By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor football’s return to the gridiron in Austin was less than ceremonious. Outgained by over 100 yards, the Baylor offense has yet to find a rhythm after their lone win against Kansas. Even the success against Kansas wasn’t overly convincing, as the Jayhawks currently rank No. 70 nationally in total team defense.
Head coach Dave Aranda knows the team has struggled with the ball in their hands, but also doesn’t think Baylor has ever had their full offense complement available.
“Just throughout the week, there have been different personnel different weeks available,” Aranda said. “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 hone in and build on those things week after week.”
Baylor’s offensive struggles have been apparent both on the ground and in the air. Among rushers with more than 10 carries on the season, only senior running back John Lovett averages more than three yards per carry, followed by fellow seniors Trestan Ebner and Charlie Brewer, who average 2.9 and 1.1 respectively. Lovett is the only Bear to rank in the top 140 nationally, sitting at No. 115.
The Baylor passing game hasn’t fared much differently than its rushing. Brewer currently sits at No. 64 nationally in total passing yards, and No. 81 in passing yards per completion. The Austin native is currently second on Baylor’s all-time passing yards list, after surpassing Bryce Petty during the game against Texas. But this hasn’t kept fans from calling for his replacement. Aranda, however, doesn’t see that happening.
“We feel good about Charlie,” Aranda said. “Talking with Charlie after the game, there’s great disappointment. He’s such a great competitor and really felt this last week was one of his better weeks.”
Another aspect of Baylor’s offensive struggles can be seen in the offensive line. The Bears have struggled to keep their whole offensive line healthy to this point in the season. The patchwork O-line has allowed eight sacks in three games, for a total loss of 51 yards. Heading into the TCU game, though, Baylor finally has a healthy group of linemen.
“I think it’s going to be really good,” Aranda said. “When you’re getting guys later in the week … to get it to where they’re working combos and they’re (identifying) the linebacker and coming off at the appropriate time, or they’re working gap schemes and they’re making sure that they’re getting movement on the down guy, all those things I think to work and to get cohesive and these our guys, here we go. I’m excited to see that.”
Despite Baylor’s struggles, TCU is still wary of the Bears’ offensive talent.
“Offensively, they have a good skill group just like they had a year ago,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said.
TCU has certainly been familiar with Baylor’s offensive prowess in recent years, seeing Baylor post scores of over 28 points four times in their last nine matchups. This season, TCU has experienced their own offensive struggles, and may still be in search of their own offensive identity.
“We did not run the ball as well as we’d hoped to, but you gotta work at handing the ball off, at doing some of those things,” Patterson said. “At the end of the day, you gotta do what you gotta do to win ball games, and we gotta have both better offense and defense to do that.”
Baylor will see the field again as they welcome TCU to Waco this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in McLane Stadium. The game will be watchable on ESPN2 and will stream on ESPN+.