Baylor offense vs. UTSA defense
Making his first start for Baylor, Anu Solomon threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 97 on just six carries in last weekend’s loss to Liberty. Baylor coach Matt Rhule likes his versatility, especially with some inexperienced offensive linemen. UTSA returns seven defensive starters after allowing 392 yards and 27.9 points per game last season. But the Bears showed they can produce offensively with 45 points against Liberty.
Baylor defense vs. UTSA offense
The biggest eye opener in Baylor’s 48-45 season opening loss to Liberty was how poorly the defense played. The Bears allowed 585 total yards as Liberty quarterback Stephen Calvert passed for 447 yards and three scores. The Bears hope to put a lot more pressure on UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm, who passed for 2,170 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. The Roadrunners also have a talented running back in Jalen Rhodes, who rushed for 827 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The Bears expect to improve this week but UTSA will present some challenges.
Key matchup: Baylor running game vs. UTSA defensive line
Baylor’s running game is now in the hands of freshmen with John Lovett, walk-on Dru Dixon and Trestan Ebner. Terence Williams is expected to return in as little as two weeks following offseason shoulder surgery while JaMycal Hasty suffered a knee sprain last week that will keep him out at least four games. The Bears will have to deal with a physical UTSA defensive line led by preseason all-Conference USA end Marcus Davenport. Running the ball consistently could be difficult but the Bears should have success.
Baylor’s kicking game was solid against Liberty as Connor Martin nailed a 39-yard field goal and Drew Galitz averaged 40.8 yards on four punts. However, Galitz only hit just four of his eight kickoffs for touchbacks. Matt Guidry is a dangerous return man for UTSA after averaging 16.2 yards on four punt returns and 22.8 yards on 19 kickoff returns last season. Yannis Routsas averaged 42 yards on 69 punts while Victor Falcon hit 12 of 17 field goals last season.
The Baylor players are ready to redeem themselves after last week’s debacle against Liberty. They admitted they took the Flames lightly and weren’t focused for the game. UTSA will play its opener after the University of Houston requested to postpone last week’s game in San Antonio due to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Playing at home with more inspiration, the Bears should have a clear advantage.
— John Werner