Baylor’s offense elevated by backup QB Jarrett Stidham

While Seth Russell's injury seemed like a serious blow at the time, Stidham has risen to the challenge.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Baylor’s offense elevated by backup QB Jarrett Stidham

A season-ending neck injury to quarterback Seth Russell looked like it could derail Baylor’s promising season. Instead, freshman backup Jarrett Stidham has dispelled those concerns in his first three starts. Despite failing to beat Oklahoma in a shootout, Stidham led to his team to key wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Stidham’s overall grade has almost surpassed Russell’s, and he’s comfortably in the lead when considering passing grade alone.

Here’s how their numbers compare:

Player Passing grade Accuracy % Deep passing QB rating under pressure
Seth Russell +8.5 70.8 47.3%, 13 TDs, 2 INTs 60.9
Jarrett Stidham +17.5 81.0 57.1%, 7 TDs, 1 INT 98.2

Stidham has illustrated impressive passing skills in his three starts, leading Russell in every major category. He is significantly more accurate in general and down the field, already having thrown seven touchdowns on deep (20+ yard) targets. Stidham is also a lot more comfortable under pressure, where he has a 98.2 QB rating, having thrown a touchdown and no interceptions. He also holds a positive grade (+2.0) when disrupted in the pocket.

Russell, in contrast, has a 60.9 QB rating under pressure, having thrown three TDs and three picks. His grade is also significantly worse at -2.5.

Stidham isn’t the running threat of Russell (+10.2 grade), but his passing numbers far exceed those of his teammate. Not only has he been more effective going deep, but he’s also been incredibly accurate on intermediate passes, completing 13-of-14 attempts for 221 yards and three touchdowns.

Junior WR Corey Coleman appears a perfect complement to Stidham. He has caught 13-of-30 targets on downfield throws, for a catch rate of 43.3—tenth best in college football. In addition, Coleman has amassed 551 yards (fourth-most) and eight touchdowns on 20+ yards throws. Stidham couldn’t have really hoped for a better supporting cast. Baylor is ranked as our second overall offensive unit, with just one offensive starter recording a negative grade so far this year.

As well as Coleman, running back Shock Linwood (+16.9) provides playmaking ability. He has the second-highest elusive rating amongst running backs, having recorded 62 combined broken tackles and 3.78 yards after contact per rush. As for the offensive line, four of the five starters have grades of +9.6 or better.

Stidham really couldn’t have hoped for a better situation to fall into, but has done plenty himself in his three starts. Seth Russell’s injury appeared a crippling blow at the time, but Stidham’s performances have dispelled those concerns to some extent.

Unfortunately, Stidham’s status for Friday is currently deemed “highly questionable” after he suffered an injury against Oklahoma State. If he is cleared to play, can he lead the Bears to two more wins?

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

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