Lee overcomes early struggles, scores three TDs

Senior receiver Jay Lee breaks into stride during the Bears' game against the SMU Mustangs Friday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

Baylor wide receiver Jay Lee may not have gotten as much attention as other pass catchers on the team this offseason. That wasn’t the case Friday night at Gerald J. Ford stadium as Lee caught three passes for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

Lee caught his first touchdown pass from junior quarterback Seth Russell in the first quarter, putting the Bears up 21-14. Lee’s touchdown came at a critical point in the game where the unranked Mustangs were hanging in the balance with the heavily-favored No. 4 Bears.

After the quick start, Lee experienced a rusty spell by committing a false start and tipping a pass that resulted in an interception in the second quarter. It was debatable who deserved the blame for the miscue, but Russell took full responsibility for the interception. He admitted that the two weren’t on the same page.

“I just [went] up to him and asked him what happened … but I forced that ball. I probably should have just ate it and gone down,” Russell said about the interception.

Lee said he and the offense knew they needed to pick up the level of play after the first half. The offense focused on that during halftime, Lee said.

“We always talk about ‘one play at a time’ … and [we knew that we] had to come back after halftime and make big plays … and that’s what we did,” Lee said.

The regroup at the intermission seemed to work as Lee and Russell connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass, which completed an eight-play, 97 yard drive. Lee said he realized his prior mistakes and was able to fix them and make up for them.

“I had to make up for what happened in the second quarter,” Lee said. “The coaches believed in me and I believed in myself … so I had to go make some plays.”

Lee’s touchdown provided a spark for the Baylor offense as the Bears went on to score 28 unanswered points in the second half. Russell said the offensive players knew they could not complacent and had to come out firing in the second half.

Lee had spoken ahead of this game about his excitement of playing in front of friends and family. He certainly put on a spectacular display as he hauled in a career-high three touchdowns against SMU. His most outstanding grab came in the third quarter on a 41-yard touchdown reception.

Russell dropped back to pass and rushed his throw, while facing the blitz, which resulted in an under-thrown ball. Lee made a clever adjustment by coming back to the ball to make the reception over the defensive back following close behind him.

The focal points of Baylor’s passing attack on the night were junior receiver Corey Coleman and sophomore receiver K.D. Cannon. Lee was able to take advantage of the attention given to those players have by finding open space at pivotal moments throughout the game.

Lee is already halfway to his touchdown total from last season. Despite an impressive showing in the season opener, he said he needs to be better.

“Seth did a lot of good things and did a great job getting the ball around to the weapons,” Lee said. “Half of the incompletions are on me. I have to get back to work at practice.”