There was a time not too long ago that the folks at Our Daily Bears and this here site did not get along. It was rare that we exchanged Q&As, visited each other’s podcasts, or even followed each other on twitter. Those were the salad days of this often raucous rivalry, back when Gary Patterson and that other guy pulled no punches in saying how they felt about each other.
But the vitriol has cooled some off the field; GP seemed to genuinely like Matt Rhule and certainly respects the hell out of Dave Aranda — and while this game still certainly means something more for the players on both sides, the fanbases get along better and share more mutual respect than outright hatred than ever (though they still want the win, obviously, and will rub in in their faces forevermore).
This is a great thing for us; the folks running ODB are good people who bring a fair and balanced perspective to their program. And heck, with a combined record of 2-5, it’s not like the stakes are as high as say... well, let’s not say it.
To figure out what’s going on in Waco, we reached our to Kendall Kaut for a Q&A. Kaut was kind enough to tell us all about year one of the Aranda rebuild, Charlie Brewer’s slow start, and whatever the heck happened with two senior running backs earlier this week.
Frogs O’ War: Dave Aranda is a first year head coach but comes with an outstanding pedigree. He obviously inherited a pretty young team, but what are your early evaluations of what he’s done so far?
Kendall Kaut: I think he’s a brilliant defensive coach. He’s also done a nice job with extreme ownership. He had a really stupid punt in the Texas game, and the next day he said that was a bad idea. I think he’s humble and constantly willing to learn. While I have a few issues with some his decisions, I still have faith he’s going to get it done.
FOW: Charlie Brewer seems to have all the intangibles, but the tangibles have been inconsistent so far this season. What’s your assessment of Brewer both as the leader and face of Baylor Football — and as a pure QB?
KK: He’s not gotten it done as a passer this year. Brewer was headed to SMU for a reason. The man is incredibly tough and has maximized his ability. But whether too many injuries or something else, he hasn’t displayed the arm strength to stretch the field. Without his arm returning to the form he had in October of 2019, it’s hard to see him getting it done in November of 2020.
FOW: Trestan Ebner and John Lovett: WTH?
KK: So that was one heck of a journey. Two Baylor outlets (not us—I didn’t have any inside info on it) reported they were opting out for the season. Those outlets were fairly certain, then Dave Aranda—in his weekly phone conference—made it sound like the staff talked with them and they’re sticking around.
We never got a definitive explanation for why they were considering opting out beyond this year has been very difficult.
The duo are four year seniors, so they were important to keep. I said on a Facebook Live that Baylor needed to go get them back, so that’s at least a positive!
FOW: Aranda is a defensive guy — what have you seen as far as how he’s impacted that side of the ball through three games?
KK: Despite losing nine starters including Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, the defensive has been excellent. A mediocre offense and Baylor would be 3-0 and contending for a Big 12 title. But with the offense Baylor has, the Bears are contending for the 9th place.
Terrel Bernard is the Big 12’s best defensive player. Jalen Pitre has played at an All-American level too.
Aranda and Ron Roberts, the defensive coordinator, seem to have guys in the right place. They’ve given up a couple of big plays, but overall—especially with five defensive starters out against West Virginia—they’ve done an excellent job there.
FOW: This rivalry has gotten juicy again with some pretty memorable moments. Neither team seems to be lighting the world on fire in 2020, so why not reminisce on better days? If I told you you couldn’t say anything from 2014, what’s your favorite memory of this rivalry, in any sport?
KK: For sure the 2011 game. I remember going to that game when I was a student at Baylor thinking, “We’re going to get blown out.” The Bears built a giant lead, then TCU took the lead. RGIII got a wide receiver pass to extend the drive, then Baylor made a long kick to win the game. That was the first of RGIII’s Heisman season and a start to the first 10 win seasons in years.
FOW: How do you see Saturday playing out? Does the first team to 10, win? Where are the advantages for Baylor on the field?
KK: I think it will take a few more points than that, but I’d look for which team can break a couple of big plays. Maybe someone gets an interception in the opponent’s territory, or someone has a big edge in turnover margin.
The Bears’ best advantage is probably at linebacker. TCU might have more trouble throwing over the middle or getting as many QB runs. Or maybe it all goes down hill for Baylor, and I’m wrong about that one.
FOW: What’s your score prediction and who are the players of the game on each side of the ball?
KK: I think TCU will win 20-13.
Charlie Brewer is the key to Baylor’s offense. He must threaten the field or ran a ton on Saturday. His performance to start the season has not been good enough. it’s time for him to play like he did last year.
On defense, I think Raleigh Texada, one of Baylor’s cornerbacks, needs to make sure he doesn’t give up too many big passes. While I don’t expect TCU to have too many explosive plays, the way Baylor’s offense has gone, one could be too many.