Terrance Ganaway

Baylor head coach Art Briles addresses media members at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. Briles and the Bears are looking to improve on a 10-3 record from a year ago.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

 The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

1. Oklahoma State-
There was no game for the Cowboys this week, instead in was spent in preparation for what may pan out to be one of the biggest games in school history. At No. 3 in the BCS rankings, the Cowboys are on the precipice of a national title berth. It’s a likely scenario that if LSU were to lose to Georgia that the Cowboys could slide to No. 2, or even if they can pull off a convincing victory against the Sooners this week. Bedlam is a must-watch.

2. Oklahoma-
The Sooners were able to fend off upset-minded Iowa State in their last game and remain in the BCS top-10. With a win against the rival Cowboys, the Sooners would get an at-large bid to a BCS bowl to cap off an up-and-down year. Junior quarterback Landry Jones and the rest of the Sooners have every right to believe they can win this week’s game against the Cowboys. It will be a de facto conference championship game although bragging rights will be on the line as well.


3. Baylor-
Quarterback Robert Griffin III and a number of other Bears, as well as Red Raiders, were injured when their heads slammed the questionably hard turf at Cowboys Stadium last weekend. Even after their star quarterback and then starting running back Terrance Ganaway went down with concussions, the Bears were in good hands. Senior wide receiver Kendall Wright hauled in two touchdown passes, one from Griffin and another from junior backup Nick Florence.

4. Kansas State-
The Wildcats had the week off after squeezing out a win in Austin a week ago but now they’re gearing up for their final regular season game against Iowa State. The Cyclones have shown that they can stick around if they want to so the Wildcats should be wary of the upset bug. If the Wildcats win and the Sooners lose in Bedlam they could be selected as a BCS at-large so there’s definitely still something to play for. A big game from junior quarterback Collin Klein could be a nice little introduction to NFL scouts.

5. Texas-
Say what you want about the offensive ineptitude of the Longhorns at various points this year, but they have had some gutsy wins that need to be credited. Last week’s temporary series finale of the Lonestar Showdown was another one of such wins. Last year’s Longhorns probably wouldn’t have won that game. Currently at .500 in Big 12 play, Texas has an outside shot at a Cotton Bowl bid. However, they’ll have to get past Baylor this weekend for that to be possible.

6. Missouri-
The Tigers wrapped their regular season up with last Saturday’s 24-10 win over Kansas. The game was the 120th edition of the Border War between the two schools. Like the game between Texas and Texas A&M, this annual rivalry will end with the Aggies and Tigers moving to the SEC next year. The Tigers won four out of their last five games to finish the year and are looking at a probable New Era Pinstripe Bowl appearance.

7. Texas A&M-
The final game in the UT/A&M rivalry until at least 2018 could not have been scripted any more perfectly. After an early lead that even held over to halftime, the Aggies practically threw the game away as senior quarterback Tannehill threw two costly picks in the second half. Texas didn’t necessarily expose the Aggies’ weak secondary, but it’s still there and any team they face in the postseason has the opportunity to beat the Aggies through the air.

8. Texas Tech-
Well, the Red Raiders almost left Jerry World with a win. After it seemed as if they caught a break with RGIII not returning to the field in the second half, Nick Florence decided to make an appearance. The junior was under the impression he was redshirting this season, but his redshirt was burned after the Bears felt the heat from the Red Raiders quick-scoring offense. It proved to be an effective choice as the Red Raiders didn’t have an answer for him or running back Terrance Ganaway, who rushed for 246 yards.

9. Iowa State-
The Cyclones forced four turnovers against the Sooners last week, but they also coughed up the ball four times as well. Not a good recipe for a win. The Cyclones just aren’t talented enough on offense this year to be contenders in the Big 12. Give freshman quarterback Jared Barnett some time, and maybe add a couple more skill players around him and this offense will be much better off. Head coach Paul Rhoads seems to have guys buying into his philosophy and is on the right track. They’re still bowl eligible, too.

10. Kansas-
It’s safe to say the Jayhawks were just glad to get this season over with last week. They capped off their year with a 24-10 loss to long-time rival Missouri. There just didn’t appear to be much pride or hard work surrounding the Kansas program this year. The defense was atrocious while the offense showed many bright spots, just not enough to make up for the other side of the ball. Head coach Turner Gill was fired this week after just his second year at the helm. Now the search for the next victim, I mean coach, begins.