WACO — Seth Russell can certainly throw the ball in fifth-ranked Baylor's big-play offense. There are plenty of talented receivers to catch it, and running backs with the potential for explosive runs.
The offensive numbers are again impressive for the Bears (2-0), the nation's most-productive offense the past two seasons with former quarterback Bryce Petty.
After 723 total yards in its opener, Baylor followed with a 785-yard effort — the second-best in school history — that included three 100-yard rushers and two 100-yard receivers. The Bears' 754-yard average tops FBS, with fellow Big 12 team Texas Tech second at 643 yards.
Still, the playoff-hopeful Bears are work in progress with their new quarterback.
"When he was good, he was really good. When he was bad, he was bad," coach Art Briles said after a 66-31 victory over Lamar on Saturday night. "He understands that, he knows that, he knows the expectations of that position. ... What I do like about Seth, he is fearless."
While Russell has an FBS-best nine touchdowns, he also has five turnovers. There were two interceptions and a fumble in the second quarter alone Saturday, leading to 14 points before the Bears finally pulled away from the FCS team.
"It didn't feel like a good win," Russell said. "I can't make those dumb decisions, especially in bigger games."
That was only Russell's third career start — he started once in place of an injured Petty as a sophomore early last season. Briles said Russell just needs to keep getting reps.
Russell more than 300 yards passing in each of his three starts. The only Baylor quarterbacks with more career 300-yard games are the starters who preceded him under Briles: Petty (16), Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III (13) and Nick Florence (nine).
Baylor is going into an open date, then plays Rice on Sept. 26. The Big 12 opener follows against Texas Tech.
The Bears have uncharacteristically struggled early against overmatched non-conference teams so far.
Lamar was tied 21-21 with 4:34 left in the first half before Baylor quickly scored twice and then got another touchdown right after halftime. That stretch included the last two of Corey Coleman's school-record four TD catches.
"We just weren't ourselves in the first half, like last week with SMU," said Shock Linwood, who ran for 130 yards and three TDs. "We have to start out faster than that. We have to calm down and not be too anxious."
In the opener at SMU, when Jay Lee caught three touchdowns, Baylor led 28-21 at half after the Mustangs were unable to get off another play from inside the 10. Baylor outscored them 28-0 in the second half.
"You'd love to just be dynamically polished every snap, but I'm not sure if that's reality," Briles said. "Through phases of the game, we've shown what we're capable of doing, but we've just got to do it over the long haul."