Saturday night in Waco, a star was born. Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was inserted in the fourth quarter, and the game completely turned around from there in a narrow 38-36 loss.
When Brewer was inserted, the Bears went on a 23-0 run to cut the lead to 38-36 against the No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers Brewer led three touchdown drives and a field goal drive down the stretch. It was a wildly impressive performance for a typically anemic offense.
Rhule said starting quarterback Zach Smith was sick. It shouldn’t make a difference. The offense has never looked as good as it did when Brewer took the field on Saturday. He should be the quarterback when Baylor takes the field against Texas.
Down 38-13 at the start of the fourth, Brewer threw a 52-yard touchdown to Trestan Ebner on his third play from scrimmage. After walk-on Jay Sedwick nailed an onsides kick, Brewer handed it off to Ebner for another 40-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 38-27.
The heroics weren’t over yet. Brewer led an impressive 13-play, 69-yard drive to set up a late field goal to make it a one-possession game. On his last drive, Brewer led the Bears on a 4-minute, 16-play, 86-yard drive. The last 16-play drive was probably in days of Mike Singletary.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a third party have such an effect on the game,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said in the postgame press conference. “Some of the things are unexplainable. I don’t know how to handle it.”
Unfortunately, Brewer was sacked on the two-point conversion, so the comeback came just short. Regardless, Brewer proved he deserves to be the starting quarterback of this football team heading forward.
When Brewer entered the game, everything changed on offense. The Bears posted a cool 6 yards on 0.3 yards per rush through three quarters. It jumped up to 121 yards on 6.4 yards per attempt in the fourth quarter.
Like Sam Ehlinger at Texas, adding the quarterback run completely changes the calculus in Waco. Suddenly, defenses have to account for another runner in the backfield, and dedicate those resources to spying him.
His ability to run was tremendous when it came to converting third and fourth down opportunities. The Bears converted four times on third or fourth down. On the other, Baylor kicked a field goal to bring the game within one possession. It was a significant part to holding the ball for 11:28 of the fourth quarter.
His passing was also better than expected right off the bat. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Bears. Even without the 52-yard touchdown to Ebner, it was an impressive showing.
This was the offense Matt Rhule envisioned when he inked Jeff Nixon and Glenn Thomas to be co-offensive coordinators. It was the offense he imagined when Rhule named Anu Solomon starting quarterback.
Now, he has an opportunity to run it, and develop a player who could star for three more seasons in the process. The Bears can’t mess it up.
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