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Baylor Bears

Baylor’s off-field issues a peripheral issue in TCU loss

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

It’s not often that 17th-ranked Baylor is both outscored and loses in sheer yardage as well. Such was the case in the Bears’ 62-22 loss to TCU. A second straight loss will surely knock them out of the national polls.

For fans, the cop out is that this team is under so much turmoil off the field that it’s hard to focus as a team. For the players and coaches, that can’t be the excuse even if everyone would like it to be.

This has been an issue before the season even began, and now the pressure is mounting. After Art Briles was fired for his lack of control during the program’s five-year (and growing) sexual assault scandal, a clear divide was cast in the team’s structure. There are those still in support of Briles while others have moved on.

Chief among that pack of supporters is the coaching staff that was left intact after Briles’ departure. On Friday, every assistant found on Twitter and a few other program staffers were tweeting out this message of solidarity with Briles.

That gained a lot of attention among media outlets and fan bases alike, as did fans selling #CAB (Coach Art Briles) shirts outside of McLane Stadium. A banner with the same message was hanging from one of the stadium suites. The tweets were not a move that head coach Jim Grobe said he was aware of beforehand, but he would not want to “step in the way” of his coaches speaking their minds.

Corner back Ryan Reid and quarterback Seth Russell, two of the team’s foremost leaders, said they were not aware of the tweet. Reid said he has a policy to stay off social media starting the day before a game. Russell said he wasn’t aware of the assistants’ tweets, but that they knew something was going to come out with “everybody against us.”

The loss wasn’t a lack of a game plan, either, according to Grobe.

“I really thought we had a good week of practice,” he said. “I really felt like coming out of the locker room today that we were ready to play. But, obviously not. And I would like to give a lot of credit to TCU’s kids. I thought they played really, really good.”

Russell shared similar sentiments having said it was the lack of execution of the game plan that hurt the most. He said it is hard to completely block out the off-field issues but that “we don’t use that as an excuse.”

“We didn’t execute well today,” Russell said. “We came out kind of firing and let off the gas a little bit. I feel like a lot of it was my fault.”

Russell finished the day just 20-of-36 for 275 yards and one touchdown – on Baylor’s first possession – and threw a pick-six to boost TCU’s lead to 31-7 before halftime. It was arguably the worst performance of his collegiate career.

Playing on a gimpy ankle, TCU running back Kyle Hicks ran for five touchdowns and a career-high 192 yards to hand the Bears their worst home loss since 2005. The Frogs rushed for 431 yards and finished with 688 total yards. Baylor had 415 yards in total offense.

While all hope seems to be lost on Baylor – and that seemed to be the theme of the press conference’s questions – that’s not how the team is taking this loss before heading to Norman, Oklahoma for its next game against the Sooners.

“I have a lot of faith in these guys,” Russell said. “We’ve been through the wringer and we’re still in it. We’re not going to get out of it until after December 3rd.”

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