Art Briles Has Baylor Football on Track for Success

The Baylor Bears are not bowl eligible yet, but they certainly have reason to celebrate after Saturday night’s win over Kansas State.

After losing Robert Griffin III to the NFL the universe likely thought that the Baylor Bears football program was going to slid back into obscurity, forever to be overshadowed by the women’s basketball program.

Going into Saturday’s game with a 4-5 record it appeared as if that premonition was coming true. The team had lost five of its last six even though its new quarterback, Nick Florence, had led the nation in total offense for the majority of the season. With Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State still on the schedule the outlook was pretty bleak.

The team wasn’t fazed though. They were still confident that if they go out and play their game that they could do more than just give the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings a run for their money. They could beat them.

''All week we believed we were going to beat them and if we did we weren't going to be surprised when it happened,'' Florence said.

And beat them they did.

Florence accounted for 285 total yards and three touchdowns, got some help from his running game (185 yards, one TD from Lache Seastrunk and 113 yards, three TDs from Glasco Martin, but it was the defense that lead the Bears to a 52-24 upset win over Colin Klein and the Kansas State Wildcats.

The Bear defense came into the game ranked No. 120 in the nation in total offense (No. 96 against the run and No. 118 against the pass). On paper it would seem as if Heisman front-runner Colin Klein would be able to run wild on the Bears with the No. 20 rushing attack and could even pass at will (No. 86)

However they did it wouldn’t be important. Few teams were as efficient as the Wildcats when it came to making use of the offense they generated (No. 8 in scoring). With the No. 34 unit in total defense and a top 10 unit against the run the game had the makings of a dominant performance for the Wildcats.

Baylor ended up holding Klein to 39 yards on the ground and a 54 percent completion percentage. Kansas State had averaged over 200 yards a game on the ground; Saturday they had just 87. To add to the misery for K-State their top 10 run defense that held teams to under 100 yards on the ground gave up 342 yards to the Bears.

The win moves the Bears to just a 5-5 record; not too impressive and not yet bowl eligible. With the team having to replace their quarterback, two offensive linemen, and possibly their three (definitely two) top wide receivers it would seem like the program is poised to head back to the cellar, but that is far from the case.

Why? Because of head coach Art Briles.

The fifth year head coach has shown that he knows how to develop talent and mold a group of individuals into a team. The success that he and the Bears enjoyed with Robert Griffin III at quarterback brought nation attention to Waco. However, it is the continued success of the program—as proven with the big win over K-State-that will keep the nation (and some of high school football’s top talent) interested.

"We are becoming a better football team. We felt good about the way we progressed," coach Art Briles said. "We are playing the best football of the season right now. We still have some road blocks ahead of us and the job's not finished yet."

So far it looks like more top players are starting to give the Bears a look. Briles’s first recruiting class back in 2008 was ranked No. 51 by Rivals.com. So far the 2013 class is ranked No. 24. It doesn't quite put the Bears up there with the elites, but they are much better off than they were before Briles took over.
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