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Former Earle Bulldog wins starting debut, earns respect


Bohanon’s 2021 offensive debut was a ‘ tremendous success’ says BU sports writer Baylor University sports writer Travis Roeder was fully prepared for disaster.

A new quarterback, leading an offense that struggled all season long last season… at surface level, Mr. Roeder had reasons to be concerned, but after former Earle Bulldog Gerry Bohanon and the rest of the team’s offensive performance this past Saturday, there might be hope for the Bears after all, he says.

“This is insane, and I’m writing this article to prove that so,” Roeder wrote for the Baylor Sporting News earlier this week following the Bears’ 29-20 win against Texas State last Saturday.

“A decent start,” admitted Roeder. “It was a tremendous success. To recognize why, you just need to look at the performance in context.”

That context?

“Remember, Baylor’s offense was terrible in 2020,” he said. “Many fans seem to remember that Baylor was horrendous on offense last year, but weirdly aren’t applying this to their analysis of the 2021 offense… zero passing rhythm, couldn’t attack downfield, and usually resorted to the QB scrambling and working off schedule. This was a massive failure, as Baylor easily has one of the top 50 most talented offenses in the country, and probably much better. This is vital context for understanding the start of 2021.”

The spark this new-look offense has that the 2020 squad was lacking might just be the former Bulldog himself “Perhaps most importantly, Gerry Bohanon far exceeded my expectations,” said Roeder. “Some people have pooh-poohd his performance when mainly looking at his mundane statline of 15-24 for 148 yards (a meager 6.2 yards per attempt, you want to see that number above 7 at least). But again, this statline lacks vital context. The most important thing for the QB to do in this offense is reliably and accurately hit the short and medium concepts coming off play action. Gerry demonstrated that thoroughly.”

Roeder said Baylor’s new offense is predicated around running their new running play—wide zone.

Everything is based off of it. If they can’t run, they can’t execute their passing game which is fully based on play action. And as we know, the running game starts with the offensive lineman, a clear weakness for Baylor for the past 4 or 5 years.

“The other thing Gerry did was demonstrate that he could use his strong arm to threaten the entire field, said Roeder. “This is something Baylor has not had at QB since at least 2016.

The only thing that was missing was a connection one of the few deep attempts, Roeder wrote.

“It’s notable that Baylor did not attempt to go down field much because their run game was working so well even with Texas State stacking the box,” he said.

“But all of the handful of attempts missed for one reason or another. It just so happens that one reason was that the ref missed the call on the field and replay was unavailable to reverse the call on a clear touchdown.”

If you add this 22 yard completion (on a throw that went 45 yards in the air) to Gerry’s numbers, you get him north of 7 yards per attempt, add a TD, and fans probably feel much better about his performance because his stats look better.

“Which of course is stupid because he made the throw whether they counted it or not!” Roeder opined.

He noted that while it is just one game of a dozen (or hopefully more) to be played this season, there is a lot to be excited about: All of this to say—about the OL being incredible, the RBs looking great, and Gerry showing he can operate the offense outside of connecting on the few deep attempts—Baylor, in week 1 when many other teams looked hapless, showed that they have the foundation set for a pretty dang good offense. They showed that they can execute basic fundamentals, such as the OL handling a stunt by the DL, that they simply failed at last year.

“If Gerry starts reliably hitting deep shots, the poten-

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Photo courtesy of Baylor University BOHANON (cont.)

tial goes through the roof,” said Roeder. “But regardless, Baylor showed in week 1 that this offense will be sound, it will be coherent, and it will be well coached.”

He aslo said, the game “wasn’t as close” as the final score showed “I know that points like this often come across poorly; at the end of the day, the score is all that matters for whether you won or lost the game,” he said. “But the score isn’t the only thing that matters for predicting future performance or for ascertaining how well you played.

As Matt Rhule said all the time, ‘You’re never as good as you think you are after a win, and you’re never as bad as you think you are after a loss.’” Let me use the first half of the game as an example.

Baylor had 3 real possessions in the first half. On the first possession, they promptly marched down the field—gaining 46 yards on 4 plays—until RB Abram Smith fumbled and Baylor lost possession. On their second possession, Bohanon threw a TD pass to Josh Fleeks that improperly wasn’t called one, resulting in Baylor settling for a missed 43 yard FG.

Finally on the third possession, Baylor calmly marched down the field— 76 yards on 13 plays—and finished the drive with a TD run by Abram Smith.

This was 7 points on 3 possessions on what very feasibly should have been 21.

If Baylor is entering the half up 28-7 (because of the pick 6 by JT Woods), Baylor is likely playing a decent amount of second stringers in the second half and Baylor fans feel much differently. But perceptions shouldn’t be as dependent on fluky events like losing a fumble or the stadium not having instant replay capabilities.

Bohanon and Baylor will be back in action this Saturday evening, taking on Texas Southern who were blown out last week 40-17 against Prairie View.

It will be another opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong and get another win under their belts.

And Travis Roeder and the rest of Bears Nation will be watching. Kickoff is 6 p.m. on ESPN+.

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