Football ready to bring a win to McLane

Junior receiver Denzel Mims glides in for the touchdown against Oklahoma on Sept. 23, 2017 in McLane Stadium. Mims and the Bears have not won a game at home in almost two calendar years. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

The Bears are coming back to McLane Stadium to kick off the 2018 football season at 7 p.m. Saturday against Abilene Christian University.

Coming off of a tough season last year, head coach Matt Rhule and the Bears look to get their first win at home after not winning a home game last season. After a 1-11 season, Rhule said it is important that the team forgets about what happened last year and focuses on training as much as they can for the upcoming season.

“I don’t really think about last year. I just think that our players are prepared,” Rhule said. “At the end of the day, either you’re prepared to play or you’re not. I just keep hitting with the team process man: just prepare, prepare, prepare. I feel really good about how they’ve prepared and then when you get to the game you have to be fearless and cut loose. You’re going to make mistakes. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

Junior linebacker/safety Henry Black is one of the seven players to have been awarded a single-digit jersey this season, and played in every game for the Bears last season. Black said last season was a learning experience for the team, and for now it’s all about looking at the upcoming opponent, rather than concentrating on the entire season.

“We obviously learned from that, but we are taking it one game at a time this year,” Black said. “We’re focused on our first game and we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

This week, the team is focusing all of its attention on the Wildcats. Last season ACU went 2-9 in the Southland Conference. Rhule knows that the record from the previous season is not a way to prepare for the game and said ACU will come in looking to take the first game of the season away from the Bears.

“We know Abilene Christian’s going to come in here with an edge. We know they’re going to come in here ready to play,” Rhule said. “Even reading some of the things that their players are saying, they’ll be ready to go. We have to make sure that we prepare all the way through the game, not just to prepare to prepare, but to prepare — make sure that we have an edge as well, in terms of the way that we play.”

As the Wildcats travel to McLane in search of getting the season started on a high note, the Bears know how important it is to get the season started with a win, especially when it’s at home.

Junior running back JaMycal Hasty recorded a career high in receptions in the Texas Tech game last season, and having been with the Bears since 2015, he knows how important a win at McLane is for the team.

“You want to hit the season running. It’s always good to get that first win under your belt, especially if you’re in a home game,” Hasty said. “We’ll just come out and prepare for that and hopefully get the first one at home.”

Rhule also spoke as to how pivotal it can be for the rest of the season if you get that first win at home. For him, it is more about giving back to the loyal fans who were at every game last season and for the players who have sacrificed so much to give everything for the team.

“I just want to see our players play well and have fun after the game. I want to see them enjoy a victory,” Rhule said. “I want that for our players and certainly all those people that stood in the stands last year and watched us play and stayed till the end. We’re unbelievably grateful for them. The biggest thing for me is I just want to see our players who’ve sacrificed and given so much, I want to see them have success.”