Oct. 24, 2013
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Robert Griffin III is not about to get into a debate on whether his 2011 Baylor Bears were better than the current version that's 6-0 overall, 3-0 in conference and No. 8 in the BCS rankings that were released on Sunday.
"It's not about us versus them," the Washington Redskins' second-year quarterback said in Wednesday's teleconference call with the media. "Right now, they're doing a great job and they're No. 5 or 6 in the country, No. 8 in the BCS. And we're all happy for them, so let's not make this about who's the better team. I want to see those guys to go to the national championship and win it."
While there were plenty of naysayers when RG3 left after winning the Heisman Trophy in the Bears' 10-3 season in 2011 - the prevalent thought being that "Baylor will go back to being Baylor" - Griffin III never doubted the Bears.
That's why this year's success doesn't surprise him.
"Guys like myself, Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Phil Taylor, even starting with Jason Smith, we built a foundation there," he said. "And those guys have carried it on. They believe. That's the No.. 1 thing is you have to believe. They're confident in themselves, they go out and execute, and it's a beautiful thing to watch."
With Griffin III at the helm and throwing to the likes of Wright, Williams and recent Dallas Cowboys' practice squad pick-up Lanear Sampson, the Bears scored a school-record 45.3 points per game. But other than a 67-56 shootout with Washington in the Alamo Bowl, they only scored as many as 60 points one other time.
"The one thing they're doing faster is scoring points faster than we did with Lache Seastrunk and Antwan (Goodley) and (Tevin) Reese and Bryce (Petty) out there slinging it," Griffin III said. "It's fun to watch."
Asked if he thought head coach Art Briles and the Bears were trying to send a message to the pollsters by scoring at least 69 points in five of their first six games, he said, "Uh, let's just say that coach wasn't doing that when we were there. He wouldn't let us score 70 a lot. Me, Terrance and Kendall have talked about it a lot. But we understand what they're doing right now. And it's not to embarrass other teams, it's more to improve their ranking."
But as far as the tempo being faster this season, "that's what (offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery) always wants. He wants the team to always get faster. You don't ever want to get slower."
Nick Florence threw for a school-record 4,309 yards last season, surpassing RG3's 4,293 yards, and now Petty's on pace to top it again. Through the first six games, he is leading the nation in passing efficiency (221.8) and yards per completion (19.83) while throwing for 2,023 yards and 15 touchdowns with only interception.
"When Bryce was a backup, you could see he was a guy with tremendous talent," Griffin III said. "He's a big, strong quarterback who is very competitive. I could see it was just a matter of him playing and showing what he can do. He just needed live action, and you can see now what he's done as he's gotten it. He has been hungry and has worked hard, and to see him come on and shine this way is heartwarming."
That goes for the team as a whole, which is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves, RG3 said.
"I don't think Baylor has ever really gotten the respect that it's earned over the past couple years with the teams we've beat," he said. "And if we're winning the conference, it's because the conference is weak, not because Baylor's good. Those guys have a chip on their shoulder. And it carries over for us in the pros. We have a chip on our shoulder. We're real proud of those guys for everything they're doing. We hope that they don't stop at what they're doing right now at No. 5 or No. 6; that they continue to push forward and head on to bigger things."
As far as what the team needs to do to move up in the rankings and possibly get into the BCS National Championship game, RG3 said it's a simple formula: Keep winning.
"I don't think they really need to get style points. They just need to keep winning football games and stay focused one game at a time," he said. "And it starts against Kansas (in Saturday's 6 p.m. game in Lawrence Kan.). They've got to go in there and beat a team at home and not think twice about it. As long as they keep winning, they don't really have to continue to blow people out, even though I feel like they definitely have the ability to. They just have to keep winning football games."
Two years ago, on the Bears' last trip to Lawrence, Griffin III ran for one touchdown and passed for two others in the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in school history. Baylor won it, 31-30, to become bowl-eligible for the second straight year.
"I know they've talked about it all week," said RG3, who passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns and added 103 yards and another score on the ground. "You can't sleep on a team like Kansas, especially at home. It's a tough place to play. And (Baylor has) a lot riding on every game now. The one thing they can't do is lighten up or look down the road. They've got to keep their eyes on the prize."
Even around NFL locker rooms, Baylor's respect level has skyrocketed over the last few years. Last season's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Griffin III got off to a slow start this year following off-season knee surgery, but passed for 298 yards and two TDs and added 84 yards rushing in a 45-41 shootout victory over the Chicago Bears last Sunday.
"They talk about it differently, especially in our locker room," he said. "But some of the guys like Brian Orakpo, who played at Texas - whenever they played Baylor, thought it was a game off. He doesn't remember that when we were there, me and Kendall and those guys, we were 2-1 against (the Longhorns). They still live in denial, but Baylor being there at the top of the Big 12 and high in the rankings is no surprise."
While he has certainly flourished in the NFL and in the advertising world with all of his endorsements, RG3 said his degree from Baylor gave him "something to go back to and still make a living for my family, no matter what happens in football and in the athletic world."
"The community there was amazing, a great God-fearing community," he said. "Beyond that, it was just giving me the opportunity to live out my dreams, whether that was on the football field or in the courtroom or whatever that might have been. Baylor was great to me, and they've still been great to me even after I left."