Baylor football poised for step forward in Aranda’s second year
If last year was a season of adjustments for Baylor football — a new head coach, a cancelled spring practice, COVID-19 protocols and challenges, key injuries and schedule changes — there’s a lot this season that feels refreshed.
The football program enjoyed its first spring camp under head coach Dave Aranda, propelling the team further in its development than last year at this time. The ability for more interpersonal interaction has also been beneficial for a relationship-driven coach like Aranda and his staff. No longer a rookie head coach, Aranda sees a lot he can build on to grow as a leader in the role in year two. There’s a normalcy to the last few months that 2020 never provided.
This year, like any, does bring change. Perhaps most notably, the Bears have a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Grimes, who last year scripted the offense for a BYU team that went 11-1, finished third in the nation in scoring, and ranked in the top 15 in 10 offensive categories. Grimes’ offense will be led on the field by new starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon, a fourth-year junior who won the top job after a three-way competition this spring and summer. Last but not least, a batch of talented transfers who want to be a part of what Aranda’s staff is building here will bolster both the offensive and defensive lines.
Plenty of returnees are ready to build on last year, and since the season didn’t count toward eligibility, experience abounds. Veterans Terrel Bernard and Jalen Pitre, both Preseason All-Big 12 honorees, lead a defense that played well much of the year (more on that below) even as injuries to Bernard and others took a toll. Offensively, veteran receivers R.J. Sneed and Tyquan Thornton should be key targets for Bohanon, with fifth-year running back Trestan Ebner as a versatile option out of the backfield.
Baylor will have a chance to surprise people this year, having been picked eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll after last year’s 2-7 season. Numerous publications, however, predict Baylor to reach a bowl this season, and experts say the team’s defense is positioned to be among the nation’s best.
Fans will get their first look at the Bears this Saturday night when they open on the road against Texas State (6 p.m., ESPN+); they’ll kick off at home September 11 against Texas Southern. Tickets are available now through baylorbears.com.
Sic ’em, Baylor football!