SPORTS ADDICT: Baylor Football beginning to look golden under Briles…
By Denton Ramsey, NCAA Sportswriter/Big 12 Fans Baylor Correspondent
WACO, Texas – It’s a toss-up at this point and time for newcomer of the year at Baylor University: Art Briles, or Robert Griffin.
Both have played significant roles in the Bears’ 2-1 start to the football season.
However, one is here because of the other – and because of that, I am going to go ahead and award the reward to Briles.
Briles came here with one main mission: to make Baylor football competitive.
So far, so good.
Despite a rough start, the Bears have bounced back with consecutive blowout victories.
But the real tests lie ahead – in both a road match-up at Connecticut, followed shortly thereafter by Big 12 action.
One thing remains certain: the Baylor football team is a much-improved group with Briles at the helm.
Defining A Good Road Team
At a recent press conference, Baylor head coach Briles was asked about what it took to make a good road team.
“That is something I started to evaluate about eight years ago because if you’re going to be a good football team, you have to be a tough road team,” Briles said. “That is what we are going to stress and that is what we are going to be at Baylor, a tough road team. I think you band together as a team and you rely on each other, you support each other and you fight hard for each other.
“When you get out there on the road, there will be a little section of Baylor people and the rest is going to be everyone else. From that standpoint you have to pull everyone together. Honestly, I love being at home but there is something about going on the road and having everyone wanting you not to do well and then having the opportunity to do well in those environments.
“It’s very inspiring and challenging. I like it and our team will like it. We are anxious and ready to get on the road and face the world.”
Bring on Goliath…
Kicking Game and Field Position
Another important factor stressed by coach Briles and the staff include field position and a special focus on special teams play and the kicking game.
“It’s the difference in the ballgame when you turn the ball over or when they turn the ball over and you get a short field and go score,” Briles said. “Like we’ve always said, field position, turnovers and momentum, if you win those things you are able to win a football game.
“We were able to do that the other night and especially against Northwestern State. We had some other good opportunities we just didn’t take care of them from an offense standpoint. As long as we keep doing that, we will have some happy locker rooms. Right now our guys are confident, focused and energized.”
Exactly what they need heading out to face undefeated Connecticut…
Winning: On Both Offense and Defense
According to Briles, winning takes both offense and defense – and creating offense doesn’t necessarily mean taking pressure off the defense.
“Every time you step on the field you have pressure to perform,” Briles said. “They have done a good job of performing when the time is right by providing turnovers and making stops and plays for the offense.
“I’m not saying that the offense has taken any pressure off the defense at all. I think it is the other way around. I think the defense has given a lot of opportunities for the offense to make plays. Collectively as a group, we saw and talked about it the other day I could see that our defense is really starting to gel as a unit. They are starting to rely on each other, help each other and they are really playing with a lot of confidence.
“We were really confident going into the Washington State game by the way they had practiced. We could tell that they are growing and getting better and that they are ready. Same thing this week, we are going into this game where the offense is good, they are very structured offensively and their quarterback had his best half of football he has had since he has been at U-Conn. That to me is a great chance for us to challenge ourselves and see what we can do.”
Come Friday night, we’ll see just how much the Bears have to offer against a competitive and undefeated U-Conn football team.
A win for the Bears would definitely keep the momentum going – something Baylor needs as Big 12 action awaits – and could very well signal a new era for BU Football.
The answer is right around the corner, and the lingering green and gold question will be answered beginning on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org