Baylor's RG3 still searching for his ceiling
September, 27, 2011
By David Ubben | ESPN.com
Jerome Miron/US PresswireThrough three games Robert Griffin III has an impressive 236.24 passer rating.Robert Griffin III makes it clear: He is not a stats guy.
But with the interview nearing its end, the one stat everyone seems to be parroting hasn't come up.
"You know that stat? The more touchdowns than incompletions? Has that ever been done?" Baylor's quarterback asks.
Through three games, Griffin has found the end zone 13 times. His passes have hit the turf 12 times. He has yet to throw an interception, a distinction only 10 quarterbacks in college football still hold through four weeks.
But the safe bet is no. For that long of a stretch, no quarterback has ever been that efficient.
Colt Brennan set the NCAA record for passer rating in 2006, with a mark of 186.0.
Griffin, through a quarter of his regular season, is at 236.24 after completing 70 of 82 passes (85.4 percent) for 962 yards.
The only other quarterbacks above Brennan's 2006 mark? Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (218.38) and Boise State's Kellen Moore (192.56).
"To me, that’s history. It’s crazy," Griffin says of his early statistical oddity. "I don’t think that’ll ever happen again. Mark that one down for Baylor."
Griffin's efforts have helped Baylor win three games, sending the Bears to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2005, complete with a win over then-No. 14-ranked TCU.
"It’s a storybook beginning and we’re looking to continue it," Griffin said. "We got ‘em, and we played really well on offense and our defense is only going to continue to get better. ... We’re having fun, but we’re not so happy that we’re going to let it slip away."
Griffin's improvement so far has been obvious. His outstanding mobility and track-star status cause many to reflexively discount his passing ability, but his career numbers have continued to improve and his current hot streak has forced fans and analysts alike to recognize he's a pass-first quarterback for a reason.
"As you gain experience, you have the opportunity to learn from it," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "This is really the first year he's been able to play two years back to back, and so he's just continuing on from where he left off last year and he's continued to grow from an intellectual standpoint. Of course, his body, physically, is much more mature and he's just got a better grasp of what's going on. All that equates to being able to play at the high level he's at."
Griffin missed the last nine games of the 2009 season after tearing his ACL.
He's never played this well for any stretch in his career -- "Maybe in track," he says -- but he's also careful to note his own development isn't the only catalyst.
"That stat right there is about more than just what I’m doing," Griffin said. "Obviously, the offensive line is doing a great job keeping me off the ground. I’ve only been sacked once. Receivers are making great plays."
Through his first 82 attempts, receivers have two drops, meaning he could have 13 touchdown passes to 10 incompletions, but the offense is third nationally in scoring after hanging 50, 48 and 56 points in its three wins.
"We’re not perfect. We didn’t score on our first drive against Rice. We didn’t score every time we got the ball. That’s what we expect to do no matter who we’re playing," Griffin said. "If we have to nitpick ourselves, no matter how many points we put up or what the stats say, we’ll do that. We won’t just be satisfied and say, 'Well, we played a perfect game, we’ll move onto the next one.' You can always get better."
Extended film study sessions and another year on the field with his receivers and offensive line have helped matters, too. Making Griffin's start even more impressive? Baylor is doing it all without NFL-caliber talent Josh Gordon, who transferred before the season after being suspended indefinitely in July.
At times, Griffin says, the game looks like it's being played in slow motion during his fourth year of college football.
"I’m more sure of what we’re doing as an offense, the receivers, we’re all on the same page," the redshirt junior said. "They know what’s going to happen. Everybody says the game slows down for you, and it does. It’s just a matter of the more you play, the better you will get. The more experience you have, the more confident you get. I’ve played a lot, and I’m proud to be out there with those guys."