WACO, Texas -- Baylor has a new starting quarterback and no intention of taking a step back.
In their first comments since losing quarterback Seth Russell to a season-ending neck injury, Baylor players said Wednesday they're confident true freshman Jarrett Stidham is ready to lead the No. 2 team in the country.
"None of our goals have changed," Baylor receiver Corey Coleman said.
Russell suffered damage to the cervical vertebra in a win over Iowa State and will require surgery. While his teammates were upset to learn his season is over, Baylor coach Art Briles said he expects the team to rally around Stidham. Briles said he won't even refer to Stidham as a freshman, because that's not how he perceives his new starter.
"It's really not something that there's a lot of apprehension about," Briles said. "The guy's good. He's a good football player and very intelligent, very instinctive. Last time I looked, we're not backing up. We're moving forward."
Stidham, a former ESPN 300 recruit out of Stephenville, Texas, has appeared in every Baylor game this season, completing 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns. Briles pointed to Stidham's early enrollment in January, which means he's been in the program for nearly 11 months, as one reason he'll be prepared for Kansas State on Nov. 5.
"If he wasn't ready, he wouldn't be playing," Briles said. "That's the bottom line. He's a guy that's ready, so we're anxious to get on the field and let it fly."
Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango said he isn't expecting much of a drop-off from Russell to Stidham, who brings a strong arm and lots of confidence to the starting role.
"We know there's going to be some mistakes made and it's kind of a lot for him," Drango said, "but it's our job up front and all around to make his job easy."
Baylor has a bye week to prepare for its trip to Kansas State, a road test that kicks off a challenging November schedule featuring three ranked foes and ending with No. 5 TCU on Nov. 27.
Coleman said Baylor doesn't need Stidham to be a star in order to keep the team's College Football Playoff hopes alive. The Bears just need a game manager who can keep the nation's No. 1 scoring offense rolling.
"He's just got to get the job done," Coleman said. "We've got great people around him, great athletes and football players. You don't have to come in here and try to do what Seth did. That's really hard to do, honestly.
"You've just got to come in and maintain and win football games. If we win, that's all that matters, and we're in the playoff."