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Different Mindsets

I have two different mindsets. One as a writer and one as fan. They differ on how I think about the Bears

Matthew Holst

When I write for ODB I almost have to take on a different mindset. Because, as a fan and student of the University I write about, I naturally have A LOT of bias in favor of the Baylor Bears. Yes, this comes out in my writing, but I still try and keep somewhat of a level head when writing about Baylor and their games in the past, present, and future. It’s difficult trying to separate the two, but as of recently my comments and posts have involved a lot of negativity. Look, I’m fully aware that the team is under-performing this year, the defense is, let’s just say, really bad, and the offense is stalling at times they just simply can’t be staling in. As both a student and a writer I am aware of these things. The writer in me wants to bash the team and all involved and call for household changes. The reason this is is that, as a writer, I look at these guys as strictly football players and nothing else. While, as a student, I see these guys around campus and occasionally get star struck and interact some of them.

The game of football has a lot of ups and downs. As of right now, the Bears are in a tailspin on the field. The defense is statistically the worst in the nation, and this week we witnessed the offense is indeed human. It’s hard to differ my two mindsets on this one, because I have a lot of respect for the guys that go out and play the game each week. I’ve played high school football against teams like Allen and Southlake so I know what it’s like to play at a highly competitive level. Now, that doesn’t anywhere compare to playing on national television week in and week out, but it is something nonetheless. I know when I played we practiced, had film, worked out, more film, more practice, film again, etc.

The fact of the matter is that if someone ever messed up, they knew about it, and the mistake would come up in practice and in film, over and over and over again. We weren’t a great team, but we put it all out there every week and it was rare we made the same mistake multiple times. That’s not to say more mistakes didn’t arise but it wasn’t the same week in and week out. I see the same mistakes from Baylor’s defense week in and week out. The only way these problems can be eliminated is by practice and recognizing there is a problem in the first place. These guys can’t settle with just thinking oh, I just got beat. They should know exactly why they were beat, what situation it came in, and how to prevent it in the future. Every week the team should get better. This Baylor team has gotten worse every week. They make the same mistakes every game and it’s to the point where I’m just in disbelief that they don’t improve. These guys are some of the best athletes in the world, and they are Baylor educated. They should be able to figure what they are doing and get it corrected. Which really makes me wonder what goes on during practice on the defensive side of the ball. Are the assistants not passing on Bennett’s message during the week, or does Bennett just not give a crap?

Different players favor different styles of coaching. I know me personally, I didn’t have to get yelled out to get the point across, just pull me aside, tell me what I did wrong, what they did, and how to fix it, and that was that. The mistake wasn’t made again. During the Texas game the camera was focused on Bennett for a lot more time than a defensive coordinator should be focused on. I’d say 90% of the time he yelling and shouting at his players, and they didn’t seem to be responding to it very well, the stats show that they are not responding to it very well.

Don’t for a second think I’m saying to go soft on the players and baby them, because that’s not what I’m saying at all. Bennett looked like he was yelling just to show he was upset. Not once did I ever see any "coaching" going on. A coach’s job is not go to a player and go "WHAT THE F@#% WAS THAT!! FIX IT!!" Yes, these guys are passionate, extremely passionate. Every player on that defense probably needs to be chewed out, but that can’t be the end of it. After the yelling is over both coach and player have to put that play or that series behind them and focus on the next. After the yelling subsides the actual coaching needs to take place. There are coaches in the press box along with Bennett on the sidelines to get a view of the play from all angles. They should know what’s going on. Not once have I seen Bennett try to coach a guy up on the sideline. These guys aren’t perfect. Far from it. But they are certainly better than dead last. I’m sick of hearing all this talk about how these aren’t Bennett’s guys too. This, to me, just adds to the fact that Bennett isn’t a good coach. A good coach can take guys and make them better. Bennett hasn’t made anyone better. In his second year here, he’s in fact made them worse. There is minimal coaching going on on the defensive side of the ball. The same mistakes are made again and again. We can’t just assume the players are going to fix it on their own. Sure, they make some dumb plays, but that’s just part of it. As a coach you have to limit the amount of dumb things that happen. Bennett is not limiting anything. He isn’t inspiring any type of hope for this defense. They don’t believe in him and he doesn’t believe in them. It’s that simple. I played defense and you had to have the mentality that you would go to war with any one of your teammates, and that includes the coaches. The players aren’t responding to Bennett. He just isn’t doing it. Baylor doesn’t have the players to overtake Alabama as the number one defense, but they certainly are better than 120th.

The offense doesn’t get off the hook either. The defense gets the bulk of the attention because they are the worst in the nation statistically. The offense, on the other hand, ranks near the top in the nation, or they did before this week anyway, and have one of, if not the best receiver in the nation on it. The offense just didn’t show up today. It was a game where nothing clicked and everything just looked sloppy. Here’s the difference though, and here’s why the offense won’t get as much grief as I just gave the defense, I trust Art Briles. He’s proven that, offensively, he can adjust and coach his guys up throughout the game and throughout the season. He has a lot of work to do though before Kansas. I know that it’s only Kansas, but it is backs up and against the walls time now for the Bears and every game needs to be treated as a bowl game preparation wise. Florence looked more and more flustered as the game went on and Tevin Reese took a nasty hit that could likely keep him out of next week’s game. The offense just wasn’t clicking today. They normally have composure and confidence that they can go score against anyone, but I didn’t see that tonight. It starts with Florence. Florence usually has a very calm demeanor about him and usually calms down everyone around him and gets the job done. He was noticeably frustrated tonight and it spread throughout the entire offense. His struggles and a couple Terrance Williams drops were only the beginning of the offensive frustrations, which reached their zenith when Cyril Richardson was ejected during the game for kicking an Iowa State player in the groin. I know he was the retaliator, but you just can’t do that.

When the defense actually managed to force some turnovers the offense failed to capitalize. At certain points in the game, we had the unit we wanted to have on the field on the field and they simply did not get the job done. Whether they faltered under the pressure or Iowa State’s defense was just that good, they just couldn’t come up with the plays they needed to make. We’ve come to expect poor performance form the defense, but seeing it from the offense as well tonight was a sight that made me cringe, because they are capable of much, much more.

Now, most of what I just said came from me trying to be levelheaded and talk as a writer. As a student, I love my school and my team. I’m not about to start saying I’m going to refuse to go to the games now or refuse to run in the Baylor Line. That’s just dumb. The reason I chose to attend Baylor wasn’t because I had aspirations that their football program was going to bring home a national championship. No. As a student, I’m one of Baylor’s biggest fans. You will still see me at every game running the line and cheering as loud as possible for my Bears. Am I upset with the outcomes of the recent games? I definitely am. I hate losing in a game of checkers, so losing a football game isn’t exactly thrilling to me. But no matter what, I’m a fan. Getting upset and sharing my opinions on how the team can get better is part of that. I have an overwhelming amount of passion for this school even though I’ve only been here all of two months. I love seeing players around campus. They’re like celebrities to me. I get to see them not just in pads, but wearing sweats going to class. It’s really cool.

Call it whatever you want, but I still have faith in my school. Call me an optimist or a homer, or whatever you want to come up with, but they’re my school and I believe in them. I have the utmost respect for the guys playing, and I’m not about to stop going to games like I know some people will. The line will be smaller; there will be less line jerseys in the stands, and less people in the stands. But I’ll still be there. I’ll be there until the end, because I know what it’s like. No one likes to lose, but everyone loves support. Support from people who aren’t fair weather fans. Yea I’m frustrated with the team, but I’m not giving up all hope. These guys aren’t going to accept mediocrity. Yea they’re losing, but I know the reason I’m so fed up is because I expect so much form these guys. As a writer I want things to improve, as a student I want things to improve. I guess that’s where they come together. I want the best and nothing less. We get a chance to start righting the ship next week against Kansas. SicKU.