Baylor Bears

Blake Shapen Out to Help Baylor Bears ‘Finish’ This Season

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Baylor

On paper, Blake Shapen’s first season as Baylor’s starting quarterback looked solid. But the Bears themselves didn’t meet expectations.

Shapen would acknowledge that. So would his head coach, Dave Aranda. The Bears went from going 12-2 in winning the 2021 Big 12 Championship Game and beating Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl to going 6-7 last season and scraping together a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, where the Bears lost to Air Force in a game where the kickoff temperature was 12 degrees.

Aranda expects more from Shapen this season, his second as the starter.


“Big fan of his,” Aranda said. “The team sees that (growth) and the guys see that and they want to work hard for him. His growth off the field as a leader and just in terms of just doing all the things has been really good to see, and so I’m expecting big things. I know he is, too. There’s been a lot of work into it.”

Shapen was the starting quarterback for the Bears in that Big 12 Championship Game, but only because Gerry Bohanon was hurt. Shapen did enough in two games as a starter to put himself in a position to challenge Bohanon for the starting role last spring, and he won the job. Bohanon transferred to USF after losing the quarterback battle and won the starting job there before an injury ended his season.

Bohanon, like Shapen, is back in 2023.

Perhaps the expectations were too high for Shapen. Perhaps he whets the appetite of Bears fans too much with that Big 12 Championship Game performance. He followed up those heroics with an uneven, but productive, 2022 season as a starter.


He was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention after throwing for 2,709 yards on 233-of-368 passing with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 63.3 percent of his passes, which was the fifth-best single-season completion percentage in program history. His passing yards and completions were ninth and 10th in program history, respectively.

But, there were times things didn’t click. He only threw for 300 or more yards twice, not necessarily a bad thing in Baylor’s run-based attack. He was much less of a running threat than Bohanon had been in 2021, as he rushed for just 96 yards. He threw nine of his 10 interceptions in Big 12 action.

Once the Bears got bowl eligible with a victory over Oklahoma on Nov. 5, the Bears lost their last four games, including the bowl game.

Shapen knows one thing the Bears must do this season compared to last.


“There were a lot of games where we were up early and we weren’t able to finish it toward the of the game,” Shapen said. “So to be able to finish each game that we play is going to be a huge thing going into this next year.”

That was one thing the Bears could do in 2021, as Shapen slid into the starting role for Bohanon late in the season. He made just two starts and threw for only 596 yards and five touchdowns.

But he completed 17 straight passes in the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma State — a college record — as the Bears beat the Cowboys, 21-19. He threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns in that game, one week after throwing for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first start against Texas Tech.

Whatever happens now, it’s Shapen’s job to lose. He did enough to win the job outright in the spring for the second straight season.

Now, he and the Bears have to finish.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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