Rhule says he’ll always protect his players

October 2, 2018

For the first time in his coaching career, Baylor’s Matt Rhule was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the Bears’ 66-33 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday afternoon.

Rhule argued with officials after Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Kelly laid a ferocious but legal hit to the back of Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer late in the game. Brewer got up slowly but continued to play.

On Monday, Rhule wanted to make sure everyone understands that he was simply protecting his player when he was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“Charlie walked off the field, and he said, ‘Coach, thank you, that means a lot,’” Rhule said. “And you know, he shouldn’t have to feel that way. But sometimes in life, enough is enough, and you have to stand up for your players. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

With his father and son on the sidelines, Rhule wasn’t pleased that they saw him get an unsportsmanlike conduct call.

“My son asked me afterward, ‘Dad, how come you got a penalty?’” Rhule said. “He’s never seen that from me before. And I explained it to him: It’s called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. And I’ll just say this, I’m not unsportsmanlike. I got that penalty because I thought it was time to stand up for our players.”

Rhule said he respects referees and the job that they do. He said it’s out of character for him to complain about a call.

“I don’t complain about officiating,” Rhule said. “We played Duke, and not a penalty was thrown on the other team. I didn’t say a word about that. I respect the officials so much because we’re allowed to play this game – those guys, they have other jobs and other lives, and they allow us to play this game. They’re good men. But I have to defend our players, especially when it comes to like physically.”

Rhule said he saw other penalties that weren’t called against the Sooners.

“During that game, there were two touchdowns where the tackle false-started,” Rhule said. “I didn’t say a word about that. There were probably three touchdowns that should have been called back. I don’t care about that. Officials have a job to do, and they’ve got to work their tails off.

“But when we go play Kansas, and Charlie (Brewer) runs a quarterback sneak and he gets face-masked…” Rhule said. “When they’re overturning a targeting. When we’re getting shoved into the bench, when Charlie’s getting shoved out of bounds and falls down. When (Trestan) Ebner gets his facemask pulled, someone’s got to stand up. If I have to take 15, if that puts us in a bad position, so be it. But I want to protect the players.”

Kelly’s hit was among many Brewer took from an Oklahoma defense that sacked him six times for 41 yards and also recorded seven quarterback hits. Brewer withstood the blows to hit 38 of 60 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns.

Rhule admired Brewer for the courage he showed as he kept getting back up to lead the team.

“Finding guys that love to compete so much that they want to play, and they’re not worried about anything else but playing, that’s really, really important to me,” Rhule said. “I thought Charlie was a tremendous example of that. He just wanted to keep playing, and he knew he was taking hits, he knew he was getting beat up. But he was also moving the team, he was also throwing for a lot of yards, he was also competing.”

Despite the punishment he took, Brewer told Rhule he felt OK when he came to his office on Sunday.

“He came into my office yesterday, and I said, ‘How are you feeling?’” Rhule said. “He said, ‘pretty good.’ I said, ‘How did you feel when you woke up?’ He said, ‘Well, I felt like I slept for two days.’ I’m sure he’s sore, banged-up, but I also know he’ll be ready to go.”

Rhule said Baylor’s offensive line still needs much improvement heading into Saturday’s game against Kansas State at McLane Stadium.

While center Sam Tecklenberg, right guard Blake Blackmar and right tackle Patrick Lawrence have started all five games for the Bears this season, left tackle Jake Fruhmorgen made his second start and left guard Johncarlo Valentin made his first start after Xavier Newman went down with an ankle injury.

“Johncarlo’s first start, he has to get a lot better, he knows that,” Rhule said. “And Fruhmorgen’s second start, he’s got to get a lot better. I thought Pat and Blake and Teck were good. I thought at times, the run game was coming along.”

The Bears finished with just 77 yards rushing, but that number was lowered due in large part to the sacks against Brewer. JaMycal Hasty led the Bears with 10 rushes for 43 yards while John Lovett collected 36 yards on nine carries.

Rhule said Lovett is undergoing concussion protocol this week after a head injury in the second half against the Sooners. Lovett’s status is day to day and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready to play against Kansas State.

Rhule said George DeLeone has returned to assisting the Baylor coaching staff on the field following a hip injury. DeLeone was Baylor’s offensive coach until Shawn Bell took over this year.

BEAR FACTS – The Baylor-Texas game on Oct. 13 in Austin has been set for 2:30 p.m. on ABC. It will mark the fifth straight week that Baylor will play at 2:30 p.m.