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Former Houston Baptist University quarterback pushes for MNF start

Bailey Zappe is congratulated by Patriots owner Robert Kraft after Zappe's first win as a starter, a 29-0 home shutout of Detroit on Oct. 9. Screen grab from Twitter @Patriots

NASHVILLE (BP) – In his three (and some) seasons as quarterback for Houston Baptist University, Bailey Zappe turned a lot of heads in the Huskies’ Air Raid passing offense on his way to becoming the school’s first NFL Draft pick.

The last two weeks as an NFL starter in place of the Patriots’ Mac Jones has led to more of the same, not to mention a potential quarterback controversy in New England.

Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe receives a snap against the Cleveland Browns Oct. 16. Zappe set numerous records with Houston Baptist University and Western Kentucky before being drafted by the Patriots in the 2022 Draft. Screen grab from Twitter @Patriots

Over three games, Zappe, a 2022 fourth-round pick, has thrown for 596 yards and four touchdowns to go with only one interception while completing 72.9 percent of his passes.

Zappe is 2-0 as a starter, but his first significant game action came Oct. 2 on the road in Green Bay after backup Brian Hoyer – Jones was recovering from a high ankle sprain – suffered a head injury early in the contest. The Patriots lost 27-24 in overtime, but Zappe’s solid performance (10 completions on 19 attempts for 99 yards and a touchdown) carried over.

The Patriots’ most recent two games saw them outscore the Lions and Browns by a combined 67-15.

“To be quite honest with you, I’m just taking advantage of my opportunity at practice … and taking it week by week,” Zappe said in the Oct. 16 post-game conference. “And once we come back … and watch the film tomorrow of this game then it’s really off to [face] the Bears.”

Offensive output comes with Zappe under center. During his junior year at Houston Baptist (since renamed Houston Christian University) the Victoria, Texas, native threw for 3,811 yards and led the nation with 35 regular season touchdown passes.

COVID led to an abridged 2020 season, but in only four games Zappe led the nation with 458.3 yards per game. Against Texas Tech, the 40-point underdog Huskies pushed the Red Raiders behind Zappe’s 567 yards and four touchdowns before dropping a 35-33 heartbreaker.

On its website, Houston Christian University says it has a “cooperative relationship” with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a “fraternal relationship” with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

As a graduate senior, Zappe transferred to Western Kentucky and had one of the greatest seasons for a college quarterback ever, completing 475 of 686 passes (69.2 percent) for 5,987 yards and 62 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. The total yardage set a single-season Football Bowl Subdivision record in breaking Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons 5,833 yards in 2003.

His 2021 numbers also significantly outpaced his closest challenger, Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, by 1,095 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Officially, the Patriots have said Jones’ participation will be a game-time decision. However, media reports said that he practiced with the first team offense this weekend, signifying his return to the field.