By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor football closes out its home schedule with a matchup against Iowa State at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium.
The Bears (1-9, 1-6) will honor 13 seniors in the final home game of the season.
The seniors on the team are linebacker Taylor Young, safety Taion Sells, defensive end Brian Nance, safety Davion Hall, safety Chance Waz, tight end Ishmail Wainright, offensive lineman Tyrae Simmons, defensive end K.J. Smith, offensive lineman Daniel Russell, offensive lineman Mo Porter, wide receiver Tyler Jaynes, wide receiver Blake Murphy and tight end Jordan Feuerbacher.
Head coach Matt Rhule said he has the utmost respect for the seniors for staying with the team despite their lack of success this season.
“I think our seniors are just wonderful people,” Rhule said. “That’s first and foremost. There are a bunch of wonderful young men in this program. While you could say it hasn’t gone the way they wanted it to go, they are a part of rebuilding the program. I think it’s important to say that they didn’t create the situation. All they’re doing is fixing it. And for that, I’m grateful.”
Rhule was very complimentary of Young, the two-time All-Big 12 linebacker who could have made an impact on a better team but chose to help rebuild Baylor’s football program instead.
Rhule said Young has led by example all year and could have a future in coaching when his playing career is over.
“I think Taylor Young is a quiet leader,” Rhule said. “He doesn’t get up and give speeches before the team, though he’s grown into that role. I think the biggest thing he does is lead by example. He works hard and practices hard. I told him that, whenever he’s done, if he’s thinking about getting into coaching, he needs to let me know, because he just has a gift of affecting other people, and that’s hard to find.”
Young and the Baylor defense have picked up their play in the past two games, giving up only 313 offensive yards per game against Kansas and Texas Tech after giving up an average of 465 yards in the first eight games of the season.
On the other side of the ball, the young Bears have had to deal with injuries all season.
The Baylor offense has lost junior wide receiver Chris Platt (knee), freshman wide receiver R.J. Sneed (leg), freshman wide receiver Gavin Holmes (ACL) and sophomore wide receiver Pooh Stricklin (foot). They have all been ruled out for the season.
Freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer, who made his second career start in the Nov. 11 38-24 loss to Texas Tech, said he is getting more comfortable in the offense despite the injuries to the receiving corps.
“I’m getting a little more experience each week and getting more comfortable,” Brewer said. “We’ve had injuries at pretty much every position and we’re going to have another group of guys this week that are going to have to step up.”
Against the Red Raiders, Brewer set program records for pass completions with 43 and 63 attempts.
Brewer will need to be sharp against an Iowa State defense that has only given up 383 yards per game.
The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3) are led on defense by senior linebacker Joel Lanning, who has 99 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks on the season while also appearing at quarterback in all 10 games and picking up a passing and rushing touchdown.
On offense, senior quarterback Kyle Kempt has thrown for 1,209 yards and 11 touchdowns after replacing junior quarterback Jacob Park in the fifth game of the season.
Cyclones sophomore running back David Montgomery is second in the Big 12 Conference in rushing with 936 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.
The Bears hit the road to face TCU in the final game of the season at 11 a.m. Nov. 24 in Fort Worth.