Baylor will finally have its entire running back corps intact as JaMycal Hasty is expected to play after suffering a knee injury in the season opener.
Hasty will join Terence Williams, John Lovett and Dru Dixon in the backfield when the Bears face No. 14 Oklahoma State on Saturday in Stillwater.
“I’m excited about it,” said Baylor coach Matt Rhule. “The toughest thing will be deciding who will carry the football. We’ll go with the hot hand once we get into the game. We’ve had some of our young backs who have gotten a lot of carries and have proven they can perform in games.”
Though Lovett has rushed for a team-high 321 yards and three touchdowns, the Bears have struggled on the ground as they rank ninth in the Big 12 with 118.4 yards rushing per game.
In his two games since returning from offseason shoulder surgery, Williams has rushed for just 53 yards on 22 carries. Despite speculation that Williams had been dismissed from the team last week, Rhule said the junior met with the team’s leadership council, which agreed to give him a second chance.
During an 0-5 start, Baylor’s offensive line has been overmatched due to its lack of experience and depth issues, and got thinner last week when Rhule announced guard Ishmael Wilson is no longer with the team. He had been replaced at left guard by freshman Xavier Newman in the last two games.
Rhule said tight end Rob Saulin is expected to miss the rest of the season following shoulder surgery. But he said there’s a chance tight end Ish Wainright could return against the Cowboys after missing the last three games due to illness.
The Bears spent their bye week practicing fundamentals and becoming a tougher football team.
“We worked on some individual skills and blocking and tackling,” Rhule said. “We’ve got to get a lot tougher running the ball and stopping the run. One of our main issues is missing tackles and getting hurt on long runs.”
With Drew Galitz going down with a season-ending knee injury on the opening kickoff in a 33-20 loss to Kansas State on Sept. 30, kicker Connor Martin will handle punting and kickoff duties.
Galitz is the second-leading punter in the Big 12 with a 45.2-yard average, but Martin performed well following his injury as he punted three times for a 42-yard average against Kansas State.
The Bears will face an Oklahoma State offense that is tied for the Big 12 lead with Texas Tech with 46.8 points per game. The Cowboys also rank second in total offense with a 583.4-yard average while leading the conference with 399.2 yards passing per game.
Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country as he’s passed for 1,909 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in the Cowboys’ 4-1 start. James Washington is one of the Big 12’s top receivers with 28 catches for 647 yards and five touchdowns.
“Oklahoma State has great players, a great quarterback and a great offensive scheme,” Rhule said. “There is no better deep receiving corps in the country. It definitely won’t be easy but we’re going to have to find ways to get some pressure on the quarterback and stop the run.”
Rhule said quarterback Anu Solomon is still undergoing concussion protocol that has forced him to miss the last three games. Zach Smith will remain Baylor’s starting quarterback and Charlie Brewer will be the backup.
BEAR FACTS – The Oct. 21 Baylor-West Virginia game at McLane Stadium will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised on either FS1 or FS2.