Normally when I write a "This Day in History" post, I talk about a specific event that happened the same day as the date of the writing. My last such venture focused on an event in my own life regarding my son William, while the one before that the date that Baylor announced it had no intention of waiving its legal rights as to A&M's departure. This is not going to be exactly like that.
One year ago today was October 17, 2011, the Monday after Baylor's second loss of the 2011 season at the hands of the Texas A&M by the score of 55-28. The Aggies sacked Robert Griffin III 7 times in that game and eviscerated our defense to the tune of 681 yards. Baylor began the 2011 season with 3 straight wins: the Friday night shocker over TCU, a lightning-shortened bloodbath with Stephen F. Austin at home, and a snoozer of a game against Rice the week after that. We then traveled to Manhattan, Kansas to start Big 12 play against Bill Snyder's Wildcats, eventually losing a game I still believe we should have won where we led by 11 before taking our foot off the gas. KSU's improbable, almost magical run in 2011 began that day with the late interception of an errant Robert Griffin III. We came back home for a game the next week against Iowa State that we won handily on the strength of our running game and seemed to get back some of the groove we lost in Manhattan. That's why confidence was riding pretty high heading to College Station for what might have been the last time in a long time to face the eventual 6-6 Aggies. We ended up losing that game in embarrassing fashion as A&M bottled up RG3 as well as just about anybody not named Oklahoma State.
At this point last season, our offense was third in the country in total offense (7th in passing, 22nd in rushing) with our defense 99th. Predictably enough, we were also 7th in scoring offense and 100th in scoring defense. After the A&M loss we were 4-2 (1-2) on the season and fell out of the rankings before things actually got worse the next week at the hands of Oklahoma State. That 59-24 loss was RGIII's worst game in basically three full seasons as a Bear and dropped us to 4-3 (1-3). This blog didn't yet exist but if it had, we'd probably have felt about the same way we do now. Things were pretty bleak.
If you're reading this, I don't think I have to tell you how things ended up the rest of the way, but I will. After the Oklahoma State game in 2011, Baylor didn't lose another game until we went to Morgantown about three weeks ago. That's 9 games in a row. Robert Griffin shook off the A&M and Okie State games to throw 14 TDs against only 2 interceptions the rest of the way and the team as a whole improved dramatically. If nothing else, 2011 should be evidence to everyone that when all seems lost and the team plays extremely poorly, as we did in successive weeks a year ago, perception is not necessarily reality. We're probably not as bad as we looked on Saturday. Things can get better from here.
I'm not bringing this up now as a way to pump sunshine or to try to convince you that we don't have problems that need fixing. Obviously, we do. But we also have a tremendous opportunity this weekend against the reeling Longhorns and next against Kansas at Homecoming to get back on track. We used a similar stretch last year facing Missouri and at Kansas to do just that. If we can do this year what we did then, we can create significant momentum heading into this year's OU game in Norman. I'm not saying it will happen, but the opportunity is there. And opportunity is all we can really expect, I think.
I don't think Nick Florence is going to have another game where he throws 4 interceptions. Similarly, I don't think our offense is going to give the ball away 6 times again no matter the opponent. If we know nothing else, we know we're better than that on offense. And no matter what we get out of our defense-- at this point, anything would be an improvement-- I'm confident that we will improve as a team going forward. Hopefully, that improvement starts this weekend in Austin.