Briles: Let's Go Have Some Fun

If, indeed, a team takes on the persona of its head coach, expect Baylor to showcase a calm, steady, confident demeanor in Morgantown this weekend.

Art Briles has taken a sort of c'est la vie approach to the atmosphere, and what his team will face on the field, at West Virginia. That's not to note Briles doesn't have a healthy dose of respect for the Mountaineers. It's just that the veteran knows there are some aspects one can control, and some one cannot.

"Well, it's another road game," he said. "Nothing on road trips ever goes exactly how you planned. We'll load up and go to West Virginia and load back up and come home. … Any time you go on the road and have an opportunity to get out of there with more points than the other team, it's a big deal. They are going to have a good stadium, it's not like it's going to be a big first-time deal for them. They have been doing things right up there for a long time. The only significance is that it's their first Big 12 game. … Just West Virginia football in general, I think, especially over the last decade, they have been a pretty dominant football program. They have not dropped off since Dana (Holgorsen) got there."

Briles did mention the early kickoff time as yet another challenge in a host of them for a Baylor team that has played on three different days of the week in as many games.

"(The noon kick time) coincides with what has really been going on since we started the season," he said. "It's been tough to get into any kind of routine playing on a Sunday, Saturday, Friday. So we've had to really adjust our schedules. It's part of it. It's going to be an early kickoff to our bodies Saturday morning, no question. It'll be a little bit of an adjustment. We will do a good job making sure our guys are fresh come game time."

Both teams will pit offenses averaging about 50 points per game each against defenses designed for the spread, pass-first style of play. It will be the most similar-looking opponent of the season for Baylor and West Virginia, and the game should serve each program as a measuring stick for the remainder of Big 12 play.

"There are some similarities, scheme-wise, when you think about Oklahoma State, Texas Tech," Briles said of WVU's Air Raid. "Talent-wise, they are as talented as anybody in the league. That's reflective of them winning a BCS game last year and being No. 7 this year. … Dana is a great coach. He has done a great job everywhere he has been. He is very passionate, very attentive to detail, and very intelligent. Very good schematic mind. No nonsense-type of person. I am certainly not surprised at all where he is at right now. I could see it back in 2000."

As might be expected, Briles was asked to compare West Virginia's Geno Smith with Baylor-turned-Washington Redskins' quarterback Robert Griffin III. Briles made an apropos comparison between the Heisman race and another sport.

"It's constant. It's like golf," he said. "You make one bad shot and everybody is talking about the one bad shot instead of the 68 you hit right. You can be in it one week, and not the next. That's what happened with Robert. We were hot early, cooled back off and then came back at the end. … (Geno is) phenominal. He's why they are where they are at, No 7 in American. He's in control of what goes on on the football field. Production, I see a lot of comparisons, and that's the bottom line. Whatever business you're in, that's what it's all about, production. And he's been very productive."

Other Opposing Insights:

  • On starting 3-0 – "We did what we had to do. You have to win your nonconference games in this league, because the league is so strong and the games are so tough. You got to fight and claw for every inch on both sides of the ball. That was the critical thing that we had to come out of the nonconference with three wins, and, as time will tell, against three pretty good football teams.

    "We have a lot of growth ahead of us. We are still learning and growing, and there's things out there we feel we can do on both sides of the ball."

  • On QB Nick Florence, who has a 166.9 pass efficiency rating after going 71 for 110 for 1,004 yards with an 11 to four touchdown-to-interception ratio – "He has done what he's been asked. At this point, we are right where we thought we'd be. I still think there is some more out there."

  • On Baylor's run game – "I think we've been ok, we've been averaging over 200 yards a game. There are not many teams in America that are averaging 300 [passing yards] and 200 rushing a game. We are certainly not where we think we will be, we feel like we have some energy out there that hasn't produced yet. We certainly feel like we are going to be capable of rushing the ball better than we have been."

  • On being ranked this early in the year – "I think it benefits Baylor. I think it's a little bit of a carryover from the national recognition we got a year ago. Early season polls, that gives you a chance sto start higher and finish higher. We need that recognition and that respect nationally that we still don't have, that we are still trying to earn. We are peaking in a crack at the door, they don't have it open yet to let us in, but we are peaking in and then they will shut it. We just have to get it where it will stay open and we will stay respected all the time."

  • On his linebackers – "They have been very active. They have made some mistakes, like all of us, coaches and players. They have been around the football. As they progress, they will continue to get better. Some have started (just) three Division I games."

  • On going on the road against a ranked team to open Big 12 play – "It doesn't matter if you're nine or 99. It's a Big 12 conference game, and you've got nine of them, gotta go play them all. At the end of the year, they will add them up, and what we've learned through this conference is rankings don't seem to always be relevant to what's going to happen. I'm not saying they don't deserve their ranking. They do. They have done a great job last year and a great job this year. But as far as us getting all riled up going to play the No. 7 or 9 ranked team in America, we will get other shots like that. We won't use that (as motivation)."

  • On rallying to win the last two games – "We'd much rather have it the other way, no question. What we've got to start doing is start faster. We can't put ourselves in a hole and expect to dig out of it every time. We're tough, we're resilient, we have belief, we have faith and we have hope. We have the mindset that we will have something positive happen in the end. What you'd rather do is hang on than catch up. … It gives you some positive vibes. We'll take that and use it this week."

    "Let's go to West Virginia and have some fun," Briles said.


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