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Matt Rhule doesn't mind engaging in a military crawl with his players. He doesn't shy away from visiting with fans and alumni at speaking engagements.
Baylor will kick off the first of 15 spring practices on Saturday morning at the Allison Indoor Practice Facility. The initial drills under Rhule may resemble an NFL mini camp to a certain extent, as the coach said the team will don helmets for the first three practices, which will be "very instructional."
Baylor's new coaching staff is still getting to know the players, and vice versa. There are new schemes and ideas to implement, positions up for grabs. It figures to be an enlightening spring in many ways for the program, as they embark on a new era under a new head coach.
Here are five pressing Discount New York Jets Outlets and Jerseys on Sale questions facing Baylor football that should begin getting answered between now and the spring game on April 22 at McLane Stadium.
Who's the quarterback?
Sophomore Zach Smith enters the spring as the incumbent starter, and Rhule said on Thursday that Smith would be the No. 1 guy going into the spring based on his experience. Smith played in 10 games last year as a true freshman, starting the final four following a season ending injury to senior Seth Russell.
Smith displayed a powerful arm and showed flashes of brilliance, completing 59 percent of his passes for 1,526 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
But he'll likely be pushed by both Anu Solomon, a graduate transfer from Arizona who has 49 career touchdown tosses to his credit, and true freshman Charlie Brewer, one of the jewels of the Bears' signing class out of Lake Travis High School.
"Really, at that position, especially with what we're asking the quarterbacks to do in terms of protection, changing plays, early on it will probably be more mental," Rhule said. "But for me, quarterback battles, any time, once you know the guy is the starter, he's the starter. And he's the starter that day.
"Just look at the Dallas Cowboys. If someone starts playing better than you, this is a competition based program. The best player that day competes the next day."
What's the biggest hole on defense that needs filling?
Many of the leaders from last year's defense safety Orion Stewart, linebacker Aiavion Edwards and cornerback Ryan Reid have departed.
The starting defensive line remains mostly intact, and linebacker Taylor Young should compete to start for a fourth straight season. But safety appears to be the position most up in the air. Stewart and Patrick Levels have expired their eligibility, and nickelback Travon Blanchard is suspended from team activities pending the result of an investigation into a charge of violence against a woman. Smith) with 18 career starts.
What will the offense look like?
Baylor employed an up tempo spread attack under Art Briles, but Rhule has repeatedly made a point to note that he wants to prepare players for the NFL.
That doesn't mean the Bears will completely abandon the spread formation it is the predominant offense among Texas high school programs, after all but they'll incorporate multiple looks. There will be more pro style sets, more formations using two tight ends. Occasionally, you might even see a quarterback take a snap under center something that never happened under the previous regime.
"Offensively, even though I like to get under center and do all those things, I've lost out (to the other coaches) so far," said Rhule, chuckling. "We're doing kind of what those guys did in San Francisco, a mixture. It'll be kind of what we have (from a personnel standpoint)."
Jeff Nixon, a former assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, and Glenn Thomas, Rhule's former offensive coordinator at Temple, will serve as co offensive coordinators for the Bears. That's after the quick departure of Matt Lubick, who left for Washington less than two months after accepting the Baylor job.
Rhule expects to use multiple running backs, given returning talent Terence Williams and JaMychal Hasty and newcomers like early enrollee Abram Smith of Abilene.
The issue may be fostering depth in the offensive line. Baylor has just seven scholarship linemen entering the spring. "That's not enough," Rhule said.
How many new new england patriots shop guys will play?
Taking into account the depth problems on the offensive line, it will be imperative for some of the newcomers to play right away. Baylor signed six offensive linemen in Rhule's initial class in February. None are enrolled for the spring, but at least a few of them possibly 320 pound Khalil Keith of Alpine, Ala. should step into the playing time rotation by the 2017 season.
"It's easy to play as a freshman running back, sometimes as a freshman receiver," Rhule said. "But to play as a freshman corner, a freshman offensive lineman is really hard cognitively. We have to make sure we get those guys ahead, because we have to play some of the freshmen. That we know. So we're going to have to push them to get ready."