Griffin looms in Texas shootout

By Matthew Parrino
On September 10, 2010

Jerry Davis may have looked cool, calm and collected in his opening act against Rhode Island, but the sweat might be pouring come Saturday.

 The Bulls (1-0) will experience a climate change when the team travels to Waco, Texas to battle the Baylor Bears (1-0) this weekend in a non-conference bout.

 There is a big difference between what Davis saw against the Rams and what Baylor has in store for the sophomore quarterback.

Against Sam Houston St. last Saturday, Baylor dominated the game and buried the Bearkats 34-3 behind the emphatic return of sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Griffin completed 19-of-36 pass attempts for 242 yards and two touchdowns. As dangerous as he is through the air, Griffin can also terrorize opposing defenses on the ground. He rushed for 59 yards against Sam Houston St. and added a rushing touchdown.

The dynamic quarterback will challenge every aspect of Buffalo's defense.

"He does a good job in terms of taking shots downfield with his throwing ability and he is also able to execute in the run game," said Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn. "[Containing Griffin] will be a challenge for our defensive players and coaches."

Critics tout Griffin as one of the best quarterbacks in college football and have listed him as a nominee for almost every quarterback award. After suffering a season-ending ACL injury last year, he has come out on a mission to prove he still is a threat at the position.

Senior cornerback Josh Thomas, who grabbed an interception against Rhode Island, has a great deal of respect for Griffin but is not afraid of the hyped-up quarterback.

"We're prepared mentally and physically, there's no doubt in my mind," Thomas said. "Our coaching staff has given us the tools to win the game."

Like Buffalo, Baylor runs a fast-paced spread offense. Baylor head coach Art Briles likes to substitute frequently to keep his players as rested as possible. In the running game, the Bulls must stop senior running back Jay Finley. He racked up 51 yards on only six carries against a Bearkats team that consistently stacked eight or nine players in the box to stop Baylor's running attack.

Finley scored one touchdown in the game on a 44-yard scamper. His ability to strike at any time will force the Bulls to respect the Bears on the ground.

On the other side of the ball, the Bulls need to repair the problems they had on the ground during week one. While Buffalo seemed determined to throw the ball, the running game was practically invisible throughout all four quarters. The Bulls averaged a sub-par 3.2 yards per carry for 91 rushing yards.

"We certainly need more production and effectiveness [from the running game]," Quinn said. "If you look at Sam Houston St. and their running game against Baylor, as you can see they didn't fare too well. So that's a major emphasis right now by our coaching staff."

Baylor is undefeated against Mid-American Conference opponents in three meetings. One of those games was against the Bulls in 2007 when the Bears beat Buffalo, 34-21.

Buffalo recognizes Baylor's status as a major conference team, but Thomas feels that the only thing that matters is what happens on the field when kickoff occurs.

"You don't necessarily judge a team by the conference they play in or the logo on their helmet," Thomas said. "We are all playing with the same football and it all depends on how hard you work… It's the first time since I've been here that I've seen [such a strong] commitment [to winning] from the team."

The trip to Texas is a homecoming for Thomas and seven other Buffalo players.

The opening kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.

 


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