Before the Oklahoma game, Matt Rhule said, “Wait until you guys see Sqwirl.” We certainly saw him today. The freshman played his first game for Baylor and ran for 35 yards on two carries, including this massive touchdown to give Baylor the lead:
Sqwirl! pic.twitter.com/nrZDdUuH8z— Kendall (@kendallkaut) October 6, 2018
It can’t have been easy for Matt Rhule and his staff to keep Craig “Sqwirl” Williams off the field. The freshman from Crosby High School was, along with Gerry Bohanon, Baylor’s top recruit in the 2018 class. He ran a 4.36 40-yard dash last year. He amassed over 3,800 yards and 53 touchdowns in high school. There was no doubt the man could play.
Rhule deserves immense credit for not playing Sqwirl before today. With the new redshirt rhule, a player can play four games without burning a season of eligibility. Baylor was a massive favorite against Abeline Christian, UTSA and Kansas. He considered playing him against Kansas, as he told the media at his press conference that week, “We’ll probably play Sqwirl a little this week.” But Rhule didn’t play him, and Baylor easily won that game. Rhule also didn’t play him against Oklahoma—though he mentioned that he was a little banged up that week. That was also the right decision, given that Baylor couldn’t stop Kyler Murray and lost by 30 points.
Today was an exceptional day to unleash Sqwirl. Kansas State hadn’t seen a Baylor back quite the quick on tape. He made that massive run in the fourth quarter to give Baylor the lead. The Bears may not have won today without Sqwirl.
Baylor now has three more games where they can use Sqwirl and still maintain four seasons of eligibility. And if he turns out to be so good that they need to play him in more games, then they’ll at least have given themselves every chance to have retained his redshirt.
Leading a major institution requires balancing short term and long term needs. Rhule did that with Sqwirl’s playing time. Sqwirl helped Baylor win today, and he might be able to help them during the 2022 season. We’ve certainly been tougher on Rhule this season—though we’re still adamantly of the belief that he will end up winning big at Baylor—about certain decision. But kudos to Rhule and the staff for handling this so well.