Baylor football poised to take the next step in 2019
When it comes to improvement from one season to the next, Baylor football set a high bar coming into this season.
The Bears were six wins better in 2018 than 2017, finishing with a 7-6 record and a thrilling Texas Bowl victory. That forward stride has elevated expectations for the 2019 season, and even has some people singling out head coach Matt Rhule’s squad as a team to watch and asking if Baylor could be a surprise team to contend in the Big 12 Conference.
Why are so many people bullish on the Bears? Reasons abound.
Let’s start with the quarterback. This year, junior Charlie Brewer will begin the year as the undisputed starter. Sharing quarterback duties at the beginning of last season, Brewer still passed for 3,000+ yards and 19 touchdowns, including dramatic game-winners late in the year against Oklahoma State at Homecoming and Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl. He begins 2019 as one of 30 student-athletes nationwide on the watch list for the Manning Award, given to the game’s top quarterback each fall.
The Bears also enter 2019 with far more experience and depth than last season. On the defensive side of the ball, starters like defensive lineman James Lynch, cornerback Raleigh Texada and linebacker Blake Lynch grew last year in their first season starting, and bring that experience into this season alongside veterans such as linebacker Clay Johnston, defensive tackle Bravvion Roy and cornerback Grayland Arnold. On offense, Brewer will be surrounded by a bevy of returning veterans, from wide receivers Denzel Mims and Chris Platt to running back Jamycal Hasty and offensive linemen Sam Tecklenburg and Xavier Newman.
There’s also the encouraging parallel to Rhule’s time at Temple. In his previous stop, Rhule’s Owls improved from 2-10 in his first season to a 6-6 record the next year. Sound familiar? At Baylor, the Bears went 1-11 in Rhule’s first season, then improved to 7-6 in year two. So how did Temple do in Rhule’s third year? A 10-3 record and a first-place finish in the American Athletic Conference’s Eastern Division. There’s a lot of work to be done, but even Rhule believes this year’s team has a chance for double-digit wins.
The Bears’ schedule also looks favorable this fall. With the Texas Tech game returning to campus after several years at a neutral site in Dallas, Baylor gets seven home games this year, opening Saturday night at 6 p.m. against SFA and continuing with matchups against UTSA, Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas.
How far can the Bears go this year? Time will tell, but from improvement on the field to achievements in the classroom and in the community (both locally and abroad), there’s a lot for fans to like in 2019.
Sic ’em, Bears!