Baylor football O-line struggles in home opener against Texas State

The Baylor football offensive line blocks for redshirt junior quarterback Blake Shapen as he stands in the pocket looking over his options during the Bears’ home opener against Texas State on Saturday at McLane Stadium. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Olivia Eiken | Staff Writer

Calling Baylor’s season opener against Texas State disappointing would be a drastic understatement. It was so underwhelming that Baylor fans were seen departing the stadium after the first quarter.

The Bobcats ran circles around the Bears, defeating them 43-31 on Saturday at McLane Stadium. The game was the first time Texas State (1-0) has ever defeated a Power Five opponent in its school history.

It became clear early in the game that the offensive line was hurting Baylor’s (0-1) chance at success. The first quarter saw four false start penalties from the group, and it added two more later in the game.

After the rough start, the student section began chanting “revoke their scholarship” in reference to many of the players’ poor performances. Head coach Dave Aranda said he was disappointed in the offensive line. He still believes in their ability to tighten their skills before next Saturday’s home game against No. 14 Utah.

“I think what I told them was, ‘Hey, this is what you did; this ain’t who you are,” Aranda said. “We’re so much better than this. So we have to use this to get better. I think there’s a fair amount to get better for.”

The Bears’ O-line only returned one starter from 2022. It’s filled with transfers or other guys who have yet to play a starting role. Aranda said he thought things were too complex for the men up front and that it resulted in those early jumps. He said things need to be more simplistic moving forward to help ease what he called “anxiety” among the group.

“A lot of that comes with settling a heartbeat down,” Aranda said.

Senior tight end Drake Dabney, who had a career day, said blocking was a struggle the entire game. Dabney doesn’t play on the O-line but was involved in lots of run or pass blocking sets as a tight end.

“I think we were more than capable of picking up whatever we needed to,” Dabney said. “It didn’t go our way, whether it was communication or a snap or they just outplayed us.”

Aranda said improvement starts with simplifying things this week as the team prepares to face the Utes (1-0).

“Looking back at that, we’re going to have to make some adjustments and [find] what things we could do better so that we could snap the ball,” Aranda said. “I think there was some stemming [by the Texas State defensive line] where they would make a move call, but it wasn’t all that. A lot of that was us. And a lot of that was me again, not getting them prepared for that.”

After a game that seemingly produced endless criticism, Dabney is optimistic for the team’s upcoming week of preparation.

“It’s only game one,” Dabney said. “It’s tough that we had to go out this way for the first game, but I think just watching film, being honest with ourselves, seeing where we went wrong and what we can do better [will help].”

Baylor and Utah are set to square off at 11 a.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium. The Utes have won the last two Pac-12 championships and could potentially welcome back senior quarterback Cam Rising, who was on many Heisman Trophy watchlists entering the season. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN.