Baylor has quietly gone 4-2 to start 2018 after winning 1 game all of last season. Part of the success in Matt Rhule’s second season can be attributed to a favorable schedule in the first half, but the Bears have also played better football this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Baylor offense on Saturday afternoon:
Baylor lists Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon as co-starters on the depth chart, but Brewer is the unquestioned starter. The sophomore from Lake Travis took every snap last week against Kansas State and has made strides after taking over the reigns as a freshman in 2017. Brewer has thrown for 1558 yards and 9 touchdowns compared to just 2 interceptions.
Brewer is a strong-armed QB who has learned in his second season that it’s okay to throw it up to his two primary targets, Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd, and let them make a play. Brewer is not much of a threat as a runner, but his passing has made notable improvements and he now has the weapons around him to make the Baylor offense respectable.
The bulk of the carries are split pretty equally between 3 talented backs: JaMycal Hasty, John Lovett and Trestan Ebner. Hasty and Lovett are more natural runners who do a nice job running between the tackles. Ebner was a former TCU defensive back commit who flipped to Baylor with the promise he would be utilized on offense. He will be involved heavily in the passing game, with 15 receptions already on the season.
As mentioned above, Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd make life a lot easier for Charlie Brewer. Mims had over 1000 yards receiving a season ago and is off to a strong start so far in 2018, hauling in 32 passes for 449 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is a good route runner for his size (6’3) and will be a handful for Davante Davis and Kris Boyd. Hurd is a former standout running back for Tennessee who transferred after he felt he was being misused and wanted to switch positions. Baylor welcomed him with open arms, and he has rewarded them with 550 yards and 3 touchdowns through the first half of the season. Hurd also has 19 carries for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns, meaning he will still see time as a traditional running back in the backfield. Senior Chris Platt will serve as the the primary option out of the slot.
The Bears boast a veteran offensive line unit, but it has not translated to a lot of success. The unit would likely rank in the lower half of the Big 12, with pass protection being a big concern. Baylor is allowing 3 sacks per game so far this season, ranking 108th in the FBS. LT Jake Fruhmorgan is the Bears’ biggest name. The Clemson transfer who enrolled at Florida in 2017 before transferring again to Baylor has been solid, but not spectacular. Guard Johncarlo Valentin is another transfer, coming from the junior college ranks after being considered one of the top junior college guards in the country in 2017. It is surprising to see the Bears only averaging 174 rushing yards per game, considering their schedule thus far. The passing game has become the focal point of the offense, which means the Texas secondary and defensive line will face another big test. The difference is, this time they will not have to worry about Kylar Murray running wild outside of the pocket.
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