The Baylor family was hit with some big news over the Christmas holidays when we found out that offensive coordinator Larry Fedora would not be returning next season. And without an experienced signal caller to lean on, there will plenty of questions on that side of the ball this offseason. Obviously, the biggest being who will take the snaps in 2021. The 2020 season ended with Jacob Zeno playing in the final minutes. Should he be the presumptive starter going into Dave Aranda’s 2nd year?
I think there is a case to be made for coach Aranda to name him the starter before, or perhaps even shortly after the spring practices. And I don’t think it would be that shocking to fans. Jacob Zeno ended the year as the clear #2 QB, only behind a guy that has since transferred. Plus, it’s not like he is completely inexperienced. He’s played meaningful snaps in both the Big 12 Championship game and Sugar Bowl, so it hasn’t just been garbage time reps. By the time next season rolls around he will be in his 3rd year of college football and ready to take that next step. At the very least it could help avoid the justified but incessant offseason fodder of a “quarterback controversy.”
Of course, there are plenty of arguments that suggest that Baylor should keep an open competition all throughout the spring, summer, and fall camp. The most obvious reason being that whoever the QB is will be working with a new offensive coordinator, and Jacob Zeno will not have the benefit of having a body of work in front of the new coaching staff. Also, there’s an argument to be made that even though Zeno has played sparingly the past 2 years, it’s not near enough to warrant a presumptive starting position yet. In total, he’s had 0 starts, and his career stats consists of being 14-26 for 241 yds, with 1 TD and INT each.
It will be interesting to see what kind of decision Coach Aranda makes on this issue. Even as fans we can get annoyed with the QB controversy talk, so I can’t imagine a coach having to answer the same question in every interview from March until September. I can already hear the questions now— “coach when will you name a starter?”, “will you play 2 quarterbacks on Saturday?”, and “which QB performed the best in practice this week?” I’m not advocating one way or another, but there is something to be said for naming a starter just to limit the distractions. Ideally, the players then rally around the named starter and the focus turns to the team as a whole rather than just one position. It doesn’t mean you do away with all the competition, but maybe you give him all the 1st team reps, a longer leash, and that crucial leadership role. One thing is for certain, however. The Baylor coaches have got to be better at managing the QB position than they were in 2020.