Baylor football season gets under way Tuesday – sort of. Matt Rhule will take the podium at Big 12 media day at The Star in Frisco, Texas, for the first time as head coach.
Rhule will address media at 11:15 a.m. CT on Tuesday morning. Baylor is also bringing linebacker Taylor Young, defensive ends K.J. Smith and Brian Nance and offensive lineman Blake Blackmar to address the conference media.
Here are some of the key storylines and questions to keep an eye on throughout the week.
What are expectations for the team?
Baylor had a tough season in 2016, but managed to make its seventh straight bowl game. That’s by far a program record. However, it’s unclear what to expect. The media picked Baylor seventh in the conference. The best case scenario could be eight or nine wins. It will be interesting to see where Rhule sets expectations in 2017.
Who is leading the quarterback battle?
Baylor added Arizona QB Anu Solomon as a grad transfer. That brings depth for a position group that featured only one returning scholarship quarterback. But considering Solomon has one year remaining, it calls Zach Smith’s starting job into question. Wide receiver Chris Platt said Solomon is “ready,” but Rhule might think differently.
How is the team’s mood after a tough season?
Especially after losing to Texas in 2016, the program’s mojo fell apart. After featuring one of the most fun and entertaining rosters in the nation, the Bears went through the motions for the last few games. Whether the players are open or defensive will be telling. They are in a tough spot, especially considering many could be grilled about the Baylor scandal.
Which players are emerging on the offensive line?
Baylor has talent over most of the field. The secondary is young, but should be pretty good. The front seven features several potential All-Big 12 picks. But for all that talent, the offensive line remains a question mark. Most of the starters are back, but All-Big 12 center Kyle Fuller is off to the NFL. Key backup Tanner Thrift also retired due to injuries. It’s unclear which direction the program will turn if it faces any adversity on the line.
Will there be renewed focus on defense?
Obviously, the previous coaching staff was one of the most offensively innovative in college football history. It will be a jarring change going from that to a Rhule, who led a defensive program at Temple. Already, there has been more focus on defense. Heck, consider the Bears are bringing three defensive players and an offensive lineman to media day. But, fans will need to watch how much time Rhule dedicates to talking defense during his presser.