Thursday, March 3, 2011
Ranking the Big 12's best players: No. 13
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
The official list of the Big 12's top 25 players is locked away in a vault in an undisclosed location, but we're revealing the list day by day here on the blog. Here's a refresher on my exact criteria.
Robert Griffin is the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the conference.
Making the case for Griffin: He provided one of the league's most heavily scrutinized offseason storylines, constantly answering questions about the status of his knee. A torn ACL in 2009 sent him to the sidelines for the last nine games of the year and raised questions about what he'd be like when he returned. He answered those questions quickly. He returned as a much, much more polished passer and just as capable of a runner. Defenses were more prepared to slow him, but his yards per carry didn't change much from his freshman season (4.87) to the 2010 season (4.26). That's not much of a difference.
As a passer, he completed 67 percent of his passes compared to 59 percent as a freshman. His 454 attempts were plenty more than his 267 as a freshman, but he turned them into 3,501 yards versus 2,091 as a freshman. It's only up to 7.8 yards per attempt versus 7.7 as a freshman, but the big jump in completion percentage is a great sign for his growth. Getting better there means moving the chains and keeping Baylor's offense on the field. Most importantly, the Bears finished with seven wins and to earn their first bowl berth since 1994. Griffin is the biggest reason why, and he'll try to build on that as a junior in 2011, bringing back all five of his top receivers. In both the 2008 and 2010 seasons, he struggled against elite teams, and the Bears have come within single digits of a ranked team just twice in eight games with Griffin under center, all losses. To get better than seven wins and maybe make a run at the Big 12 title, that will definitely have to change.
Don't worry too much about Griffin falling three spots from the preseason to the postseason. He did about what I expected, and by my count, six players that were below him in the preseason list are above him now, so it's not as if he did anything to drop. He's the Big 12's best dual-threat quarterback and that likely won't change in 2011.