The 0-7 Bears have had a dubious start under new head coach Matt Rhule. Early season non-conference losses to Liberty, UTSA and Duke suggested Bear football the likes of which we hadn’t seen since Kevin Steele and Dirty Dave Roberts, but the Bears have slowly turned the corner from laughing stock to scrappers in the space of a few weeks.
The reasons for their terrible start were many: Art Briles leaving the program in smoldering ruin followed by a caretaking Jim Grobe power nap, the psychological weight of knowing you’re playing for a reviled institution built on lies and hypocrisy, a not insignificant number of players who were there for the Briles culture and not Baylor, injuries (83 missed starts in their first six games), perilous depth from a ruined 2016 recruiting class, an inability to find a QB (Anu Solomon was benched after two games for Zach Smith), truly woeful defense, and a new staff that has struggled to marry their philosophies to the Briles athlete.
How then to explain Baylor’s surprising competitiveness in Big 12 play against the toughest part of their schedule? Besides the need to adjust to a new staff with a very different way of doing things, I think Rhule and his bunch realized pretty quickly that a number of starters who might have the best talent were the least coachable and least willing to sell out on Saturdays. Rhule’s Temple teams had a little NFL talent, but their willingness to play hard and smart typified their success. So the Bears that lost to Liberty won’t be the ones that face Texas.
Their season has been a constant shuffling of trying to find his guys that want to play ball. And they’ve finally hit on a few.