The entire dynamics of Baylor's offensive attack must change now that fleet-footed quarterback Robert Griffin is out for the season.
Griffin suffered an isolated tear of his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during last Saturday's 68-13 win over Northwestern State. Since Griffin could beat a team with his legs and his arm, changing from his exceptional talents to a player of lesser talents could be a difficult task for Baylor.
"Our image may change a little bit, but our structure and determination won't,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday in his first remarks about Griffin's unfortunate injury. "Physically we may have to change how we approach things, so that part of it we'll process through.''
Senior Blake Szymanski is expected to fill Griffin's spot. But he is listed as day-to-day after suffering a contusion to his right shoulder in the lopsided win over Northwestern State.
If Szymanski can't play, true freshmen Nick Florence of South Garland will get the nod at quarterback.
To compound matters for Baylor, the Bears also lost defensive back/return specialist Mikail Baker for the rest of the season after he sustained an ACL tear and a tear to his medial and lateral meniscus against Northwestern State.
The Bears entered this season thinking this would be the year they would finally play in a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Now, sitting at 2-1 and with no Robert Griffin, they don't know what to think.
"First and foremost our concerns are with Robert and his family, along with Mikai Baker and his family,'' Briles said. "Because of those guys a lot of their hopes and dreams have been sidetracked for a little while.
"What we'll do is move forward as a team.''
Briles said at some point Griffin will have surgery. But the date hasn't been determined, thus he doesn't know if Griffin will be back in time for next spring's practice.
Until then. . .
"Emotionally this is when guys step up, this is what competitors do as players and as coaches,'' Briles said. "We had a couple of our family members get sidetracked, and so now we've got to cover them up and get moving forward.
"So that's part of it and I think we'll be in good shape.''
Noting that cornerback Antareis Bryan is also out with a broken foot, Briles said he doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for the Bears when they host Kent State at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re going to dial it up, we’re going to fight hard for Robert, for Mikail, for A.B., and then for the rest of these guys on this football team and for this University,'' Briles said. "That’s what we’re going to do.
"We’re not going to come walking out of the dressing room Saturday. We’re going to come charging out. We’ll be coming out with an intent to make a statement.”
_ Dwain Price