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Film Study: Zach Smith is Baylor’s Biggest Wildcard

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After Baylor benched former Arizona transfer Anu Solomon, following a dismal performance against UTSA, sophomore quarterback Zach Smith was thrown back into the starting spot. Smith was named starter for the last four games in 2016 after Seth Russell was injured. Despite throwing for over 1,200 yards and leading the Bears to a Cactus Bowl victory over Boise State, he also threw seven interceptions. Smith looks the same in 2017, and despite showing flashes of talent, still is a major question mark for the Bears.

Smith has the tendency of locking on certain receivers. Sometimes he gets away with it:

But sometimes he does not:

He’s shown deep-ball ability, though, and even though the offense has changed slightly under new head coach Matt Rhule, it’s still a large part of what they do:

There’s no question Smith has an arm. The former four-star recruit’s high school passing yards (10,217) and touchdowns (113) rank among the top 10 in Texas high school football history. He had an outstanding performance in the Bears’ conference opener against Oklahoma, in which he not only completed 67 percent of his passes but also threw for over 460 yards and four touchdowns. Yet in his first start against Duke, he threw three interceptions and only completed 35 percent of his passes. The sophomore has shown flashes of excellence but has overall been inconsistent.

The real question isn’t necessarily how Smith performs on Saturday. Rather, it’s how well OSU will allow him to perform. Against TCU, the Cowboys played rather conservatively, allowing Kenny Hill to pick apart the defense without having to throw the ball farther than 15 yards. Texas Tech was different, though, and the Cowboys used a pressure-heavy game plan to slow the Red Raiders’ offense. What will OSU do against Baylor? Will they dictate Smith’s performance or will Smith be able to replicate his masterful performance against the Sooners? If the Cowboys can rattle Smith, then they give themselves a good chance for a fifth win and a happy end for homecoming.

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