By Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief
Acting as a quick glimpse into what next season’s football team will look like, Baylor’s annual Green & Gold game on Saturday aimed to showcase the effort head coach Matt Rhule’s young men have been putting in during the off-season.
“[I’m] proud of the team this winter and this spring. They worked tremendously hard and I’m excited about where we are,” Rhule said. “I’m anxious to get the freshmen here, [and] finish school out strong.”
Team Sic ‘Em defeated Team BU 14-13 in overtime, and both teams consisted of a mixture of Baylor offense and defense. Some players even crossed over and played for both sides.
The spring game was originally supposed to be an eight-minute third quarter and a 15-minute fourth quarter. However, the kickoff was delayed almost an hour because of lightning threats, so the game was shortened to just a full-length fourth quarter.
Notable plays included a 64-yard touchdown from sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer to junior wide receiver Marques Jones for Team BU at the 14:23 mark, and a 16-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore running back John Lovett, which would have tied the game back up if not for the missed two-point conversion.
“I just think we’re in a good place,” Rhule said. “We’re not where we need to be, but I think we’re in a really, really positive place. So, to me, there really is no comparison between the football team this year and the football team last year.”
Former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty made an appearance at the Green & Gold game not only to sign autographs, but to motivate the current Bears before they took the field. Petty won back-to-back Big 12 championships during his time at Baylor in 2013 and 2014 and is now quarterback for the New York Jets. His advice to the players focused on moving past last season’s 1-11 record and into this season with a fresh mindset.
“I thought that’s a great message for all of us to take with us,” Rhule said.
Similar to the start of last season, Rhule has a list of quarterbacks on his roster, and so far has given no indication as to who his starter will be. Alongside Brewer, freshman quarterback Gerry Bohanon took the field in the spring game and completed three-out-of-five passes for 35 yards.
Rhule has said before that not announcing who his starting quarterback is not a strategy he invented, but rather a way to ensure he sees the best from each of his players before making a decision. This season seems to be no different than last in that regard, and Rhule said he wants to continue to see his quarterbacks progress over the summer.
“I know Charlie’s got four starts under his belt and he’s played well this spring,” Rhule said. “Gerry is extremely talented, he just has to play a lot. And Preston Heard quietly continues to always show us what he can do. So I know we have a lot of growth. They’re all young at that position, but Charlie’s played for us and Gerry had a good spring. And Preston has had a good spring. So I’m anxious to see them continue to develop.”
Brewer is the only quarterback with starts who remains from last season, after former quarterback Zach Smith transferred to Tulsa in January and former quarterback Anu Solomon withdrew from Baylor mid-season in late October.
Brewer said he is looking forward to getting his team healthy and ready to take on the year, and said Baylor has more to offer than what fans have seen thus far.
“We’ve got a lot of talent, and y’all didn’t see most of it today,” Brewer said.
Many Baylor players did not take the field in the spring game because of various injuries, including senior Chris Platt, sophomore Gavin Holmes, junior Tony Nicholson, junior Pooh Stricklin, junior Denzel Mims and senior Jalen Hurd.
Before the game began, Rhule recognized seven of his players for spring awards, including junior wide receiver Marques Jones (academic award), junior tight end Cody George (Fellowship of Christian Athletes award), junior defensive tackle Michael Johnson (community service award), junior offensive lineman Christian Beard (walk-on award), senior defensive end Xavier Jones (spirit award), senior tight end Jamie Jacobs (offensive most improved) and senior safety Verkedric Vaughns (defensive most improved).
Along with the awards, Rhule said his goal this season is to have the Bears back in a bowl game.
“You talk about last year, we went from a team that was horrific early on to a team at the end that was playing decent,” Rhule said. “We weren’t good enough, but it was playing decent. The work ethic allowed us to improve over the course of last season, and that work ethic has done nothing but grow this offseason to the point where it’s contagious and it’s cool to put extra work in.”
The Bears begin their season against Abilene Christian University on Sept. 1 at McLane Stadium.