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October 25, 2008

Baylor's Griffin the real deal

Zero interceptions, 1,271 yards passing, a 60.6 completion percentage and nine touchdown passes.

The passing numbers for Texas' Colt McCoy, Missouri's Chase Daniel or even Oklahoma's Sam Bradford?

Nope, try Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.

The true freshman from Copperas Cove, Texas has energized a Bear offense with both his feet (433 rushing yards, eight TDs) and arm (1,271 yards, nine TDs) without throwing a single interception in 155 attempts.

Not bad for a quarterback who started the fall essentially No. 3 on the depth chart behind an incumbent starter and a senior transfer.

Baylor coach Art Briles said his team's ability to take care of the ball (just seven turnovers in seven games) has been key to their offense this season. The Bears' average of 375 total yards and nearly 29 points in seven games this season are already better than last season's 351 yards and 18.1 points per game.

Briles said Griffin's heady play and an emphasis on the Bears' running game have been the biggest factors in that success.

"It has been good so far," said Briles, of his first year signal-caller. "He is very intelligent with the football and very conscious of defensive schemes. I think all of that adds up to having a chance to minimize the giveaway factor."

The Baylor rushing attack, which sputtered under pass-oriented Guy Morris last season to just 77 yards per game to rank 113th nationally, is averaging better than 180 yards on the ground this season.

Briles sees the Bear running attack as a means to an end: controlling tempo means controlling momentum.

"We have to call good plays and execute the plays that were called. We were not as effective the other day as we would like to be," said Briles, referring to his team's 34-6 loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday in which the Bears rushed for 42 yards on 31 attempts. "That will be a point of emphasis and we certainly hope to rush the ball better this week."

The Bears' record may only be 3-4 but that win total matches last season when they lost their last eight games and Morriss was fired and replaced by Briles, who had turned around a dormant Houston program.

Briles brought a new offensive philosophy to Waco that utilized the talent the Bears already had and with him a talented, four-star quarterback that had committed to Briles while he was still in Houston before switching to Baylor.

Griffin, Rivals.com's No. 3 ranked dual-threat quarterback last season, enrolled early at Baylor and took part in spring ball. A track star in high school, he joined the Bear track team in the spring and earned All-America honors after finishing third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400-meter hurdles (49.55).

Griffin has his and his team's eyes on Nebraska.

"I look forward to every game whether it's after a win or loss," said Griffin. "Our goal is to keep getting better and since it's against Nebraska, they're a great team. They haven't been too good lately but they're a great team and we have to respect that."


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