Special Thanks To Fans / Honors For Florence & Odom
The banged-up Bears notched an important 31-15 win over Kent State in their final non-conference game of the season Saturday, but lets give a special shout-out to the diehard Baylor fans who braved some early rain and some wet conditions to cheer the Bears to victory. Some 27,000 fans made sure they were in attendance at Floyd Casey to help the team "Rally Up and Fight."
ESPN.com's Tim Griffin honored two Baylor players with Big 12 Helmet Stickers for their efforts in Saturday's win. Freshman quarterback Nick Florence and junior cornerback Clifton Odom were among five conference players singled-out in Griffin's blog.
Here's what Griffin wrote on Florence and Odom:
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence: How about this effort for Baylor's third-stringer? In his first career start, Florence completed 20 of 27 passes for 216 yards and rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Bears to a 31-15 victory over Kent State.
Baylor cornerback Clifton Odom: Produced eight tackles include a team-leading six solo stops, forced a fumble and broke up three passes in the Bears' victory over Kent State.
KENT STATE (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American)
SPECIAL TEAMS PREVIEW
Punter: Sophomore Matt Rinehart is in his second season as the Golden Flashes' punter. He averaged 40.0 yards on 45 punts last season with a long of 55 yards and 18 punts inside the opponent's 20; he also had two punts blocked. This season, Rinehart already has punted 32 times in four games with a 38.0-yard average, four touchbacks, 10 fair catches and nine punts inside the opponent's 20. ... Kent State ranks 42nd nationally with a 35.1-yard net punting average. Opponents have averaged only 1.6 yards on eight punt returns with a long return of seven yards.
Return Specialists: Junior receiver Anthony Bowman is Kent State's primary kickoff return specialist. He had a 92-yard return for a touchdown last week against Miami and has averaged 25.2 yards on 12 returns this season. A former high school track star, Bowman began his collegiate career at Iowa and returned four kickoffs for the Hawkeyes as a freshman. ... Senior split end Derek McBryde and freshman running back Dri Archer also drop deep for the Flashes, each returning three kicks this season. McBryde averages 14.0 yards per return with a long of 16 yards, while Archer averages 18.7 yards per return with a long of 27 yards. McBryde had 14 kick returns with a 20.6-yard average last year and returned 12 kicks with a 25.2-yard average in 2007. ... Junior receiver Lance Muldrow took over punt return duties two weeks ago during the Iowa State game. He replaced Eugene Jarvis, who averaged 15.4 yards on five punt returns before a season-ending injury. Muldrow has two punt returns so far, going for seven yards and three yards. McBryde also has returned one punt, that going for 33 yards.
Other: Senior quarterback Anthony Magazu is Kent State's holder on all place kicks. ... Sophomore Ryan Hidalgo handles snapping duties on punts, while sophomore Alex Thomasson snaps for place kicks.
KENT STATE (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American)
Line: It's all upperclassmen along the line for Kent State. Senior end Kevin Hogan (6-3, 228) is the most experienced defensive player for the Golden Flashes with 38 career games and 31 career starts. He has 17.5 career sacks, eight shy of the school record. Hogan has 15 tackles (2.5 for loss) and a forced fumble to his credit this season. He also produced Kent State's first points of the season on a safety during the first quarter of the Sept. 3 game against Coastal Carolina; he finished that game with eight tackles. ... Senior tackle Aaron Hull (6-0, 291) is a third-year starter with 37 caps and 20 starts to his credit. Nicknamed "Mustard" by his teammates, Hull had six tackles with a half sack and fumble recovery against Coastal Carolina. However, he has made only five stops in three games since. ... Junior Quinton Rainey (5-11, 235) starts at nose tackle, but he will split time with senior Sam Frist (6-4, 281). Rainey has appeared in 28 games during his career, but all three of his career starts have come this season. He Had five tackles (2.5 behind the line) last week against Miami University. FiRst started two weeks ago against Iowa State and managed three tackles in that game. He also had a sack and forced a fumble last week against Miami. He has played all 25 games since the start of the 2007 season with 21 starts. Last year, Frist led the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and was named the team's most improved defensive player. He was a preseason first-team All-MAC selection by Phil Steele's this season. ... Two backup linemen should see plenty of time, and both are strong contenders for This Is Bear Country's 2009 All-Name Team. Sophomore Lee Stalker (6-2, 252) works behind Hogan at the end; Stalker recorded his first career sack last week against Miami. Sophomore Ishmaa'ily Kitchen (6-3, 301 ... pronounced "ish-MAIL-ee") works behind Hull at tackle; he has seen action in all 16 Kent State games since the beginning of last season and have five tackles with 1.5 stops behind the line this season.
Linebackers: Junior middle linebacker Cobrani Mixon (6-1, 230) not only leads Kent State with 10.0 tackles per game (21st nationally), he also is a strong candidate for TIBC's 2009 All-Name Team. Mixon has led the Golden Flashes in tackles each game this season, going for 12 against Coastal Carolina, eight at Boston College, 11 against Iowa State and nine against Miami. He earned MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his 12-stop performance against Coastal Carolina. A 2009 team captain, Mixon played much of last season with a broken foot and still finished third on the team with 73 tackles. Mixon, who began his career at Michigan, has 12 starts for the Flashes since the start of last season. ... Kent State is expected to shake up things elsewhere in the linebacker corps this week. Junior Will Johnson (6-0, 198) is expected to make his first start of the season on the strong side. Senior Anthony Mirando (6-2, 235) started each of the season's first four games on the strong side but moves to weak side for the Baylor game. Junior Dorian Wood (6-1, 232), who has started each of the first four games at weak side, will back up Mirando at that spot Saturday. Kent State will be without freshman Luke Batton (6-0, 200), who tallied eight tackles two weeks ago against Iowa State but will miss his second straight game due to injury. ... Johnson has seen action in three games this seaosn but has yet to record a tackle. ... Mirando has appeared in 39 games during his career with seven starts; he has eight tackles this season with one pass break up and one quarterback hurry. ... Wood has 15 tackles on the season, including a season-best six last week against Miami. He also ranks second on the team in tackles for loss (3.5), one of which was a sack. ... The "fourth" linebacker spot - deemed the "Buck" position in Kent State's defense - is a hybrid position that often lines up on the line similar to the way the Pittsburgh Steelers use their outside linebackers. (As an aside, Kent State produced a pair of Steeler linebacker greats in Hall of Famer Jack Lambert and 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison). Junior Monte Simmons (6-3, 223) starts at the "Buck" position for the Flashes. He has 10.5 career sacks and ranks fifth in the MAC this season with 2.5 sacks. Simmons is fifth on the KSU squad with 16 tackles, and he has forced two fumbles.
Secondary: Junior free safety Brian Lainhart (6-1, 207) is the focal point of the Kent State secondary, if not its entire defense. He has 10 interceptions in his last 11 games and is tied for fourth nationally among active FBS players with 12 career picks. Lainhart, a second-team All-MAC performer last season when he had 106 tackles, forced three fumbles and snagged six interceptions, is tied for second nationally in interceptions this season. He also ranks second on the team with 29 tackles. Lainhart was very active two weeks ago against Iowa State and was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week after logging 11 tackles, forcing two fumbles and picking off a pass against the Cyclones. A team captain, Lainhart was a preseason first-team All-MAC selection by Phil Steele's. ... The lone underclassman starter in Kent State's defense can be found at the cornerback spot in sophomore Josh Pleasant (5-10, 178), who ranks third on the team with 27 tackles. Pleasant had nine stops and recovered a fumble last week against Miami. He was named the team's Defensive Rookie of the Year last season after recording 22 tackles with 1.0 TFL and an interception in 11 games (two starts). ... The other corner position is a toss-up between a pair of seniors - Danny Sadler (5-10, 190) and B.G. Walters (5-7, 175). Sadler has seen action in 32 games during his career with 11 starts, including three opening nods this season. He has 13 tackles this season after notching 43 stops (1.5 behind the line) last season in 12 games with six starts. Walters, meanwhile, has 11 tackles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery in three games this season; he started two weeks ago against Iowa State. ... Junior Dan Hartman (6-2, 205) starts at strong safety. He is fourth on the team with 19 tackles (2.0 FL). Hartman recorded the first interception of his career last week against Miami and also recovered a fumble in that game. He appeared in 11 games during each of the past two seasons, starting three times in 2007 and seven times last year.
KENT STATE (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American)
Quarterback: Sophomore Giorgio Morgan (6-4, 207) is listed as the starter; however, he has been hampered by an ankle sprain for the past few weeks. He sustained the injury during the second quarter of the Sept. 3 season opener against Coastal Carolina. Morgan played through the injury the following week at Boston College but was forced to miss the Sept. 19 game against Iowa State. He returned to action last week against Miami and is listed as probable for Saturday's game at Baylor. Morgan, voted a team captain, is 33-of-59 passing this season with no touchdowns and three interceptions. His best game this season was against Coastal Carolina when he was 21-of-35 for 21 yards despite playing most of the game with the ankle injury. Last week against Miami, he attempted only eight passes with three completions for 22 yards. Morgan made two starts as a true freshman in 2007; those came after foregoing a redshirt late in the season due to injuries as the quarterback position. He started against Central Michigan and Northern Illinois before a season-ending knee injury in the latter game. Morgan was 23-of-36 for 274 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He sat out last season as a redshirt. ... Spencer Keith (6-2, 190) is listed as the backup and already has seen plenty of action this season. One of only five true freshmen quarterbacks nationally to start a game this season, Keith got the nod under center against Iowa State two weeks ago when Morgan was relegated to the bench due to injury. Keith, who led the nation in passing yards (5,130) as a senior at Pulaski [Ark.] Academy lats fall, was 21-of-32 for 255 yards and two touchdowns with one interception against the Cyclones. He also split time with Morgan in the Boston College and Miami games. On the season, he is 32-of-49 for 381 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions; his 149.40 passing efficiency rating leads the Mid-American Conference and ranks 34th nationally. ... Fifth-year senior Anthony Magazu (6-3, 199) entered preseason drills believed to be neck-and-neck with Morgan for the starting role. However, he has slipped to third on the depth chart and has seen only limited action (3-of-7 for 10 yards against Boston College). Magazu has nine career games to his credit with one start.
Running Back: The lone Kent State player to earn preseason first-team All-MAC honors from Athlon Sports this year was fifth-year senior tailback Eugene Jarvis (5-5, 170). A second-team All-MAC selection last season, Jarvis entered the 2009 season second nationally among active FBS players with 3,268 career rushing yards. Much of that came in 2007 when he earned honorable mention All-America honors after shattering the Kent State single-season record with 1,669 yards on the ground. He was sidelined with a knee injury for four games last year, but still gained 801 yards on 165 carries. Jarvis looked strong in the Golden Flashes' 2009 season opener, gaining 141 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. However, his season came to an abrupt end in the first half of the Sept. 12 game at Boston College. After gaining 17 yards on 10 carries that day, Jarvis was forced to the sideline with a season-ending kidney injury. ... With Jarvis out, the Golden Flashes have looked to junior Andre Flowers (5-11, 211) much of the way. Flowers has seen plenty of action over the past two seasons, gaining 279 yards on 64 carries as a freshman in 2007 and 319 yards on 80 carries last season. In four games this year, Flowers has 131 yards on 43 totes (3.0 ypc) and one touchdown. He also has seven receptions for 19 yards with a long of nine yards. ... Other options at the tailback spot are sophomore Jacquise Terry (6-0, 180) and freshman Dri Archer (5-7, 155). Terry had 103 yards on 15 carries last week against Miami and possibly could get the starting nod this week against the Bears. A converted receiver, Terry rushed 34 times for 170 yards and a touchdown last season. Archer has shown promise both as a runner and as a receiving option out of the backfield; he has 67 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries (4.5 ypc) along with 81 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. His lone rushing touchdown was a 28-yard scamper last week against Miami, while his scoring reception was from 44 yards out against Iowa State two weeks ago.
Receivers: Kent State typically uses a three-receiver set with a split end, a flanker and an H-back. ... Though listed second on the depth chart at split end, freshman Tyshon Goode (6-1, 178) has emerged as the Golden Flashes' primary target in the passing game. His 13 receptions are five more than any other player, and his 143 receiving yards are a team-best by 43 yards. His long reception is 37 yards, but he has not yet scored. Fifth-year senior Derek McBryde (5-11, 186) is listed as the starter at split end. He has four receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown. He saw limited action as a receiver over the past three seasons, collecting just one reception for seven yards prior to this season. ... Fifth-year senior Jameson Konz (6-3, 222) is the starting H-back and has six receptions for 100 yards and a score in 2009. A former linebacker, Konz moved to tight end last season but sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the Flashes' season opener. Junior Anthony Bowman (5-10, 168) is Konz' backup and had three catches for 46 yards. ... Two sophomores see primary action at the flanker spot in Kendrick Pressley (5-10, 175) and Sam Kirkland (6-1, 188). Pressley, who missed the second half of last season with an ankle injury, has five receptions for 39 yards. Kirkland, a converted defensive back, has two catches for 11 yards. ... Junior Jon Simpson (6-5, 237) is the starting tight end. Primarily a blocking tight end, Simpson is a viable option in the passing game. He has two catches for 28 yards this season, including a 4-yard touchdown grab at Boston College. He had eight receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns while starting 11 of 12 games last season. ... Fifth-year senior Phil Garner (5-11, 182) is second on the squad with eight receptions this season but for only 21 yards with a long of 12 yards. He is not listed on the Golden Flashes' two-deep, but he did earn the start in a four-wide set last week against Miami. Garner was third on the team with 17 receptions for 192 yards last season. In 37 career games and 23 career starts, he has 58 receptions for 562 yards.
Line: The Golden Flashes' line averages 6-foot-3, 295 pounds with two upperclassmen. ... Junior left tackle Pat Reedy (6-4, 270) is the most experienced lineman with 27 caps and 16 starts. He started 12 games last season at right tackle, moving to the left side this year. Redshirt freshman Kent Cleveland (6-4, 294) started against Coastal Carolina and is expected to be in the mix throughout the season. ... Fifth-year senior Dante Campbell (6-1, 284) starts at left guard; he replaced junior Michael Fay (6-4, 294), who went down with an injury. Campbell has played 27 career games with four starts, two of which have come this season. ... Sophomore Chris Anzevino (6-2, 308) anchors the line at center; he started all 12 games last season at that position as a redshirt freshman. ... Kent State has a pair of freshmen on the right side of the line in redshirt Josh Kline (6-3, 289) at guard and true freshman Brian Winters (6-5, 320) at tackle. ... Senior MIke Roder (6-4, 302) has 15 career games and 12 career starts to his credit; he is listed as the backup at right guard after starting 11 of 12 games last season.
Pawelek Among Semifinalists for Campbell Trophy
Senior linebacker Joe Pawelek was one of 154 student-athletes named semifinalists for the 2009 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF). The award, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy, is endowed by HealthSouth.
Candidates are nominated by their respective schools, which are limited to one nominee each. Semifinalists must be seniors or graduate students in their final year of eligibility and carry a minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. Candidates also must have demonstrated outstanding football ability, strong leadership and citizenship.
The winner will receive a trophy and a $25,000 post-graduate scholarship. The Campbell Trophy will be presented Dec. 8 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
Lots Of Talk About QB Situation
All the talk heading into the Kent State game this Saturday has been, understandably, about Baylor's quarterback situation.
Olin Buchanon, on his Weekend Breakdown of the Big 12 posted on Rivals.com Thursday, listed "Baylor's quarterbacks" as his Players On The Spot. Here's what he wrote:
PLAYERS ON THE SPOT: Baylor's quarterbacks. They will be in this category for the rest of the season. This appeared to be the season the Bears would make their first bowl appearance since 1995. But that was before QB Robert Griffin suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Now, the burden falls to either Blake Szymanski, a senior who set school passing records as a sophomore two years ago, or true freshman Nick Florence. Szymanski has a sore right shoulder and may not be available for Saturday's game against Kent State.
Other recent articles in the media included Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's "Baylor QB dealing with injury" Wednesday, John Werner's Waco Trib piece "Slim chance for Griffin's return; Szymanski named starter" posted Tuesday, and Tim Griffin's ESPN.com blog "Bears could be facing QB quandary with Griffin, Szymanski hurt" from Monday.
Prepping For Kent State / TV Info For Saturday
The Bears went back to practice Tuesday in preparation for their final non-conference game vs. Kent State Saturday. Before practice, head coach Art Briles and selected players met with the media [read selected quotes here / watch highlights here].
TV INFO: Saturday's game will kickoff at 6:10 p.m. Saturday and will be televised live regionally on FOX Sports Southwest. The game will air on FOX Sports Southwest affiliates except in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, which will air the game on FOX Sports Plus on the following affiliates: Time Warner Cable ch. 960, DirecTV ch. 678, Dish Network ch. 449 and AT&T U-Verse ch. 755.
"What We'll Do Is Rally Up, We'll Fight."
Quite a weekend for Baylor football, as the Bears thrashed FCS opponent Northwestern State 68-13 in a historic win Saturday that came at a great cost, as exams Sunday revealed Robert Griffin III and Mikail Baker suffered season-ending knee injuries.
Baylor head coach Art Briles spoke with the media Monday and said: "What we'll do is rally up, we'll fight and we'll compete.
"We're going to dial it up, we're going to fight hard, for Robert, for Mikail, for A.B., then for the rest of these guys on this football team and for this University - 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."
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