AMES — No. 17 Iowa State bounced back from its first Big 12 loss by throttling Kansas on Saturday. Next up is a home game against Baylor.
Here are five things to know about the Bears (1-3, 1-3).
1. Meet head coach Dave Aranda
Dave Aranda had never been a head coach before he was hired by Baylor.
He started out as a defensive coordinator for Redlands High School in California in 1995. His first Division I experience came in 2000-02 as a graduate assistant for Texas Tech.
Since then, he’s been a linebackers coach or defensive coordinator at every collegiate level from Division III Cal Lutheran, to Division II Delta State to a bevy of Division I schools.
Most recently Aranda was the defensive coordinator for LSU from 2016-19. The 2019-20 LSU team was one of the all-time great teams in college football history.
LSU had a record-tying 14 players selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, including six defensive players coached by Aranda. In his first three seasons at LSU, nine of his players on the defensive side of the ball were drafted.
Aranda was hired at Baylor after fellow-defensive minded coach Matt Rhule left for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
2. Baylor’s COVID-19 problems
The year 2020 is a tough time to get your first-ever head coaching gig — but that’s exactly what Aranda is trying to navigate.
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On top of instilling the culture and installing the playbook and style he wants, he’s had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been a struggle.
Baylor has had two separate instances this season where it’s had to shut down all football activities.
The Bears were unable to play their season opener against Houston due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team. Most recently, Baylor had to postpone its game against Oklahoma State, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 17.
Baylor athletics director Mack Rhodes said in a radio interview with SicEm365 that 28 members of the football team had COVID-19 and only three were asymptomatic.
In Baylor’s Oct. 26 testing, only one athlete throughout the whole athletics department tested positive.
3. Iowa transfer Dillon Doyle
Folks in Iowa are familiar with the Doyle family.
Baylor linebacker Dillon Doyle is the son of former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. Chris Doyle reached a separation agreement with Iowa this offseason after allegations came forth that detailed his mistreatment of Black football players at Iowa.
Dillon Doyle, who was at Iowa, transferred to Baylor, where he’s thriving.
The sophomore is second on the team in tackles with 28 and is receiving rave reviews from his coach.
“Dillon is very intelligent and there is a great, not only intelligence and getting stuff for the first time, but he’s also very attuned to football,” Aranda said. “All he has to see is a play, situation or route one time and he’s able to transfer that knowledge in real time to the next series when it shows up again. His anticipation and recognition is really, really good. He’s just getting started and I think the best is yet to come.”
4. QB Charlie Brewer
Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer has had success since his freshman season.
The senior is having statistically the worst season of his college career completing a career low 60 percent of his passes and he’s only averaging 5.9 yards per pass. Last season, he averaged 8.1 yards per pass.
In Baylor’s most recent game against TCU, Brewer completed just 45 percent of his passes.
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Even with his early-season struggles, Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell knows what the senior is capable of.
“First and foremost he’s a winner,” Campbell said. “What I love about Charlie Brewer is what he stands for — his mentality. He’s tough, he’s gritty, he’s a winner, he gives his team a chance to win in every game he’s played during his career at Baylor. From me, there’s a great appreciation of what he’s about and what he stands for.
“Before you even get into the fact that he is talented, he can run, he can throw ... Man his grittiness, his winning mentality and what he does every week for his team week in and week out has been really impressive.”
5. Baylor’s slow start
It’s hard to know what to attribute Baylor’s 1-3 start to.
Is it growing pains with a new coach? Is it the coronavirus problems? Is it the lack of practices it has had because it’s had to shut down football operations? Is it all of the above?
No matter which way you slice it, this is Baylor’s worst start since 2017, when the Bears started 0-4 and finished the season just 1-11.