'In the Huddle'


In the Huddle with Nick Florence...

Fact is, that was an ugly game to watch Saturday night in Stillwater. Offensively, we just weren’t there, weren’t dynamic and we weren’t getting yards on first down, which is why our offense has been so successful is you’re getting five, six, seven yards on first down. And that really sets the tone. We just didn’t do a good enough job of getting holes and making things happen.

You have to look at this as a growing and learning opportunity. I think when you lose a game, you approach it differently and with a different mindset of, I’ve got to get better. That’s one of the things Dave Aranda talked about after the game. He said, “As coaches, as players, we’ve got to be better. We weren’t at our best today.” That takes a lot of humility as a coach to admit that, because the players play. But, there’s a lot to learn from that 24-14 loss on the road against an Oklahoma State team that’s now up to No. 12 in the polls.

As fans, we tend to immediately go to doom and gloom. The sky is falling. When the reality is we’re 4-1. We played an ugly game, in Stillwater, against a top-20 team, and had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. That’s all you want is a chance. We just didn’t capitalize on it. But, coming into this year, if I had asked if you would have taken 4-1 through five games, you probably would have said, “Yes, absolutely!”

That’s where we are, and we have a great opportunity in front of us this week against West Virginia to become 5-1. I know, you never want to lose, but I think the loss came at a really good time for us, because now we’ve got three home games, three really tough games in front of us. Bounce back, learn, get better, make adjustments and move forward.

Oklahoma State’s defense came out in some completely different stuff, and we had a hard time adjusting. Now, offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is not going to make that mistake twice. He’s not going to be fooled twice. That’s where, as a coach and one the caliber of Coach Grimes, is going to learn from this. I guarantee you he’s going to change up some of the things they do and evolve.

That’s part of the offense is it’s got to continue to evolve. You finally hit a roadblock, so now you’ve got to evolve, you’ve got to get better. You have to take this one play and tweak it slightly, change it up, do this and that. I have a lot of faith in Coach Grimes and this offense, and I think our players are going to rise to the challenge.

This is a big game, at home, it’s an 11 a.m. kick. We should have a great crowd. But, you have to bounce back against a West Virginia team that’s reeling a little right now, too. They’ve lost their last two games by field goals in the last 20 seconds.

I think we’re going to learn a lot about what this team is made of. We’ve said all year, “How does this team respond to adversity?” We never quit last week, which I love, but we have to learn how to respond better. That’s what this week is all about: Can you respond and get better? Can you take one step forward? Can you be better than you were last Saturday?

Change it up

• I’ll admit, I’m not one that understands the wide-zone scheme that well, but there isn’t always the same hole here and there. And if you’ve got guys that are quick and strong and can shoot gaps, it blows things up. So, I do think there has to be a level of evolution.

• If they’re coming off the edge, like they did a lot last week against Oklahoma State, can we pull it and throw it to the slot, who’s got nobody on top of him anymore? Do you implement some bubble-type screens? Maybe some play-action, where you’ve got guys dragging across the middle?

• If you can get them backing off the edge, now you do have those holes open up and the receivers can get on their blocks, which we’ve been really good at all year. But, if they’re shooting off the edge, the receiver can’t block him, and it’s a man that’s coming free that you can’t account for. 

• I think Gerry Bohanon has been so pegged as a run-first quarterback, he’s maybe overcompensating, trying to be a pocket passer. Use your legs, they’re a weapon. If the pocket’s breaking down and you’ve got a gap, tuck it and run. Yes, I love that he’s keeping his eyes downfield, but if they’re in a man-free package and there’s a gap, take what you can get.

Quit beating yourselves

• We can’t continue to beat ourselves. Penalties killed us the other night (9 for 58 yards). Those penalties probably didn’t make or break the game, win or lose, but it sure gave a lot of advantages to Oklahoma State.

• There was one on that last scoring drive, where Matt Jones was called for unnecessary roughness at the end of a Spencer Sanders run. That’s part of that competitive maturity that Coach Aranda talked about. We have to be at our best in the most pressurized situations, when things are maybe going bad. You just can’t have a penalty like that.

• The defense kept you in the game, getting three turnovers, but the offense has to be able to capitalize and gets points off turnovers. We were plus-3 in turnovers against Oklahoma State, and lost. If we get anything off those turnovers, it’s a different ballgame.

Keys to the game

• Don’t let that one loss shoot your confidence, but let this light a fire. Let this shape you and mold you, and use it to your advantage. A week from now, I think we’re going to look back and figure out if we took advantage of the opportunity and the growing and learning that can take place, by how we play on Saturday against West Virginia.

• Having linebacker Terrel Bernard back is huge. I think you probably missed a little bit of Terrel, especially with those breakdowns up the middle. When we took that penalty late to make it third-and-long, and Spencer Sanders had a big gain, I think with Terrel you have a shot at potentially stopping him and forcing them to kick a field goal on 4th-and-10. But now, Matt Jones has experience in a really tough environment. You live and you learn, and you take the hand you’re dealt.

• Given what the last six quarters have looked like for us, I think you’re going to see a lot more defenses stacking the box and forcing Gerry to throw the ball. It’s hard as a quarterback to throw those hot routes when you’re throwing it three yards downfield. But, that’s where you’ve got to trust the receiver, too, because if they can make one guy miss, he’s going to get some yards and pick up a first down.

• West Virginia is another defense that’s hard to run against, but we’ve got to figure out different ways to run the ball. We’re at our best when Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith are moving the chains, and then it opens up other things.

• In the passing game, we have to be more dynamic. You’ve got to figure out how to get receivers Tyquan Thornton and R.J. Sneed more involved and engaged. That was the first time in a long time that R.J. didn’t have a catch, and we only targeted him two or three times. He needs to be a big part of the game plan.

• West Virginia’s struggled on offense, especially in the running game. Leddie Brown had a good game against us up there last year, rushing for 93 yards and scoring two touchdowns. But, as a team, they’re only averaging 112 yards rushing per game, and a lot of that came against LIU.

• The key defensively is to take away the run game and make them one-dimensional. Jarret Doege is more of a pocket passer, he’s not a runner, but you have to put some pressure on him and force him to make some bad throws, like you did last week against Spencer Sanders. They turned it over four times in a 30-24 loss at Maryland, and he threw two picks against us last year in a 27-21, double-overtime loss in Morgantown.

• Expect it to be close. Four of the last five games in this series have been decided by one score, including a 17-14 win by the Bears two years ago at McLane Stadium. And this year, other than a 66-0 blowout of Long Island, all of West Virginia’s games have come down to the wire. They lost on last-second field goals to Oklahoma and Texas Tech the last two weeks.

• Look, football is weird this year. Clemson’s not in the Top 25, Cincinnati controls its destiny and has a shot to make the College Football Playoffs, and you see upsets every week. That’s why we don’t need to panic as fanbases. We need to rally, because that’s what our team is doing. They’re not panicking, they’re rallying.

• The 11 a.m. starts can be challenging, but they’re a lot harder on the road than they are at home. It’s just different, but the time’s the time, go out and play ball. At least you’re not sitting around waiting all day. And I would think after losing to Oklahoma State, nobody wants to sit around and wait. So, use it to your advantage. I know Coach Aranda doesn’t like waiting around. Get there, it’s business and let’s go.

Former Baylor quarterback Nick Florence (2009-12) led the Bears to a Holiday Bowl victory over #17 UCLA in 2012. He now serves as Associate Athletics Director for Major Gifts. 




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