Art Briles and his Quarterbacks

After a career spanning 5 decades from the lowest levels of Texas High School football all the way to the top of the college football world, Art Briles has evolved into a quarterback guru and offensive genius. With his quarterbacks setting records all over the college and professional ranks, we take a look at what an Art Briles QB looks like.

Over a 10 year coaching career at Houston first and then Baylor, Art Briles has put his stamp on the spread offense and made it his own. He pretty much led the movement to the spread offense in high school when he was winning state championships at Stephenville High School in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999. Those first two state champion teams feature the at the time traditional veer running offense. However, in the late 90s, Briles switched roles and moved to a spread offense that changed Texas High School football. In his high school career, Briles coached 6 quarterbacks that would go on to play Division I football.

Year

Player

Class

Yr in

Sys

Cmp

Att

Pct

Pass

Yds

Yds

Per

Pass

TD

INT

Rush

Yds

Yds

Per

Rush

Rush

TD

‘03

Kolb

FR

1

220

360

61.1%

3131

8.70

25

6

349

2.51

7

‘04

Kolb

So

2

198

353

56.1%

2766

7.84

11

6

51

0.43

5

‘05

Kolb

JR

3

254

420

60.5%

3258

7.76

19

15

200

1.92

5

‘06

Kolb

SR

4

292

432

67.6%

3809

8.82

30

4

154

1.39

4

‘07

Keenum /

Joseph

FR

2

287

428

67.1%

3584

8.37

23

14

521

3.18

10

When he first got to Houston, after leaving the Texas Tech Red Raider spread attack in its full glory, he had a freshman quarterback at the top of the depth chart by the name of Kevin Kolb. The 55th ranked quarterback in the class of 2003 from Stephenville, TX (Also where Briles became a high school coaching legend) came to Houston and emerged as the starter in the first game of his collegiate career. Kolb would go on to have a record setting career with Briles, starting for four years and throwing for almost 13,000 yards and 85 touchdowns.

After Kolb graduated, it was time for another freshman to take over. This time, it was Case Keenum, a two-star unranked quarterback from Abilene, TX. Keenum would only have a redshirt season and then one year starting under Briles, but he would go on to set all-time record for passing yards, touchdowns and completions when he was through. Keenum though did not start his freshman year on top of the depth chart, like Kolb did. While appearing in all 13 games, Keenum only started 7 of them. He went back and forth with sophomore Blake Joseph for the first half of the year, before winning the starting job outright.

As Baylor fans know, Briles would leave Houston after 2007 and become the Bears new head football coach. One of his first acts as coach was bringing them Houston commitment Robert Griffin III over to Baylor and signing him to be the future of the position for the Bears. I say future because of the fact that Briles brought in Miami transfer Kirby Freeman in March of 2008 as the presumed starter. Freeman would start the spring game in Waco, and earn the starting spot to open the 2008 campaign against Wake Forest over Griffin and previous Baylor starter Blake Syzmanski.

Year

Player

Class

Yr in

Sys

Cmp

Att

Pct

Pass

Yds

Yds

Per

Pass

TD

INT

Rush

Yds

Yds

Per

Rush

Rush

TD

‘08

Griffin III

FR

1

160

267

59.9%

2091

7.83

15

3

843

4.87

13

‘09

Florence /

Griffin /

Syzmanski

SO

2

265

424

62.5%

2872

6.77

11

14

171

1.63

6

‘10

Griffin III

SO

3

304

454

67.0%

3501

7.71

22

8

635

4.26

8

‘11

Griffin III

JR

4

291

402

72.4%

4293

10.68

37

6

699

3.91

10

‘12

Florence

SR

5

286

464

61.6%

4309

9.29

33

13

568

4.09

10

Of course, Freeman's time as starting quarterback would only last him 11 passes and would pave the way for the 4-star freshman out of Killen, TX to lead the Briles offense. For the third time in a row when a new quarterback was needed to take the reins under Art Briles, a freshman would eventually win him over and become a 4 year starter. Griffin would start 3 of the next four years, with one of those wiped out by injury where he was replaced primarily by Nick Florence, who of course would start the 2012 campaign and set new Baylor passing records.

So what does a quarterback season look like for Art Briles? Well, if you just look at every year under Art Briles, it looks like this: 3361 passing yards, 23 touchdowns versus 9 interceptions, 8.38 yards per pass, 419 yards rushing with 8 rushing touchdowns. However, we are looking at Bryce Petty now as the starter, someone entering his 4th year in this offense. So, what does a player in his 4th year look like in Briles' offense? There were three such seasons like that under Briles so far. 2006 with Kevin Kolb, 2011 with Robert Griffin III and 2012 with Nick Florence all saw a quarterback with 4 or 5 years of experience in the offense.

Those three quarterbacks averaged 4,137 yards passing, 9.59 yards per attempt, 33.33 touchdowns against 7.67 interceptions, and ran for 473 yards and 8 touchdowns. Is that what we should expect from Bryce Petty? I have my doubts about that simply because Griffin and Kolb were both multi-year starters while Petty will be starting for the first time, despite this being his 4th year in the offense.

Time Frame

Cmp

Att

Pct

Yds

Yds per Pass

TD

INT

Rush Yards

Rush Atts

Yards per Rush

Rush TD

All Seasons

255.7

400.4

63.5%

3361

8.38

22.6

8.9

419.1

138.1

2.8

7.8

Fourth or Fifth Year

289.6

432.6

67.2%

4137

9.59

33.3

7.7

473.7

143.0

3.1

8.0

No ‘07 and ‘09

286.5

446.0

64.3%

3947

8.83

28.0

13.5

544.5

151.5

3.6

10.0

The simple fact of the matter is, Briles has been brilliant with finding and developing quarterbacks. He has done it with 4-star athletes and with 2-star non-ranked players. He has won with freshman and with 5th year seniors. Art Briles changed Texas high school football over 15 years ago when he switched to a spread offense, and his mark has been no less impactful in the state during his collegiate coaching career as well.


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