Posted September 29, 2017 10:44 am - Updated September 29, 2017 12:06 pm

Know the foe: Baylor at Kansas State

In this file photograph, Kansas State running back Alex Barnes (34) scores past Baylor cornerback Grayland Arnold, right, and defensive end Tyrone Hunt (90), in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)

A new coaching staff came to Baylor to provide a fresh start for a program mired in scandal. Matt Rhule came from Temple to guide the program and has tried to put the Art Briles era in the past.

On the field, it was a rocky start for the Bears. They lost at home to Liberty and UTSA then fell to 0-3 with a loss at Duke. The next task was opening the Big 12 at national title contender Oklahoma, but the anticipated blow-out didn’t happen as the Bears took the Sooners to the wire before falling 49-41.

While the record shows the Bears are 0-4, they come to Kansas State on Saturday with a more optimistic outlook.

“The way they hung with OU, one of the top five teams in the nation, that opened a lot of eyes,” K-State tight end Dayton Valentine said. “We know this is going to be a tough game.”

Rhule was pleased with the progress but knows it’s only a starting point.

“I think our kids recognize that we still have to become a lot tougher as a football team, and toughness shows up in the fourth quarter,” Rhule said. “I’m definitely proud of the courage they showed, fighting back and their competitiveness, but at the same time we have to get better in a lot of areas. I think our kids get that.”

BEARS OFFENSE: Sophomore quarterback Zach Smith began the year as the back-up to Arizona transfer Anu Solomon, but Smith started the past two games and directs a dangerous passing attack.

“Two weeks ago he had some bright moments but was kind of up and down,” Rhule said. “This (past) week he showed leadership and execution. He played at a high level.

Smith was 33 of 50 for 463 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against Oklahoma.

“What kept us in the game is he made big plays without making bad decisions,” Rhule said of Smith, who threw three interceptions in his first career start last season in a loss to K-State. “The No. 1 job for us as a quarterback is to not turn the football over. That’s why Saturday was such a huge step.”

Wide receiver Denzel Mims had a breakout game against the Sooners with 11 receptions for 192 yards and three touchdowns, but the Bears lost receiver Chris Platt for the season to a knee injury.

Baylor averages 127.0 yards rushing led by John Lovett at 56.5 a game.

BEARS DEFENSE: The Bears also had a notable injury on this side of the ball last week with defensive end Xavier Jones sidelined by a broken bone in his leg.

It’s a big loss for a unit that ranks last in the Big 12 in total defense, giving up 503.8 yards, and No. 9 in scoring defense (37.0).

Middle linebacker Clay Johnston has a team-high 36 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss

“They play a variety of coverages so it will be big to read the coverages and know what we’re going against,” said K-State receiver Dalton Schoen.