Bears, Frogs both working to break losing streaks as rivalry game looks to be season-defining for both squads

The Baylor defense fights to take down TCU running back Sewo Olonilua during Baylor's 29-23 triple overtime win on Nov. 9, 2019 in Fort Worth. Lariat File Photo

By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer

It’s rivalry week for Baylor football, as the Bears take on TCU this weekend at McLane Stadium.

Baylor enters the week coming off the back of a disappointing loss to Texas last Saturday, where the Bears struggled to generate any offense, a concerning trend that has emerged this season.

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said the coaching staff and team are focusing on forging an offensive identity that compliments their personnel.

“I think just honing in on an identity, just runs and types of passes that we can hang our hat on,” Aranda said. “So, I think there are things that we can take and build on and continuing to work on things throughout practice so that when we get to games, they’re executed to the standard that we want I think are going to be key there.”

Similar to Baylor, TCU has struggled with scoring points this season. The Horned Frogs, who are a dismal 1-3, have been held to only 14 points their last two games, which were against Kansas State and Oklahoma.

While sophomore quarterback Max Duggan has played well, throwing for 902 yards and scoring seven touchdowns this season, TCU has struggled to run the ball effectively. Freshman running back Zach Evans, TCU’s first five-star recruit in program history, has struggled to gain any meaningful involvement in the Horned Frog’s offense.

TCU head coach Gary Patterson lamented over the offensive struggles that have led to TCU’s two-game losing streak in the Oklahoma post-game press conference.

“Offensively we need work,” Patterson said. “We had a chance to get Zach Evans in the ball game and see him and guys throwing down the field and do some stuff. We’re not going to have the give up attitude here. That’s not going to happen.”

TCU has struggled defensively as well. The Frogs ranked seventh in total defense in the Big 12 and ninth in rush defense.

Despite TCU’s struggles on both sides of the ball, Aranda acknowledged Patterson’s prolific career as a coach and ability to game plan for any team.

“I know that Coach (Patterson) is very detail-oriented and he’s a stickler for his standpoint,” Aranda said. “Their ability to adapt, their ability to detail, their ability to be specific and hold to a standard, I think has allowed them to be successful year after year.”

Baylor will play in McLane Stadium for the first time in a month, and Aranda said playing at home will help the team’s comfort level, especially during a pandemic.

“Anytime you can be at home, the end of the week is dramatically different,” Aranda said. “The time there Saturday morning, there’s a comfort level having people’s families there. I think it’s a big difference, and we’re excited for it, and we’re excited to see the fans, and excited to play again.”

Games against TCU have historically been tense affairs, and Aranda has focused on managing the excitement for the game, keeping the focus on refining the play of the team.

“The focus is on our improvement,” Aranda said. “We can control how we feel, how we play, our level of effort and our level of attention to detail.”

While Baylor is focused on itself and improvement, Aranda is still wary of the TCU team that he called “hungry.”

“I know we’re playing a team that is hungry and motivated, and in a lot of ways similar to us in that they’re searching for who they are and what they’re all about,” Aranda said. “When both of these things collide on Saturday, I think there will be some strong emotion. A lot of respect for their side of it as well, but what makes it great to your point is the tradition and the history that backs it up.”

Saturday will be Baylor and TCU’s 115 meeting of all-time. TCU leads the series 55-53-7. The Bears and the Horned Frogs kick-off at 2:30 p.m. at McLane Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN2.