Let’s be honest. Football season has never really been as exciting for Baylor fans as it is for fans of Texas or OU. It is always filled with hopes, but not always with results.
However, this year, the Baylor season opener against SMU brings some exciting new storylines to the field.
First, of course, the RGIII headline.
For Baylor fans everywhere, the tragedy of Robert Griffin III entering the NFL draft was just that – a tragedy.
The exalted product of Baylor’s head coach, Art Briles, took the next step in his career, and Waco seemed to be in shambles. After the draft, the only thought filling the minds of most Baylor fans was, “How is Nick Florence ever going to keep this success going.”
Poor kid. He played not even a whole game in 2011 – in which he ended up with the win – and people already have their doubts. But today, Florence will step out on to the field at Floyd Casey Stadium trying to live up to the expectations of Baylor fans across the nation.
Before jumping to the conclusions that Baylor will return to what Jim Rome so mockingly refers to as “scrubby little Baylor,” Florence’s stats should at least have a chance to speak for his performance.
In the half game he played last season against Texas Tech, the result of a concussion suffered by Griffin III, Florence went 9-12 for 151 yards, including two long touchdowns. True, the rushing power of then running back Terrance Ganaway helped support Florence through the night, but the kid still deserve some credit.
Tonight, Baylor will debut its new quarterback. No doubt, anxiety will fill the stadium. It will fill the hearts of the new freshman who only know Baylor from the incredible feats accomplished year. Alumni around the country will watch in anticipation to see how well Briles has groomed Florence to be the next Baylor protégé.
In my opinion, Florence will either fail or succeed – because those are the only options fans have given him. And hopefully, for him, the team, and all those associated with Baylor, God will shower down on him the blessings of the latter.
The second storyline of the evening comes from the other side of the game – focusing on Garrett Gilbert, the new starting quarterback for SMU.
Those of us who consider ourselves to be Baylor football veterans, surely remember the Baylor v. Texas game of 2010. The rally win the Bears managed to pull off in the second half was the first Baylor defeat of the Longhorns since 1997.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the real storyline. Gilbert was the quarterback of that Longhorn team.
Gilbert has now moved on to a new school with a new coach, new team, and overall new environment. Hearsay suggests Gilbert will be a great fit for the Mustangs, but surely he still remembers that game back in 2010. That game that ended a 12-game Baylor losing streak against Texas. That game that was lost on the watch of Garrett Gilbert.
Maybe Gilbert will come out with a vengeance state of mind. Maybe he has put it behind him and has taken a completely fresh outlook on the game with his new team and teammates.
Either way, it will certainly be interesting to watch these headlines unfold with the debut of two new quarterbacks as they step on the field to reignite a classic Southwest Conference rivalry.
- Savannah Pullin