Baylor-SMU grades: Both QBs stand out

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Friday's Baylor-SMU game.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Baylor-SMU grades: Both QBs stand out

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Friday’s SMU-Baylor game:

SMU Mustangs

–A major reason for SMU’s ability to stay with Baylor in the first half was their quarterback Matt Davis (+0.5). A couple of ugly downfield passes held back his passing grade, but breaking 10 tackles (+3.8 rushing grade) on the ground (four on scrambles) helped power the Mustangs offense and keep them close to Baylor for far longer than many expected.

–The SMU defense struggled to stay with Baylor, but it was defensive end Robert Seals (+2.4) who put in the best performance for the Mustangs defense. Some strong work late in the game against the run included a pair of stops, as he capitalized on the change in personnel on the Baylor offensive line to be the most disruptive force on SMU’s defense all game long.

–Though he only caught three passes, the magnitude of the plays made by WR Courtland Sutton (+1.1) certainly grabbed our attention. Sutton converted both of his deep catches (five targets) into touchdowns, first tearing past CB Xavien Howard (0.0) on SMU’s first play from scrimmage, before bringing SMU back within a score with nine minutes left in the second quarter, breaking out of a tackle by safety Terrell Burt (0.0). That was as close as SMU got for the rest of the game.

Top performers:

DE Robert Seals (+2.4)

WR Darius Joseph (+1.3)

WR Courtland Sutton (+1.1)

QB Matt Davis (+0.5)

CB Jesse Montgomery (+0.5)

Baylor Bears

–Junior quarterback Seth Russell (+4.8) proved last night that the Baylor Bears are ready to continue their lineage of fine quarterback play, posing a threat both through the air and on the ground. A lack of pressure by the SMU defense (Russell was only pressured on 7 of his 32 dropbacks) helped ease Russell into the starting lineup, and his receivers played their part, too, as they racked up 182 yards after the catch.

–Defensive tackle Andrew Billings (+4.1) was our second-highest-graded interior defender in the Big 12 last season (behind Patriots draft pick Malcom Brown), and he served notice of his intent to take over as the conference’s top defensive lineman in 2015. Grading positively against both the run and pass, Billings was simply too much for the SMU offensive line, and his grade and performance would have been even better but for a pair of missed tackles.

–Repeating a hot start against the Mustangs was defensive end Jamal Palmer (+5.5) who got off to a strong start last season (+3.8) before suffering a torn ACL against Texas. He made a strong return last night, recording seven pressures (1 sack, 6 hurries) to top his season high from a year ago of six set against Iowa State. With Palmer and Shawn Oakman returning from injury and suspension, respectively, to pair with Andrew Billings on the inside, the Bears boast one of the strongest defensive lines in the entire NCAA.

Top performers:

DE Jamal Parker (+5.5)

LT Spencer Drango (+5.1)

QB Seth Russell (+4.8)

ID Andrew Billings (+4.1)

RB Devin Chafin (+2.2)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

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