Brewer will keep UT defense on its toes
Horns well aware QB has given Bears’ attack a pick-me-up
AUSTIN — Texas freshman safety Caden Sterns has nothing but miserable memories of Charlie Brewer.
Before he was slinging it for Baylor, Brewer was an all-state quarterback at Austin Lake Travis. Cibolo Steele’s defense, led by Sterns, was hopeless against Brewer when they squared off in 2016, losing 59-56 to the eventual state champion Cavaliers.
“In high school, I don’t think he threw an incompletion against us,” Sterns said. “He destroyed us.”
Sterns was a bit hyperbolic in his recollection — but only a bit.
Brewer completed 25 of 33 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns in the Cavaliers’ win and connected on all 14 pass attempts in the first half.
While ninth-ranked Texas (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) has regained its national standing after reeling off five straight wins, including a 48-45 win over previously unbeaten Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, Baylor (4-2, 2-1) and Brewer have flown under the radar.
This is not the same abysmal Bears team that sputtered to a 1-11 record in 2017.
Baylor owns wins over Kansas and Kansas State and its offense has averaged 499.5 yards per game to rank 15th in the nation. In a 66-33 loss to Oklahoma, Brewer chucked the ball 60 times, completing 38 passes for 400 yards and accounting for three touchdowns in a game Baylor kept close until OU pulled away late in the third quarter.
Texas has won three straight over its counterpart from Waco and will be favored against Baylor on Saturday at Royal-Memorial Stadium. But UT coach Tom Herman won’t allow the Longhorns to enter the game overconfident.
“I don't think we're at a place right now where you can say winning is expected, and I think that's OK,” Herman said. “I think winning right now is the fruit of the labor of the week of preparation, and it should be celebrated immensely, you know, whether you're beating Tulsa or Oklahoma, it doesn't matter.”
Sterns and the Longhorns’ defense will have their hands full against Baylor. Receivers Jalen Hurd and Denzel Mims have combined for 999 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and the Hurd also has rushed for 99 yards and two scores.
Baylor running backs JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett have each averaged more than 5.3 yards per attempt, and Brewer has utilized his legs to score a team-high four rushing touchdowns.
“He has a chance to be special,” Herman said of Brewer. “They've opened up the offense a little bit more, that's undeniable. That's a credit to their coaching staff, too, for recognizing the personnel that they have and the fact that they've got a really, really, really, really good quarterback.”
A team like Baylor illustrates how grueling the Big 12 slate can be for any defense, even one with as much talent as UT’s. Texas did an acceptable job of holding Oklahoma’s offense in check through three quarters, but whether due to complacency or a diminished urgency or poor play- calling, the Longhorns faltered in the fourth quarter, surrendering three touchdowns over the final nine minutes.
Baylor isn’t Oklahoma, but Texas can’t afford to fall asleep against an offense capable of putting seven points on the board in a blink.
Even after Texas limited Brewer to 181 yards in its 38-7 rout last year, the players understand there’s little room for error. Not that Herman would let any hubris creep in.
“The cool thing is we're still at a point in our program where, I mean, it's an impossibility almost that we would have any kind of letting off of the gas or arrogance or think we're going to roll our helmets out and think we're going to win football games,” Herman said. “Because have you seen the last four years?”
This season has proved a pleasant divergence from year’s past, and Texas can continue to solidify its standing as one of the top teams in the nation by downing Brewer and Baylor and extending its winning streak to six games.
Quarterback Charlie Brewer, who threw 60 passes in Baylor’s loss to Oklahoma, spearheads a Bears offensive attack that averages 499.5 yards per game this season.