Baylor’s Florence starts vs. Texas Tech this time

Baylor quarterback Nick Florence still has no regrets about
burning his redshirt season for one half of football.

”Looking back, that’s one of the best memories I’ll ever have,
and you can’t write that script,” Florence said, referring to the
second half of last year’s game against Texas Tech. ”I’m going to
look back, and I’m going to enjoy that. That’s one of the greatest
memories I have playing college football.”

When the Bears play Texas Tech again at Cowboys Stadium on
Saturday, Florence is the starter. And he’s the FBS leader in total
offense (384 total yards per game) after succeeding Heisman Trophy
winner Robert Griffin III.

Since he played the second half against the Red Raiders last
November, after Griffin had concussion-like symptoms, Florence is
nearing the end of his final season of college eligibility – rather
than having the chance to play again next year.

The Bears (5-5, 2-5 Big 12) are trying to get bowl eligible for
the third consecutive season, which would be a first in school
history. Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4) is already bowl eligible but has
last three of its last four games.

Last November, Griffin took a hit late in the first half against
the Red Raiders. It was only a brief conversation at halftime with
coach Art Briles before Florence was in the game, throwing for 151
yards with two touchdowns and running for a score in the Bears’
66-42 victory.

”He really impressed us. Even after the game we go back and
look at it and he played better than RG3 did the first half,” Tech
coach Tommy Tuberville said. ”He put the ball on the money, threw
deep balls, he made some big third-down throws. We were a little
bit amazed because we didn’t know anything about him. We hadn’t
prepared for him. … And he’s come back this year. We knew he’d be
a good quarterback.”

There will be no surprises this time since Florence is throwing
for 343 yards and responsible for nearly 21 points a game.

When Griffin suffered a season-ending knee injury three games
into the 2009 season, and his backup got hurt, Florence became a
starter as a true freshman. He was the primary backup in 2010, and
the plan had been for him to redshirt last season – until Griffin
got hurt.

”I knew when Griff came out of the training room and I saw his
eyes, I knew it wasn’t good. So at that point I didn’t know what
the deal would be, but for me I was going to do whatever coach
needed me to do,” Florence said. ”So when he asked me how I felt
about burning the redshirt, it was no question for me to do
whatever needed to be done. There wasn’t a lot of thought to it. It
was a fun half to play, and I wouldn’t change it for
anything.”

Florence is in graduate school at Baylor working on a master’s
degree in business administration.

While Florence would certainly like to have a few more
victories, the Bears are coming off a 52-24 upset win over Kansas
State, then the No. 1 team in the BCS standings. After Tech, they
close the regular season at home Dec. 1 against No. 22 Oklahoma
State.

Texas Tech had won 15 in a row against Baylor since the
inception of the Big 12 before the season-ending loss last November
that left the Red Raiders with their first losing record since
1992.

While they will avoid a losing record this season, it has been
another tough ending stretch for the Red Raiders after a five-game
losing streak to end last season. They are coming off a 59-21 loss
at Oklahoma State, and will finish by playing their entire Big 12
schedule over nine consecutive weeks.

”It’s obviously to the point where it’s been a long year,”
Tuberville said. ”We’ve just got to go play better. … We’re
pretty beat up, but that’s no excuse. We got to go play. We’ll have
to adjust some guys around because there will probably be a few
guys that played last week that won’t play this week.”