Bears look to step up rushing game after struggles in San Antonio

Baylor sophomore running back John Lovett leaves a UTSA defender on the ground. Lovett and the running backs only managed 91 rushing yards against the Roadrunners. Jason Pedreros | Multimedia Journalist

By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer

Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule discussed the need for an improved running game at his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. After defeating UTSA 37-20 Saturday night in San Antonio, the running game will be a major focus of the coaching staff moving forward.

In the win over the Roadrunners, the Bears had 494 total yards, but only 91 of those yards were from 31 rushing attempts. Only one of those attempts resulted in a touchdown that came with only 1:29 left in the fourth quarter off a 1-yard rush from junior running back JaMycal Hasty.

Rhule attributed the lack of rushing success to how talented UTSA’s defense was, but also said there were different things that went wrong for the offense that did not help the running backs and quarterbacks get the ground game going.

“I’ll always give credit to UTSA, because they lined up and stopped it, but it was just a lot of errors on our end,” Rhule said. “It’s one of the psychology of results, when you have success one week, you tend to not have as much success next week in the same area. But they came to play defense. Now they put everyone in the box and there were some things open outside, but we still have to block the guy in front of us and get yards. We weren’t able to do that.

In its game against Abilene Christian, Baylor had 295 yards with 36 rushing attempts in the 55-27 victory. Not only were the running backs able to get close to 300 yards, but they also scored five rushing touchdowns on the Wildcats.

In the first two weeks, Rhule said the team has played against two strong defenses that will prepare them for the remainder of the season in a couple different ways. First, it gives the offensive line experience in making its blocks and also helps the quarterbacks to read different defensive looks. Secondly, it gives more players a chance to play and gain experience against solid defenses.

I do think the first two weeks have been good for us in that we’ve seen more defense than we’ll probably see all year,” Rhule said. “We’ve seen a ton of different looks and we’ve played with a bunch of different guys … So hopefully we can continue to develop a little more consistency up front. If we’ve got to simplify, if we’ve got to do more, we’re trying to figure that out right now, but we’ve got to find a way to run the football. We can’t sit back there and throw it every play.”

Hasty has 20 rushing attempts on the season for 109 yards and three touchdowns. 102 of those yards came from the ACU game with only seven coming from this past weekend at UTSA. While the run game did struggle, Hasty said he has faith in the running back room and knows they have the talent to produce some big numbers throughout the season.

“I feel like we are one of the stronger position groups on the team,” Hasty said. “We come in everyday, we work hard, we know the plays. Like I said, we’ve got a lot of guys in the running back room that can do a lot of things: catch the ball, run the ball, protect the quarterback. I feel pretty confident in our room.”

The next time Hasty and Baylor offense take the field is 2:30 p.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium as Baylor takes on Duke.