Baylor Football

Listen: Matt Rhule's Duke Press Conference and Transcript

September 12, 2017
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Opening Statement

“First of all, thank you guys for coming, especially in the morning. As we finish practice and have our press conference, we appreciate you guys being here.

Obviously, I’ll start with the quarterback situation. I’m excited for Zach [Smith] to have an opportunity to go play. I’m proud of Anu [Solomon], and the way he went out and competed. Anu came in on Sunday and felt banged up and felt beat up. He had some symptoms, maybe concussion-like, so immediately our medical staff put him in the protocol, and I told Zach he would be the starter. I texted Zach Saturday night and told him he was going to play this week after the game regardless. I had to wait and see the film, and I never really got a chance to see the film before I had spoken with Anu who was waiting for you. So that way, just to give you that backstory, Zach will be the starter and Charlie will be the backup this week, and we’ll go from there.

Zach, if you go out there today, you’ll see he’s learned a lot from the chance to sit back there. He had a little intensity and fire in him in everything that he did, and I think he’s going to ignite his team in any small way that he can. I’m excited to go play a really good Duke team. Coach Cutcliffe, if I could have my son play for anybody it’d be Coach David Cutcliffe. He’s been there for 10 years and does it the right way. I love watching his teams. They went 4-8 last year, but you watch and they just keep getting better and better and better. A lot of those kids on that team I know from recruiting in the northeast. Victor Dimukeje is their freshman defensive end who is lights out. They’re obviously one of the best teams in the ACC now, and they look like a top 25 team, and it’ll be a tremendous opportunity for us to go on the road and play a great team like that.

Obviously, we’re all not happy about being 0-2, and there are a lot of things we have to correct and we’re working hard to correct them. I would say that there have been some bright spots and there are some people that are playing really good football. [Chris] Platt continues to get open down the field, we just weren’t able to hit him on a couple of those. I think [Denzel] Mims is emerging as a big-play threat. I thought [John] Lovett in his first start, we might’ve played him a bit too much, will continue to get better and better when Terence [Williams] gets back. On defense, I was really proud of the growth that they made from one week to the next. That was a tough, physical defense out there, and that was tough, physical defense in UTSA, and I thought our kids responded to the challenge and played a great 4th quarter and gave us a chance to win. While we’re unhappy with the result, we had the ball with a chance to win in the last two games. As I told our team, it’s all about us. It’s not about who we play or what it looks like, it’s all about the way that we play, and if we make one more play we win those football games. So that’s the mindset that I have and that’s the mindset our team has.

[David] Smoak asked me yesterday, I made a comment in the post-game press conference about “I won’t quit on you, don’t you quit on me.” Some people asked me if I thought they’d quit on me, and there’s not even a shred of that. Those kids are looking to us. Since the day I got here, those kids said “just promise us you’ll never quit on us.” That’s what they’re looking for. Those kids don’t want to feel like they’re on an island. They want to feel like they have a coaching staff that is with them. That’s the first thing they asked when I got here. “Are you going to have our back when things are hard?” And so, that’s what I meant by that comment, that I’ve got their back no matter what. And I’m proud of these guys. And this is a team, in my opinion, that everybody should get behind. They’ve battled through adversity. They’re battling through adversity right now. They come to play. Guys get hurt, and other guys step in the game.
We’ve got freshmen, who aren’t just starting as true freshmen, but they’re starting at a position they’ve never played before. And those aren’t excuses, those are great stories to me. Rod Saulin has practiced all season at offensive line and he’s playing tight end in that game. Tristan Ebner has played receiver his whole life, and he’s playing tailback. So I’m proud to death of these guys. I’m proud of Taylor Young, and all those older guys. I’m proud of Davion Hall. They’re seniors, and it’s not going the way they want, but they’re just playing better and practicing better and getting better. So, there are so many bright spots in the dark time. Not having won a game is not fun for anybody, but as I said to our team, I won my last seven games at Temple, and I lost my first two at Baylor, and I’m the same coach. I enjoy every minute with these kids, and that’s what I see from them. They had a tremendous spirit at practice today. They’re just fun to be around, and they’ll continue to get better until we find some success.”

On the mood of the team…

“Yeah that’s what I just said, I think they’re outstanding. I think they’re not happy, and this isn’t Pop Warner. We’re not handing out popsicles. But I think the thing that they see is what I told them during the game. They are saying to themselves, “Why can’t we score? We’re used to scoring, why can’t we score?” And then you go back and watch the film and see that we had three penalties on the first drive. And then the second drive, you’re moving, and you throw an interception. And those things happen. And then the next drive, you get all the way down to the 20-yard line, and it’s a nothing-nothing ball game, and we get a holding penalty. It’s just a play here and a play there. It’s one thing when you’re getting blown out, and you say to yourselves that you’re ten plays away. But those two ball games were just a play here and a play there. We’re going to play some better teams, so we better get better quick, as we’re playing a better team this week. But I think they see the progress. I think the defense felt the progress from week one to week two. I think the offense sensed that, you know when [Chris] Platt ran by his guy on the third play of the game and he lays out for that ball and we couldn’t quite put it on him, if he catches it that changes the game. Sometimes we think it’s these big things, but it’s these little things right in front of us. That, to me, is why they’re positive. And I think it’s also because we’re playing so many young kids. The seniors you worry about, right? Our seniors are great leaders. Mo Porter is out there fighting. Davion [Hall], I talked about him, Taylor Young. They’re out there fighting. Taion Sells is on the scout team right now and he’s fighting. I think that the young kids see that we’re getting better and to keep working. So I’ve been pleased. We had 20 guys up in my office watching Monday Night Football last night. This is a process, and so the kids are going through it with us.”

On what Zach Smith brings to the offense and his reasoning in making him the starter…

“I just say, at the end of the game in the last game, we had some opportunities to make big plays and we just didn’t connect on them. And that’s on a lot of people, that’s not just any one person. And I just was impressed that Zach threw his helmet on, when he’s out on the sideline with his headset and we see blood, and he goes out there and completes an 18-yard in cut in man-to-man coverage with people all around him. I said to myself “okay that’s hard to do.” When he was running out there I said “do you want to run or throw it?” and he just kinda laughed and ran out there and I said “oh that’s my kinda guy.” So I don’t think Anu [Solomon] could’ve continued to take, you know he’s getting hit in the pocket and we’re not doing a great job up front, and we got a little overwhelmed the last two games up front. And so I just hope that Zach will connect on a couple more balls that are there. That was really it. I hadn’t even seen the film yet, it was just my gut. I know that kid was ready to go when I put him in, and I put him in twice, and he’s been ready to go. Put him in a little bit more, and see what happens. And circumstances made it where he’s in full time now. So I told Charlie [Brewer], “you be ready to go now,” because everyone has to be ready.

On if challenges he’s faced have been expected…

“I’ll answer that two ways. Number one, I thought we would be a little bit further ahead than we are, even coming out of preseason camp. When you answer these questions, you don’t want it to come across and make it seem like you’re making excuses. I want to make it clear that I thought we’d be a little further ahead. I thought Taion [Sells] would be out there playing for us in the first game. I thought Grayland [Arnold] would be out there playing for us in the first game. I thought Jameson [Houston] would be out there playing for us in the first game. And I thought we’d play the first game, but I don’t think I realized at the start of it the stress and pressure that the kids are putting on themselves. I’m kind of upset about being 0-2, but these kids have lost eight of their last nine. So, that takes a toll on you. A lot of people are asking why Coach Rhule is so positive, but it’s because these kids need some positivity. They’re a good team and they’re good kids, but they just need some good things to happen to themselves and they’ve got to fight through this dark time. That, to me, is something I don’t know if I recognized going in, that they were going to put a lot of stress on themselves. That’s why I enjoyed the last game so much. We blocked a field goal, made those stops in the fourth quarter, and the defense was out there saying “let’s go!” and it felt like football.

That being said, when I took the job, people asked me what I thought about it, and my concern was the roster, and just the number of people. When I met with them, there were a bunch of guys graduating, and they said, “you could have 65 guys coming back, or you could have 40 guys coming back,” and those are epic numbers. Now, we were able to stabilize that, but we’ve got 31 kids that weren’t on the team last year that are on scholarship. 30. Something like that, because we’ve got [Jalen] Hurd and [Jake] Fruhmorgen redshirting this year. That’s a lot of kids. And so, my concern all along was if we were going to hold up on the O-Line. We walked out there the other day against UTSA and against Liberty, and we haven’t won the battle up front yet. But we’re getting better. And some of our older offensive linemen are stepping up. Those are the things I was concerned with. Injuries and depth, those things I was concerned with. And they’re kinda showing up right now. And that’s why I say that we’re not going to have roster issues long term, and we’re not going to have injuries and depth concerns long term. What I do need to do is make sure our kids understand to fight through this. That’s what they’re doing. They’re fighting.”
On how much the older guys need a win to get things going in the other direction…
“Yeah, I’m always hesitant to even say that, because I don’t want to make that too much of a distraction. That’s why, for me, this is such a great job. This is really a great job. Those kids are walking off the field and fans were cheering for them. And that’s what these kids need right now. They need positive. I told the players that if anyone asks what’s going on, they say it’s the coaches, and they stay positive. These guys keep going out and practicing, and they need a win. They need small successes, which turn into big successes, which turn into epic successes. Those are the victories we’re looking for right now. I would’ve liked to have won one of these first two ballgames, obviously, but I will say that the issues will still be there. This is making all these kids look at themselves and look at the issues and say “what do we need to do?” Like how do we give up an 18-play drive right before the half? All those third down calls. On that drive, we had a bunch of missed assignments. We had a bunch of guys just do their own thing. And on other drives, we didn’t. So I think when you lose, you have to self-evaluate, and I think, as coaches, I’m doing that. I know my staff is doing that and I know my players are doing that as well. I think winning would really help them, but they are making the most out of the lessons that they’re learning, which is why I think we’ll have a championship culture from it.”

On missed assignments improving from the Liberty game to the UTSA game…
“Significantly. Especially on the defense. The defense came in off that Liberty game and said ‘okay that’s not happening again.” That’s why I talk about Taylor Young and Davion [Hall]. Davion’s practiced with Phil Snow five times before that game. Five times. Henry Black hasn’t practiced all pre-season, so they get in there and were doing maybe some different things and making some mistakes. There’s a difference between mistakes and then not buying into the little things. I saw much better buy in on the little things, which resulted in better defense. Now we still have to correct some of the other. We still haven’t forced a turnover on defense. That has to happen. We’ve got to knock a ball loose or pick a ball off. That’s what those games come down to. Now that’s a really good team in UTSA, and I don’t want to take anything away from them, but I really believe that we pick a pass and take it back for a touchdown, we were going to get going on offense. It was going to be a big game. They’re all kind of around us. But I think you definitely see the defense, I don’t want to say bought in because the kids are all trying to do what we ask, but way more understanding the ramifications of not doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. It’s like ‘don’t touch the stove,’ but then you touch the stove and its hot and you burn your finger. You don’t touch the stove again. Now they’re saying, ‘I got it coach. That’s why we need to do this. That’s why we need to do that.’ I was pleased with our special teams play. The punt game was good. We blocked a field goal. A punt return, we got on the ball. We made two explosive plays in the kicking game that gave us a chance. Those are things that got a little bit better and showed some buy in from the players in terms of the details and how important that is.”

On putting together a good game in all three phases…
“We improved on defense. We played well enough to win on offense two weeks ago. We didn’t play well enough on defense. We played well enough to win on defense this week and not on offense. Now we have to put it all together. I always talk about being a team and feeding off each other, and I think as the defense played well, the offense got frustrated because they couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. Then I think it’s the same thing we did in week one. Why didn’t we do it? You say to yourself, ‘the play calling, we should be doing this or we should be doing that.’ That might all be very valid, but then you put the tape on and you say, ‘let’s just talk about the plays we did do, and let’s just talk about what we did do.’ You say to yourself, ‘wow, had we caught this ball.’ No one has thrown the ball over 40 yards more than we have the first two games. We’ve taken a ton of shots, and we’re doing it because we’re open. We’re running by people, so we just need to make a couple more plays. I think with Zach we’re going to play a little more to his strengths this week. Hopefully, we can be a little bit more on the same page as an offense.

Those probably come down to me. Those are my issues. It’s probably me making Jeff [Nixon] and them do some of the things they probably don’t want to do. It’s me being nervous about losing [Jordan] Feuerbacher during the week and now we have Ish [Wainright] playing tight end, who hasn’t really done it very much. Then the three freshman tailbacks, me not wanting to be too diverse where we miss something. This week I said, ‘do what you guys want to do, just make sure Ish knows what he’s doing.’ I’ve got to trust the freshman tailbacks that they’re going to go do what they need to do. I think that those struggles on offense last week really at the end of the day come back to me, and come back to me not letting Jeff and those guys do what they want to do. I said, ‘you guys go do it this week, and I’ll keep myself over here.”

On road games and ranked opponents coming up in schedule…
“Oh, I’m excited about it. I think this is what our kids need to be quite honest. I think they need to play a game that they’re not picked to win. Where’s the pressure right now? Go play. I see the weight of the world on them and I tell them, ‘go play. Let’s just go play and have fun.’ That doesn’t mean we’re not going to work. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to wear suits on the road. It doesn’t mean I didn’t want everyone in study hall at six o’clock on Sunday night. We’re going to do everything right. That’s what I mean by “process”, but go have fun and play. Go play against some of the best teams in the country. Duke is a great team. I watch them, and I say to myself, ‘that’s what football looks like.’ They are playing the game really well, so let’s go compete against them. I believe that competitors play their best when they play against other competitors. I’m not predicting results. I’m just saying if you want to be a great player, let’s go get on the road and play against a great team and let’s see what it is. I think it’ll bring out the best in Zach [Smith] and Charlie [Brewer]. It’ll bring out the best in [John] Lovett. Someday they’ll be the team that everyone is saying, ‘oh we have to go there and play there.’ I think this will all be fun.”

On the opportunity to take the team on the road…
“First of all, I love playing at home. The atmosphere, the crowd did everything they could last game to help us rally. The crowd was awesome in the fourth quarter, so I will say that. But to me as a coach, one of my favorite things in the world is getting on a plane, and at Temple it was I would get my cheesesteak and eat and fall asleep. Here they tell me the burrito is fantastic, so getting on the plane, getting your burrito, taking a nap, getting to the hotel, checking in, throwing your jogging suit on, and just getting around the guys, and being sequestered. We have spent a lot of time with our players here. To go get on the road and just kind of be us, that’s a favorite of mine in football. Those are my favorite 48 hours.”

On the progress that Clay Johnston has made…
“Thank you for asking that question. That’s a great question because it’s something I had to recognize myself. [Linebacker coach Mike] Siravo and I, sometimes we have maybe been a little too hard on Clay. We are all over him. You know what he’s done? He’s just gone like this, and I thought he played a magnificent game on Saturday. I mean 4th-and-2 and he makes the play. It wasn’t even that he just kind of reacted and made a play. He saw the formation. It was man coverage. He knew he was going to get picked. He got deeper than the nickel. He ran over the top and made a play. That’s a play seniors make. That’s a play pros make, and he’s making it as a sophomore. He just lets us coach him. His dad is a coach. He lets us coach him. He works hard every day. Coach [Phil] Snow and I come in on Sundays and I always ask after every game, ‘what do I need to do differently? What do we need to do?’ Phil brought him up, and he said, ‘you know what Matt? We just have to keep coaching.’ Look at what Clay did in two weeks. Just think what he’s going to do in six more weeks, twelve more weeks, next year. Clay’s a wonderful example, and I think there’s a lot more guys doing that. Like the D-line. Mike Johnson on the D-line and Ira Lewis on the D-line and Bravvion Roy. We were wreaking havoc up the middle in terms of the run game. Now they hurt us a little bit on the edges sometimes. We played way better on the D-line up front than we did the week before. You kind of see guys doing this, and Clay is a great example of it.”

On Tecklenburg and Wilson at Center…
“Ish [Wilson] is healthy now, so I think that’s a big part of it. His hand is out [of the cast], and he played better in the past two games. We’re just kind of not big enough up front right now. We’re playing with Ryan [Miller], who’s fighting right around 285-290 and [Sam Tecklenburg], so we just said let’s put a 315 pound guy in there in Ish, and let’s put Teck in there. Ryan’s still going to play and Teck’s still going to play. I just felt like Ish had tremendous energy on the sidelines going back and watching the film, and I think right now we need some senior leadership. I think Ish, when he’s not starting, he’s shown it. That’s really always kind of been my challenge to him. Be a great teammate, and he’s doing that, so he deserves a chance to go play. We’re going to have all those guys play, but I think just a little bit more size inside, because we’re getting a little bit overwhelmed sometimes late in the game.”

On wanting his son to play for Coach Cutcliffe and not recruiting him to Baylor…
“I think my son’s already committed. Wherever I tell him he’s going, he’s going. No, it was fun because in the game I had my son on the sideline this Saturday. It was the first time at a home game that I’ve done that. He cheered until the end, and that’s always great perspective. I remember my first year at Temple. We lost then we lost then we lost. It was like our third or fourth game, and we went to Idaho. I tell this story sometimes. We’re walking off the field, and I’m getting ready to get in the locker room and I’m getting ready to rip this team. I’m playing there like I’m playing now. What are we playing right now? Eighteen first-time starters, 15 freshmen. I’m doing the same thing at Temple. I’m getting ready to go in there and rip the team, Coach Paterno style. All of a sudden, I look up and my son is walking in, and he’s dejected, like this. Then Sharif Finch, who’s going to be playing for the Cowboys or someone next year, is walking in, the same dejected look on his face. It hit me. They don’t need that right now. They didn’t need me to go in there, the Temple team, and rip them. I just went in there and said, ‘we’ll get better. We’ll get better.’ Then you look forward three or four years, and you’re winning these huge games and going to championships. It just hit me on Saturday night, my son doesn’t need any pressure. My son is going to school like, ‘are we going to win this week?’ My son feels the pressure. Our players feel the pressure. What they need is, they just need to go play. So, we’re just going to keep playing, playing, playing. Mr. Campbell asked me last week, ‘will this team get better?’ This team will get better and better and better and better and better and someday we’ll all hopefully talk about this stretch. That’s why I make sure I honor Taylor Young and Davion Hall and all those seniors, [Jordan] Feuerbacher, Mo Porter, and Ish Wilson. Because they’re seniors, it’s not going their way, and what are they out there doing? They’re out there 5:30 in the morning practicing saying, ‘hey let’s get this team ready.’”

On Zach Smith’s improvement since Rhule’s arrival…
“Today was a step to me. He got out there today and he’s yelling at guys where to get lined up. You remember last year, he was a freshman out there playing. I’ll say this again, I walked in there last week and I saw him and Anu [Solomon] playing ping pong. And in a day and age where most kids, if they’re not named the starting quarterback, they transfer. Someone asked me the other day, ‘are you going to have to re-recruit Zach.’ I said, ‘I don’t think I have to with this guy. I think this guy’s a Baylor Bear.’ So, for him to go out there and get a chance to start, it’s kind of cool because he has done everything right. He’s fighting, he’s scratching, he’s clawing to get his chance. I think he’s healthy. I’ve never really seen Zach move around because he came off that injury in bowl game in the spring.  He limped around the whole spring. I think he can give us something in the run game. He can move around and scramble a little bit. He’s got a big-time arm. He’s really smart, but the biggest thing I think, as you see, he’s just a leader out there today. ‘I’ve waited my turn. I’ve watched for two games. I know what this team needs.’ They need someone telling them to get lined up and let’s go that way. And I hope we see that on Saturday, and I’m pretty sure we will.”

On what position his son plays…
“What does my son play? He plays defensive end, and I think I saw him running down on the kickoff last week. My wife went to the game on Saturday, and she told me he’s not playing hard enough. No, I tell you what though, the people here in Central Texas, Little League Baseball and he’s doing Pop Warner with Coach Rojo, they are wonderful people. They are patient, great coaches, and I’m grateful my kids have a chance to play.”

On how big his son is…
“Oh he’s only in sixth grade, so he’s only- what does he weigh honey? 85 pounds, so he’s little. He’s a little guy, but he loves to play.”
Discussion from...

Listen: Matt Rhule's Duke Press Conference and Transcript

zd.bu50
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Having listened to several press conferences, I like Rhule and believe that he will get the program going in the right direction (on and off the field) given time. No projections on what that means (and I'm certainly not expecting to compete for the conference title in the next several years)

I'm not a "sunshine pumper." I know things are in a bad place right now with an 0-2 start, and I'm certainly disappointed with where the program is at after such exciting times under Briles, but it has been discouraging to see how much negativity there is on this board already.

Given the media portrayal of Baylor (exacerbated by the way the BOR handled things by hanging it largely of the football program), I think Rhule's hire addressed a key issue that had to be a priority: fixing the negative perception of Baylor football. I believe he has already made significant progress here, and mocking / ridiculing his community service / character-building focus (as some have done) is shameful. Yes, we want to win football games, but they are not mutually exclusive.

What has been most encouraging is the balanced response I've heard from staff and players. They're disappointed, upset, unhappy with losing, but they're not being "chicken littles." The comment by Rhule about the players saying something along the lines of "don't give up on us" is very telling about what the team experienced last year (I don't know if that sentiment is about their perception of support, or lack thereof, from the previous staff or the fans or a combination of both).

I don't except many wins this year, and "trust the process" without tangible evidence of improvement only gets your so far. I think the reality is that we're looking at a 2-3 year time frame to really assess what is possible under Rhule -- it is simply too soon to know whether his approach (which obviously took a few years to work at Temple) can work at Baylor.

I sense that the staff / players are still working hard to put the best product on the field each week. The defense showed positive signs last week. Hopefully both sides of the ball will do so against Duke (even though I expect us to lose).

In sum, I hope this forum can find a way to be a little more balanced in its assessment of / commentary on the team as the season unfolds. Being honest and realistic is needed; being overly, sometimes needlessly pessimistic doesn't help.
Sip 'em Beers
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Nobody is being overly pessimistic. We just lost to Liberty and UTSA.
BUGWBBear
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I'd want my kid to play for me if I were a successful head coach. Not some Doookie.
Sip 'em Beers
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BUGWBBear said:

I'd want my kid to play for me if I were a successful head coach. Not some Doookie.


He must not want his kid to suffer a career ending injury in pregame warmups ...
zd.bu50
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I guess I just need to take a break from the forums for now, since these replies are the kind of unhelpful negative commentary that I was seeking to address (I thought in a balanced and helpful way by noting that I understand and share the frustration / disappointment at how the season has started). How does it help our team or our fans to have seemingly endless snarky comments demeaning Rhule and his staff (and, by extension, the team) being posted?
Pale Rider
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I'm with you 50. I appreciate your position and perspective.
bear2be2
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zd.bu50 said:

I guess I just need to take a break from the forums for now, since these replies are the kind of unhelpful negative commentary that I was seeking to address (I thought in a balanced and helpful way by noting that I understand and share the frustration / disappointment at how the season has started). How does it help our team or our fans to have seemingly endless snarky comments demeaning Rhule and his staff (and, by extension, the team) being posted?
It doesn't. You're thoughtful and measured response is, of course, the correct approach to what we're experiencing right now. But perspective has gone the way of the dodo among the Baylor fan base.

If you're not Art Briles, you're Kevin Steele. And you get two games to prove which one you are.

There's no room here unfortunately for a nuanced conversation in which we can acknowledge that, yes, Rhule's tenure has gotten off to a disastrous start, but that such a start is not unprecedented -- and thus, perhaps not a death sentence -- for this particular coach.
Pale Rider
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Star post 2be2
SicEmBU87
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You can look at every post I've made since Rhule was hired. I have been behind him 100%. I want him to be successful as much as any Baylor fan on these boards. But I will also add, that if you don't have at least a little concern after losing to Liberty, then you just have your head in the sand. This is the 1st time in our history a head coach has been hired at Baylor when we have previously been talked about in the same sentence with all of the national powers...... so to lose to Liberty could not have been more shocking. I'll be planted in front of the TV this Saturday, just like the last two, but to go from where we were, to where we are, in such a hurry is just shocking.
Pastorron
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well said. It is what it is and it is our school and it is rain or shine. The rain times are tough but we have experience at it.
CoachHBU2008
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zd.bu50 said:

Having listened to several press conferences, I like Rhule and believe that he will get the program going in the right direction (on and off the field) given time. No projections on what that means (and I'm certainly not expecting to compete for the conference title in the next several years)

I'm not a "sunshine pumper." I know things are in a bad place right now with an 0-2 start, and I'm certainly disappointed with where the program is at after such exciting times under Briles, but it has been discouraging to see how much negativity there is on this board already.

Given the media portrayal of Baylor (exacerbated by the way the BOR handled things by hanging it largely of the football program), I think Rhule's hire addressed a key issue that had to be a priority: fixing the negative perception of Baylor football. I believe he has already made significant progress here, and mocking / ridiculing his community service / character-building focus (as some have done) is shameful. Yes, we want to win football games, but they are not mutually exclusive.

What has been most encouraging is the balanced response I've heard from staff and players. They're disappointed, upset, unhappy with losing, but they're not being "chicken littles." The comment by Rhule about the players saying something along the lines of "don't give up on us" is very telling about what the team experienced last year (I don't know if that sentiment is about their perception of support, or lack thereof, from the previous staff or the fans or a combination of both).

I don't except many wins this year, and "trust the process" without tangible evidence of improvement only gets your so far. I think the reality is that we're looking at a 2-3 year time frame to really assess what is possible under Rhule -- it is simply too soon to know whether his approach (which obviously took a few years to work at Temple) can work at Baylor.

I sense that the staff / players are still working hard to put the best product on the field each week. The defense showed positive signs last week. Hopefully both sides of the ball will do so against Duke (even though I expect us to lose).

In sum, I hope this forum can find a way to be a little more balanced in its assessment of / commentary on the team as the season unfolds. Being honest and realistic is needed; being overly, sometimes needlessly pessimistic doesn't help.



Agree 100% with this. It's going to take some time, but we will get there. I like the guy. For the most part I think defense will figure it out. You don't need world beaters on there for them to be effective. You just need guys who love football, are passionate and are assignment disciplined. I think we can make head way on that front fairly quickly. We're a few pass rushers away from being where we want to be and those guys dont necessarily need to be 5 star guys.

As for offense, their are few things that surprised me thus far. The lack of speed or I guess lack of depth of speed on the roster, that caught me off guard. For the most part we still have TGHCABs roster. I know we are missing a recruiting class and guys transferred out. I just didn't expect the receivers to not be as fast as just a year ago. I am also surprised that we aren't as creative on offense as you would like to be. I personally think a pro style attack can work. It doesn't matter what offense you have. It's all about attitude, confidence, and playing physical and with some urgency. But I thought Nixon and Thomas, two bright guys, would at least have some wrinkles to keep teams honest. I'd rather have a hybrid form of a pro style offense with spread concepts, but I wouldn't mind going full pro style as long as we had a few unorthodox formations or trick plays that setup big plays. I know you probably wouldn't want to reveal that against the likes of Liberty, but the play calling is so tentative and generic.

I for one would like to scrap the Chip Kelly spread. If we are going to mesh pro style with any spread offense it should be the one we did with Briles. To me it is the one offense that would blend better with pro style attacks. The offense is simplistic but it took advantage of two things you'd want in any offense. Putting the ball immediately in the hands of play makers and spacing. You can easily put dbs in a bind if you widen the outside receiver splits. Whether you are in gun or under center. It would help with the run game. Plus where are the quick screens? Bubble screens. Again plays that can be ran from under center. You can use the pro style set to bring in unorthodox personnel, funky formations that force defenses to think or show their cards pre snap. Where are the pre snap shifts that help us in the matchup game? I just thought there would be a little more creativity than we've seen so far. I hope it picks up.

I mean if we can look like Andy Reid and his NFL offense, or as creative as Hue Jackson's offense in Cincinnati, that would give Rhule his pro style attack, with some mix ins of creative spread concepts. Don't know why we are trying a failed spread attack in Kelly's outside zone. First of all you're asking a team to learn a totally new spread offense on top of learning all the nuances of a pro style offense. Plus, unless you are going fast and wearing folks out, you are doing the two things you never want to do against a defense. Going east and west. Kelly's attack is to stress the edges. That's hard to do when you don't have the speed at running back that we used to, or the offensive line to do it. It requires us to go get more athletic, leaner and narrower base lineman as far as physique goes. That sounds totally contrary to what Rhule wants to do.

Why not work with the Briles attack that's bread and butter was counter, trap and power runs with veer options. I would think a more down hill style of running would be more compatible with a pro style attack. I dunno. For some reason when I was imagining this in my head I was thinking of a Matt Canada Pitt offense. Or a Hue Jackson "Star Wars" formation with 3 down linemen, with both tackles spread to the hashes with the wide receivers. I hope we transition to something like that. The misnomer when people think about the Big XII is that you have to be a spread. No you don't. You can survive running under center. Nebraska did it for years and we're still successful even when teams started transitioning to it. But you do have to be creative and you have to find ways to put the ball in playmakers hands. Regardless of how you do it.
Pale Rider
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Great stuff coach. You sound like coach bob?
CoachHBU2008
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Pale Rider said:

Great stuff coach. You sound like coach bob?


Not him. But thanks. I'll take that as a compliment. Just a passionate former college player that loves coaching middle schoolers, weirdly enjoys disecting tape and love Baylor.
CoachHBU2008
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https://www.seccountry.com/lsu/lsu-football-matt-canada-derrius-guice-darrel-williams-byu

This is a pretty good read. This is the type offense I was imagining when the talks in the summer was to create a pro style attack off of spread concepts and to be dynamic on offense. I think Thomas and Nixon will get it figured. No knock towards them, but if anyone was following me on the old Baylor Fans forum, when CMR was looking for an OC, the guy I liked a lot was Matt Canada. LSU beat us to the punch.

Nixon and Thomas will get it figured out, but if I were Rhule I'd probably promote Nixon to Assistant Head Coach and let Thomas run the offense. We might have one too many cooks in the kitchen, and from what I understand Nixon is the one calling the plays. It just seems to slow and hesitant and it seems like we can't figure out what we want to run against whatever defense. At times it seemed desperate just throwing the ball deep hoping someone would run up underneath it. Thomas at least has the experience and he has the experience with Rhule.
jdkingbear
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Some of you need perspective. Have any of you followed what Liberty did this last weekend? They won big. They had almost 600 yds of offense. Are they Oklahoma? Hell, no. But they are NOT a piss poor team. Did Baylor play poorly? Yes, they did. And Rhule's approach will be analyzed to death. I personally did not like the choice of Solomon as starter, but he brought him in for a reason and thought he could do the job. Solomon should have been pulled in the 2nd half, in my opinion, and we shall see if Zach can make a difference this week. The player quality is there but the depth and overall experience is not. That is not Rhule's fault. He got dealt a bad hand but recruited amazingly. He wants success now but knows the real achievement will be down the road. We are now used to winning seasons and bowl games and it might still happen this year. I am, like most, disappointed to be 0-2, but it is not the end of the world, especially if at the end of the season we end up having a winning record and Liberty and UTSA have great years. So, have some perspective. I have been following Baylor football since 1963, my freshman year. My first game we played U of Houston and beat them 27-0 and went on to go 8-3 and beat LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl. I have seen up and down years and have reveled in the Briles years, but that is all over and we start again with Rhule. In time we will know what we have. We don't know now, and I, for one, am willing to let it play out ... so there is some perspective on which to judge.
Krieg
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Rhule really seems to be following a formula. He wants the team to go through whatever this is, and says as much. He's starting a ton of freshman by choice. He did this at Temple.

Basically, he's throwing a season away on purpose to build whatever culture he keeps mentioning. To me that's unacceptable and grounds for termination. I'm guessing Rhoads and whoever else helped hire him knew this was coming. Our team wasn't bad, they just weren't going to be great. Now, they're terrible.
Wikstr9
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Agree. Not at $4m per year. His lack of in game adjustments is what's concerning.
Oso Pardo
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After listening to him, I remembered why I liked him so much before the season. I hope they can get things figured out and get the train back on the tracks. I still like the guy and I sincerely hope that he is successful here, and that he can do what he says he can. I'm willing to give him time, but we need to see improvements every week. Not just improvements from the players perspective, but also from the coaching calls and decisions, in game adjustments, game planning, etc.

Having said all of that, I am praying that they will find the magic combination this week and come out of the fight with a "W".
Michibear
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Dear Coach Rhule,

Beat Duke and I'll never say another negative thing about you on this forum.

Sincerely,
Michibear
Pale Rider
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Michibear said:

Dear Coach Rhule,

Beat Duke and I'll never say another negative thing about you on this forum.

Sincerely,
Michibear
But what if they lose this game and then beat Oklahoma?
Michibear
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Pale Rider said:

Michibear said:

Dear Coach Rhule,

Beat Duke and I'll never say another negative thing about you on this forum.

Sincerely,
Michibear
But what if they lose this game and then beat Oklahoma?

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