Despite Victory over SMU, Baylor still has Questions

 Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

If you win a game by 35 points, you normally don’t have much to complain about, that’s unless you are the Baylor Bears. Despite defeating the SMU Mustangs 56-21 to start the 2015 season, the Bears left Gerald J Ford Stadium with unanswered questions.

Will the defense be able to stop anyone?

Last season the Bears were ranked:

107th in total pass defense surrendering 264.2 yards per game

48th in scoring defense allowing 25.5 points per game

50th in total defense allowing 381.8 yards per game

I don’t care how you spin it those stats do not sound like that of a championship contender and after watching the defense have lapses against the lowly SMU offense, it seems to me that head coach Art Briles should have spent more time on the team defense then complaining about being left out of the inaugural College Football Playoffs in 2014.

Against a Mustangs team that did not score its first home touchdown until week seven last season it only took one play in 2015 to accomplish that feat and the Bears only had a seven point lead going into half — and it could have been closer if not for poor clock management by SMU quarterback Matt Davis.

Whatever Briles said in the second half worked as they only surrendered 114 yards and three of eight third conversions.

The Bears were without its two best defensive players in defensive end Shawn Oakman and free safety Orion Stewart, so that could have been part of the reason for the slow start, but if they plan on slowing down more potent offenses like TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. in conference play, they have to play better.

Will Seth Russell be able to improve his accuracy?

50% completion percentage no matter who you face is unacceptable and even though he passed for 376 yards and five touchdowns new Bears starting quarterback Seth Russell must be more accurate. Even in mop-up duty in 2014 Russell only completed 56% of his 85 attempts and as with the defensive woes against SMU, you can get away with that against inferior talent but the high quality opponents in conference play will make you pay.

Good thing for Russell he has two warm-up games against Lamar and Rice to improve before the conference opener against Texas Tech in Arlington, TX.

 

Everyone thinks that the Bears will make this years playoffs but if they don’t find answers to these two key questions Baylor-nation could once again be on the outside looking in when the playoff teams are chosen.

 

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