Bears ready for rival Horned Frogs’ best shot

Senior running back Trestan Ebner takes a handoff from junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon in a game against Iowa State in McLane Stadium. Matt Ellett | Roundup

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

Following their comeback victory over the University of Texas, Baylor’s confidence is at an all-time high as they head into their matchup against Texas Christian University at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Fort Worth. The game will also be broadcasted on FOX. Senior running back Trestan Ebner said the team’s confidence stems from the practice they’ve been putting in day in and day out all season.

“We just know if we mess up, the defense got our back. And they know if they make a mistake, we got their back,” Ebner said. “We’ve been put in different situations in each of these games that we had to overcome, and us being able to do that just shows us and builds our confidence even more.”

With the College Football Playoff Rankings beginning with the Bears (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) ranked No. 12, it’s easy for players to get excited and looked ahead to what could be a potential spot in the playoffs. However, Ebner said for the team to get to where they want to be, they need to maintain the even-keeled approach they’ve had all season and take things one step at a time.

“[To] get to step two, you just got to go through step one first. So, we’ll get to where we want to go; we just got to focus on TCU this week, and that’s step one,” Ebner said. “As long as we keep our mind frame on that, we’ll end up where we want to be at the end of season.”

With this being a rivalry game, head coach Dave Aranda knows just how tense the atmosphere can be and that despite TCU’s record (3-5, 1-4 Big 12), they’ll be well prepared to welcome the Bears to Amon G. Carter Stadium, just as he got to experience it firsthand last season.

“I look at last year really going into the game … the TCU coaches struck me as just football junkies, football guys and just very smart in their attack,” Aranda said. “They had us figured out; they were a step ahead of me. I thought they had a really good plan. You could feel it on the field, but you could see it on the tape of stuff [that] was worked out. It was thought through and so I was very impressed by them. And then player-wise, you could feel that energy too and so to go to their place with what’s just transpired and just the whole environment there, I know [it] will be different.”

With the recent loss of their head coach Gary Patterson, who had been at the helm for over 20 years, Aranda said he expects the Horned Frogs to come out more energized than ever which will make the game even harder.

“In watching the tape [on TCU], it’s been a little off here, a little off there. We talk about doing our 1/11, there’s eight guys, nine guys doing this and then the two guys are not whatever it is and then they get hit,” Aranda said. “There’s things like that that show on tape and it is not something that is hard to diagnose. I think they’re really close. And so I think for them to have a spark for them to rally, which I would anticipate they’re going to do, makes it that tougher of a game.”

One way the Bears can make it easier on themselves is to keep TCU junior quarterback Max Duggan in check, who despite playing through a bone fracture in his foot, is known as a dual-threat quarterback that can get the job done with his legs, which is something the Bears have struggled with in the past.

“Go back to [the] Texas State University [game], we had a running quarterback just run all over the field. This guy’s [Duggan] the same quarterback,” junior defensive lineman TJ Franklin said. “We’re honestly going to have to be on our p’s and q’s in the passing lanes.”

With how differently Baylor’s and TCU’s seasons have been, and the timing of the matchup, this one shows all the signs of being a “trap game.” However, Ebner said the Bears aren’t overlooking the Horned Frogs as it’s a personal rivalry for Ebner, since he committed to TCU before deciding to join Matt Rhule at Baylor years ago.

“They got a lot of good players, I feel like they just haven’t been able to put it together, so they’re definitely just somebody you can’t overlook,” Ebner said. “If we just attack this right we’ll be able to come out successful, but we can’t overlook them.”