Baylor Football: Despite Lack of Defense, QB Nick Florence Has Heisman Numbers
Doing more with less. No one in the country has personified that statement more than Baylor University quarterback Nick Florence. When you look at the numbers, Florence should be on the doorstep of the Heisman Trophy race. Sadly, he hasn't received recognition.
Blame it on the team's record, untimely turnovers, the Robert Griffin III factor or the porous defense, but something continues to keep his name out of the mouths of national supporters.
Although the Bears are a pedestrian 3-3, they've had offensive success in every game, and most of that success starts with Baylor's most indispensable position. Dropping 63 points in Morgantown and 50 points in Austin is enough to win for most teams, but not when the defense is giving up record-setting performances.
It would have taken perfect games to beat West Virginia and Texas. Granted, Florence dropped the ball somewhat in his four-interception day against TCU. Blame the rain in Waco or blame his decision making, but he wasn't on his game, although the defense also gave up 49 points.
If you've seen one of Baylor's games, it's clear that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett hasn't been getting the best out of his players. If you haven't, and need further proof, Baylor ranks 124th (dead last) in points allowed at 44.0 per game.
Missed tackles and blown coverages have been a hallmark of the team's first-half struggles, as evidenced by every facet of the game against Texas.
You'll never hear those words out of Florence's mouth, though. The leader of this offense committed to Baylor back in 2007, before winning seasons or quality QBs were the norm in Waco. Time and again, he has proved his loyalty to the school.
Last season, he burned his redshirt in the second half of a blowout win against Texas Tech. RG3 went down with an injury, and Florence stepped in without any reservations about losing a full year of college experience. Florence then threw two touchdowns in the Bears' 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.
True to form, the fifth-year senior from South Garland High School refuses to let the defense take the blame for his team's slow start in the Big 12. It would be extremely easy to go all Cam Newton after watching the lack of defense from week to week, but he is behind his defense and strives to improve the offense to limit mistakes.
National writers are noticing that filling RG3's shoes isn't easy when the defense is more friendly than Casper the ghost (and less noticeable, at that). Here's Richelle Carey's take on the matter:
RICHELLE CAREY (@RichelleCarey) October 21, 2012
Florence is on the college football leaderboard in almost every key stat for a QB. His 2226 yards are good for 9th in the nation. He's also 6th in touchdown passes, 2nd in yards per completion and 1st in yards per attempt at 10.3.
Of the QBs in the top 25 in passing yards, there are only three that have fewer than the 217 passing attempts that Florence has. Between Aaron Murray, EJ Manuel and Tyler Wilson, the first two are in run-heavy offenses while Wilson was injured for a game-and-a-half.
None have come close to the 48 points per game Baylor has scored, either. That mark is good for 3rd in the country.
Florence is making all the throws necessary to run this offense, including ones that qualify as "NFL-ready." Florence delivered this sideline go route to Terrence Williams in perfect position on the sideline, splitting safety help and putting the ball where only his receiver could make a play on the ball.
Simply put, not only is Florence good, but if Baylor had managed to win against Texas or West Virginia, we'd be talking about him over Seth Doege and Geno Smith.
He has weapons that make him one of the nation's best passers. Despite the loss of three NFL prospects in RG3, Philip Blake and Kendall Wright, the rest of the team has stepped up to the challenge, including the NFL-bound Williams, Tevin Reese and the rest of the offensive line.
A leader on both the gridiron and in the classroom, he's also been nominated for two of the country's most prestigious awards. The Davey O'Brien trophy, awarded to the nation's best QB, and the Campbell Award, otherwise known as the academic Heisman, are both in Florence's sights.
Future Cowboy RB Rex Burkhead (Neb/Plano) BU QB Nick Florence (SGarland) TTU S Cody Davis (Stephenville) among 15 Academic Heisman finalists— Bill Jones (@cbsdollarbill) October 24, 2012
With a .500 record and 10 interceptions so far, it's probably not likely that Florence sniffs the watch list for the rest of the season. Winnable games against Kansas and Iowa State await in the next two weeks, but the gauntlet of Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech is also down the line.
Even with 5000 yards passing, Florence would need other candidates to slip along the way. That number is attainable in this offense, but Case Keenum did many of the same things while breaking numerous long-standing records and didn't get his Heisman invite.
If Florence was going to have a real shot at the award, he would have had to play perfect football in these first six games, which were all winnable considering this team's potent offense.
Still, with no love from the national media (even in the 63-point shootout at Morgantown), his numbers warrant a little bit of attention. I have no problem obliging and reminding the college football faithful that his story should be on their radar the rest of the way.
Everybody loves the underdog, and this guy is the definition of the word.
Every pass he throws is a sting to those who said he couldn't hold a candle to Griffin and be a worthy successor to the Baylor quarterback position.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist and member of Bleacher Reports Breaking News Team.
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