To start, I'm getting these quotes from the wrap-up on BaylorBears.com, which is obviously something put up by Baylor. They often don't include all of the quotes worth looking at, especially ones that might reflect negatively on the program. Today, for example, if you read that page and it alone, you wouldn't have any idea Briles was asked about embattled DC Phil Bennett twice. I'll include that quote first since it gets to the heart of the issues facing this team.
Also, watch the video on the site. It's worth your time.
Briles was asked Monday whether he'd considered letting Bennett go before the season ended, and his response was an emphatic no.
"Not at all," Briles said.
He was then asked why.
"Because he's a good football coach and he's taking care of business on the defensive side of the ball. That's not even thought about at this stage of the game."
Briles and I obviously have different opinions about what "taking care of business means," and this quote actually makes me wonder if Briles is blaming the players for not executing rather than the DC. Baylor NB Ahmad Dixon also weighed in on the DC issue:
"On and off the field, that's my guy," Dixon said. "I stand by Coach Bennett no matter what he does. When I first met him it was a little shaky, but after me and him just sat down and just talked to each other and got to know each other on a personal level, I stand behind him. Even though we're not winning right now and it's looking all bad defensively, I still stand behind him because I know the plays he calls and the kind of guy he is, I know it works. Sundays we come in here, and a play we gave up a touchdown on, he has it up on the screen. And he'll show us executing on the same play later in the game. So I know what he's calling is working, so that's what makes me stand behind him. It's just frustrating to see him go through this, because I know what he's calling is working, and I know that if we just line up and play, it's on us."
Long but interesting. Dixon's vote of confidence is reassuring considering the discussed possibility that the defense quit listening to Coach Bennett. Dixon is one of the most outspoken players on defense and likely to communicate the pulse of the team. I don't think he'd lie just to protect Bennett by any means.
Now to the other quotes, beginning with Coach Briles:
On what he's been most disappointed with through the first six games...
"Not winning every game is the most disappointing thing. We understand we're in a tough league, and we need to be a tough member of that league. So, that's kind of bottom line facts. But, like I said, we could find a lot of disappointments, and we could throw a few bright spots in there. I feel like if I pointed out disappointments, it might be pointing out some individuals on our football team, but I don't feel like that's my job or my duty right now."
Always the good soldier. He's not going to throw anyone under the bus.
On K.J. Morton and Mike Hicks' statuses...
"I don't think K.J. is going to be able to play. It's a groin injury. I just talked to (trainer) Mike (Sims) a couple minutes ago, and he said he would be doubtful this week, and will be week-to-week from here on out. I think there's a good chance [Mike] Hicks might play this week."
Another starting CB lost to injury. Briles said the same thing about Hicks last week and then he didn't play, so I wouldn't take that statement for a definitive answer.
On whether or not the defense is playing with a lot of confidence and aggression...
"The scheme is controllable form a standpoint of making the calls, and the other is having the confidence and having the ability to make plays while the ball is in the air. We're always working on being aggressive. That's the name of the game on both sides of the ball."
The last thing I would call our defense is aggressive, particularly against the pass.
Senior Quarterback Nick Florence
On coming up short in Austin even with a productive game from the offense...
"It's frustrating, but it's a team game and as an offense we still left points on the field. We didn't win every aspect of the game and so we lost, and in the Big 12 you have to win every aspect of the game in order to win games."
When it's all said and done, Robert Griffin III will have been the QB that put Art Briles truly on the map of college football, but I think Florence will be the Baylor QB he considers most his, if that makes sense. It's uncanny how similar they are in their attitudes.
On the last six games of the season...
"We have six ball games left. There is still a ton of football left. We were in kind of the same situation last year, and we were able to come out of it and overcome it. People remember how you finish a season, and that's we are going for."
I highlighted the similarities between 2011 and 2012 to date last week to try to stay sane, but one big difference is the quality of opponent we have left. KSU wasn't a top-5 team last season. They are now. Tech wasn't a top-15 team last season. They are now. Winning out last year was an amazing accomplishment. Doing it this year would be downright astounding with our remaining schedule.
Check out the rest of the quotes and watch the video!