Bears ready for round two

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After TCU victory, Baylor gears up to play SFA

By Tyler Alley
Sports Editor

Over two weeks after Baylor’s epic 50-48 victory over TCU, the Bears finally return to the football field to face Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. Saturday in Floyd Casey Stadium.

“I’m glad to be back in the saddle again after being off a week,” head coach Art Briles. “It did work out well though, because we planned all along to leave TCU out there on its own. If you asked our guys what their record was right now, they would say 0-0. We feel like our 2011 season starts this week against SFA.”

Baylor goes into this game ranked No. 19 in the AP Top 25 polls. Football has not been ranked this high since Oct. 14, 1991, when it was ranked No. 16, and this is the first non-conference game as a ranked team since Sept. 11, 1993, when the Bears were ranked No. 24.

The Bears take on the SFA Lumberjacks, a Division I-AA team that does not have quite the recognition that the No. 23 Horned Frogs have, but junior quarterback Robert Griffin III will still take this game as serious as the TCU game.

“I think the coaches are doing a great job of making sure we stay level,” Griffin said. “You don’t want to go into a game like this thinking, ‘We’re going to blow them out,’ because a lot of times it doesn’t happen. As long as we execute we should win the game, and that’s the way we feel about every game.”

Griffin comes off a career performance in which he threw for 359 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. He received multiple honors during the week off and appeared on ESPN’s College Gameday, as well as solidified his position as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

“As an offense, that’s the best we’ve played for three quarters since I’ve been here at Baylor,” Griffin said. “It was exciting to see that against a top-notch football team, which TCU is. I was proud of the way I performed and proud of the way the offensive line performed, and we’re looking to do bigger and better things.”

Two years ago Baylor faced a similar situation of earning a big win, going into a bye week and then playing a team with less recognition. In the 2009 season, Baylor defeated Wake Forest in the first week, went into the bye week, and then lost to Connecticut in the third week.

“I think through experiences you grow and you learn, so we’ve grown and we learned from that,” Briles said. “Like I told them, the only game that matters in America this week is Baylor vs. SFA, that’s it. Nothing else matters in our football world other than that.”

Senior running back Terrance Ganaway talked about how the team is looking to prove its maturity in dealing with the bye week after the TCU game.

“I think the best way that comes into play is the score at the end of the game this weekend,” Ganaway said. “I think we are mature. We have a lot of confidence right now going to any game. What we don’t need to do is underestimate anybody we play. We want to go out there and play with the same intensity that we’ve been playing with. “

Special teams was an issue for the Bears, apart from sophomore kicker Aaron Jones’s go-ahead field goal. TCU’s Greg McCoy had 225 return yards, including a 73-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, and TCU’s average starting drive position was the 45-yard line.

“Special teams are always a concern early in the year,” Briles said. “We don’t work a whole lot of live kickoff and kickoff returns in practice for the simple fact that you cant afford to have those high-speed. So you have to get in game situations and hope it all works out.”

Baylor is 3-0 all-time against Stephen F. Austin, but their meeting Saturday will be the first in nearly 64 years. In all three previous meeting, the Bears have held the Lumberjacks scoreless.