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Baylor Bears Football Preview: The Bears Look to Improve in 2023

After winning the Big 12 title in 2021, the Baylor Bears took a giant step backward in 2022, finishing with a losing record of 6-7 and losing their final four games to end the season. They will look to improve dramatically in 2023.

Baylor returns just eight starters from last year’s team, but they’ve dipped deeply into the transfer portal for help and to build strength in many positions.

Head coach Dave Aranda has once again named his starting quarterback prior to the start of fall camp. After a battle in spring practice with Mississippi State transfer QB Sawyer Robertson, Aranda named incumbent starter Blake Shapen as the man to lead the Bears on the field in 2023.

Experience at the Quarterback Position

Shapen passed for 2,790 yards and 18 touchdowns with ten interceptions. He completed 63% of his passes. In fact, he completed over 70% of his passes in four outings last season!

He threw multiple touchdown passes in six games, and twice threw for over 300 yards - against Oklahoma State (345 yards) and West Virginia (326 yards).

Robertson, presumably, will be Shapen’s backup. He didn’t see much action at Mississippi State, but he threw for over 11,000 yards and 135 touchdowns as a prep star in Lubbock, TX at Coronado High School.

When it Came to Toting the Rock, A Star Emerged

The Bears running game received a spark from freshman RB Richard Reese. Reese ran for a school freshman record 972 yards and 14 TDs. He rushed for over 100 yards in three games last season, and scored three rushing touchdowns against Texas State and Texas Tech.

For his efforts, Reese was named a Freshman All-American. He has been named to the preseason first-team All-Big 12 by Athlon Sports.

The Good Hands Squad

The Bears return three of their top receivers in 2023. Shapen will throw to:

  • Monaray Baldwin: 33 catches, 565 yards, 4 TDs.

  • Josh Cameron: 28 catches, 386 yards.

  • Hal Presley: 32 catches, 382 yards, 4 TDs.

5 Starters Return on Defense

Baylor’s defense failed to produce a typical Dave Aranda performance last season. They do return five starters on a unit that allowed 371 yards per game, which was good enough for third in the Big 12.

Those returning lend their experience at all three levels:

  • DE T.J. Franklin: 36 tackles, 3 pass breakups.

  • DE Gabe Hall: 36 tackles, 1 fumble return for TD, 5.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks.

  • LB Garmon Randolph: 43 tackles, 7 TFLs, 4.5 sacks.

  • LB Matt Jones: 65 tackles (3rd on team), 4 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups. Preseason 2nd Team All-Big 12 by Athlon Sports.

  • FS Devin Lemar: 57 tackles (fourth on team), 2 INTs, 2 TFLs, 4 pass breakups.

Baylor's Schedule

Games to watch this season for the Bears include September 9th vs Utah, September 23rd vs Texas, October 7 vs Texas Tech, and November 11th on the road at Kansas State.

Baylor kicks off the 2023 season on September 2nd when they host Texas State. The Baylor faithful will fill McClane Stadium eager to enjoy the Bears’ coaching staff’s efforts to restore Baylor back into the hunt for the Big 12 title.



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