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Baylor has focused on “going back to the basics” in its preparation for its season-opening matchup at Texas State on Saturday in San Marcos, Texas, but expect the Bobcats to have something special in store for their neighbors to the north.

The Bears, who went 2-7 in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, have emphasized improvement in the trenches in the offseason. Second-year coach Dave Aranda said this week that he had built his team from the offensive and defensive lines and that’s where its bread will be buttered.

There’s plenty of room to improve. Baylor allowed 31 sacks in just nine games last year and was at the bottom of the Big 12 last season in rushing yards per game (90.3).

“Our package is completely built upon the offensive line,” Aranda said. “To be the team we need to be, we have to be big men-driven. Just to see the improvement from January until now, that’s exciting.”

Baylor will start junior Gerry Bohanon at quarterback after a preseason battle with three other candidates. Bohanon is just the fifth Baylor quarterback since 2000 to make his first career start in a season opener.

“I feel like he did everything we asked him to do,” Aranda said. “Just being the type of teammate he is and the type of person he is, he’s the right guy to lead the team.”

Texas State, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference, was 2-10 last season. The Bobcats are coached by Jake Spavital, who is in his third year at the helm.

Texas State is really an unknown commodity. How Spavital meshes his newcomers with his established players will determine the Bobcats’ success this season.

“Man, I’m fired up to be back,” Spavital said. “I think the team has been working extremely hard this offseason, and they’re pretty fired up to show the product that they’ve been working on.”

Sophomore Brady McBride, a transfer from Memphis who started eight games for the Bobcats last year, was named starting quarterback for the season opener. In nine games last season, McBride completed 173 of 282 passes (61.3 percent) for 1,925 yards and 17 touchdowns, all of which were team highs for the Bobcats.

“I’ve been working on controlling what I can control, and I feel like that is spreading to the rest of the team,” McBride said. “Come in every day and do what you can, and the outcome will take care of itself.”

–Field Level Media