Baylor fans got a look at a number of new faces in the first spring game of the Matt Rhule era. With many players injured, Baylor played several guys unlikely to see much time this season. But the guys who played today provided a fun look at the next wave of Baylor football.
The scrimmage opened with Zach Smith leading the offense and JaMycal Hasty at running back. Smith made a few good throws in his limited series today. Hasty retained his impressive speed and looked stronger than he was last season. He should provide a strong backfield option along with Terence Williams.
All spring games are tough to draw too many things from. The coaches use limited schemes—Baylor didn’t blitz today and the offense used basic schemes. But there were a few takeaways. Mo Porter was as good as advertised. The left tackle won an award for Baylor’s most improved offensive player of the spring. Anu Solomon looked good, as he showed off his legs and had a nice deep ball. And the cornerbacks, particular Jameson Houston, did well in coverage.
The offense mixed tempos and offered a few wrinkles. At times, the offense moved quickly and spread the field. The quarterbacks took shots down the field, and they all ran it too. Tony Nicholson, the former cornerback, got involved as wide receiver and in some running situations. The Bears used tight ends and full backs, and Zach Smith sometimes lined up under center. Some things changed. Some remained the same.
The spring game is a fun time to see some different players and plays. Rhule had lineman receive punts. If they were successful, their side earned additional points. Bravion Roy, looking bigger and moving well, fielded one punt return. He should be in line for a big season. But perhaps nothing was better than Ish Wainright catching a touchdown pass (from Tony Adame of 247):
A lot of Bears didn’t play. Hasty left after the first series, and Smith was limited for most of the day. Davion Hall remains out as well. Colt Barber of SicEm365 compiled this list of guys who were out:
Two-deep players who are out for Baylor's spring game today... and I'm sure I'm missing someone. pic.twitter.com/ZhWJEB1YTg— Colt Barber (@Colt_Barber) April 22, 2017
My takeaway from today is that Baylor had a solid and fun day. Solomon looked good, which should give the Bears a lot of confidence if Smith has to miss time. Brian Nance, winner of the most improved defensive player of the spring, looked excited to return to the field. K.J. Smith was a monster as well. But we largely knew about those guys. We’ll find out more later.
The game featured the past, present and future of Baylor football. Kyle Fuller, Seth Russell and Andrew Billings returned for the game. Twenty members of the 2017 class were at McLane Stadium, and the school hosted a number of recruits. Today was a good day to see some excellent players.
As spring football comes to a close, the players will focus on getting healthy, and the coaches will look to secure a few commitments over the weekend. The Rhule era will officially begin when Baylor football opens against Liberty on September 2nd at McLane Stadium.