After a wild Friday night game, Baylor can put one win safely in the books. The game did not go quite to plan for the Bears and at the half Art Briles’ team was holding on to a 7 point lead. After scoring 28 points in the first quarter, the Baylor offense fizzled in the second quarter. SMU took advantage, scoring their third touchdown, bringing the score to 28-21. Looking to tie it up with just over two minutes left in the half, SMU drove down to the Baylor 3 yard line. Fortunately for the Bears, a timely sack and clock management miscues by the Mustangs led to end the half and zero points. In the second half, the Baylor offense returned to form scoring 28 unanswered points. While the defense finally seemed to get into a rhythm and kept SMU in check with a much improved performance to close out the game for a 56-21 Baylor victory.
What to take away from Baylor’s performance:
- Art Briles’ run of developing great quarterbacks continues. Seth Russell looked impressive in only his second game as a starter. His only other start being against opponent, Northwestern State, early last season. With his first two passes, both caught by WR Corey Coleman, Russell had already surpassed 100 yards passing. He finished the night 15 of 30 for 376 yards passing, for 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. On top of his aerial performance, Russell added 38 rushing yards for 1 touchdown on just 6 carries. While a .500 completion percentage is not great, it’s a start. With 11 more games to go, Russell has some room for improvement. The backup QB, true freshmen Jarrett Stidham, did make an appearance late in the game for his Baylor debut. Stidham scored a TD on his first throw as a Bear, a 42 yard pass to WR Chris Platt, and finished the night 2 of 2 for 47 yards.
- Offensive penalties kill drives. As impressive as the Baylor’s offensive performance was at times, they have some work to do. On the first possession of the second Quarter, a 23 yard completion was brought back on a 5 yard ineligible receiver penalty which led to a punt. On first down of Baylor’s next possession, a 5 yard false start penalty put them in an early hole. A second false start on third down made it 3rd and 15. Forced to make a long pass and facing pressure, Russell threw his only interception of the game. In all, the Bears offense committed 11 penalties for 80 yards. For comparison, the defense had only 2 penalties for 25 yards. If the Bears want to compete for a national championship, they’ll need to get the penalty issue addressed and do it before they meet Texas Tech on Oct. 2nd.
- Running quarterbacks are a concern. The strength of the Bears is supposed to be in it run defense. However, it was hard to tell at times as the additional run threat provided by SMU’s Quarterback, Matt Davis, had Baylor on its heels in the first half. Davis gashed the Bears for 74 rushing yards that included runs of 13, 13, 18 and 24. It should be noted that Baylor was without starting defensive end Shawn Oakman for the game. Oakman was suspended 1 game for a violation of team rules and his absence was noticeable. The Bears will need to do a better job of defending against running quarterbacks, because the Big 12 is packed with talented dual threat QBs, like as TCU’s Trevone Boykin. Second half adjustments did blunt the SMU offense, but questions will remain about how well Baylor will handle the duel-threat QB until at least the start of conference play.