COACH BRILES: Thank you. What are my thoughts? Oh, I mean, I would think like anybody else's. High anticipation, hopefully, hope builds into reality, and anxious to let our guys get on the field and play.
They spend, shoot, from January the 16th to August the 31st preparing. So now it's time to perform. That's the thing that excites me because these guys put a lot of time and effort, sweat, blood, passion, drive into getting on the field and playing for 60 minutes. I'm ready to turn them loose and let them play.
Q. Coach Briles, you have three open dates before you play eight games. Are you going to have trouble with consistency with that many open dates?
COACH BRILES: It's funny. I haven't even looked at the schedule. The thing that I do is look at our first game, and that's it. I do know we had a couple of open dates early. I didn't realize it's three before eight.
It is what it is. Speed limit is 55, drive 55. You got three open dates, deal with it. Really, it just depends on how you approach. The thing I've learned over the last two or three years is don't wear them out on the open date time.
So we'll keep them fresh, and they'll be healthy and ready to go.
Q. You guys got two first-place votes, first time Baylor's ever gotten any first-place votes in the media preseason poll. What does that say about the program and maybe the respect you guys are getting?
COACH BRILES: You know, I actually got asked that earlier. I don't know how many people vote, I guess 25. I was wondering why those other 23 didn't believe in us.
The thing that -- it just shows, I think, that we're gaining some respect. We're certainly not where we need to be or want to be or going to be, but we got one foot out of the water and on the land. We're gaining ground.
That's what we'll continue to keep doing by recruiting good kids, coaching them hard, and letting them play hard on Saturdays.
Q. Coach, what have you enjoyed most about playing a neutral field series against Texas Tech, and how long do you see that continuing?
COACH BRILES: I've liked the game. The atmosphere -- of course, we played it one year in the Cotton Bowl, which was a great venue, and now, I guess, since the Cotton Bowl has moved to Jerry's stadium, so it will always be the same place.
I do like the opportunity for the Dallas Metroplex, people to have the opportunity to go see us and Texas Tech.
To answer the last part of your question, there's some money involved. So what I say doesn't make much difference. I'd like to see it switch back to where we go to Lubbock and they come to Waco, especially with the new stadium we got going on now.
But they owe us a trip to Waco first because we went out there in '08.
Q. You played so well last year late, in particular, defensively. I'm curious as to maybe the couple of two or three things that you point to that got you headed in the right direction.
COACH BRILES: You mentioned playing well late, and that was the thing. It was a little -- I mean, not -- the facts prove that we didn't win early, but we played well. So throughout the season, we felt real good about our football team all the way through because we knew we had some dynamic players. We knew we had some guys that could play, and we were in tough games that we didn't win and mostly on the road.
It's hard to win at home. It's hard to win on the road. So we didn't take care of business when we had opportunities to, but we never lost faith, and we finished playing very strongly, but we had, I think, four out of our last six at home. The schedule kind of helped us in that category and got on a little bit of a roll and started winning.
That makes a big difference, but we never did feel like we weren't playing well throughout the season. We just didn't take care of business when we had an opportunity to. The defense certainly came on late and did some things that really helped propel us as a football team by getting great turnovers. Eddie Lackey had some great turnovers late in the season, and the bowl performance was as well as we've played since I've been at Baylor.
Coach Bennett and that staff did a great job over there. If we start like we finished last year defensively, which I expect to, then we're going to be a very formidable opponent, I can guarantee you that.
Q. Your uniform up there, your helmet kind of sticks out a bit compared to some of the others we've seen. Talk about the thinking of going to that uniform, what's the players' reaction and what's your reaction to it?
COACH BRILES: Well, there's two shiny things up here, that helmet and my head probably. To me, that's what it's all about. You got style, you got attitude, you got effort. You have an image, and our image is we're going to play fast, we're going to be fearless, and we're not going to worry about what other people think because we know who we are and we know what we're going to do.
So the new uniforms and all that stuff, it's tied in with presenting the image that we are at Baylor, and that's being really good football players, really good students, at a really good university.
Q. Back to two years ago when Robert Griffin was having his Heisman campaign, what did you learn from them as far as helping him along the way get the Heisman, maybe publicity-wise or whatever, that perhaps can help Lache Seastrunk, who already said he wants to win the Heisman this year?
COACH BRILES: Honestly, Robert helped himself win the Heisman. You have to do phenomenal things in phenomenal moments, and that's what he did. The timing was perfect. And he was an exceptional player without question. So he earned that. He earned the highest honor you can get in college football, which is winning the Heisman Trophy.
Lache has some qualities that give him an opportunity. He's a dynamic football player that's very engaging, and those are good qualities to have. They help you with the voters. I'd much rather have players wanting to win the Heisman than clap for the one that does.
We're happy with where he's at and how he's prepared.
Q. What was your reaction when Lache said he -- when he guaranteed he'd win the Heisman? And, second, is the helmet made of actual gold?
COACH BRILES: Well, if it was made of actual gold, it probably wouldn't still be here because somebody would conveniently put it in their bag.
I don't know that he guaranteed it. I really did not look at the quote. If you're saying he did, then I guess he did, and I hope he's right.
What it did to me, nothing. We know Lache. Lache is a great teammate. He's a great, passionate, caring person for everybody on our football team, prepares as well as anybody in the United States of America, and he believes in himself. And I learned a long time ago, if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will.
He's a great teammate. He's a guy that's going to help us win football games, and he's going to fight hard to do it. So we respect him.
Q. Talking about your Bryce Petty, what's a reasonable expectation for him heading into this year? Do you think he can step in like Nick did last year and lead this offense kind of the way you guys have been doing it?
COACH BRILES: Really, Bryce, a reasonable expectation, first thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do. I don't know what expectation anyone would have other than doing that, which equates to winning every football game we step on the field with, which needs to be his expectation along with ours.
His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.
Q. Quick question about recruiting and impact players this year. Are there some guys that you've recruited that can go on the field and become very impactful on either the offensive side or defensive side of the ball this year for you?
COACH BRILES: I think so. We have a guy that transferred in a year ago, Shawn Oakman from Penn State. Shawn's about 6'7", 275. He's got good length, defensive end. Robbie Rhodes, who we felt like last year as a recruiting class, we signed the fastest guy in America, strongest guy in America, and best receiver in America. Robbie Rhodes, we felt like, was the best receiver in the United States of America.
He's on campus now, working out, getting ready to go this fall. When we get a chance to get on the field and see how it transfers from high school to college, he's a guy who could have an opportunity to play.
Andrew Billings, the strongest guy in the United States of America, broke a 22-year-old power lifting mark held by Mark Henry back in May. He's a guy who can play. We knew he was strong. We knew he was passionate. I just didn't know he was that agile and dedicated. He's a guy that really wants to be great. So he's another guy.
And then the guy that we felt like is the fastest guy in America that plays football and Kyle Fulks out of Katy, Texas, ran a 10.21. I would say that Andrew and Robbie right now have the best chance going in.
Q. Art, in this off-season, there's been a lot of talk about the SEC-Big 12 dichotomy and the differences in the league and whatnot. How do you view all that in terms of how the Big 12 -- whatever behind the Big 12 is, whatever the problems are, what can you do to make it up?
COACH BRILES: I mean, are there problems in the Big 12? I didn't know. I thought we had -- yeah, go ahead. I thought we had nine teams in bowl games last year.
Q. Well, your defenses have not been great.
COACH BRILES: The offenses are really great in the Big 12.
Q. When they matched up with the SEC, the SEC generally had the upper hand. There's really not any doubt about that.
COACH BRILES: Yeah, I mean, I'm sure there's always doubt because we could both probably throw facts out there that accentuate both of our outlooks. I'm a Big 12 guy. I think it's the best league in America without question.
The facts don't back that up when you look at national championships, but there's some qualities that are involved there with the round-robin Big 12 play scale. Two years ago Oklahoma State is in the national championship game if Iowa State doesn't beat them in overtime. Kansas State most likely would have been in the national championship game last year if Baylor doesn't beat them their 11th game of the year.
I mean, it's just a tough league to go unscathed in. I think defenses are very talented, very good in our league. I think offenses are very talented, very good. I think the style of play dictates a lot of times how one side of the ball is predicted.
In the Big 12, there's guys on offense trying to score every snap. Maybe it's not the same way it is in the old Lone Star Conference or Missouri Valley Conference, but I know it's that way in the Big 12.
Q. Coach, are you as deep skill position-wise as you've ever been? Skill position-wise, you guys just seem one, two deep everyplace.
COACH BRILES: Big 12 depth-wise we're as deep. When you throw skill position-wise as deep, wide receiver, inside receiver might not be as deep as we've been the last couple of years. We had Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon, Terrance Williams, David Gettis -- these guys are all high draft choices playing in the league.
So we're come back with a couple of guys who have played quite a bit. Tevin Reese, who might be the returning leader in the Big 12 statistically in yards per catch, and Levi Norwood, who had five or six catches for 40-something yards. Our depth at that position is probably not as deep as it's been the last few years. We lost Lanear Sampson, who's with Indianapolis right now also.
So we've had some guys that have played a bunch, but we've got some guys that are ready to play. That's the thing that excites us. We think we have some X-factors that are loaded up and ready.
Every other position, D-line, D-end, linebackers, every single running back, O-line, we're solid at, tight end.
Q. What about Goodley?
COACH BRILES: Antwan Goodley? Antwan, if you look at him stat-wise, you're thinking okay. But if you look at production-wise, this is one of the X-factors I'm talking about. Antwan is 5'10 1/2", 220-pound guy that we can mix in at running back, get in and out of sets without changing at personnel. He allows a lot of qualities we like, plus he's got two years left.
He is a guy that potentially could be a very, very dynamic player. You're talking about a guy that's big and that ran a 21.2 in high school in 200. He's an exceptional athlete that we'll expect a lot out of this year.
Q. With A&M pulling players from Texas into the SEC and TCU popping up around this area, is it getting harder for your program and for programs like yours to recruit kids in Texas? Is the pool getting shallower?
COACH BRILES: When you say our program and programs like us, you're talking about programs in the Big 12 or programs in Texas?
Q. Teams in Texas.
COACH BRILES: Okay, teams in Texas. It's always been tough. My goodness, we're in the best state in the United States for college football, high school football, and maybe professional football. So this is a football state. It's not A&M taking people. I mean, drive to any high school in April in Dallas, in Houston, in San Antonio, in Austin, anywhere in east Texas, anywhere in west Texas, Waco, and you'll see every college of the United States of America in this state.
So it is a tough recruit sell, and that's why it's so critical that you have to put a great product on the field with a great degree in a great location, which we happen to have in Baylor.
So we have some advantages from the recruiting standpoint by our location and by what we've been able to do on the field.
Q. Talk about what has this recent success, going to three straight bowl games, basically done for this program on a national level. And then talk about the new stadium opening up. I mean, that's a huge draw.
COACH BRILES: Definitely going to the three bowl games, winning two of the last three against really good Pac-12 teams has helped without question, especially going to UCLA and doing that in their backyard.
And then the new stadium coming in. I don't want to get redundant, but it's -- what it's going to do is not just change Baylor, but it's going to change Waco and central Texas, because it's on I-35, the Brazos River. If it sounds rehearsed, I've said it a million times. There's people going to drive by there with 6-year-olds and 86-year-olds in their vehicle, and they're going to look over there. Where they've driven straight by for the previous 50 years, they're going to look over and say, that's Baylor University? That's that stadium on the Brazos River? That's their campus? That's unique. That's different. That's something I want my grandchildren to be a part of and as a 6-year-old I want to be a part of.
Q. Art, you said yourself the experience is not really there in the receiving corps, and obviously with Bryce that you've had in recent years, how much is the offense going to predicate on Lache and Glasco really getting going early and often?
COACH BRILES: That's a good question, that's an intelligent question, and it's a sensible question, but I'm not a sensible man. We're not going to predicate anything on anything that should be predicated.
If you show your cards and then your other guy's holding five and he's looking to see if he wants to fold or play, the mystery is gone.
So we're going to do what we do, and what we do is try to make yards and score points, and however we do that is how it's going to happen.
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