Game week is finally here. The off-season was as interesting as it could be, but now it’s time to focus on the actual football. Below are a few general thoughts before the Bears take the field this Labor Day weekend.
I hate to put so much pressure on one player, but I believe the play of Siaki Apu Ika will be the determining factor on whether the defense will improve or not. The defense was solid in 2020 and if the Bears get an exact encore from last year that won’t be a terrible thing—-after all it kept Baylor in games against the top teams in the Big 12. But I’m not sure how much more some of the 2nd and 3rd level guys can produce. Jalen Pitre and Terrel Bernard have been so good the last two years that I’m not sure what else can be done—both have already been playing at an elite level. In the secondary, Baylor will likely be starting four seniors and fans will already know what to expect from the group. It’s the defensive line that has the most room for improvement. Ideally, you would like to see more of a pass rush from the unit. If the spring game is any indication, the LSU transfer will have a big impact on the defense. If he’s disruptive in the trenches, Baylor’s defense will improve in 2021.
I’m as excited as anybody to see Gerry Bohanon make his starting debut on Saturday. It’s not everyday in today’s college football that a QB will sit and wait for four years without transferring. With the shape that the offensive line has been in the last few years, it was easy to imagine what a Bohannon offense would look like—decisive decision making, quick slants, play-action deep shots, and of course the QB running game. There are pros and cons to that kind of approach. On the plus side it can simplify an offense and play to the strengths of an athletic QB, however, it can sometimes become predictable which can lead to DBs just sitting on routes and taking them to the house whenever they guess correctly.
I want to briefly touch on Coach Aranda’s coaching personnel decisions. The media and probably most fans were understably willing to give a mulligan to last years coaching staff. The conventional wisdom was that although the performance last year was awful, there were valid reasons for it. Coach Aranda could have taken the easy way out, but he didn’t do that. Instead, he made drastic changes to his staff and sent a message to Baylor fans that he was serious about winning games now.