game 2-2 following two consecutive losses to TCU and Oklahoma. Texas head coach Tom Herman said the team was “crushed” by the losses but trying to stay focused on the future and not the past.
“We’re four games into what is hopefully an 11 or 12 game season and we have a lot to play for,” Herman said. “Our players know that, and nobody knows how this year is going to end up.”
Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has been the star for the Longhorns this season, as he has already thrown for 1,211 yards and scored 21 touchdowns in four games.
“When the game is close and the ball’s in his [Ehlinger’s] hand, he’s going to make a play and own it,” Aranda said. “He’s similar to [Charlie Brewer] in that respect. But a lot of respect for him. I know the offense runs through him.”
Baylor’s defensive rush will be key in disrupting Ehlinger and stopping Texas’ potent offense. Herman specifically mentioned junior linebacker Terrel Bernard as a player to watch on Baylor’s defense.
“Defensively, man, I can’t say enough about Terrel Bernard,” Herman said. “But, you know, he is a guy that is all over the field. And they do a really good job lining him up in different places in order to exploit and utilize his talents.”
The Texas offense has not been the problem for the Longhorns this season, as the team has scored over 50 points in three of its four games. The defense, however, has been a different story. The unit has allowed over 400 yards per game and 145 points, which is third-worst in the Big 12.
Baylor’s performances have been the polar opposite of Texas’, as the Bears looked sensational on defense but poor on offense in their last game against West Virginia.
Senior quarterback Charlie Brewer struggled against the Mountaineers, but Aranda said he has faith in Brewer as a quarterback and leader of the team.
“Our offense in particular, and our team, looks to Charlie. They respect him,” Aranda said. “His ability to be our quarterback, and to run the offense through him and feature him and do things he’s comfortable with and things that speak to him allow him to be the best version of him.”
While Saturday will be about the two teams on the field, a reunion between Aranda and Herman will also be something to watch for, as the two have been friends for many years.
“I’ve always been impressed with Tom, and he’s always been great to me,” Aranda said. “I do talk to him quite a bit. I imagine it won’t be this week, but I count on him a lot for his view of things and how sees it. A lot of respect for him.”
Baylor will take on the Longhorns at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday in Austin. The game will be televised on ESPN.