After a dismal start to the season for Baylor, nobody really gave the bears a shot to beat Duke on the road. Starting quarterback, Anu Soloman, was ruled out with a concussion, meaning sophomore Zach Smith would get the start. Trying to knock off some rust, Smith showed a lot of good signs, but also made some costly mistakes down the stretch. Although the bears couldn’t ultimately pull out the win, they came out swinging and made this game surprisingly competitive, despite an ugly stat line.
Baylor struck first blood after Denzel Mims got loose for a 44-yard touchdown reception. Duke quickly answered with a touchdown of their own when Shaun Wilson scampered for a 50-yard touchdown. Duke kept it rolling to take a 21-7 lead before Baylor answered with a Chris Platt 73-yard touchdown to make it a seven-point game. Duke added a field goal before Platt struck again when broke a bubble screen loose for a 79-yard touchdown. After a missed PAT, Duke led 24-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth however, Zach Smith threw a costly pick six that put Baylor down 11. Duke added a field goal late to extend the lead to 14 and Baylor was finished. After a back and fourth game through three quarters, Duke pulled away in the fourth to seal a 34-20 win over the bears.
The Baylor defense gave a valiant effort and they were able to force two turnovers. The Bears actually did a fine job containing Duke’s dynamic quarterback—Daniel Jones—throughout the game. Jones went 20 of 35 for 184 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Clay Johnston and Bravvion Roy led the Baylor defensive attack combining for 21 tackles. The defense gave the offense a chance to win, but too many costly offensive mistakes in key moments cost the bears late.
Zach Smith went 12 of 34 for 263 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. Smith’s success through the air was thanks in large part to Chris Platt. Platt is the best player on the Baylor offense and is emerging as one of the best receivers in the Big 12. The running game struggled to get off the ground as the bears only managed to gain 57 rushing yards.
|3rd Down Eff||1-12||4-18|
|4th Down Eff||0-3||2-2|
|Yards Per Pass||7.7||5.3|
|Yards Per Rush||2.1||4.8|
|BAY – Z. Smith||12/34||263||7.7||3||3||8.4|
|DUKE – D. Jones||20/35||184||5.3||0||1||20.8|
|BAY – D. Dixon||9||28||3.1||0||17|
|DUKE – S. Wilson||18||176||9.8||2||65|
|BAY – C. Platt||4||148||37.0||2||79|
|DUKE – B. Brown||4||71||17.8||0||40|
Emptying the Notebook
Matt Rhule is trying a variety of tactics to get his team clicking. In pregame warmups, he had his team fired up by doing the vicious Oklahoma Drill. The players seemed to respond well to Rhule’s challenge and the Baylor defense turned in their most physical performance of the year thus far.
Junior, Chris Platt continues to impress early on in the season. He had four receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Whenever he touches the ball, he has a chance to score. Looking ahead to conference play, If Baylor wants to score with Big 12 offenses they will have to make sure Platt touches the ball at least ten times a game.
At 8.4, Zach Smith may have put up the worst QBR we have ever seen from a starting quarterback who played the whole game. He completed just 35 percent of his passes, and throwing three interceptions didn’t help.
Assuming Anu Solomon gets cleared from concussion protocol next week, it will be interesting to see who gets the start next week against Oklahoma. Either way, Baylor will probably get spanked by the Sooners and it would be safe to assume both quarterbacks will see the field in some capacity.
Baylor showed some good fight against the Blue Devils. In a game they had no business winning, Baylor continued to answer whenever Duke scored. Baylor was able to make it a four point game in the fourth quarter against a very respectable Duke team. If Baylor can continue to improve week by week, they may have a chance to string out a few wins in conference play.