Sunday, September 2, 2012
Checking in from the Big 12's Week 1 finale
By David Ubben
WACO, Texas -- It's been almost five years since Baylor hasn't had Robert Griffin III on its roster, but later tonight, Art Briles begins his first season at Baylor without last year's Heisman winner.
The Bears have plenty of offensive talent returning, though the Big 12's rushing champ (Terrance Ganaway) and receiving champ (Kendall Wright) are gone, too.
What will the new faces look like? We'll find out tonight. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports, and this should be a fun one between two teams that love to open up their offenses and let it fly.
That's what I'm watching today. We know Nick Florence can do it in spots. We saw it last year in the win over Texas Tech, and we saw flashes of it back in 2009 when he filled in for RG3 following his torn ACL early in the season.
Can he do it every week? That starts today. I'm a believer in Florence, in part because of the solid guys in front of him, headlined by center Ivory Wade and tackle Cyril Richardson, who are both All-Big 12-caliber guys. His backs should have plenty of holes and receivers like Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams are speedy, with plenty of experience playing with Griffin the past couple of seasons.
How will the defense handle SMU? The Bears made some strides late in the season in the turnover department, but the last time we saw the Bears, they were giving up 56 points to Washington in the bowl game ... and still finding a way to win. Florence is good, but the loss of RG3 no doubt trims the margin of error for this defense.
Baylor's got to be careful. Cornerbacks K.J. Morton, Demetri Goodson and Joe Williams need to play well against June Jones' run-and-shoot attack, but the bigger concern might be Zach Line up front. Baylor won't face many running backs like him in the Big 12.
Curious Big 12 fans can get a their first look at former Longhorn Garrett Gilbert in his new surroundings. He's a good fit for Jones' scheme, and despite his obvious failures at Texas, there's no denying his physical skills and resume as one of the greatest high school players in Texas history. This is a completely different offense and a completely different challenge. Should be interesting to see how he responds.
I expect the Bears to hang enough points to win this one, but the Mustangs will light up the scoreboard, too, and make it interesting. Either way, this should be a fun one. Let's get started. Stay right here for coverage throughout the night.