Story by Adam Gibson | Sports Writer, Video by Noah Torr | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor football secured its third victory of the season and first Big 12 home win since 2016 with a 26-7 win over Kansas Saturday in McLane Stadium.
After a 40-27 loss to Duke on Sept. 15, Baylor head coach Matt Rhule and the Bears bounced back with a physical win over the Jayhawks. The defense held Kansas scoreless for every quarter but the third and locked down freshman running back Pooka Williams to under 100 yards after he had back-to-back 100 yard games. Rhule said he saw several veterans step up and make plays on defense which led to a more complete team win.
“I was proud of our players. I was really mostly proud of our older players,” Rhule said. “I thought this was the week where a lot of the parts of our team came together … We had a lot of guys that went out there and competed. I think the pressure on the quarterback helped. Hopefully try to make them one dimensional. They ended having to throw pretty much at the end.”
Senior defensive end Greg Roberts said the defense knew Williams was going to be a threat in the game and the team had to bring back the focus on stopping the run game.
“We knew going into the game that [Williams] was the heart and soul of their offense,” Roberts said, “It was a big emphasis all through practice to really get after him and then we’ve obviously known that our run defense hasn’t been what we want it to be… I feel like we took a step forward this week.
Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer started the game and, for the first time this season, Rhule stuck with Brewer for most of the game. Brewer completed the game with 221 yards completing 19 of 27 passing attempts for three touchdowns. After throwing two touchdowns to freshman receivers, Brewer said he has seen how good they can be in practice and the crowd was able to see that today.
“Those two [Tyquan Thorntonand Josh Fleeks] can flat out fly,” Brewer said. “Probably two of the fastest guys on our team. We got them in space a little bit today and y’all got to see what I’ve seen in summer and fall camp.”
With Brewer showing up ready to play and leading to back-to-back scoring drives at the beginning of the game, Rhule said the decision was made to stick with him and keep him in the game as opposed to going to senior quarterback Jalan McClendon.
“He just scored,” Rhule said. “He moved the ball the first drive, and he moved the ball the second drive. Just seemed like I said ‘Okay, let’s give him one more series, see if he scores.’ He scored again … the ball was moving, and that’s what we needed. He was keeping it alive with his feet. Called a lot of quarterback draws today to try to keep the running game alive. I thought that was the key factor early on was Charlie being able to make those plays.”
Returning this season after an ACL injury took him out last year was senior wide receiver Chris Platt who recorded his first touchdown since last season in the game. After a poor performance last week, Platt said the team looked to solve the problems it had against Duke and the final result showed just how much better the team performed.
“We came back after the Duke game and we figured out what the problem was and made sure it wouldn’t be a problem again,” Platt said. “Second quarter was probably our worst quarter last week so we put a big emphasis on improving that this week and today went out there and dominated.”
Last week, Baylor’s defense allowed 399 plays and 40 points, this week was a completely different story. Kansas recorded 271 total yards with only 122 rushing yards split between seven rushers. The Bears also had four sacks and nine tackles for loss for negative 46 yards. Roberts said the defense prepares in a hard-hitting environment and strives to be the best on the field because that can give the team the ability to win tough games.
“I think physicality is our focus every week,” Roberts said. “That’s kind of what we pride our self on: being tough. We never want to get out physicaled … It’s such a physical game, I feel like whoever wins the physical battle usually wins the game so it’s always a big emphasis.”
Both teams struggled with penalties as Baylor had 13 for 141 yards and Kansas had seven for 55 yards. Rhule said the team was “sloppy at times” because of “too many penalties” it had.
The rushing game for the Bears seemed to find its stride again after being held to under 100 against UTSA and 130 against Duke. Senior running back JaMycal Hasty led the team with 60 yards rushing on five attempts, with Brewer right behind him with 57 yards. Even though the Bears came out with the win over Kansas for a conference win, Rhule said there will be many things to work on in the upcoming weeks.
“We’ll try to correct some things and see what we do moving forward, but proud of the guys to be 1-0 in the Big 12,” Rhule said.
The Bears face their toughest test so far of the season next Saturday when they travel to Norman, Okla. to take on the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners at 2:30 p.m.