Rhule, Bears eye 2018 season for redemption

A young Baylor fan supports the Bears at the Texas Tech game on Nov. 11, 2017 in AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders triumphed 38-24 in one of Baylor's 11 losses last year. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

After a disappointing 1-11 season last year, Matt Rhule and the Bears have their eyes set on learning from the past season to make improvements going into the 2018 season.

Rhule, accompanied by Mesquite senior Verkedric Vaughns, Nacogdoches senior Greg Roberts, Houston senior Ira Lewis and Willis senior Chris Platt, discussed where the program is headed and what they are focused on for 2018 on July 17 at Big 12 Media Day in Frisco.

“We found a way to lose a bunch of close ballgames down the stretch,” Rhule said. “We’re a year older, a year more mature and really our challenge is not to worry about anybody else but to find a way to learn how to win, to run the football when it counts, to play defense and that’s our challenge as we get ready to head into August,”

The Bears had several games that were close losses, including two losses within three points at home against Liberty and West Virginia. Even though the previous season was mostly losses, Rhule has experienced something similar. At Temple, Rhule brought the team from a 2-10 record in 2013 when he took over to a 10-2 record his last year.

“I think the thing we try to do as a staff, especially going to Temple, going 2-12 but as a staff we tried to make sure we learned our lessons,” Rhule said. “So all those redshirt freshman, they went through the adversity and they’re a year bigger, a year stronger. They’re youthful, but they’re well on their way.”

Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer played in eight of 12 games in 2017, including the one win against Kansas. Brewer put up 1562 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games. After a tough first season, Brewer worked to improve his size and strength. Platt said he has seen improvements over the summer to Brewer’s abilities.

“He worked this summer to get stronger … ” Platt said. “Not only that, but he has actually improved on his decision making.”

Rhule also had praise for the quarterback, how he came to start as a freshman and will remain as a player the coaches continue to develop.

“So the key is to keep Charlie, is to have him continue to be the guy that’s laughing at me in the huddle, telling me to calm down,” Rhule said. “He’s a true freshman telling me to calm down in the middle of a game. He’s got that to him. He’s got that ‘it’ factor to him, and keeping that and making sure he grows as a quarterback.”

Offensive players returning to help Brewer are junior receiver Denzel Mims and Platt. Mims played in all 12 games for the Bears, recording 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns. Platt was only able to play four games after a torn ACL took him out for the season, but had five touchdowns and 401 yards in those four games.

To end the media day, Rhule made it clear that he knew his first year as head coach of the Bears would not be an easy season. He reaffirmed his belief in the young team and in their talent that they can build on that talent going into the upcoming season.

“Year one was year one to build a foundation,” Rhule said. “We have to go out and win football games. We have to go out and play good football, we have to go out and challenge people … I do know that we are light years ahead of where we were last year.”

The 2018 season will kick-off with a home game at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 against the Abilene Christian Wildcats in McLane Stadium.