Florence gives Baylor fans hope
Notebook: K-State's Klein goes to the air; OSU turns heads
Baylor entered this season unranked, as voters clearly doubted the Bears’ ability to recover from the losses of Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright and others. After one game, a 59-24 victory against SMU, there’s clearly not that much to worry about.
Senior quarterback Nick Florence threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns and the Bears’ defense put the clamps on SMU (and former Texas) QB Garrett Gilbert. And several receivers combined to fill the shoes of Wright, with Lanear Simpson, Tevin Reese, Darryl Stonum and Jordan Najvar all scoring touchdowns. Terrance Williams, who didn’t find the end zone, instead caught seven balls for 138 yards.
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"It was a great team performance,” Florence said. “I told y'all you would be surprised by our defense this year and I think they showed up [Saturday]. As an offense, you couldn't ask for a better game from your defense.”
In blowing out SMU, Baylor proved its 2011 season was no flash in the pan. Head coach Art Briles is building a program to last in Waco. The Bears have gone bowling in consecutive seasons; they hadn’t done that since 1991-92. They’ve put two players in the first round of the NFL Draft in consecutive seasons; the rival Longhorns, with infinitely better recruiting resources, haven’t done that since 2006-07. Baylor has won its past seven games, the second-longest streak in the nation (TCU has won eight).
“We felt like we needed to come out and see what we were, like everyone else, we weren't sure,” Briles said. “We felt like we knew what we had -- an anxious, eager football team ready to prove themselves. I think they showed that [Saturday].”
When Griffin III went down with an injury in 2009, Florence filled in for eight games. The Bears went 2-6. Things are different now. Florence, to start, is more experienced, more comfortable in Briles’ offense. "My freshman year I was nervous more than anything. [Saturday] and leading up to this, I was excited,” he said. The players around him know what it takes to win -- and after an 18-40 record in the five years before Briles, it’s possible many in the program had forgotten how to.
“I think we're a team that knows how to win, that believes they're going to win and can certainly play in spurts of dynamic qualities on both sides of the ball, Briles said. “It is hard to maintain that for a full 60 minutes, but when you have the ability to explode on either side, then you have a chance to have a really good football team.”
News and Notes
No. 15 Texas had more trouble than anticipated in a 37-17 victory against Wyoming, but head coach Mack Brown was pleased with the efficiency of quarterback David Ash in his season debut (20-for-27 with 156 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions).
“[Ash] never panicked. I really just feel like he's got a good presence about him right now,” Brown said. “I really just feel like he’s got a good presence about him right now.”
Ash avoided the interceptions that plagued him last season, though he did commit a costly fumble when he jumbled a handoff attempt in the fourth quarter. He was sharp in the short and intermediate passing game, but underthrew two passes on deep routes to Mike Davis.
“I was just trying to move the chains and convert third downs,” Ash said. “You want to get the ball in somebody’s hands and let them get the first down for you.”
The Sooners, deadlocked at 7 with UTEP at halftime, used two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from the Miners and avoid what would have been the upset of the weekend.
"We just weren't in synch,” said senior quarterback Landry Jones, who connected on 58 percent of his passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. “It was one of those things where we would have flashes of greatness, but it wouldn't be all as a team. But we came out with a W and that's what we're shooting for."
As Oklahoma attempts to patch together its offensive line after a series of offseason injuries, it’s concerning that Jones was sacked three times Saturday night. He was sacked just 10 times in 2011.
Kansas State (1-0)
Quarterback Collin Klein did most of his damage last season running the football, but was most effective through the air in No. 22 Kansas State’s 51-9 victory against Missouri State (the Wildcats pulled away with a 35-point fourth quarter). Klein ran 13 times for 54 yards – an average just over four yards per carry – while throwing for 169 yards, with two fourth-quarter scores. Klein had only four games in 2011 in which he threw for more than 170 yards.
“I am comfortable with him throwing the ball any way they allow us to throw it,” head coach Bill Snyder said.
West Virginia (1-0)
Geno Smith did not disappoint in No. 11 West Virginia’s 69-34 victory against Marshall. But the real revelation of the day was the play of running back Shawne Alston, who rumbled for 123 yards and two touchdowns and forced Marshall to stay honest defensively.
“I think I’m the baddest dude on the field,” said Alston, who was named the starter during fall practice. “It’s just an attitude you have to have. Any game that I go into, I just feel that they can’t stop me.”
Iowa State (1-0)
Steele Jantz justified his job as the starting quarterback – which he lost midway through last season – with a career-high 281 yards passing and two touchdowns in Iowa State’s 38-23 victory against Tulsa, which was favored by 1½ points. Jantz completed 71 percent of his passes, markedly better than his completion percentage of 53 a year ago.
“I saw a very composed quarterback,” ISU coach Paul Rhoads said. “I saw a quarterback making good decisions. I saw a guy who had the look in his eye on the sideline.”
Texas Tech (1-0)
Texas Tech’s revamped defense held Northwestern State to 84 total yards -- 71 passing and 13 rushing -- in a dominating 44-6 win Saturday night in Lubbock.
"I thought our guys were more relaxed,” head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “If we had gone into a tough game, it might have been a struggle on both sides of the ball in terms of improving and trying some things that we tried. But this was a good start.”
The Red Raiders were 114th in total defense last season, prompting the program to part ways with Chad Glasgow after one season.
Charlie Weis kicked off his Kansas career with a 31-17 victory against San Diego State -- the Jayhawks’ first win since Sept. 10 of last season. Quarterback Dayne Crist, a transfer from Notre Dame, threw for 169 yards and one touchdown, but it was a duo of Kansas running backs that sealed the win. Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox became the first KU tandem to rush for 100-plus yards in a game since 2007, with Pierson rumbling for 124 yards and two scores and Cox adding 120 and a touchdown.
Oklahoma State (1-0)
The No. 19 Oklahoma State Cowboys were favored by 67½ points, so it would have been no surprise had they put up video game numbers in a blowout of Savannah State. But the score -- 84-0! -- dropped jaws around the country. Consider the following: True freshman quarterback Wes Lunt completed all 11 of his attempts. He played only four offensive series as the Cowboys scored 35 points in the first quarter.
• It was the most lopsided victory for OSU since it beat Southwestern Oklahoma 117-0 in 1916.
• The Cowboys scored 12 touchdowns Saturday night, as many as they had scored in the entire 1991 season.
• Oklahoma State, the defending Big 12 champion, has scored 37 or more points in 14 consecutive home games.