Matt Rhule is confident no matter what quarterback he sends out to take the first snap against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Normal starter Charlie Brewer is in concussion protocol after exiting last week’s game against West Virginia early, but Jalen McClendon finished off the game by leading a few scoring drives as has seen time throughout the season.
“The other night when things weren't going well, he jumped in there and lead us,” Rhule said of McClendon. “He is smart, tough and competitive. His teammates respond to him and he has a big-time arm. It is just the way life works out when you’re not the starter. I know that he can do big-time things.”
Brewer threw for 22 yards, was sacked three times and threw three interceptions before being replaced by McClendon in the second quarter. The senior transfer threw for 183 yards in the 58-14 Thursday-night loss.
Rhule said every player is different when it comes to how long they spend in the protocol, and Brewer is progressing well, but there are some more tests he needs to pass before the doctors sign off. Dual-threat freshman Gerry Bohanan will be ready behind McClendon.
But this week is another huge huddle in the unpredictable Big 12 as the Cowboys come to Waco riding high after a win against Texas last Saturday in Stillwater. Oklahoma State has won 17 of the last 22 meetings against Baylor, including six of 10 at McLane Stadium.
After a players-only meeting on Friday night, the Bears have regrouped.
“We are ready to come back from that disappointing loss and a disappointing performance on Thursday night,” Rhule said. “We are going to focus on us and make sure we come out and play our best game and put out players in a position to be successful.”
Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius had a massive game in the win against the Longhorns, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns and running for another 23 yards and two scores.
He is the No. 3 offensive player in the Big 12 and the Cowboys have the No. 4 scoring offense in the league. The Bears, meanwhile, have the worst scoring defense in the conference, allowing 24.4 points per game.
"He's such a big, physical guy that sometimes you don't recognize how good of a runner he is,” Rhule said. “He's got a big-time arm. Anytime you have a quarterback that can run and is used in the run game, it eliminates one defender who now has to play the quarterback. It just adds a whole other level of preparation. He can definitely do it and he played really well on Saturday."
Baylor has had a problem the last two games getting to the quarterback. The only sack the Bears have in that span was called by after an offsides penalty.
"We haven't had that problem before, but we did it a couple times on Thursday night,” Rhule said. “(West Virginia) made it clear that they weren't going to let us get to the quarterback. We should have been able to cover the routes. Teams are now seeing that max protection is keeping us off of the quarterback and Oklahoma State is nothing different. We need to start winning in the secondary.”
If Baylor wants to make a bowl game, it needs to win two of the final four games.
The Bears travel to face Iowa State on Nov. 10, host TCU on Nov. 17 and face off with Texas Tech on Nov. 24 at AT&T Stadium.
“The thing that I've tried to get our guys to understand is, we're sitting here at 4-4, we've played three at the time top-10 teams and we haven't been able to get a win against them,” Rhule said. “Hopefully we recognize that we're battle-tested and we've played some good players. We've had some good moments and we've had some bad moments, so you build on the good moments and learn from the bad moments. We need to go out and play the way we're capable of.”