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Baylor Releases Liberty Depth Chart; Matt Rhule Speaks; Harvey Evacuees Welcome!

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There’s a lot going down on this, the 29th day of August in the year of our Lord 2017.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Hurricane Evacuees Welcome

To paraphrase Imagine Dragons, first things first today with legitimately important information. If you are an evacuee from Harvey interested in going to the Baylor game this Saturday, we have good news!

Boom. That’s good stuff right there. As indicated in the link, Baylor is offering free tickets, parking, and food for families affected by Hurricane Harvey. For more information about how to claim your tickets, hit the link.

Single Digit Numbers

Second thing second is the release of the (arguably) first meaningful depth chart of the Matt Rhule era, and it’s a doozy. Eight true freshmen are in the two-deep, which by definition has about twenty-two total players, four freshmen (including redshirts) are slated to start, including three on defense, Blake Lynch is nowhere to be found because he’s apparently pulling a Littlefinger and playing everywhere all the time, we still don’t know who our starting QB will be (but should later today), and between my adopted little brother Jalen Pitre and surprise walk-on Jairon McVea, we’ve got all the makings of a Wojciechowski Gameday feature if ESPN ever decides we’ve re-earned their love.

Before we get to the actual chart, though, we need to talk about the Single Digit Players. In case you’d forgotten, earning a Single Digit Jersey is a Big Freaking Deal on a Matt Rhule Team (the purpose of that sentence was to capitalize as many words as possible). With the release of the depth chart, we now know who eight of the nine honorees are, with only #8 itself being left off.

  1. Taylor Young — no surprise there; he’s the starting WLB.
  2. Taion Sells — we’ll talk more about him below.
  3. Chris Miller — starting at strong safety in his sophomore year.
  4. Grayland Arnold — recently lost for 6-8 weeks due to a broken arm sustained in the scrimmage on Saturday.
  5. BRIAN NANCE — (AIRHORNS AIRHORNS AIRHORNS); the starter at the rush end position last manned by Haason Reddick in this defense.
  6. Trevor White — A bit of a surprise for everyone that didn’t already know he grew up in Arlington. He’ll play WR and contribute on special teams.
  7. John Lovett — The only true freshman on the list. That seems like a big deal to me.
  8. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  9. Ira Lewis — That’s right, a nearly 300-pounder is going to be wearing #9 and starting at NT.

The working theory on number 8 appears to be that it was offered to someone that asked to retain their existing number, so it is being kept vacant at this time. We’ll see.

The Depth Chart Cometh

There’s a lot to digest here, and after this chart was released, Head Coach Matt Rhule gave his first game week press conference that put everything into a bit of context. Bullet point time, starting with the offense.

  • He’s going to announce the starting QB later today but don’t be surprised if Zach Smith and Anu Solomon rotate during the game, Charlie Brewer plays, or none of them plays and it’s actually Blake Lynch throwing to himself. Anything is possible at this point if you believe in it.
  • 5 true freshman on the offensive side, led by Ryan Miller grabbing the starting nod at center. The other four are R.J. Sneed and Gavin Holmes at WR, John Lovett at RB, and Xavier Newman at RG.
  • Mo Porter is listed as the starter at LT to exactly no one’s surprise, but he’s going to sit out the first half against Liberty due to an undisclosed violation of team rhules.
  • Blake Lynch is not listed on this two-deep at any position because, according to Matt Rhule, they may play him at RB, WR, LB, DE, CB, offensive coordinator, facilities manager, play-by-play announcer, and both deep-snapper and kicker at the same time. I made the last few parts of that up.
  • Tyrae Simmons moving to RT from LG is a bit of a surprise, but it’s probably a depth move designed to get a working second unit in place.
  • Ishmael Wainright is the backup TE because God loves you and wants you to be happy.

Moving to the defense, where we have three freshmen listed as starters:

  • Like Mo Porter, Taion Sells has been suspended, but his suspension is for three full games. No word on what he did, and I’m not going to speculate.
  • Jalen Pitre starting at SLB makes me happy.
  • Fellow true freshman Harrison Hand has reportedly impressed this year the same way Grayland Arnold did last year, and with Arnold’s injury earned himself a starting spot.
  • Walk-On Sensation Jairon McVea, who Rhule called “probably as talented as any scholarship player we have” earlier this month has taken advantage of the Sells suspension to earn himself a starting role at free safety.
  • The fact that Tyrone Hunt, arguably the defensive star of the Cactus Bowl for Baylor, isn’t on the two-deep is concerning.

That’s all I noticed so far, but I’m sure there will be more later.