WACO, Texas (KWTX) Matt Rhule has a lot to be excited about heading into his third season as the Baylor Bears' head coach.
From a 1-11 record in his first season, to a 7-6 record and a Texas Bowl victory over Vanderbilt in 2018, Baylor has injected confidence into its fan base once again.
Baylor being picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 indicates the college football world doesn't think the Bears will come home with a conference championship. It does, however, prove that they should be one of the better teams in the conference and become bowl eligible once again.
"If you walk in our building, there are 1-0 signs up," Rhule said. "Everything should feel different. I want to make sure that game week feels like game week. Camp is over now. Now is the time to put it on film for everyone to see. I expect us to prepare all week and then hopefully go play with confidence."
Not a lot of people around the country expect the Bears to finish above Texas, Oklahoma or even Iowa State, but is a Big 12 title too much of a pipe dream?
Of the 22 starting positions on the Baylor depth chart released Monday not including special teams, 14 seniors were listed. Rhule knows his team can no longer use the excuse of being inexperienced if they lose games.
On offense, the only uncertainty is the offensive line, outside of team captain Sam Tecklenburg, who will spend most of his time at the guard and center positions.
Connor Galvin (LT), Jake Fruhmorgen (C), Prince Pines (RG) and Blake Bedier (RT) are the other projected starters for the first game.
Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer will have plenty reliable targets at his disposal, including Chris Platt, Marques Jones and Denzel Mims, all of whom are seniors.
Brewer can run the ball when necessary, but the coaching staff would prefer JaMycal Hasty, Trestan Ebner or John Lovett to be big enough factors to take some pressure of moving the offense off Brewer's shoulders.
James Lynch, Bravvion Roy and James Lockhart are slated to lead Baylor's new permanent three-man front. The latter two are seniors, as are linebackers Clay Johnston, Blake Lynch and Henry Black.
In the secondary, Grayland Arnold moves over from cornerback to take over one of the safety positions alongside Chris Miller. Jameson Houston and Raleigh Texada will go up against opponents' top receivers.
Baylor will open the 2019 season Sat., August 31, at home against Stephen F. Austin. The Bears are 4-0 all-time against the Lumberjacks, who lost to Baylor 48-0 in 2011 at Floyd Casey Stadium.