Editor’s note: This is the eighth story in a 12-part series looking ahead to each of West Virginia University’s’ 2019 football opponents.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Matt Rhule inherited a mess when he took over as the new football coach at Baylor two years ago.
Rhule’s first season with the Bears ended with a 1-11 record, but last season the situation began to look better for Baylor.
There were still some bumps in the road, but the Bears finished 7-6 with a Texas Bowl win against Vanderbilt.
Now in his third season, Rhule and Baylor have their eyes set on a continued upward trajectory. BU was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 this season, but the Bears have some solid players and can make some noise in the league.
Let’s take a look at the Baylor roster:
n Quarterback: Charlie Brewer is back under center for Baylor this season after a pretty good sophomore campaign. He threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns while running for 109 yards and another touchdown on his way to being named MVP of the Texas Bowl against Vanderbilt. Protection was an issue in 2018, but if he can stay upright Brewer is among the best quarterbacks in the Big 12.
n Running back: John Lovett was good in 2018, but could be in the mix to move to defense an play safety. If that move happens, look for one of JaMycal Hasty, Craig Williams or Trestan Ebner to take over at running back for the Bears.
n Receivers: This is probably the deepest position group for the Bears in 2019. Baylor has capable receivers in Denzel Mims, Chris Platt, Jared Atkinson, Tyquan Thornton, Marques Jones, R.J. Sneed and tight end Christoph Henle.
n Offensive line: As mentioned above, protecting the quarterback was a problem for Baylor in 2018. The Bears allowed a league-high 39 sacks last season. There are, however, several returning players along the line. Sophomore Connor Galvin is back at left tackle and two-year starting center Sam Tecklenburg is moving to right guard. That clears the way for Clemson transfer Jake Fruhmorgen at center.
n Defensive line: The Bears have capable starters up front but depth could be an issue this season. James Lynch and Texas A&M transfer James Lockhart will be on the ends while Rob Saulin and Bravvion Roy occupy the tackle spots. Behind them, however, are question marks.
n Linebackers: All three starters are back for Baylor at linebacker in 2019, led by Clay Johnston in the middle. Joining Lynch on the outsides will be Blake Lynch on one side and either Terrell Bernard or Jordan Williams — and sometimes possibly both.
n Defensive backs: This is an odd group for Baylor, because there really isn’t much known. Safeties Christian Morgan and J.T. Woods missed the spring with injuries while cornerbacks Kalon Barnes, Mark Milton and Raleigh Texada split their springs between football practice and Baylor’s track team.
Baylor got an early look at its 2019 specialists when injuries forced them into the game during the Texas Bowl last season. Placekicker John Meyers went 3 of 3 on extra points in that game while Isaac Power played well as the punter.