The Baylor Bears successfully matched their win total from 2017 by defeating Abilene Christian, 55-27, on Saturday.
Now that the sigh of relief has been breathed — a win over ACU was a lot better way to start than the Bears’ loss to FCS Liberty to kick off the 2017 campaign — Baylor can concentrate on fixing the areas that were still a bit rough around the edges.
During his Monday press conference, Bears coach Matt Rhule mentioned that Mondays in his program are meant for taking an honest look at the film.
“Today is tell the truth Monday for us,” Rhule said. “As a staff we spent a lot of time yesterday really looking at our team inside and out, coaches and players and everything that we do. Try to evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly. You are what you put on tape and I met with a couple guys yesterday. I told them, you’re not what you tweet, you’re not what you did in high school, and you’re not how many stars you had in recruiting. You are what you put on tape on Saturday. We as a team are what we put on tape on Saturday.”
Baylor definitely put some good things on film against ACU, including having a pair of 100-yard rushers in JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett.
The Bears quarterback duo of Jalan McClendon and Charlie Brewer also performed well, though most who watched the game will say McClendon was better. McClendon, a graduate transfer from North Carolina State, posted a passer rating of 239.5 as he threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Brewer passed for 138 yards and rushed for 15 more on just one carry, but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and got picked off on his final play of the night.
Brewer suffered a minor back injury and didn’t play after the middle of the third quarter. On Monday, Rhule said the sophomore quarterback was held out as a precautionary measure, but there was no damage to Brewer’s back.
That’s good news for Bears fans. McClendon looked good against ACU, but Brewer has been through the rigors of Big 12 play. Rhule seemed to sense that Baylor might need to lean on Brewer’s experience, and probably sooner than later.
“I think when they get out there you try to take advantage of what each guy does well,” Rhule said about rotating quarterbacks. “We didn't have a lot of reasons to scramble. I thought the offensive line protected well. Some of Charlie's gifts are scrambling and keeping things alive, didn't show up that game but it will this game (against UTSA). So some of their skill sets that maybe weren't needed last Saturday will be needed either this Saturday or moving forward."
While there wasn’t much to gripe about for Baylor fans last weekend, more critical Bears fans might have wondered aloud where the defense went.
Baylor didn’t start off the season very well against the run as Abilene Christian rushed for 220 yards and 8.1 per carry. That’s a bad sign considering the Wildcats are new to the FCS and not likely to win more than three or four games this season.
Will it continue to be a problem against UTSA this Saturday? Well, the Roadrunners’ rushing attack was shut down by Arizona State, which held UTSA to a net three yards. The Bears need to stop UTSA at the point of attack in the running game to have their best chance of moving to 2-0.