Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football: 5 Things to know about Baylor

Cyclones and Bears begin Big 12 play Saturday in Waco, Texas

Baylor head coach Matt Rhule celebrates a win over Oklahoma State last season at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule celebrates a win over Oklahoma State last season at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — As Iowa State (2-1) gets set to open Big 12 play Saturday at Baylor, here are 5 Things to know about the Bears.

1. Matt Rhule the fixer upper

Baylor coach Matt Rhule took over a program that could have easily been torn down, not because of on-field play but what happened off of it under former coach Art Briles.

The Bears went 1-11 in Rhule’s first year, but the former Temple coach has quickly turned things around in Waco, Texas. Rhule took Baylor to a bowl game last year after finishing the regular season 6-6 with a 4-5 record in the Big 12.

The Bears topped off last season with a 45-38 win over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl.

Baylor has kept the impressive renovation going early in the 2019 season with three straight wins.

 

Granted, those wins came against Stephen F. Austin, UTSA and Rice. Baylor beat SFA and UTSA a combined 119-31.

Rice, a team that’s 0-4 and went 2-11 last season, was the only opponent that tested Baylor in a game the Bears won 21-13.

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2. The QB

Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer has been a key catalyst in the rebuilding of Baylor’s program.

Brewer started eight games as a true freshman for the Bears and then-first-year coach Rhule. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,562 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He was named Big 12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year for his efforts.

 

As a sophomore, his accuracy dipped as defenses adjusted. He completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,019 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games.

Brewer has shown improvement in 2019 by picking defenses apart. He’s completed 72 percent of his passes for 665 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Brewer isn’t just a pocket passer, having rushed for 608 yards in his career — 67 so far this season.

“With him, he has so much experience,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “You see him now, and he’s playing at such a high level that he has experience going through situations and knowing where to get the football to. It’s year three in the offense and he’s gotten quality and meaningful reps.

“You just see a kid that’s playing with so much confidence. He can beat you with his arm, he can beat you with his legs. He’s a guy that provides a great challenge, especially a guy that’s so veteran in the system.”

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Brewer’s favorite target this season has been Denzel Mims, who has caught 18 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games.

3. Demo Day

Baylor’s defense isn’t great, but the Bears have a couple players who will make you feel like you got hit by a sledgehammer.

Linebacker Clay Johnston was fifth in the Big 12 last season with 99 tackles and is tied for eighth this season with 24.

At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, defensive tackle James Lynch could bring down a wall all by himself. As a sophomore last season, he had five solo sacks and 5.5 total sacks, 10th in the Big 12.

As a junior, Lynch is fourth in the Big 12 in sacks with three. His sacks per game average (1.0) is actually tied for second, trailing only Iowa State’s O’Rien Vance.

Last season, Baylor was actually halfway decent in pass defense, allowing 242.1 yards per game, which was third in the Big 12 behind defensive powerhouses TCU and Iowa State.

It’s the run defense that let the Bears down. Baylor surrendered 183.5 yards per game on the ground, which was worse than Kansas’ 171.5.

4. Farmhouse

Baylor has been running against its opponents like it’s playing backyard football in the wide-open yard of a farmhouse (straight up, writer to reader, I know I’m stretching it with this one but just play along).

The Bears have rushed for 760 yards, averaging 6.8 per attempt.

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Six players have at least 65 yards rushing through the first three games led by John Lovett who has 186 yards and one touchdown on 22 rushing attempts.

Gerry Bohanon and Trestan Ebner have also rushed for over 100 yards.

5. Chip and Jo

HGTV reality TV stars Chip and Johanna Gaines went to Baylor and are still big Baylor supporters.

They had former Baylor Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III help out on one of their shows of Fixer Upper.

They also renovated a house for former Baylor chaplain Norris Blount in season two of the show.

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