In what may go down as the worst game of the decade, the Baylor Bears drop their first contest of the season against the Texas State Bobcats 42-31. The game will go down in Bears history along names like Liberty, UTSA, and even UNLV. There is no excuse. Baylor was unprepared, and honestly embarrassing in almost every aspect of the game.
Texas State’s offense did whatever they wanted all game long, while the Bears defense looked soft and unprepared. Bobcats QB TJ Finley looked like an NFL all-pro, commanding a beautiful offense designed by first year head coach GJ Kinne. Finley finished 22/30 for 298 yards and 3 TDs, while a hobbled Blake Shapen went 21/31 for 304 yards and 2 TDs for the Bears, something that would seem to indicate success. But, Shapen was hindered by injuries during the second half, and backup Sawyer Robertson saw most of the action in the fourth quarter, accounting for 2 turnovers that ended would be scoring drives for the Bears. Though offense wasn’t the problem for Baylor in reality, it was defense.
Ismail Mahdi led the Bobcats in rushing, helping them to their 42 points on the game with 6 rushes for 83 yards and a TD. Joey Hobert was Texas State’s leading receiver, with 6 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Baylor’s skill positions didn’t quite compete, with the 2 headed “monster” of Richard Reese and Dominic Richardson only putting up 23 rushes for 93 yards together.
The biggest story from this game was the Baylor defense. It was non-existent. The team felt much closer to their 2017 version than the 2021. Fans are, rightfully so, beginning to question the leadership within the team and coaching staff after this start, following the abysmal close to the 2022 season.
During the off-season coach Aranda seemed to say all the right things, but the improvement doesn’t seem to be there on the field, as the offense seemed stagnant and disjointed, while the defense felt soft and unprepared. The Bears have a long way to go if they are to compete with any team left on their schedule not named Long Island.
One bright spot for the Bears was the return of Drake Dabney. After having his season cut short due to injury last year, Dabney was able to snag 6 catches for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns. He appears to be a good safety blanket for whatever QB we see play moving forward, as we did get to see some play from transfer backup Sawyer Robertson, who spelled Shapen for a series in the third quarter and most of the 4th. Shapen did play some of the second half with a thick wrap on his left leg.
Overall, this was the worst nightmare for Bears fans this season. With a game against a tough, disciplined Utah team looming, Baylor needs some serious adjustments if they expect to compete in game 2, let alone compete in the Big 12 once conference play starts.