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Baylor Football

GameDay Thread: Baylor (1-3) travels to Iowa State (4-2)

November 6, 2020
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Baylor is back on the road again to face off against the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT in a game that will be aired on FS1. 


Baylor vs. Iowa State Primer

For three consecutive games Baylor has used second-half rallies to make games against West Virginia, Texas and TCU interesting, but ultimately fell short in each to drop to 1-3 on the season. 

Now the Bears will hit the road with hopes of pulling of an upset against No. 17 Iowa State as 14-point underdogs to the Cyclones. BU has lost two of their last three to the Cyclones dating back to the 2017 season, but did get the victory over Matt Campbell and Brock Purdy in Waco a season ago, 23-21. 

Iowa State is led offensively by quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall. Through six games Purdy is completing 62.2% of his passes for 1,313 yards with seven touchdowns against three interceptions and has rushed for an additional three touchdowns and 139 yards. 

Hall, however, has taken the spotlight over the course of the early part of his career in Ames. Just a sophomore, Hall has rushed for 1,798 yards and 20 touchdowns on 320 carries and caught 36 passes for 313 yards and another score. The explosive all-around back has registered at least 100 yards in all six games in 2020 and totaled 901 rushing yards and 11 scores already. 

The Cyclone defense has been steady as well, ranking among the top four in the Big 12 in many categories. Their 26.0 points allowed ranks fourth in the league while possessing the No. 2 rush defense in the league in yards per carry at 3.14. They have forced seven turnovers on the season, registering 7.83 tackles for loss per game and rank No. 3 in the Big 12 with 3.0 sacks per game.  

Actions must speak louder than words for Baylor

At times in the first three-quarters of last Saturday’s game against TCU, it felt as though Baylor had hit their rock bottom for the 2020 season. However, what could have been an all-time embarrassing result instead turned into just another brutal loss, following the fourth quarter showing that exemplified what this program is still capable of with the right mix of coaching, playmaking and attitude. 

As Colt Barber wrote earlier this week, there has been plenty of accountability to go around the football locker room and that continued on Wednesday as a new group of players spoke to the media.

For Baylor to turn the future summary of their 2020 season around, however, they’ll need their actions to speak as loud as their words. Poor starts and a lack of energy, in particular, have been discussed by outsiders ad nauseam, but they’re also the same topics of conversation currently occurring within the program.

Talking to SicEm365’s David Smoak on Monday, Aranda directly addressed those areas of concern.

“Starting the game faster is definitely something that was talked about,” Aranda said. “I think I look upon myself, like, that's something I have to do better, in terms of creating energy in the locker room, and really managing time on the grass, prior to the game.

“I feel like I can do a better job there.”

During Baylor’s 2017 1-11 campaign in Matt Rhule’s first year, former offensive lineman and current defensive lineman Ryan Miller was an undersized true freshman forced into action out of necessity. He’s seen firsthand the highs and lows of the program over the last three-plus seasons.

“To compare this team this year and the struggles we’re having versus my freshman year, it’s like not even a comparison. We’ve got the guys, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve got the talent, we just have to go do it,” Miller told media on Wednesday. 

Ultimately what helped flip the switch for the program between the one-win season in 2017 to the Big 12 Championship contender in 2019 was not only more time, but also an unwavering belief in the process and a higher level of execution and accountability amongst the actual players. 

Similarly, each piece of success regardless of how big or how small in 2020 is something to build on, Miller said.

“Looking at TCU, from that game specifically the second half, the biggest takeaway for our offense, in my opinion, was them saying, ‘we’re capable of stacking drives together and scoring touchdowns,’”  the former Southlake Carroll standout said.

“And I think up to that point, there might have been this low of, I guess you could call it confidence or whatever it is, but I think it became obvious … we’re good, we can move, we can run the ball, we can throw the ball. We can do all these things, we just gotta go do it.” 

The early season performances were amplified by the poor first half on Saturday which makes it understandable that fans and supporters to have concerns about the mindset of the team. The same mistakes are costing them games each week. Losses aren’t easy on anyone and this isn’t a group of student-athletes and staff that have been in the fire together for very long. But they are players and coaches who have been in the fire before, whether together or separately, and they all know what it takes to achieve success. 

Safety Jairon McVea, asked about the mood of the team, reverted to some wisdom from his father.

“My dad always tells me the hardest thing about changing or getting to the top of something is the very end, the last hump, and that’s where I feel like the team’s at right now,” the former walk-on said.

“Where that’s the hardest part to get over, that last step on the hill, the last step on the staircase, and so, we're motivated.”

The words are right, but it will need to be followed by actions if Baylor wants to turn the season around.

For Baylor to have a chance in Ames this weekend, it will require their best team performance of the season and perhaps a little bit of luck. For that to happen, it won’t come down to Dave Aranda, Larry Fedora or Ron Roberts calling a perfect game. It will come down to those on the field executing and making it happen. 

“Losing a football game is never one person’s fault,” Miller said. “It’s either everyone or no one, right? So, I agree that we’ve also got to go play.

“You can only do so much as a coach, but the reality is [Aranda]'s not the one wearing a helmet, and has shoulder pads, and has to go tackle and block people. We've got to go do those things and execute and do the things we've been coached to do at a high level.” 

With five games remaining, Baylor’s season is far from over and there are plenty of opportunities for fun times ahead, including this weekend. But to experience those, for both players and coaches, their actions will need to speak louder than their words. 


Baylor vs. Iowa State Prediction

Written by Sam Bradshaw (S11)

Prediction

Baylor is a team with the talent and schemes to win this.   However the performance for the first half of last week’s game gives me pause.   That is not the defense we saw through the first three games in terms of physicality or execution.   That is also not what we expected from the offense given how much more practice they finally had together.

This game is a question of whether Baylor can get it’s act together and put whatever distractions they face aside and go play a clean game.   I think we’ll see a better effort but not enough to win against a better opponent.

Iowa State 27, Baylor 16

 
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