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By: Associated Press
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is the Big 12 Conference's leader in total offense.
Brooks: Baylor QB Makes Believer Of Tech's Tuberville
Release: October 11, 2010
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER - Hello, I'm Tommy Tuberville and I'm not a point-aholic. Texas Tech's first-year head coach has a strong, mostly successful SEC background (four seasons at Ole Miss, 10 at Auburn) and likes to joke that the winner of a Southern-style shootout might need, oh, three touchdowns - maybe four max.

His final five Auburn teams averaged just over 26 points a game, 17 in his last season (2008). Included in that campaign was a 3-2 thrill-a-rama win against Mississippi State.

But "Tubs" has changed zip codes as well as his belief of what constitutes a shootout - especially after the Red Raiders' trip last weekend to Dallas. Things warmed up in "Big D." Tech needed six TDs and a field goal to overcome a four-score performance by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and outlast the Bears, 45-38.

Better believe Griffin's athleticism left its mark on Tuberville. That sigh you heard early Saturday evening was his. "I'm glad we're past him . . . I've got gray hairs from just one weekend," Tuberville said on Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins called defending Griffin, a sophomore, a "huge, huge challenge. He's extremely talented . . . very talented in a great system." Hawkins also said Griffin is "fun to watch," but like Tuberville he'll probably enjoy Griffin more when he's not preparing a game plan for him.

Griffin, the Big 12's total offense leader (329 yards a game, No. 4 in FBS), and the Bears visit Boulder Saturday. Colorado's defense already has faced college football's total offense leader - Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz (388 yards a game).

The Buffs fared well defensively against Hawaii (31-13 win) and Moniz, who completed 27-of-41 passes for 330 yards and one score, with 80 of his air yards coming on his first pass. In the three games since losing to CU, Moniz has averaged 434 yards through the air and thrown 13 TD passes.

But Griffin, at 6-foot-2 and about 215 pounds, is faster, more polished as a passer, has better players in his huddle and - here's the kicker - is showing no adverse effects from the knee injury suffered in last season's third game that eventually sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

At this summer's Big 12 preseason media briefing, Briles said Griffin responded to his rehab exactly as the Baylor staff had hoped: "When you get something taken away from you, you respond two different ways. You pout, complain, sulk, cry and fall into a shell, or you fight, you grind, you have vision, you have hope and you work harder than you've ever worked in your life. That's what Robert has done - and that's what we knew he would do."

Now, Briles added Monday, "He's 100 percent healthy."

Plus, noted Tuberville, most impressive about Griffin were his "endurance and presence on the field . . . . He's as good as I've seen in a long time; he can carry a team on his back."

No slight meant to the rejuvenated Bears, but the Baylor football program historically has been a baby grand for any man to carry. The Bears haven't been to a bowl game since 1994 - two years before the Big 12 was born - and haven't won more than five games overall (5-6, 2005) and three in conference play (3-5, 2006) in any season during this decade.

Futility, thy name is Baylor.

Saturday's loss to Tech - the third straight in the series by seven points - dropped Baylor's record against the Big 12 South Division to 4-67. But Griffin tried to keep an even keel, saying he viewed it "as another game. We owe a lot of people in this conference. We have a lot of games that we need to make up for. Tech happened to be one of them. It's not something I'm going to beat myself up about."

Despite the Tech loss, the Bears are 4-2 - two wins shy of bowl eligibility - and third-year coach Art Briles says if the school reaches the post-season, "I'm not sure we could even describe it verbally . . . it would be a huge accomplishment for Baylor University. It's a driving force for us and our football program."

The Bears believed they could be bowl-bound last season before Griffin's injury, but finished 4-8. This season, they've beaten Sam Houston State (34-3), Buffalo (34-6), Rice (30-13) and Kansas (55-7). In addition to last weekend's 7-point loss to Tech, they've lost to now-No. 4 TCU (45-10).

In 2008, his freshman season, Griffin averaged 70.2 rushing yards a game and 174.2 passing. In 2009, his priorities being readjusted, Griffin was averaging 25.7 on the ground and 160.3 in the air before his injury. This season, his 329 total yards a game feature 289.2 passing - clear indications of how Briles hopes to protect his QB, as well as the improvement Griffin has made with his arm.

"I watched a few of his games last year and he's really matured," Tuberville said. "He's learned how to throw the ball and go through his progressions. He can win a game with his legs; we were fortunate he threw the ball. He threw for almost 400 yards (384 on 31-of-42 completions, two TDs) and could have run for 100 (he settled for just 18 on 11 carries, scoring twice)."

Offering Griffin fewer running opportunities is by design, Briles said: "Defenses are gearing up for him, but we're not calling his runs as often .  .  . we involve more people, quite honestly. Experience teaches you lessons, and he's had more experience now than in 2008. He's more polished in some areas."

But Griffin doesn't appear to be running that much less. In six games, senior tailback Jay Finley has carried 65 times (304 yards, 1 TD) and Griffin has carried 55 times (239 yards, 6 TDs). Finley averages 50.7 yards, Griffin 39.8. In the conference statistical rankings, Baylor is two positions (No. 5) ahead of CU in rushing offense, averaging 164 yards.

Moral to this story: If you're a defensive coordinator and believe Griffin's running ability won't be utilized, you've been had.

Griffin's top game statistically this season was in the demolition of Kansas. Of his 444 total yards, 380 were gained passing. For the season, he's completed 132-of-205 for 1,735 yards and 13 TDs. His low number of interceptions (two) helps put his passing efficiency ratio at 154.5 (No. 2 Big 12).

Baylor features five receivers with 18 or more catches, topped by Kendall Wright (33 receptions, 74.8 yards a game, 3 TDs). His 11 catches against the Red Raiders netted 145 yards and a score. Sophomore Josh Gordon caught five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech, but he didn't play in the first quarter, likely a punitive measure for his arrest the previous weekend for marijuana possession.

A teammate, freshman tight end Willie Jefferson, also was arrested in the same incident. Jefferson also was on the travel roster for Tech. Briles said the matter was being handled internally and declined further comment on Monday's teleconference.

BUFF BITS: CU's Oct. 23rd game against Texas Tech at Folsom Field will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. and will not be televised . . . . Hawkins reiterated that Tyler Hansen remains the Buffs' starting quarterback against Baylor. Hansen was replaced by backup Cody Hawkins late in the third quarter of CU's 26-0 loss Saturday night at Missouri . . . . Buffs linebacker B.J. Beatty said the defense must take some responsibility in the special teams' downturn against the Tigers: "Special teams is defense . . . if you look across the board about 80 or 90 percent of special teams is made up of defensive guys. That's kind of where we also have to take extra initiative - the blocked punt, the fake punt, things like that." . . . . Hawkins said there was "no common denominator" in the special teams problems: "There's a lot of scenarios there, things we have to continue to work on and improve on." . . . . For the Buffs, the best plan for Saturday probably will be trying to slow Griffin rather than trying to outpoint him. CU has decent defensive numbers in the Big 12's weekly stat rankings, but is last in scoring (18.2 points a game) and field goals (1-for-5) and No. 11 in punting (33.4 average) . . . . Despite giving up 45 points and 635 total yards to Tech, Baylor's defense is third in the conference in scoring defense (19.8 points) and seventh in total defense (379.8 yards) . . . . Baylor has a second Robert Griffin on its roster. He's Robert T. Griffin, a 6-6, 335-pound offensive lineman - and no relation to the QB.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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