Russell earns two awards

Junior quarterback Seth Russell dodged West Virginia University's defense and ran the ball during the home game on Saturday at McLane Stadium. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

Baylor junior quarterback Seth Russell earned the Big 12’s offensive player of the week award for his tremendous effort this past weekend against West Virginia. It is the second time Russell has won the award, his first coming last season for his start against Northwestern State. Russell also secured the Walter Camp offensive player of the week as well, marking the fourth time a Baylor quarterback has won the award since 2004.

Russell had a historic game Saturday afternoon against the Mountaineers, becoming just the second player in school history to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards. The only other player in Baylor history to accomplish that feat is Robert Griffin III, who did it in 2011.

Russell’s 540 yards were the third most in school history as well, the most since Nick Florence recorded 575 yards in 2012.

“We hadn’t been running him much, but he has that ability, and that’s an X factor we haven’t had for a couple or three years,” said head coach Art Briles.

Russell’s ability to run the ball is an aspect of the offense Briles certainly has not had since Griffin in 2011. While Florence could scramble if need be, Russell possess top end speed for a quarterback. While Russell is definitely not as fast as Griffin, he’s arguably just as elusive in the open field.

“If they bring seven, you leave one free rusher. So, that’s who we were reading. I pull it, and then I’m one-on-one with the safety, basically. We had a good game plan drawn up, and we executed it,” said Russell of Baylor’s read option game plan against the Mountaineers.

Russell ended the game rushing for 160 yards and a score but he was also dominant through the air. The Garland native tossed for 380 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes.

Russell has been a very effective passer in 2015, as he leads the nation in passer efficiency (210.0) and passing touchdowns (27) while ranking 15th nationally with 1,907 yards.

While much was made about Russell stepping in for Bryce Petty coming into the season, Russell has quieted the doubters. Russell was placed on the Manning Award watch list after he earned spots on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose award.

“With an athletic quarterback like Seth, he can run for 50 yards and score. You can’t do some of the stuff you like to if you just have a straight passing quarterback,” said receiver Corey Coleman.

Russell’s duel threat ability will be key to continuing the dominance of the Baylor offense. The Bears rank first nationally in both points per game as well as total yards per game. With the Bears facing arguably the toughest six game stretch in the country starting this weekend, Russell will have to continue to put up high profile numbers if the Bears hope to make the college football playoff.

Russell’s play has firmly cemented him among the nation’s elite, with many experts placing him on their midseason Heisman ballots. Russell has been so good in fact that even Briles has a hard time critiquing his performance.

“He’s really playing well for us, and that’s the most encouraging thing. We’re getting to know him better, and he’s getting to know us better. I’m having a hard time finding faults. He’s pretty complete,” said Briles.

If Russell keeps playing at the level he has been, the nation will be getting to know Seth Russell better as well.