Breaking Down Baylor

The Baylor Bears travel to Houston to take on the Rice Owls Saturday. The Bears will be trying to bounce back from a big loss to TCU from last week. Take a look inside at the breakdown on Baylor - FREE.

INSIDE SLANT

Baylor coach Art Briles isn't concerned that a demoralizing loss last week will crush his team's fragile confidence heading into Saturday's game at Rice.

The Bears fell into an early 35-3 hole after TCU blitzed them with five consecutive touchdown drives on their first five possessions. All of this came against a Baylor defense that hadn't allowed a touchdown in its first two games.

"The only way to build confidence is through production," Briles said. "The only way to build confidence is through results, and we need to go out there and get some results."

TCU's 45-10 beatdown was reminiscent of a Mike Tyson fight back when the former heavyweight champion was at his prime. At one point of the game, TCU had 18 first downs and Baylor had run 17 plays.

"Frankly we're better than we played (last) Saturday," Baylor cornerback Chance Casey said. "We need to show that in practice and we need to show it definitely on Saturday. We need to be living up to our potential."

That wasn't the case against TCU, which jumped on Baylor early and never let up. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed his first 11 passes as the Horned Frogs rolled up 211 yards in the first quarter alone. Baylor's defense never appeared to be ready for the challenge of the No. 4 Horned Frogs.

"We came out of the locker room amped up, and to have them start the way they did with the first drive took a lot out of us," Baylor safety Brian Landor said. "We want to be the ones that score like that and make big plays on defense to prevent them from doing that."

The Bears will be tested by Rice team that played Texas closely in its opener before dropping a 34-17 decision. The Owls followed that with a narrow victory at North Texas before losing to Northwestern last week.

Rice has alternated three quarterbacks this season, with Nick Fanuzzi, Taylor McHargue and Taylor Cook all getting substantial playing time in the three games. That trio will keep Briles scheming on Rice's offensive variations depending on which quarterback will be in the game.

Fanuzzi, a transfer from Alabama who is considered the team's best passer, has received the majority of snaps. But Briles says his team will be ready for all three quarterbacks.

"Those guys do something a little differently," Briles said. "We think we have an idea of who is going to play this week, but we don't know for sure. We have to prepare a little differently for one as opposed to the others. We'll wait and see who is going out there on the field."

Understandably, Saturday's game at Rice isn't receiving nearly as much national attention as Baylor's game at TCU earned.

But Briles says his team can't afford a mental hangover as it attempts to win its first game at Rice since 1994.

"We don't have a choice. We have a new game, new week and we have to prepare and go take care of business," Briles said. "We cannot let one incident turn into two. We're not happy. We're embarrassed and now, we better be determined."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Baylor-Rice rivalry is a significant one for both schools and dates to 1914. The two teams met every season between 1945 and 1995, the final season of play in the Southwest Conference. Baylor holds a 45-30-2 edge in the series, dominating the series after the arrival of Grant Teaff in 1972. Since then, Baylor has won 19 of the last 25 games in the series, including a 42-17 triumph in Waco in 2007 in their most recent game.

--Baylor had not allowed a touchdown in either of its first two games before TCU's early onslaught last week. The Horned Frogs' quick start was stunning for Baylor after its earlier success this season.

"It was really frustrating," Baylor defensive end Zac Scotton said. "I don't think defensively we expected that to happen at all. I just don't think we were prepared for how they came into the game and how they did it. By the time we caught our breath and tried to get adjusted it was a little too late."

--Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin struggled through a miserable game against TCU but has vowed a comeback this week.

Several TCU players said after the game that Griffin does not appear to have reached the level he was playing at before his knee injury.

Briles discounted those claims.

"I honestly have not tried to evaluate it in that way," Briles said. "I know he's worked hard and rehabbed hard. He's clearly at 100 percent, but he has to get better. We're not trying to judge where he's at, but where he needs to be."

--Saturday's game will be Briles' first in the Houston area since he left Houston to take the Baylor job in 2008.

"I love Houston and I always will," Briles said. "It will have a lot of special memories for me. It will be fun coming back."

SERIES HISTORY: Baylor leads Rice 45-30-2 (last meeting, 2007, 45-17 Baylor).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Baylor never appeared in synch against TCU, a trend that's not surprising considering the Horned Frogs' talent-laden group of experienced playmakers. Baylor won't face nearly the challenge against Rice but should be ready for a test. Griffin appeared to be trying to make too much happen himself, forcing the ball into tight coverages and struggling getting his receivers involved. The running game was able to show some development when Jay Finley was running against TCU, and Baylor must build on that if it has any hopes against the Owls.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The Baylor defense never had an answer for TCU. The Bears struggled to contain the run and the pass during a dreadful start that left them in a whopping hole they never could climb out of. It was a rude awakening for a group that hadn't allowed a touchdown in its first two games. Rice will challenge with a variety of options depending on which of the three quarterbacks plays. And with injuries to cornerbacks Antaries Bryan and Clifton Odom, it will be critical for substitute players to step up.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We were not pleased at anything we did against TCU. Obviously, we have to be better in everything we do." -- Baylor coach Art Briles.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Baylor at Rice, Sept. 25 -- Two old Southwest Conference rivals will meet in a game that's important as both attempt to rebound from disappointing losses last week. Robert Griffin's athleticism should gives Baylor an edge over the Owls, but Rice could cause the Bears a slew of defensive headaches with three quarterbacks ready to play.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Baylor needs to follow the same game plan that worked for them in their two victories. Let Robert Griffin make plays offensively as the Bears attack with their defense. This game will be critical in Baylor's hopes of making its first bowl trip since 1994. They need a quick rebound after the TCU loss to rebuild their fragile confidence heading into Big 12 play.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

QB Robert Griffin -- After a struggling effort at TCU, Griffin took personal accountability for his team's struggles. He'll be facing a more agreeable test against Rice, although he must trust his teammates rather than trying to do everything himself.

WR Josh Gordon -- The sophomore receiver ran some good routes and accounted for Baylor's only touchdown against TCU with a 53-yard reception. He finished with three catches for a career-best 66 yards.

CB Chance Casey -- The Bears struggled to make big plays against TCU. Casey had five tackles and notched Baylor's only tackle for a loss among the Horned Frogs' 71 offensive snaps.

ROSTER MOVES:

--Starting CB Antareis Bryan will miss his second-straight game with a hamstring injury, Baylor coach Art Briles said. Baylor's depth at the position already is weakened as his backup, Clifton Odom, sustained an ankle injury against TCU that will keep him out of the Rice game. Briles said the injuries are causing him to consider starting freshman Tyler Stephenson against the Owls.

--Junior DT Tracy Robertson went out with a sprained left knee in the middle of the fourth quarter and is questionable for the Rice game.


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