By Bailey Brammer | Broadcast Managing Editor
Hoping to affirm claims that Baylor is more than just a basketball school, the football team will take the field for the first time since late December for the annual Green & Gold spring game on Saturday at noon at McLane Stadium.
The Bears ended their 2018 season with a 45-38 win over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl. This spring marks the start of head coach Matt Rhule’s third year at Baylor, and Rhule said in a press conference on March 20 that he has a hard-working group of men and his strategies as a coach have changed even in the last two seasons.
“We’re just asking each guy to kind of build their game a little bit,” Rhule said. “If we do that, we have a lot of young players who have played. But they’ve had a chance now to step back after a year or two years and see where they are and what they need to do to become a really good player.”
Spring drills began mid-March and saw a mix of both veteran players and new recruits take the field. Senior offensive lineman Sam Tecklenburg said the team is happy with how far it’s come in just two seasons, but that the Bears are hoping for a Big 12 Championship this year.
“That was my dream when I came here and that was my goal, and to go beyond that as well,” Tecklenburg said. “That’s the same mindset for a lot of guys. We’re happy with what we did last year, but it’s still not good enough. We want more.”
Along with aiming for success, Rhule has emphasized this spring that each player has to fight for his spot on the field. This allows new players to earn their place on the roster and deters veteran players from becoming complacent.
Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, who spent the first half of the 2018 season as a rotating starter with quarterback Jalan McClendon, said the worst thing a player can do is be satisfied with where he’s at.
“I’m still out there competing,” Brewer said. “But I think with me being a junior now, you know, some of the younger guys look up to you. You need to set a good example of showing everyone you know what you’re doing and set the tone for everything.”
Rhule has Brewer listed as his starting quarterback but has redshirt freshman quarterback Gerry Bohanon and newcomer freshman quarterback Jacob Zeno in his back pocket to mix the offense up if need be. Zeno enrolled at Baylor in January.
The defensive line has also been a major focus this spring, specifically when it comes to turnovers. In 2017, the Bears recorded only 11 turnovers, and in 2018 that number dropped to 10. Both Frank Okam, defensive line/assistant coach, and Joey McGuire, defensive ends coach, have said that they are stressing the importance of creating turnovers and intercepting the ball to build a stronger defense.
Rhule’s newest class – which includes 20 players from the early signing period and five players from National Signing Day on Feb. 6 – is ranked 35th nationally, according to the Dallas Morning News. Top recruits include nationally ranked kicker Noah Rauschenberg, who boasts a long of 54 yards.
The Green & Gold game kicks off at noon Saturday at McLane Stadium, and the Bears begin their regular fall season against Stephen F. Austin University on Aug. 31.