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5-Things: Next Man Up

With Seth Russell out for the rest of the year due to a neck injury suffered against Iowa State, it is Jarrett Stidham's time as the Baylor quarterback.

1. The dream might not be over, but it certainly is going to be taking a different path than most Baylor fans would have drawn up at the start of the season.  Seth Russell, the nation's leader in quarterback effeciency and off to an incredible start, is out for the year.  His neck injury will force him to have surgery with a 6-month rehabiliation ahead of him.  It is sobering news, to arguably the best team in Baylor's history.  This was going to be the year for the big breakout.  With Spencer Drango and Shawn Oakman surprisingly deciding to return for their senior campaigns, the Bears had as much returning talent to both the offensive and defensive lines as any other team in the country.  They returned 18 starters total, but had one big question to answer on offense.  How would Seth Russell do?  With Russell putting up record numbers, the Bears started to climb up the polls, rising to 2nd in the nation.  This was it.  This was the year that Baylor would fully break through. They would run the table and get into the national title picture, not as a sleeper that some analysts said to keep an eye on, but as a full blown giant.  

2. After Seth Russell took THAT hit on 3rd down near the Baylor endzone, something didn't look right to me.  He appeared shaken, something that had not been seen after any of the hits he had taken in his young career.  He wasn't woozy or dizzy, especially after what looked like a head-to-head collission.  He was shaking his head, not as to shake the cobwebs loose, but to get loose. He took a timeout, and with the Bears deciding to kick a field goal on a makeable 4th and 1, Seth Russell's 2015 was over.  

Jarrett Stidham would come into the game on the next possession and take over the Baylor offense. At the time, it was thought of as just a precaution, especially with an 18 point lead.  Originially, thoughts were of a concussion, and if Russell would be able to make it back for the Kansas State game in 12 days.  Then reports started to surface about a sprained neck.  Made sense, espeically after viewing the replay of the hit which resulted in Russell's neck being bent down violently.  

Shortly after the game though, the serious nature of Russell's injury came out.  He had suffered a fractured bone in his neck, and would see a specialist Monday.  Memories drifted back last year to Bryce Petty's broken back and him missing only 1 game.  Could Russell have a similar injury?  Experts of all sorts, real or imagined, came on every medium to tell us why Russell would be back shortly or be gone indefinitely.  Monday afternoon, the Baylor football team released the news that Russell's season was over, Jarrett Stidham would be the new starter, and that Chris Johnson would be moved back to quarterback.  

3. Baylor's new quarterback, true freshman Jarrett Stidham, was one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country last year.  The Stephenville, TX native was a 5-star on SCOUT last year, and the 33rd overall recruit in the nation.  He was an ELITE high school quarterback, and ranked 3rd overall in the 2015 class.  Stidham is the prototypical quarterback.  Good size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.  Very good arm strength and accuracy.  Above average athlete with good speed.  He grew up in the Art Briles offense at Stephenville, where Briles is still revered going back to his days leading the team.  He has everything you want in a quarterback, except experience at this level. 

Luckily for the Bears, the bye week comes at a perfect time between now and the Kansas State Thursday night game.  Art and Kendall Briles will have a full week to get Stidham ready, get him more reps with the top wide receivers and running backs to make sure that their timing is strong.  

4. Briles has had quite a it of success with freshmen quarterbacks.  He has had to start a freshman four times in his career.  Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum, Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence all started multiple games for Briles in their first year of college.  

Player Games Yards/game Comp % TDs Int. AY / A Rate Rushing Yards TDs
Kevin Kolb 13 240.85 61.1 25 6 9.3 153.8 346 7
Case Keenum 13 173.77 68.5 14 10 7.7 147.6 412 9
Robert Griffin III 12 174.25 59.9 15 3 8.4 142 843 13
Nick Florence 9 198.44 62 6 9 5.6 119.1 62 3
Average 11.75 197.17 62.875 15 7 7.75 140.625 415.75 8

As you can see, Briles has had quite a bit of success, however his offense looks quite a bit different than what any of those four quarterbacks played in.  The talent level will also be MUCH higher than any of those quarterback had surrounding them.  You can still expect big numbers from Stidham and the Bears offense, but the question will be how much of a dip will there be?  5%?  15%?  If Stidham can give Baylor the peformance of Kevin Kolb in the next 5 games, Stidham won't be the reason Baylor loses.  

5. Ranking the Big 12

  1. Baylor - With or without Russell, the Bears are still the best the Big 12 has to offer. 
  2. TCU - Still ahead of the Oklahoma schools, but trailing Bears. 
  3. Oklahoma - The Sooners are playing angry, and might have remembered how good Samaje Perine is. 
  4. Oklahoma State - With the weight of tradgedy on their shoulders, that was an impressive win over Kansas at homecoming. 
  5. West Virginia - Still winless in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have the top-3 teams all behind them. 
  6. Texas Tech - The Raiders have also lost to the top-3 teams, but have wins over Kansas and Iowa State.  
  7. Texas - Good victory at home over Kansas State.  With one upset, they could sneak into bowl eligibility. 
  8. Kansas State - Curious if this team would be much better with a healthy (and good) quarterback?
  9. Iowa State - A valient effort against Baylor, especially after trailing 35-0 in a blink of an eye. 
  10. Kansas - Destroyed again, this time on the road against Oklahoma State. 

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