Baylor’s week two game against UTSA was easily one of the worst offensive performances in recent Bears history. The offense could barely get anything going, scoring a mere 10 points and accumulating only 274 yards. The next week, sophomore Zach Smith got the start against Duke. There was some offensive improvement, with the Bears scoring 20 points and gathering 320 yards against a better defense. Things seemed to be moving gradually upwards, with the glaring issue now being Zach Smith’s four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble). This last weekend, however, it seems like things might have finally clicked in the new system for Zach Smith.
Oklahoma might very well have the best defense in the Big 12 this year. In week one they held UTEP to 7 points, with their quarterback, Ryan Metz, only able to accumulate 56 yards with a completion percentage of 55.6% and a QB rating of 81.7. Week two saw the Sooners travel to Ohio State. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s quarterback, did not fair much better, posting 183 yards with a completion percentage of only 54.3% and a QB rating of 92.5. In week three, Oklahoma hosted Tulane. Their quarterback, Jonathan Brantley, was only able to accumulate 43 yards behind a completion percentage of 55.6% and a QB rating of 73.5. Needless to say, this Oklahoma team had made it a habit to shut down opposing quarterbacks.
Then, the Sooners faced Zach Smith and the Baylor Bears. Zach Smith blew all of these numbers out of the water. He was able to accumulate 483 yards, exactly 300 more yards than the next closest quarterback, J.T. Barrett. He did this behind a completion percentage of 66%, almost 11% higher than the next closest quarterback on the list. Finally, he had a QB rating of 170.2, making him the only quarterback so far this year to break 100 in that category against Oklahoma and he did it with a lot of room to spare.
So what does all that mean for Zach Smith and the Bears? Yes, it’s possible that Smith just played out of his mind for one game and will cool off. But I don’t think that seems very likely, given that Oklahoma is probably the best defense the Bears will face all year. That doesn’t seem like the team you have a one time career high against. I think this type of production will become more and more consistent for Smith as he plays worse defenses and becomes better accustomed to the new offensive system. A big benefit for Smith was that his wide receivers finally started to make some plays for him, with some good grabs and very few drops to speak of. If that chemistry can become more and more consistent, this team is not going to be anywhere close to 0 wins come the end of the season and Zach Smith could garner a lot of buzz coming out of his sophomore year.
What if, things are looking up for the Bears? I’d say they certainly are.