Nick Florence and the Baylor football team had a goal tonight. Beat SMU. And that is exactly what they did.
In Baylor’s first game without Robert Griffin III, Florence showed his critics that he is capable of filling those cleats.
Florence threw for a career-high four touchdowns and 341 yards in only three quarters of playing time.
The offense definitely took their stand in this game, showing that they can still compete on a higher level than expected, even after the loss of three key offensive players (Griffin III, Kendall Wright, and Terrance Ganaway). Baylor offense grabbed 638 offensive yards – its eighth consecutive game with more than 500.
However, a lot of credit needs to be given to Phil Bennett and his defense. I am not quite sure what he said or did to those boys in the off-season, but whatever it was, it was a nice change from the defense we saw against University of Washington last season at the Alamo Bowl.
The defense had a total of three turnovers for the night. Arguably, if not certainly, the most important coming at the beginning of the third quarter.
After a fumble by SMU, safety Mike Hicks saw an opportunity and ran with it, literally. He scooped the fumbled ball up for a 66-yard touchdown return.
You are probably thinking to yourself, “Yeah, a fumble return for a touchdown isn’t the most exquisite thing to ever happen.” But the depth and intelligence of this play is amazing.
Step one. Hicks had to analyze the situation and seize the opportunity. Done.
Step two – this is the part that made me realize Baylor defense has started to play smart football. As Hicks ran down the field, he watched for his blockers, making sure he was aware of their locations. He slowed his pace to make sure KJ Morton and Eddie Lackey were able to do their jobs and keep the SMU players away from him.
With Hicks’ smart thinking, the incredible blocking done by Morton and Lackey, and the overall synchronization of the defense, Baylor was able to pull ahead to a 31-3 lead over SMU, and ending the night with a 59-24 win.
Synchronization. That was the most important part of this game tonight. Together, Art Briles and Phil Bennett have been able to develop an incredible synchronization throughout their team, giving their players an opportunity to prove that this isn’t RGIII’s team. It’s Baylor’s team.
-- Savannah Pullin