Baylor coach Matt Rhule looked like a man who had a very sobering weekend during his weekly press conference on Monday.
No doubt, Duke’s 40-27 thumping of Baylor came as a surprise to the Bears, who were trying to post a perfect 3-0 nonconference slate.
Baylor began the season with victories over Abilene Christian and Texas-San Antonio, doubling its win total from 2017. However, the good vibes from wins over FCS and Group of 5 opponents quickly faded as the Blue Devils owned the first half in Waco on Saturday.
Rhule didn’t attempt to sugarcoat his feelings about the loss.
“I know I’m not proud of how we played,” Rhule said. “I’m certainly always proud of our players. I’m proud of our team. I’m not proud of the way we played. And I said after the game, that starts with me. Things that we’ve shown we can do and we do at a high level, we were not able to do on Saturday.”
Rhule said Baylor had some self-inflicted problems, like turnovers, failing to line up properly and taking pre-snap penalties.
But the Bears also gave up big plays as Duke scored on a 31-yard run and passes of 28 and 66 yards in the win.
Baylor has to solve all of those problems in a hurry with Big 12 play starting this weekend.
The Bears host Kansas on Saturday afternoon in a conference matchup that suddenly has a lot of intrigue.
Kansas rolls in with the momentum of a 55-14 victory over Rutgers. The Jayhawks (2-1) have had a regular spot at the bottom of the Big 12 standings in recent years, but they’ll be trying to climb over Baylor and boost their bowl chances on the trip to Central Texas.
Last weekend, Baylor gave up 14 points off turnovers while Kansas took the ball away from Rutgers six times, including a pair of interception returns for touchdowns.
Rhule said the best way to keep Kansas from creating more turnovers is to run the ball more successfully. The Bears rushed for 130 yards on 32 carries against Duke, which was below their season average and well below Rhule’s ideal.
“I’m concerned about it,” Rhule said. “We have to get better. There’re times where we run the ball and we’re getting 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 yards, just getting downhill on people. What’s really affecting us is people are moving and twisting and creating plays in the backfield.”