Matt Rhule said Monday that if Baylor’s game against Texas had been that very day, Zach Smith would be his starting quarterback.
But the game, as we know, is Saturday. Coaches like to hedge, especially if they don’t want to tip a competitive hand to an opposing coach. Rhule also conceded that he’ll continue the quarterback competition through the week to see if true freshman Charlie Brewer, who nearly pulled off a late upset of West Virginia, should start against the Longhorns at McLane Stadium.
Rhule said the team “has a lot of confidence” in Smith, who quarterbacked the Bears to their most-recent victory, a triumph over Boise State last December in the Cactus Bowl.
“But the whole program is based on competition,” Rhule said, “so we’ll go out there and practice the next couple of days and see if Charlie can pick up where he left off and see if Zach can get into a rhythm for this week.”
This time a year ago, Brewer was in the midst of directing Lake Travis High to a UIL state championship. He didn’t see his first action in college until Sept. 30, when he directed a smattering of plays on the road against Kansas State.
The initial plan had been to redshirt Brewer, but Anu Solomon, who won the quarterback competition in the preseason, struggled early and then showed concussion-like symptoms after Baylor’s second game. He’s been in concussion protocol since then. Solomon suffered at least two concussions when he played for Arizona and before his transfer to Baylor.
Smith was hot in the second-half against Oklahoma, throwing for a career-high 436 yards, but he hasn’t replicated that success since. In a three-game span against Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, Smith completed 53 of 99 passes for 679 yards. He’s thrown one touchdown pass, two interceptions and has been sacked nine times.
Rhule said Smith was diagnosed with the stomach flu hours before Saturday’s kickoff against West Virginia. The Mountaineers sacked Smith five times, and Rhule decided to pull the ailing quarterback. The score was 38-13. By game’s end, it was 38-36.
“I thought Charlie’s performance was gutty,” Rhule said. “I thought it was tough. It’s kind of all these things we know about Charlie. He’s a competitive, fiery guy that really got out there, and really at the end of the day, the biggest thing was that he kept plays alive with his feet. I was proud of him.”
Maybe West Virginia’s defense simply relaxed when Brewer trotted onto the field. Freshman receiver Gavin Holmes said he wasn’t sure if the Mountaineers even noticed that Baylor had made a change.
Brewer gave Baylor more options than Smith, especially in the running game. The Bears switched to a three-back diamond formation with Brewer in the pistol. He rushed 10 times for 48 yards. And he completed eight passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
“Kid ran better than we thought,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said of Brewer. “He’s a good player. He’s going to be a really good player. You know, he’s won a lot of state championships around here. So we’re aware of him.
Brewer wasn’t happy after the game. The interview came moments after a West Virginia linebacker sacked him on a two-point try.
Losing also isn’t something he experienced much at Lake Travis, where he was 30-2 as a starter and led his team to a Class 6A, Division I state title.
Now, there’s the possibility of starting against UT, where his grandfather, Charlie, and his dad, Robert, were quarterbacks.
“I’d probably think you’re crazy if someone says they don’t want to start,” Brewer said. “Of course I do. That’s coach Rhule (making the decision), and I trust him 100 percent.”
The post Who’s Baylor’s starting quarterback? Bears must choose Smith or Brewer appeared first on Diehards.
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