In the record book, this one will go down as a loss pushing us to 0-4 on the season so far. But in the final reckoning of the Matt Rhule Era, I don’t know how you can come away anything but excited from the way our guys played. This was a team that was 0-3 on the season with losses to Liberty, UTSA, Duke. We’ve been anemic on offense, improving but still questionable on defense, and could have easily shut it down after the first three weeks of the season. We were a 28-point underdog in our own building to a team that clearly didn’t respect us, and frankly, why would they?
But it’s also a team that came back down 18 in the first half to take the lead in the third quarter on the #3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, and had a chance to tie it with a minute left after a successful onside kick. Behind fantastic performances from Zach Smith (33/50 for 463 yards and 4 TDs) and Denzel Mims (11 catches for 192 yards and 2 of those TDs), both of whom are only sophomores, the offense was much more dynamic than we’ve seen so far, the defense played relatively well against a great opponent (even hitting trash-talking Baker Mayfield several times) before running out of gas, and you could definitely see what Baylor wants to be under Matt Rhule.
All day I watched expert after expert give the Bears zero chance to even cover in this game. Tonight I watched a young team, led by a sophomore QB that arguably outplayed the Heisman frontrunner, take a big step towards turning this program around. Shoot, with better safety play and more depth, who knows what could have happened. Regardless, I guarantee you the team in that lockerroom feels better about themselves and where they’re going right now than they ever have before, and you should, too. I said before the game that I wanted to see three things: 1) continued improvement, 2) a solid game plan, and 3) our guys playing hard. We saw all three in spades, and despite the loss, this team made us proud.
There’s still a lot to work on for this team—rushing offense, rushing defense, tackling—but if you’re not trusting the process after this game, it’s because you don’t want to. In each of our four games, we’ve had the ball in the fourth quarter with the chance to tie or take the lead. We’ll get there, and when we do, you will be thankful you were there along the way.
By the way, how about Connor Martin tonight? 4/5 in field goals after a miss that I really think, based on the replay, should have been good.