Baylor's Florence starts vs. Texas Tech this time
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By STEPHEN HAWKINS
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) 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."
Updated November 23, 2012