Baylor’s opening to the season—at Texas State, home against FCS Texas Southern, and at Kansas—is certainly one of the easiest schedules in college football so far. But just because you’re playing easy opponents doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from film study.
Baylor’s offense, with Gerry Bohanon in at QB, does still have a ton to prove. It’s one thing to do it against bad terrible teams, it’s another against what will be a very good Iowa State defense. But what I’ll attempt to show in this article is that there are some things that will translate, and you can still learn a lot from these first 3 games.
Gerry Is Natural In The Pocket
A big differentiator between good and great QB play is how they do in the pocket. A lot of guys can sit there and be comfortable when nothing is going on around them, but when things start to get hairy they are unable to keep their eyes downfield, their feet get choppy, and the play breaks down. We saw a lot over the past few years that when Baylor would try and take a shot downfield, there would be pressure in the QBs face and he’d tuck and run instead of keeping his eyes downfield.
Pocket presence is a big thing to watch to predict for how Gerry will do against better opponents, because against better opponents they’re gonna get more pressure on the QB. In particular, Iowa State features one of the best pass rushers in the country in Will McDonald. The nice thing is that in these first 3 games there still have been instances where the pocket breaks down, and Gerry has responded with aplomb. Here are a few examples.
I think everyone would've been gushing about this throw a lot more if they could've seen what happened. Everything about this is awesome. Terrific pocket presence by GB, resets his feet, throws a strike. Great route by Estrada. Perfect, tough throw. Great hands catch. pic.twitter.com/0zLH7JBqq9— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
I really like this call. Kansas is in Cover 2, Baylor runs 3 verticals and gets the matchup of Ebner on a LB. Again great pocket awareness by GB who delivers a really great ball under duress. I think Ebner could've given better effort at catch point here. pic.twitter.com/aX88lgPeKE— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
Gerry has better pocket presence than I figured. Not a lot of QBs can naturally keep their eyes downfield while shuffling their feet as a defender comes barrelling in on them. If Abram wins on his pass pro here Baylor has another long TD. pic.twitter.com/CIh97lOxlP— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 12, 2021
Don’t kid yourself—none of this is “normal” or “usual” for a guy in his first year starting. And one of the things that kills a lot of QB’s development is that they never become comfortable in the pocket and it stunts their growth. For Gerry to be demonstrating that he naturally keeps his eyes downfield when rushers are coming after him is huge and portends extremely well for how he’ll do in the future against better defenses.
Gerry Has The Strong Arm To Make Tough Throws Regularly
This has been discussed a lot and doesn’t need much explanation, but Gerry has a tremendous arm that allows Baylor to utilize the entire field. For the past few years, Baylor fans have been frustrated as defenses were able to ignore the wide side of the field and pack the middle of the field and boundary. Gerry’s ability to reliably hit deep field outs and other long throws really stretches the defense and opens up things for them in their base running game. Here is a collection of some strong, accurate throws by Gerry which the vast majority of college QBs can’t make:
THE THROW— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
Impossible to overstate how big this is. Mr. Pythagoras tells us that this a 40 yard throw. On a rope.
You can quibble about it being "inaccurate," but it's really not. This is a zone beating route. You're never throwing this with a DB on the WR's hip. Exquisite. pic.twitter.com/0M2a191TMd
Are you kidding me with this throw? GB has some pressure developing in his face, so he torques his hips and gets enough power on the field out to get the throw over the underneath defender with enough touch to come down to the WR. elite stuff. pic.twitter.com/DXJkFUJoat— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
Critical 4th and 5 (hell yes going for it). Gerry's arm allows you to target these field routes. This is a "win" route for Fleeks. CB is playing inside leverage expecting the curl, but Fleeks' speed keeps him honest. He fakes the out route, flips inside, great ball from Gerry. pic.twitter.com/Diy4Cfki9y— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
60 yard bomb perfectly placed to an in stride WR away from the leverage of the DB? I'm gonna cry pic.twitter.com/9eP6y2zxuN— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 12, 2021
This is when I began to swoon. This is a 35-40 yard throw for an easy 9 yard gain on 1st down. Once you show the D that you can do this, things start to really open up. Baylor hasn't had a QB that could do this since 2016. pic.twitter.com/BCii4idP75— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 5, 2021
Gerry Can Go Through Post-Snap Progressions
Whether a QB can “read the defense” is one of those black box discussions that is heavily context dependent and means different things to different people. In the most basic sense, most any college QB must be able to read a defense at least somewhat; most college offenses will run plays where the QB will have to determine whether it is man or zone post-snap, and then move to the correct receiver accordingly. There are some extremes, like the Briles offense which required essentially no reading and the QB knew where he was going with the ball before the snap on 98% of plays.
So for most college QBs, what “reading the defense” means is looking at a particular player on defense does after the snap, and then knowing where to go with the ball based on what that one player does. For example, if that linebacker flips his hips and carries one WR vertical, the QB knows to go to some other receiver based upon what that information tells him. Or if the cornerback bails and plays deep coverage, the QB knows to the throw the hitch route underneath him. Simple stuff like that.
What most college QBs don’t do is go through progressions after the snap. What I mean by this is the QB has already done the obligatory, basic pre and post-snap stuff that most any college QB can do, but then goes on to look at multiple receivers in the same play. We never saw this with Charlie Brewer—his #2 option on any play was scrambling. Gerry Bohanon has demonstrated through three games that he can do this. And again, this translates against better teams, because most guys can’t do this even against bad teams. Here are some examples (and again, let me be clear: most QBs NEVER do something like this, so it isn’t cherry picking to just have a few examples. You could go back and look through every game of Charlie Brewer’s career and you wouldn’t find something like this):
This was a true "wow" moment from me live. Yes, it's simple, but Baylor hasn't had a QB going through progressions like this post-snap in a long time. QB's first read is the RB flare, but LB closes angle well. So GB comes to his #2 and quickly delivers an accurate ball. pic.twitter.com/6qM9JJQfab— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) September 19, 2021
Now watch this play below. Yes, it’s a touchdown RUN by Gerry, but watch how many reads he goes through on this play. He goes 1-2 first to the boundary, then rotates back to the middle of the field for the dig route in the middle of the endzone, then turns to his 4th read which is the far WR coming across on a drag (which is open by there is now pressure) and then decides to tuck and run for the endzone. Most QBs just look at one guy and then take off. The fact that Gerry is going through 4 reads and then running is a massive deal. Kudos to Jeff Davis for pointing this all out.
Gerry Is A Great Leader
Ever since he arrived on campus under Matt Rhule, Gerry has been known as one of the hardest workers on the team. Coming from a tiny town in Earle, Arkansas, he was known for doing his own 5 AM workouts before high school everyday to get extra work in. His mother worked hard to provide for them, and he said that he learned his “no-complain, hard work” attitude from her.
Aranda has gushed about how he attends way more film sessions per week than is required, and guys on the team respond to his leadership. When you combine his tremendous physical assets with his work ethic and leadership, you have a great college QB. Baylor fans should be tremendously excited about Bohanon. If he continues the trajectory he’s on now, the sky is the limit for him.