It’s unknown whether Charlie Brewer has visited one of Waco’s escape room establishments. Given the Baylor quarterback’s busy academic and football schedule, it’s doubtful that he has.
Good thing for those businesses. One figures that Brewer would pull a magic trick and wiggle free of the room’s constraints in a matter of seconds.
This season has provided ample learning opportunities for Brewer, who has thrown for 1,261 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions as a true freshman. Yet he never needed any dance lessons. Brewer is blessed with the art of escapability.
“I think his legs had people play him a little differently,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “I think his offensive line has gotten better week by week in terms of protection. He’s been able to keep some drives alive by stepping up and scrambling for a first down, but also kind of stepping up and finding a back. Those things have helped us.”
On more than a few occasions, Brewer has had to run for his life, as he’s been sacked for 101 yards in losses. But the freshman out of Lake Travis also uses his legs as a weapon, whether it’s on a designed roll-out pass, a called run, or — perhaps most effectively — on an impromptu scamper when the opposing defensive backs have his receivers blanketed.
Brewer has run for 10 first downs this season. He’s like a breakfast-menu egg — often best when scrambled.
Asked if elusiveness has always been a part of his game, Brewer said, “I think so. Just trying to create something.”
At Lake Travis, Brewer set all manner of records while leading the Cavaliers to a 30-2 record and a pair of state championship game appearances in his final two years. The accurate touch that he put on his passes is what made him a top-level recruit and what first popped off the screen at Rhule when he watched tape, but Brewer’s ability to move around and make plays with his feet, to dodge trouble, was routinely evident.
Brewer ran for 1,455 yards over his three years at Lake Travis, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
In Baylor’s 23-13 loss to Iowa State last Saturday, Brewer found himself running to daylight more often than against other teams, simply because the Cyclones were dropping eight into coverage.
“We knew coming in that they’re going to drop eight,” Brewer said. “I was asked to move around a little bit and see if we can find some windows here and there. And sometimes we did, but not enough.”
On a handful of his runs against the Cyclones, Brewer managed to pick up a few yards before sliding to safety. That’s not something he had to do much of in high school, but Baylor’s coaches have encouraged him to get what he can before removing himself from harm’s way, as harm comes hard and fast in college football.
“I slid a few times. I’m not really sure (if it’s not in my nature),” Brewer said. “It’s just something to work on.”
As expected with any freshman, Brewer has ridden an emotional elevator, experiencing his share of ups and downs. He continues to show the passing accuracy that made him a prized recruit, hitting 68.6 percent of his tosses. Yet he has also been bitten by the turnover bug more often than he was in high school, throwing a costly interception against Iowa State when he admittedly should have checked down to an underneath receiver.
Brewer has one more game to play this season, one more on-field classroom in which to learn. TCU should provide him with one of his most challenging lessons to date on Friday.
But at least if trouble arrives, Brewer has shown the ability to escape.
“I thought he did a nice job with his feet (against Iowa State),” Brewer said. “I thought he did a nice job keeping the chains moving, getting the ball to JaMycal (Hasty) and those guys. For a young player, I think he’s continuing to develop and play better and better.”