Baylor Football

Joe and Ganaway: The growing pains of a young team

November 13, 2017

In this daily in-season SicEm365 Premium segment, former Bears JJ Joe and Terrance Ganaway answer questions regarding Baylor's upcoming games and performance from the previous week.

Joe, a quarterback for the Bears from 1989-1993, threw for 5,995 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Bears. Ganaway rushed for 2,051 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Bears from 2009-2011, including a senior season where he set Baylor's single-season career record with 1,556 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Baylor had so many opportunities to win that football game Saturday against Texas Tech but ended up squandering those chances with turnovers or poor special teams play to start the game.  I don’t think they are as far away from success as you would expect with a 1-9 team.  What are you seeing?

JJ Joe: Let me put it this way since many of our readers have children.  You know how you feel when you talk or have to lecture your kids and the message seemingly does not get through to them, and how you have to go over the same things, over and over again?  Then, your wonderful "squids" (children), out of the clear blue, execute wonderfully, they clean their room, do their homework on time, “ace” every test that week, take out the trash, help around the house and you’re thinking “Oh My, Good Lord, the message is getting through.  Then, two days later, that “wonderful alien” that had inhabited your child’s body for a few days departed and your wonderful squid returned.

Well, that’s the 2017 version of the Baylor football team.   This year’s version has shown flashes of “getting it," but in terms of developmental cycles they are in the “teenager” stage.  We all get it, or we should all get it, but, man, like many of us know, it can be frustrating raising a “teenager”.   That’s what Coach Matt Rhule and his staff are challenged with right now.  He has a teenager (about 100 of them), and sprinkled in he has about 10 Young Adults (you know, the Taylor Young types).  

Coach has seen that teenager go out and play like a young adult (OU, WVU, KU) and I know he and his staff were thinking, hey the light is coming on.  Then, things go dark or better yet they get dim, and the “teen” returns along with the teenage type execution.  That’s what I see.  

From a pure talent standpoint, I look out there and say this team shouldn’t be 1-9.  They should’ve found a way to win at least 2 to 3 more games to this point, but then I pause.  Yes, this team is where they should be.  Why?  Because team development is about 60 to 70 percent mental/psyche development which really only comes when guys have spent time together and gained real experience.  We have a ton of “new” family members and they just haven’t experienced enough together to execute cleanly, fight through adversity and come out on the other side together.  

I have no doubt that these guys have talent and our good, tough kids, but, fellow Bears, team development takes time, just like raising kids takes time.  Remember, before we won two Big XII Championships Coach Briles had to endure two 4-8 seasons, followed by a 7-6, then finally a 10-3.  However, that 10-win team was followed by a team that was 4-5 (2012) the following season and it looked like that fantastic 10 win season led by RGIII was going to be a “flash” in the pan.  Well, those kids on the 2012 team, for the most part, had been together for three to four years.  They had struggled together, sweated and bled led by experienced guys like Nick Florence and Terrance Williams through traumatizing offseason workouts for two to three years and “the light came on.”  They beat #1 KSU and the rest is history because that team (2012) was the true foundation for 2013 & 2014.  That team was led by a number of veterans: Nic Florence (SR), Terrence Williams (SR), Glasco Martin (JR), Tevin Reese (JR), Jared Salubi (SR), Lanear Sampson (SR), Eddie Lackey (JR), Ahmad Dixon (JR), Sam Holl (JR), Chance Casey (SR), Mike Hicks (SR), Joe Williams (JR), Chris McAllister (JR), Terrence Lloyd (JR), KJ Morton (JR), Gary Mason Jr., (SR).),  all of which played key roles that resulted in that team winning its final 4 games of 2012 and then the first nine games of 2013. 

This is the “together” year.  The year that they’ll all remember.  The struggle, the inability to win, the embarrassment of having such a bad record; it will fuel them.  I simply hope that our guys can find a way to pull one out.  Coach has a lot of dry powder sitting on the sideline this year.  He has a few transfers that will help immediately next season, but these guys must feel that “exuberant” feeling this year, if we want a leap next year.  Exuberance can only come by accomplishing something with this group that was not expected and against the odds.  They’ll have a real opportunity at home this week against ISU which will likely be without its QB. I expect them to play well on Saturday, but will they win?  Well, maybe we’ll see a glimpse of that “light”, but you know how teens are they’re totally unpredictable!

Terrance Ganaway: Matt Rhule's team is getting better each week and it is evident even to the untrained eye. Jeff Nixon is the offensive coordinator that will lead this team forward and I am encouraged by the direction it is headed. The offensive concept is complicated and hard to grasp by underclassmen that do not benefit from redshirting. The players seem to get more and more relaxed in their understanding of the offense but Baylor is experiencing is mistakes by youth.

Baylor's offense outgained Texas Tech's offense through the air 417 yards to 246 yards and on the ground 106 yards to 91 yards, respectively. Baylor was able to move the ball up and down the field and Tech had no true answers for JaMycal Hasty in open space. The healthier this team gets the more Nixon sees how great the athletes are in space. Baylor held the ball for over 60 percent of the time but failed to take care of the ball and not getting points out of three different red zone trips. The thing about the time of possession stat is that it only is relevant win a team wins. It only tells a fraction of the story with the stat of what is going on elsewhere on the field. It shows that the defense is getting the opposing team's offense off the field and that the offense is getting first downs. It means that the team is executing plays and that is what this team is starting to do more and more which is what we are seeing on the field. 

Baylor isn't far away at all from turning the corner and making this an eight-win team. Turnovers and penalties have cost Baylor at least six games and mistakes that are easily correctable. A lot of the youthful mistakes will turn into big plays next year and will have the fanbase going insane. I know Rhule has a plan and most of us are not privilege to understand it or see the inner workings but this team will be great again - very soon. A big test is coming to town this weekend and Baylor needs to execute sound offense to move the ball on Iowa St. but this is a very beatable team just need to take a step forward this week.

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