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AMES — People who don’t follow the Big 12 closely still are getting used to the fact the Big 12 actually plays good defense now and second-year Baylor coach Dave Aranda is helping make the change.
Aranda was the defensive coordinator for LSU’s national-championship team and he’s brought his defensive tendencies to the Big 12.
Here are five Baylor players to watch as Iowa State prepares to travel to Waco, Texas, to play the Bears on Saturday.
S Jalen Pietre
I can’t spend the whole intro writing about defense and not have a defensive player listed first.
Pietre is a do-everything safety for Baylor. He leads the Bears in pass breakups, interceptions, forced fumbles, tackles for loss and sacks. He’s second on the team in tackles.
The senior is everywhere for the Baylor defense, and has been for a while.
Last season he was on the all-Big 12 defensive first team and he was an honorable mention for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
LB Terrel Bernard
Bernard was a preseason all-Big 12 selection and has lived up to the billing.
After being a second-team all-Big 12 pick last season, Bernard has stepped up for the Baylor defense as a senior.
Bernard leads the team with 19 tackles. He also has 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a pass breakup.
LB Dillon Doyle
The son of former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle, Dillon transferred from Iowa to Baylor after his dad resigned.
Doyle has been a key piece to the Baylor defense for the last two years. This season, he’s recorded 15 tackles, tied with Pietre for second on the team, and three tackles for loss, also the second most on the team.
“I always enjoyed talking with Dillon because he’s a football nut,” Aranda said last season. “We talk about what he sees on certain run fronts and certain coverages or pressures. It always comes back to what he was doing in high school or things at Iowa that he liked that maybe could help us.
“He brings up his history quite a bit so I know it means a lot to him. I’m sure this game is a little more special to him.”
RB/RS Trestan Ebner
Ebner was an All-America returner last season for the Bears, averaging 32 yards per kick return. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Teams have avoided kicking the ball to him this year.
Beyond his kick-return prowess, Ebner is an impressive running back. In three games, he’s rushed the ball 47 times for 327 yards. He also has five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
QB Gerry Bohanon
It’s not often that a quarterback gets stuffed this far down in a five-players-to-watch story, but Bohanon came into this season as a relative unknown.
While Baylor hasn’t exactly played a reputable team yet, he has played well against the teams on the schedule — Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas.
Bohanon, a junior, has completed 71 percent of his passes for 644 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also rushed 14 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns.