May 19, 2009

Spring Review: Quarterbacks

It doesn't take a person long to find out who the star of the 2009 Baylor Bears is. The team includes potential All-Americans Joe Pawelek, Jordan Lake, and Phil Taylor, but the unquestioned leader of the Bears is Robert Griffin.

Griffin was considered by many to be the top freshman quarterback in the nation last year, and in a conference full of dynamic college quarterbacks, he was also looked at as one of the top signal callers in the Big 12. Griffin came in for initial starter Kirby Freeman in the first game of the year against Wake Forrest when Freeman was pulled from the game following his second interception of the afternoon. Griffin went on to start every game after that and showed great improvement from game to game.

While many duel threat quarterbacks come into college needing to refine their technique and struggle throwing the ball, Griffin was different. The freshman from Copperas Cove set the Big 12 record for most pass attempts to start a career without throwing an interception, and didn't end up throwing a pick until the ninth game of the year.

There are still some things that he needed to work on following the 2008 season including adding size to his young frame, understanding defenses better, and getting more comfortable with what it takes to be a college quarterback.

This spring Griffin decided not to run track and has been able to devote his full focus to developing and improving as a quarterback. The year in Baylor's weight program has allowed him to put on weight and better suit him to hold up to the pounding in the Big 12. Griffin also showed a quiet confidence on the field this spring. He no longer has to compete for the starting job, and he looks more comfortable as the unquestioned leader. That fact will help him and the team next season as he is able to bring his teammates together for summer workouts this offseason.

The Bears are also fortunate to have experienced depth behind Griffin. Senior Blake Szymanski has started thirteen games over his career at Baylor highlighted by a sophomore season in which he throw for 2,844 yards and 22 touchdowns, both of which were school records for a season. Szymanski was also named co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week following a game against rice in which he threw for over 400 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Like Griffin, Szymanski also had a very strong spring. He looked comfortable in his role running the second team offense, and if Baylor ever needs to use him in a game he appeared capable of coming in and successfully leading the team.

True freshman Nick Florence practiced with the team this spring after greyshirting in 2008. He will likely compete with incoming freshman Brody Trahan for the third quarterback spot. One or both players could also likely redshirt in 2009.

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