Despite starting the season 0-2, the worst start for Baylor football since the 2003 season, head coach Matt Rhule is remaining positive.
Rhule said the most important thing is to push positivity on his players in the midst of a regular season losing streak that has now reached eight games dating back to last season.
“I’m kind of upset about being 0-2, but I realize these kids have lost eight of their last nine and that takes a toll on you,” Rhule said. “So ‘Why is Coach Rhule so positive?’ because they need positivity. They’re good kids, they need some good things to happen to themselves and they gotta fight through this dark time.”
The returning players on the team have only won one game since Oct. 19, 2016. That was win was a 31-12 victory over Boise State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.
Rhule, who is now responsible for one-third of Baylor’s losses at McLane Stadium, said the slow start is not ideal, but he sees players competing at a high level on both sides of the ball.
“Obviously we’re all not happy about being 0-2 and there’s a lot of things we have to correct and we’re working hard to correct them,” Rhule said. “I would say there have been some bright spots and there’s some people playing really good football.”
On the offensive end, Rhule sees big play threats in junior wide receiver Chris Platt and sophomore wide receiver Denzel Mims while he expects walk-on freshman running back John Lovett to improve each week.
“Platt continues to get open down the field,” Rhule said. “Mims is emerging as a big play threat. Lovett, in his first start, we might have played him a bit too much but he’s going to continue to get better and better.”
In the 48-45 loss to Liberty on Sept. 2, Platt hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Anu Solomon while Mims scored on a 45-yard pass from Solomon.
Lovett, who is filling in for injured running backs junior Terence Williams and sophomore JaMychal Hasty, has rushed for a combined 161 yards and two touchdowns in his first two career games for the Bears.
Defensively, the Bears made significant improvement from week one to week two. Baylor gave up 585 total yards and four touchdowns in the loss to Liberty, including 447 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air.
In the 17-10 loss to UTSA, the Bears held the Roadrunners to just 375 yards and two touchdowns.
Rhule said the defensive growth was evident from the fact that they still had a chance to win in the fourth quarter despite a poor offensive performance.
“On defense I was really proud of the growth they made from one week to the next,” Rhule said. “That was a tough, physical offense in UTSA and I thought our kids responded to the challenge and played a great fourth quarter and gave us a chance to win.”
Sophomore linebacker Clay Johnston said one of the big factors in the defensive improvement is getting more experience.
“I thought we played a much better game than last week from a defensive standpoint,” Johnston said. “We’re young. We’re still trying to get through the cracks. Just a young team. Get the chemistry going, just come together and we will.”
The Bears look to turn the season around as they face Duke at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Durham, N.C.