We’re interviewing the beat writer of Texas’ opponent each week this season. This week, John Werner (@JohnWernerTrib) of the Waco Tribune-Herald offers his insight on the Baylor Bears.
1. The record isn’t good, but what’s been your take on Matt Rhule’s first year?
I don’t think most people realized how big of a rebuilding job this was for Rhule. Though the Bears had some talented players back, they didn’t have much depth coming into the season, and injuries have created even less depth. Baylor has played 17 freshmen and has started 10. Those guys’ experience now will likely pay off down the road. The most important thing is Rhule is creating the right culture off the field after all the problems Baylor has had.
2. If you were coordinating this offense, would you be starting Zach Smith or Charlie Brewer this week?
I think I’d still go with Zach Smith to start the game, but I’d wouldn’t hesitate to bring in Charlie Brewer if the offense wasn’t moving. Smith has a big arm, but Charlie is more mobile. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both see considerable action.
3. Freshmen John Lovett and Trestan Ebner have both had moments in the backfield. Is either a foundational piece for the Bears?
Yes, I think both Lovett and Ebner will have great careers at Baylor. Lovett has tremendous instincts at running back and breakaway speed. Ebner was a receiver at Henderson before moving to running back at Baylor. He showed his versatility against West Virginia in the fourth quarter when he ran for a 40-yard touchdown and caught TD passes of 52 and 9 yards from Brewer.
4. Should Baylor fans feel more confident in defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s ability to fix the Bears’ issues against the pass (290.6 YPG) or run (223.6 YPG)?
I think it will be easier to fix issues against the pass. The young guys in the secondary are learning on the fly and will get better as they gain more experience. In the trenches, Baylor’s freshmen and sophomores are getting out-muscled a lot of times.
5. Name one Baylor player that Texas fans aren’t talking about — but should be.
Blake Lynch switched from receiver to cornerback a few days before the season opener. He’s getting burned some now, but he’s going to be good at that position.
6. For those Texas fans making the short trip to Waco, do you have any restaurant recommendations?
George’s is always fun for a chicken fried steak, hamburger, and a Big-O (beer). Heitmiller has really good steaks. Vitek’s features the Gut Pak, which is kind of like a chef’s version of a Frito pie.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.