Notes from the Opponent: The Baylor Lariat

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Baylor Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan spoke to DJ Ramirez, sports editor of The Baylor Lariat.

The Daily Texan: What were the emotions and attitude of the team like after the heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma?

DJ Ramirez: Honestly, it was something that they needed to face, you know. None of their wins have been pretty. To finally have (a tough loss) I think will probably do them some good. It's just the way that it's been turned around. I think they're going to respond pretty well, especially with it being Senior Day. … They're going to want to bounce back and they're going to want to fight, and I think the way they're working on things this week, just based off of interviews and the way that they carry themselves, I think they're just very much focused on (the fact that) this is the last home game of the season. This is Texas. This is probably the second biggest game aside from that Oklahoma game.

DT: The way that (Baylor has) been able to pull out all these wins and close games, what do you think is different about this team this year that's allowed them to have that winning mentality down the stretch?

DR: A lot of the guys that are on the field now were sophomores (or) freshmen that first year that (head) coach (Matt) Rhule got here when they won one game. And so I think they just want it really badly. They all talk about it throughout the course of the season. It's a fourth quarter team, and obviously the defense has stepped up quite a bit from the past couple of years … they're playing at a whole different level. To hold Oklahoma to 10 points in the first half is just crazy. … I think that it's just that mentality of, “You’ve got to get back up and you’ve got to get back out there because we've been a 1–11 team before.” So I think that the way that they've been competing … they don't want to be where they were in 2017. 

DT: So looking at last year's game, Texas came out and and had one of their better defensive performances of conference play. How has (Baylor junior quarterback) Charlie Brewer changed this year and how has he matured as a quarterback?

DR: I think his passing has gotten a whole lot better. And it's strange to think of him as an (elite) passing quarterback because Charlie Brewer can run like no one else I've seen. … I just think (he’s) older now. He's learned from his past two years here. … And he's not a very talkative guy. He's in the mindset that he just wants to get his business done. But yeah, I think his passing has gotten quite a bit better, especially with having such a wide variety of wide receivers to throw to. It's not just (senior receiver) Denzel Mims anymore. 

DT: So just the fact that Matt Rhule has has been able to turn this from a 1–11 team to a potential Big 12 Championship team in just a couple years is pretty amazing. What do you think has been the key in him being able to have such a quick turnaround?

DR: We actually just wrote a story on the last decade of Baylor's athletics and how that's unfolded. And what Matt Rhule brought to the table, you know, he had a lot of successes at Temple in such a short amount of time as well. … And he's really taken a lot of steps to bring all of his players together. Every day … he will see each of his players at some point in the day and talk to them about things that’s not even just football.”