WACO (AP) – Bryce Petty takes his turn at quarterback for Baylor two years removed from Robert Griffin III’s Heisman Trophy season.
The Heisman hype these days is focused a few feet behind Petty, where running back Lache Seastrunk is expected to be for the Bears’ season opener Saturday night against Wofford.
Petty was the backup a year ago to Nick Florence, who had the difficult task of following Griffin’s electrical season that ended with the Waco school’s first Heisman. Seastrunk didn’t have to worry about the spotlight while becoming Baylor’s third straight 1,000-yard rusher.
“We’ve been through this a little bit before,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “Hype is hype and reality is reality. The great thing about Lache is he’s earned the opportunity and the chance to be talked about. Bryce has been given that by the fact of Kevin Kolb and Case Keenum and Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence.”
That’s the all-star list of quarterbacks brought along by Briles at Houston and Baylor. While not nearly as flashy as Griffin, Florence led the Big 12 in total offense last year as the Bears won bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1985-86.
Here are five things to know as Baylor tries to improve to 5-1 in openers under Briles:
SEASTRUNK’S SHOW: The junior from nearby Temple spent his freshman year at Oregon before deciding to play closer to home.
After sitting out Griffin’s Heisman season, he had 1,012 yards rushing and finished the season with four straight 100-yard games. He averaged 139 yards per game over the final six. Glasco Martin, who had 889 yards and 15 touchdowns, was expected to be part of a 1-2 punch with Seastrunk but is still recovering after breaking an ankle playing basketball in the offseason. He’s expected to see limited time against Wofford, a playoff qualifier in lower-division FCS last year that started with a decent showing against instate opponent South Carolina.
“He’s a guy that’s vital to us from an offensive standpoint because he’s a chain mover and he’s an inspiring guy,” Briles said.
NEXT QB UP: Petty already has his degree in health science studies and still has two years of eligibility. He’s only thrown 14 passes in two seasons, but the Bears were in the same boat with Florence last year. Some publications think enough of him to consider him a preseason first-team Big 12 quarterback. Griffin and Florence separated themselves with their throwing. Briles says it will be the opposite with Petty. “He’ll earn inspiration through his feet, not his arms,” Briles said. “People will get excited when he throws, they’ll follow him when he runs.”
OLD SCHOOL WOFFORD: The Terriers love to run the ball. They were second among FCS teams at 350 yards rushing per game last season, but have to replace their all-time rusher leader in fullback Eric Breitenstein (5,730 yards). Wofford also has a coach who’s been around forever in Mike Ayers. He enters his 26th season with the Terriers with a 171-115-1 record at the school and an overall mark of 182-136-2. He is seventh among active FCS coaches in wins. The Terriers opened last season with a 24-7 loss to South Carolina, which started this season ranked sixth.
“Name me three coaches in college or high school or pros that have been at a place for 25 years plus,” Briles said. “I’m at zero. I mean, I can’t think of anybody.”
FIRST TEXAS SHOWING: Wofford is playing in Texas for the first time in its first meeting with Baylor. It’s just the second time the Terriers have played a Texas team. They lost to Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) in the 1970 NAIA championship game in Greenville, S.C.
FLOYD CASEY’S FINALE: Baylor opens its 64th and final season at Floyd Casey Stadium, just a few miles southwest of campus. The school is building a campus stadium along the Brazos River.
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