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Baylor coach Art Briles is taking a positive approach when it comes to replacing Heisman winner Robert Griffin III at quarterback, calling it an "inspiration" for others to raise the level of their game.

"We're not in the business of getting close and saying 'maybe' and 'gosh, I wish.' We're in the proving business," he said. "Our job is to win football games.

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"So what we have to do is figure out ways to fill in the gaps, because Robert created a bunch of gaps. His ability from somebody else's is a big gap.

"We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically, personnel-wise and motivational-wise and inspiration-wise that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished last year."

Griffin led the Bears to a 10-3 season in 2011, often by making spectacular plays to pull out wins. Such as against Oklahoma, when he led the Bears to the deciding touchdown after taking over with only 51 seconds left in a tie game.

Briles won't be asking either senior Nick Florence or sophomore Bryce Petty to pull off such miracle finishes.

Florence, who started as freshman in 2009, goes into the fall as the starter.

"The thing he's got to do is stay within himself and not get caught up in listening to anybody else or anything else and stay focused in the moment, focused in the situation," Briles said.

Florence, who has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards in his career, is realistic about his situation.

"If I try to be Robert Griffin, I'm going to fail," he said. "I'm not him. I don't look anything like him. Two completely different people. I want to be who I am."

But the goal remains the same.

"We want to win a Big 12 championship," Florence said.

HEAD COACH: Art Briles, fifth year at Baylor, 25-25 record at Baylor and 59-53 as a head coach.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: WR Terrance Williams -- Williams is one of a trio of career 1,000-yard receivers returning for Baylor. He had 59 catches for 957 yards last year, second to the departed Kendall Wright, and is going to be asked to increase that production. "Terrance needs to become a 1,500-yard receiver for us," Briles said. "He's that good."

BREAKOUT STAR: WR Lanear Sampson -- Sampson had 42 catches for 572 yards and looks to increase those numbers as he goes into his final collegiate season. "He's a guy that we kept under the reins a little bit the last two or three years," Briles said. "When we got to spring ball this year, we threw him in front of it. We said we're going to let him play, because he has the ability to be a tremendous playmaker. It's our job to cut him loose and let him go."

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: LB Eddie Lackey -- Lackey arrived at midyear after transferring from Riverside (Calif.) Community College. He emerged from spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart at the Will linebacker spot. He recorded 54 tackles (eight for losses) and broke up six passes as Riverside finished 11-0 in 2011.

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KEYS TO SUCCESS: Obviously, the Bears must replace key personnel on offense, where Florence is projected to take over for RG3. The good news is that Florence does have experience, and he doesn't have to match Griffin's gaudy statistics for the Bears to be successful. Despite the loss of Wright, the Bears have a strong receiving corps and should be able to move the ball through the air.

AREAS OF CONCERN: With the offense likely to see at least a dip in production, the defense is going to have to step up. The Bears return eight starters, but they played on a unit that gave up at least 30 points in 10 games last year. Two of the lost starters are at linebacker.

Notes

-- While the quarterback situation will get a lot of attention with senior Florence and Petty competing for the spot, running back also is a key area Baylor must fill with the departure of Terrance Ganaway (1,547 yards rushing in 2011). Senior Jarred Slubi (844 career rushing yards) and sophomore Lache Seastrunk, a transfer from Oregon, were 1-2 on the depth chart coming out of spring, but junior Glasco Martin (289 yards on just 40 career carries) could figure in the competition as well.

-- Baylor has had an offensive lineman drafted in the fourth round or higher for four consecutive years, and C Ivory Wade has an opportunity to keep that streak alive next spring. Wade has 33 consecutive career starts in 36 games and will anchor the middle of the offensive front this fall after moving from right tackle.

-- TE Jordan Najvar and LG Cyril Richardson were the only Bears named to the preseason all-Big 12 team.

-- Former Michigan WR Darryl Stonum announced on his Twitter account in July he was transferring to Baylor, but the university has yet to confirm.

-- Suspended DE Tevin Elliott faces sexual assault charges from an incident at a party last spring.

 
 
 
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