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Baylor Coach Dave Aranda High on Jim Knowles

Aranda said he talked with Knowles when Knowles was at Duke.

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Jim Knowles seemed like a bit of an out-of-nowhere hire when Mike Gundy brought him on in 2018, but apparently Knowles had acquaintances at big-time schools.

Baylor coach Dave Aranda made the jump to Waco this offseason after winning a national championship as LSU’s defensive coordinator, where he was since 2016. Aranda said this week that he and Knowles talked on a few occasions before each joined a Big 12 program.

“I remember calling him up when he was at Duke and I was at LSU and talking to him just about how they play,” Aranda said. “They were really playing RPOs really well at that time. Coach Knowles, really just impressed with his intelligence and how open he was. We were able to have him come down and visit quite a bit. I think it was two or three times he came down to visit, and we shared a lot and were really impressed just with everything that he does.

“I thought that they’ve had a really good defensive outfit this year. They’re awfully aggressive. They’re going to be on the aggressive side, for sure. You know what you’re going to get there.”

It’s been a bit of a backward year for the Pokes, a team that is normally an offensive juggernaut.

OSU’s offense has struggled lately, but Aranda said the balanced look the Cowboys will throw at his defense will be a challenge. Of course, that balanced attack could be diminished if OSU is without star receiver Tylan Wallace this weekend after he exited the TCU game with an injury.

“Offensively, very much a box-count team,” Aranda said. “If we overload the box, they throw to the outside guys. They take that matchup. If you put two high safeties back, they’re going to run the ball. It’s about as true to form in that regard as about anyone that you play. They’ve got the guys where it counts. If you load [the box], then that one-on-one is a true challenge. If you lighten the box, then with their O-line up on your guys and the running backs that they have, it’s a challenge there too.

“They make you work. I have a lot of respect for their head coach. He’s had good offenses year-in, year-out. It’ll be a challenge.”

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