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RG3 In Demand: Baylor QB's dazzling junior debut is buzz of college football

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Posted: Monday, September 5, 2011 12:00 pm

By Alex Byington

Killeen Daily Herald

From the moment his knee touched down in the victory formation to seal a season-opening 50-48 upset of No. 14 TCU on Friday evening, setting off a sea of gold-shirted Baylor students flooding the Floyd Casey Stadium field, life has been a media blitzkrieg for Robert Griffin III.

Beginning with a Saturday morning appearance on the set of ESPN's widely watched College Gameday outside of the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington - site of that night's LSU-Oregon game - Griffin has seemingly been on every sports television or radio show, his face has been plastered across every sports website and he's received nearly every weekly award offered at the college level.

"It's been crazy, with all the media requests, going to Gameday," Griffin said via phone Monday. "Whenever you get a big win like we did, the attention's going to come, but you can't let the attention get the best of you, you have to go out and continue to keep working."

A worldwide trending topic on Twitter on Friday night, Griffin was named the National Offensive Player of the Week by Rivals.com and the Walter Camp Football Foundation, and is one of four finalists for both the Capital One Cup Performance of the Week and AT&T All-America Player of the Week.

"For us, it was just righting a wrong," Griffin said of the win. "Last year they gave us a butt-whooping, put our faces in it and rubbed it in, so we came out not really looking for revenge but to come out and not only show them, but the world, what Baylor football is really about."

And with more than a week before Baylor hosts Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 17, Bears coach Art Briles doesn't see anything wrong with the former Copperas Cove standout reaping the spoils of his success.

"We've known it for a long time and it's been a great process for Robert and he handles it extremely well, and that's the thing that will endear him to America," Briles said Monday during his weekly teleconference, "because when they see what kind of person he is and how he handles himself, that just lets his stock escalate.

"It's one of those things that (winning on national TV) was great for Baylor, but it was also great for RGIII."

All the extra attention has even earned

Griffin a new nickname from his teammates - "Ambassador" - to go along with tried and true monikers of "Superman" and "RG3."

More of a running threat in high school, Griffin showed off his true dual-threat nature against the Horned Frogs, throwing for 359 yards and a career-high five touchdowns on 21-of-27 passing, including six of 20 yards or more in the game.

But perhaps the single play he's personally most proud of wasn't a throw at all. It was a catch.

In a third-and-10 situation on Baylor's own 20 yard line, with the team desperately in need of a spark after TCU had rallied to take a 48-47 lead on a 27-yard field goal, Griffin received the gutsy call from Briles for a trick play.

After lateraling to No. 1 receiver Kendall Wright, the former All-American hurdler broke up field 15 yards before turning around just in time to haul in a liner from Wright just as he was drilled from behind by several Horned Frogs defenders. The catch sparked the Bears offense to drive into field-goal range and kicker Aaron Jones nailed the game-winning 37-yard kick to seal the program-boosting victory.

"On that last drive, the first two downs really didn't help to build any momentum with the two incompletions, things were looking grim, but when Coach called the double-pass back to me, I knew I had to catch the ball - no matter where it was or what happened," Griffin said. "Whether I was going to get hit or not, I was going to catch that ball. Not only for myself, to make up for the mistake (a fumble on the previous drive) I made, but for the team, we needed that moment."

Contact Alex Byington at alexb@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7566.

Heisman-worthy

A look at Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin's opening-day performance Friday in a 50-48 win over No. 14 TCU.

- 21 of 27 passes completed (78 percent)

- 359 yards passing

- 5 TD passes (35, 28, 14, 64 and 42 yards)

- 250 passer rating

- 15-yard catch on third-and-10 for first down on game-deciding drive

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