The pressure to win is always there for any coach no matter the sport. When you throw in a multi-million-dollar salary, it just adds to the pressure. However, no matter how much money you throw at a coach, winning is easier said than done.
Every situation is different of course. Some coaches walk into a program that is on the right track with pieces in place and others take over a program in desperate need of change and rebuild.
When Matt Rhule came to Baylor back in 2017, there was a lot that needed to be done. Back then, Baylor was still fresh off the Art Briles era and needed a new look. Matt Rhule changed that in just three seasons. He went from a 1-11 season in 2017 to an 11-3 season in 2019 with a trip to the Big 12 title game and a Sugar Bowl.
When the NFL came knocking, Rhule took off to Carolina and Baylor made the move to hire LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. Little did we know then that his first season would be a wild one on and off the field.
COVID-19 took over and essentially canceled the spring and summer for Aranda’s first offseason. Combine that with the fact that the Bears had to replace a ton of pieces on both sides of the ball, it was simply going to be a tough year for Baylor and indeed it was.
The Bears finished the 2020 campaign with a 2-7 record and a season that was filled with COVID-19 issues. By the year’s end, Baylor was unrecognizable due to being down so many bodies.
2021 is a new year and will be a new look for Baylor. The Bears lost starting quarterback Charlie Brewer to Utah, and they replaced former offensive coordinator Larry Fedora with Jeff Grimes who spent his last three seasons at BYU.
These new changes bring excitement for head coach Dave Aranda. “I am excited about this team. We have really worked hard.” Aranda said. “We are excited about the direction of our offense and the formation of our identify being a running team and a play action pass shot team.”
As for the quarterback situation, it is still an ongoing battle according to Dave Aranda. While no starter has been named, Dave wasn’t afraid to give his thoughts on each guy in the competition and what they need to improve on. “For Blake (Shapen), he is continuing to understand he offense and the language of the offense. Aranda said. “His ability to respond through adversity and to attack the next play with confidence is important for him. With Jacob (Zeno), he is working to increase his accuracy with the long ball and to increase his leadership with the team. And for Gerry (Bohanon), it’s working on the drop back passing games and the quick rhythm passing game as well as the ability to make reads. Each individual guy has their own thing they are working on, and I appreciate them because they fully understand where they are at, and they know what they need to work on.”
Obviously, the quarterback battle will continue throughout fall camp but there will be plenty of other starting spots up for grabs on the offensive side the ball for Baylor as the two deep still has plenty battles to be sorted out.
No matter which quarterback wins the job, there is one thing that is for certain. If Baylor, wants to win games this season the offense must improve. Last season the Bears were ranked seventh in the Big 12 in passing, dead last in rushing and ninth in the conference in points per game (23.3). That simply isn’t going to cut it in 2021 and as good as the defense is for Baylor, this upcoming season will be defined by their new look offense.