By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
Ninety-nine degrees, clear blue skies and a blazing sun made Saturday’s 63-14 victory over UTSA was the hottest game ever at McLane Stadium. And what seemed to be melting fans in the stadium was only intensified on the turf, as the rubber brought the temperature to 181 degrees on the field.
To some players this wasn’t the worst game they played in, though. Junior offensive lineman Sam Tecklenberg said that his Texas roots made it “nothing new,” and junior linebacker Clay Johnston reminisced back to his freshman year for the hottest game.
“It was pretty toasty out there,” Johnston said. “But the hottest game I ever played in was probably, and probably the amount of reps too, was the first year with Coach [Matt] Rhule when we played at Duke. I was about to call a timeout, which was pretty soft by me, but I was so tempted.”
Other players weren’t so lucky with handling the heat, as junior quarterback Charlie Brewer told head coach Matt Rhule that his feet were burning by halftime.
“He just had discomfort, a burning sensation in his feet,” Rhule said. “I kind of got it as we were leaving the locker room and got outside. I saw we were up 35-0. (Charlie) said, ‘I’m playing’, so then I went out there and I said, ‘No, you’re not’, and he said, ‘I’m playing’, and I said, ‘No, you’re not.’ So finally I won.”
The temperature, without any other factors, rose to 101 during the game and Rhule was proud of the way his team overall managed it.
“There wasn’t a time during the game where I felt like, hey, we can’t play this guy right now because he’s overheated,” Rhule said. “I was pleased with our ability to handle the heat. It was certainly discomfort — it wasn’t comfortable, but we’re not here to be comfortable, we’re here to play, and we appreciate the opportunity to play.”
Although the head coach didn’t substitute players due to the heat, the second-half saw many second and third-string players on the field. Redshirt freshman quarterback Gerry Bohanon took over for Brewer to open the third, and other players, including defensive end Bralen Taylor and sophomore defensive tackle Cole Maxwell, were able to gain more experience in a collegiate game.
Johnston, who gained his third career sack against UTSA, expressed his excitement to watch his younger teammates develop with their time on the field.
“I’m pretty encouraged with how the ones are doing and the guys that come in and help with the ones in rotate,” Johnston said. “We have to continue to grow with the younger guys. We preach, no matter who you are, one, two, three, or four, you get in and we all play at the same standard as a one. […] We’re going to need them later in the season.”
Tecklenberg, who served as a team captain in the matchup, agreed, emphasizing the importance of experience, opportunity and growth.
“To get in a game is invaluable experience,” Tecklenberg said. “The rule was different when I was a freshman. I sat out a long time it seemed like before I got my first college action. So, those guys being able to get in a game, even if it’s just a few games will be big.”
Fresh off a hot blowout, the Bears look forward to their first away matchup against Owls at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at Rice Stadium in Houston.