Baylor opens the 2010 season Saturday against Sam Houston State at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Bears fans will see redshirt sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin in action for the first time since last September against Northwestern State as he plays for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee.
The Bears' defense, led by linebacker Antonio Johnson, is built on speed and should be an improved unit.
Saturday afternoon's game starts at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on KRZI/1660 ESPN in Central Texas and across the Baylor/ISP Sports Radio Network with John Morris, J.J. Joe and Ricky Thompson. They also can be heard in Sirius/FamilyNet Radio (Channel 161). Live stats and audio are available at www.baylorbears.com.
Series vs. Sam Houston State
The Bears will play the Bearkats for the third time with Baylor holding a 2-0 advantage. The Bears won the first meeting 13-9 in 1990. The teams met again 13 years later with Baylor winning 27-6.
Pre-Sam Houston State Notes
- Baylor is 40-20 in home openers at Floyd Casey Stadium. They are 0-2 in home openers under head coach Art Briles.
- Baylor is 23-2 all-time against current Division I Football Championship Subdivision opponents, and 17-1 against the Southland Conference.
- QB Robert Griffin has attempted 71 consecutive passes without throwing an interception dating back to a 35-28 loss to Texas Tech on Nov. 29, 2008.
About Sam Houston State...
The Bearkats introduce a new coach, Willie Fritz, a special teams guru who had a 97-47 record in 13 seasons at Central Missouri.
Fritz got his start as a graduated assistant and then as a secondary and special teams coach for Sam Houston.
The Bearkats return three starters on offense and five on defense off a team that went 5-6 last season. Sam Houston is multiple on offense and runs a 4-3 defense.
Sam Houston returns two starters on the offensive line, tackle Kaleb Hopson and guard Cameron Pound, and tight end T.J. Jones. The defense is led by sophomore free safety Kenneth Jenkins, who had 87 tackles in seven starts last season.
The three keys
1. Keep Griffin off the ground. Griffin is going to get hit for the first time since last September. That's fine. What Art Briles and the offensive coaches want to see is those hits to be minimized. Griffin said he will slide and run out of bounds when necessary, but he's not a "soft quarterback" so look for him to be the same dual threat QB we've seen in the past. He also stayed in the pocket more and looked to pass in Baylor's fall scrimmages.
2. Get pressure on Bearkats QB Bryan Randolph.. The Bears need to establish that they are going to harrass the quarterback this season after not having much of a pass rush last year (18 sacks). So it's important for defensive coordinator Brian Norwood's unit to dial it up early and often against Sam Houston State. The Bears appear to have the depth at defensive end and linebacker to blitz more often or at least keep pass rushers fresh.
3. Establish a running game. Jay Finley is back. How much he'll play on his surgically-repaired ankle remains to be seen, but Briles said he won't hold back J-Fin against Sam Houston State. The emergence of Terrance Ganaway and the threat of Jarred Salubi, Glasco Martin and Issac Williams should make this a much improved group.
The staff here at SicEmSports.com have put together our predictions of the final outcome as the Bears take on Sam Houston State as well as what we think will happen in the game.
I'm not one to get over-excited about fall practice, but from we saw of Griffin, he is poised for a monster season. He's improved in every facet of the game, and he has so many weapons to pick from, which only makes him a better player.
Kendall Wright will begin what will be a record-breaking season for a Baylor receiver, and the running game should get a boost with the return of Finley.
Saturday's game is important for the Bears to establish an attacking style on defense, and it should happen against a Bearkats' offense that returns only three starters.
Score: Baylor 38, Sam Houston 13
The Bearkats changed coaches and have a lot of rebuilding to do. This is the perfect way for RGIII to return to college football, feel the flow of the game and get everybody involved. This has all of the makings of a blowout.
Score: Baylor 41, Sam Houston State 9