Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Baylor's Ganaway taking, delivering many punches
By David Ubben
Before Baylor took the field for the second half against Texas Tech on Saturday without its Heisman candidate at quarterback, there was no grandiose speech. There wasn't a frenzied huddle to go over altered strategy.
The Bears' offense simply looked around the post-kickoff, pre-drive huddle and didn't see the familiar No. 10 staring back at them.
Instead, Nick Florence quietly slid into Robert Griffin III's spot at starting quarterback for the second half and connected on a pair of touchdown passes longer than 40 yards.
Terrance Ganaway racked up 246 yards on 42 touches against Texas Tech -- the most he's ever had in his collegiate career.
"We trust in what Nick does, and what he brings to the table. He’s a great quarterback and he has a ton of experience in this offense," said running back Terrance Ganaway. "We’ve practiced with Nick and Nick practices at a high level, and we don’t expect him to play at anything but a high level. We all had confidence in him."
They had reason to be. Florence started nine games when Griffin tore his ACL in the 2009 season, setting the school record for passing that Griffin broke this season.
In the second half, though, one player took over: Ganaway. We should have known, really. Ganaway's flourished under waves of media attention heaped on his quarterback, the second running back in two seasons to do so.
He carried the ball 25 times in the second half for 139 yards and a touchdown. That gave him 42 carries -- more than any Big 12 back in a game this year -- for 246 yards.
"We’d run it pretty effectively the first half, also, so that gave us a little confidence going into the second half," said coach Art Briles, "and it just worked out to where that was something that was being beneficial for us, so we just kept doing it."
Said Ganaway: "We knew it was working, so we weren’t going to get away from it. We were going to keep running until they decided to make us do otherwise."
Ganaway made sure Baylor didn't need much creativity. The rest of Baylor's backfield minus Griffin carried the ball 23 times, but Baylor's 240-pound back carried the load.
With the effort, Ganaway took over the Big 12 rushing lead from injured Missouri back Henry Josey. A year ago, Baylor wondered who would replace Jay Finley's 1,218 yards.
Next year, the Bears will have to wonder who'll replace Ganaway, who now has 1,195 with two games left to play.
"He’s a very mature person. The thing that makes him unique is his agility to go with his size," Briles said. "He’s also got the mentality enough to where he’s very, very focused and very driven."
Briles would know. Ganaway was with Briles at Houston in 2007 before transferring to junior college. Once Briles left for Baylor, Ganaway followed.
Quietly, as Griffin's racked up passing yards and accolades, he's had two great backs playing alongside him that too often get overshadowed.
"Terrance isn’t concerned about any of that. He’s a great team player," Briles said. "He brings a level of mature confidence to our football team because of his focus and energy lies, and that’s within everybody, not himself."
If Ganaway's needed again this week against Texas, he'll be available.
"It was a whole lot [of carries], but I didn’t really even notice. My body felt good the next day and I’m feeling really good right now. You’re just trying to win. You’re in the zone. The adrenaline’s pumping. Your heart’s pounding, you just want to go out there and get the win," Ganaway said. "You really don’t worry about being tired or fatigued. I know I felt tired, and I got some shots, but everybody was fighting. It’s a fight, and you don’t quit until the round’s over. Then you ask, how many punches were there?"