By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Without comparing it to last season or even last spring, Baylor coach Matt Rhule says, “I just know I like where we are.”
“I just think we’re in a good place,” Rhule said after Saturday’s Green & Gold Spring Game at McLane Stadium, “just in terms of the numbers and the depth and the strength and how we look physically. . . . We’re not where we need to be, but I think we’re in a really, really positive place. So, to me, there really is no comparison between the football team this year and the football team last year.”
Closing out spring drills, the Bears went through a limited scrimmage following a one-hour lightning delay.
In overtime, Team Sic ‘Em scored on an eight-yard TD strike to tight end Jamie Jacobs and John Lovett ran one in from 16 yards out. The difference in a 14-13 win by Sic ‘Em was Connor Martin’s extra point, with freshman quarterback Gerry Bohanon stopped short on a two-point conversion try.
“I think there’s value in it,” Rhule said of the spring game. “A lot of people are getting away from spring games, a lot of people are doing practices and all that. This is a chance for a lot of guys, this is their dream. They pay to go to School here, be on the football team. Their dream is to go out and play in that stadium.
“It’s a fun day to celebrate Baylor and Baylor football and our fans.”
Former Baylor and current New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty signed autographs before the game and also talked to the team, sending a message to the players that the adversity of last year’s 1-11 season is “preparing you to be better, preparing you for your moment,” Rhule said.
“First of all, he was excellent,” Rhule said of Petty, who won back-to-back Big 12 championships in 2013 and ’14. “Second of all, I thought that’s a great message for all of us to take with us.”
Asked what drives him, Brewer said, “It’s that we won one game last year.”
“That’s just not OK,” said Brewer, who started four games last year as a true freshman after winning a state championship at Lake Travis in 2016. “That’s not really what I’m about, and I know that’s the same attitude as everybody else in the locker room. We’re trying to flip it around and create a new era.”
Talking to the fans before the scrimmage, when he also announced the spring awards, Rhule said the Bears will be back in a bowl game this season.
“These kids are building from the ground up,” he said. “When you see injured guys come in at 6 a.m. the entire winter to get themselves healthy, when you see guys coming back, it just shows the work ethic that I believe will be rewarded.
“You talk about last year, we went from a team that was horrific early on to a team at the end that was playing decent. We weren’t good enough, but it was playing decent. The work ethic allowed us to improve over the course of last season, and that work ethic has done nothing but grow this offseason to the point where it’s contagious and it’s cool to put extra work in.”
Spring award winners selected by the coaches were junior receiver Marques Jones, academic award; junior tight end/fullback Cody George, FCA award; junior defensive tackle Micheal Johnson, community service award; senior offensive lineman Christian Beard, 254 award; senior defensive end Xavier Jones, spirit award; senior tight Jamie Jacobs, most improved offensive player; and senior safety Verkedric Vaughns, most improved defensive player.
“Last season was galvanizing for us,” Rhule said. “It allowed us to strip all our thoughts about what it takes to win and truly look and say who are we? What do we stand for? What do we want to do? I believe it. I think we’re getting to the point where I believe our players believe it.”
Baylor opens the 2018 season on Sept. 1 with a home game against Abilene Christian.