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Baylor Football Takes: Jalen Pitre, Trestan Ebner, Terrel Bernard, JT Woods, Dave Aranda’s Debut and More

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Some thoughts on Baylor’s victory

NCAA Football: Kansas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor knocked off Kansas 47-14 last night. After sleeping on the victory—I’m getting old so a 6:30 game and the postgame coverage left me super tired—here are nine thoughts on the victory. I’ll try to do this after each game.

1) Trestan Ebner looked faster- Ebner had two special teams touchdowns and 91 yards from scrimmage. His four touchdowns were twice as many as Kansas.

I was surprised Ebner looked faster. I traditionally think that someone can’t get faster at 22, but after hearing from Jared Butler this offseason how much better he’s moving and seeing Ebner, guys can improve. If Ebner had been healthy all of lasts season, the Bears would have likely blown out a few more teams, and they should win plenty with him this year.

2) Jalen Pitre dominated- I mentioned on our Facebook Live after the game—we’ll try and do one of those before every game and immediately after—that I feared Pitre was getting hyped because he’s such a good guy. In Dave Aranda’s first season, the staff could hype someone who did things the right way to ensure the culture stayed strong with a new administration.

That fear was misplaced. Pitre is excellent attacking the ball. He finished with seven tackles and two for a loss. Thanks to this season’s eligibility standards and him redshirting last season, Pitre could be around for two more season after this one. If he keeps playing like he did in week one, he won’t want to stick around that long.

3) Terrel Benard might win Big 12 DPOY- Bernard led the team with 8 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks.

Shockingly, Kansas elected to throw in their own end zone. Bernard reached the QB for a safety. He provided a detailed breakdown of the play after a question from John Werner postgame. “We were running a boundary-backer-blitz through the B gap, towards the tight end. They had just ran the down play, which is just zone with the tight end blocking and handing off to the running back. They lined up in the same formation, so we knew it was either going to be that play or they were going to go RPO or play action and take a shot. They actually went max pro, play action, and I think the running back tried to cut me, and that’s pretty much what happened.”

4) Can’t take away much from the offensive line- Xavier Newman, the starting center, missed the game to serve a one game suspension. Jake Burton, the new UCLA graduate transfer, was sidelined, as was Blake Bedier.

With three starters out, it’s hard to judge Baylor’s offensive line. The team had way too many holding penalties in the first half, and Charlie Brewer did not feel super confident in their protection early.

Despite not knowing a lot because the line should be different against West Virginia, they held up much better in the second half.

5) Charlie Brewer is the toughest player in the Big 12- Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma played the toughest game I’ve ever seen from a Big 12 player in their comeback victory in Waco last year. Brewer has grabbed that title.

After limping off the field, Brewer returned a few plays later. He always wants to play.

I wasn’t at the game—I’ll be in Waco for Oklahoma State and Kansas State—so I did not get the benefit of the all-22. Travis Roeder, one of the best X’s and O’s writers about Baylor football, thought Brewer missed some reads and bailed from the pocket too early. I also thought he was too reluctant to stay in a clean pocket. That will have to be improved going forward.

But with full arm strength, Brewer was one of the league’s best QB’s last season. Couple that with his toughness, and he should be much better going forward.

6) JT Woods placement was superb- Maybe Woods missed assignments on a few plays—again, I can’t speak with absolute certainty without being at the game—but after different Bears failed to seal the edge on Kansas’ opening touchdown drive, Woods made key tackles and filled gaps.

Phil Snow’s defense had incredible results, but they sometimes had missed assignments, especially in year one and two. I’m happy to see Woods in the right spots.

7) Dave Aranda proved you can win your first game- Matt Rhule did a spectacular job at Baylor. The program is better for having hired him, and I can’t blame him for leaving for the NFL and a raise.

Those platitudes easily outweigh his 2017 season. But that Liberty loss remains catastrophic. When Kansas opened the game with a touchdown—plus the rest of the Big 12 looking awful (more below on that)—I started thinking, “Really, this might happen again?”

Aranda and the team didn’t let that happen. The Bears pulled away and swarmed the ball on defense. The Jayhawks only other score was in garbage time.

The players seem to really like Aranda. He was animated on the sideline. Aranda seems to be more of a real intellectual than his former roommate running things in Austin. The Bears are in excellent hands with Aranda.

8) The Big 12 is a dumpster fire

Oklahoma blew a 21 point lead in the second half. Per ESPN, top 5 teams were 1-545 in their last 546 games when they built that kind of lead. Spencer Rattler had too many turnovers. The defense couldn’t tackle. Skylar Thompson missed plenty of throws. A better opponent—one that didn’t have so many COVID-19 induced roster limitations and one that hadn’t lost to Arkansas State the previous week—would have won easily.

Texas still has no defense. Tom Herman can keep firing everyone but himself. Texas Tech had a 99.9% chance to win up 15 with 3:30 left. The Red Raiders blew it; other Big 12 teams won’t.

Iowa State knocked off TCU. Brock Purdy isn’t good. The Horned Frogs have a weird QB situation with Max Duggan back.

The Bears could be mediocre. Beating Kansas doesn’t tell a team much. But the rest of the league is awful. Baylor has a great coaching staff and some really good players. That might be enough to win this league.

9) It appears Ed Orgeron misses Dave Aranda- LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said two weeks ago, per the Louisiana Advocate, “We are so much better on defense right now than any part of the season last year.”

Bo Pelini, the new defensive coordinator, found out his boss might be wrong. The Tigers gave up the most passing yards in SEC history to Mississippi State.