Heir of Griffin III brings different air to Baylor Bears

Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
No. 11 quarterback Nick Florence passes the ball during the preseason one-hour scrimmage on Saturday, August 11, 2012. The scrimmage was followed by the annual Meet & Greet in the Simpson Athletics Complex.

By Daniel Hill
Sports Writer

Last season was arguably the greatest football season Baylor has ever known.

As far as individual awards go, Robert Griffin III claimed the most prestigious award in all of college football, the Heisman Trophy.

The million-dollar question, though, is whether or not Baylor can build on last season’s momentum with the loss of RG3.

Griffin’s replacement, senior Nick Florence is a mature quarterback who knows how to lead the offense.

He’s proven that he knows the offense and that he can put points up on the board.

When Griffin was not medically cleared for the second half of the Texas Tech game, Florence came in and the offense did not miss a beat.

He threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns in only one-half of play.

I’m not worried about the Baylor offense this year. Just like the second half in the Texas Tech game, it will not miss a beat.

Sure, the astounding statistics might not be as sky high as they were with Griffin, but Baylor’s offense will still be high octane with Florence at the helm.

Not only can Florence do the job at quarterback, but he will be surrounded by weapons.

The wide receiving corps is one of the deepest and most talented groups in the entire nation with Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson.

Also, the tight ends, who were hardly utilized with Griffin’s love of the deep ball, are sure to have an impact this year.

Jordan Najvar, a 2012 preseason All-Big 12 selection, and senior Jerod Monk tallied only 24 grabs last season.

With Florence, the tight ends should see more action in the passing game. Florence has the outside weapons and he should also have protection.

Baylor’s offensive line is huge and is loaded with NFL talent such as Cyril Richardson and Ivory Wade.

Baylor’s football team is as deep as it has ever been and the squad is preparing for a successful season.

But what about the mental effect of losing a player of RG3’s caliber?

Last season, just knowing that RG3 was wearing green and gold instilled confidence into Baylor’s football program.

Baylor’s football players work hard all year around.

They wake up at 5:30 every summer morning to endure ferocious workouts at the hands of strength and conditioning coach Kaz Kazadi (google Kaz and you will be intimidated).

Working hard for a purpose gives an athlete extra drive.

Last season, the team had that extra drive and was willing to put in the extra mile because they had a rock star quarterback who was recognizable on all seven continents.

Will that momentum falter this year because Baylor will fall off of the map?

Does the lack of a true star and the lack of hype hurt an athlete’s mental drive?

Will the players overall effort and heart fall even a slight fraction just because Griffin is gone?

Unfortunately, the answer might be yes.

The Baylor fan base is suffering a hangover from last season’s successes. Around campus, I just don’t sense the hype, excitement or anticipation of football season like I have in years past because of the potential thrills that Griffin could deliver.

Griffin delivered beyond expectations for the entire Baylor community, but can’t the whole team deliver beyond expectations?

Sic ’em.