WACO, Texas (AP) — Before new Baylor coach Matt Rhule had consecutive 10-win seasons and won an American Athletic Conference title at Temple, there was a home loss to FCS team Fordham in his first season.
Soon after a loss to Liberty in his debut with the Big 12 Bears, Rhule got a text from his former Owls quarterback Phillip Walker, now a rookie on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad. The message read, "Remember a loss isn't a loss, it's a blessing."
"Those kids, after winning the championship, when we went to dinner, don't talk about winning the championship, they talk about losing to Fordham, and it was just a bunch of freshmen out there," Rhule said. "We were able to learn from the lessons of losing to Fordham. We were able to learn from the lessons of losing to Idaho."
The Bears certainly hope to learn from a loss to a team just starting the two-year transition from FCS to the FBS level.
Baylor (0-1), still with plenty of upperclassmen to go with quite a few freshmen, is home again Saturday night against a UTSA team eager to play.
The Roadrunners' scheduled opener last weekend at home against Houston was canceled because of Hurricane Harvey.
"Our team has a tremendous amount of energy built up and wants to play against another opponent," said coach Frank Wilson, who last year in his first season led UTSA to its first-ever bowl game.
Rhule has no plans to do what he did at Temple and just start playing a bunch of youngsters. But 11 true freshmen played in the opener and maybe five more could get in against the Roadrunners.
"We just have to play freshmen right now," Rhule said. "Not because we don't want to play with the older guys, but because of the injuries, and because of the lack of depth."
Sophomore receiver Pooh Stricklin called the opening 48-45 loss to Liberty a "major, major reality check" and said the team will have a different mindset against UTSA.