No. 2 Baylor’s 45-27 victory over Iowa State may have come at a high price Saturday.
Bears quarterback Seth Russell, who began the game as the national leader in passing efficiency (210 rating) and touchdown passes (27) among FBS quarterbacks, left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained neck after being tackled on a 4-yard run.
Postgame x-rays and a CT scan revealed a fracture in one of the bones of his neck. He will see a specialist next week.
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Coach Art Briles admitted he has concerns about Russell’s availability for the Bears’ next game, Nov. 5 at Kansas State. Baylor (7-0, 4-0 in Big 12) has won or shared the last two Big 12 championships and is well-positioned for another title run this season.
True freshman Jarret Stidham, from Stephenville, was Russell’s backup, and Chris Johnson, who moved to receiver at the beginning of the season, will move back over to the quarterback position to back up Stidham.
“You’re always concerned, 100 percent,” Briles said after the contest when asked about Russell’s availability going forward. “First and foremost about his health, and then football. He’s a tough guy. It’s hard to see tough guys hurt. That’s probably the main concern right now is for him from an emotional standpoint and physical next.”
Initially Briles said he was unsure about the extent of Russell’s situation beyond the fact that team trainers told him he could not return to Saturday’s game after he was taken to the sideline for observation.
“Right now, it’s just something we’re unsure about,” Briles said, adding that a Baylor trainer “came up to me on the sidelines and says, ‘Hey, we’re going to take him and get him checked this evening. And then we’ll go from there.’ Fortunately, we do not have a game for 12 days. We’ll see. I know if he can go, if he’s cleared, he’ll play, because he’s a tough hombre.”
Baylor running back Shock Linwood, who rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Iowa State, also wonders about Russell’s availability going forward.
“I’m concerned because that’s my No. 1 quarterback,” Linwood said. “So I’ll just say whenever they look at him later on tonight or tomorrow, we’ll see what’s wrong with him. And hope we correct that.”