Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has developed a reputation as an exciting playmaker. That reputation has become so accepted in Waco, Texas, that at one point during Saturday night’s game the Baylor marching band played the theme song from the movie “Superman” following a particularly good play by Griffin.
While Griffin can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, he is an exceptional passer and a fast and deceptive runner.
That didn’t stop a pair of Missouri defensive tackles from injecting a bit of kryptonite into Saturday night’s game.
The Tigers' Sheldon Richardson and Dominique Hamilton pressured Griffin relentlessly. The Baylor quarterback is used to using his feet to make big plays, but at times Saturday, he was forced into using his feet. And at other times, those feet couldn’t help him avoid the combined 595 pounds of Richardson and Hamilton.
“If we get more than one guy getting pressure,” defensive lineman Brad Madison said, “we collapse the pocket, and there’s nowhere to run, even if you are fast.”
Richardson and Hamilton combined for two sacks and four tackles for losses, with Hamilton forcing a fumble and blocking an extra point attempt.
“That says that we’re working out there,” Hamilton said. “I hope everyone sees our desire and our determination to get back there (in the backfield).”
Griffin was anything but ineffective in the Bears 42-39 victory against the Tigers. He completed 27-of-41 passes for 406 yards and bettered 400 yards for the third-straight game. But his running game was contained, chiefly by the efforts of the two Tigers playing in the middle of the Missouri defensive line. Griffin ran for 64 yards and a touchdown, but it took him 18 carries to do so.
Richardson’s night didn’t start so well, as he picked up a 15-yard personal foul penalty in the first quarter that sent the Baylor offense down to the Missouri 25-yard line.
But, Richardson, a junior, overcame that error and consistently got to Griffin in the backfield. On the next drive, Richardson put Griffin on his back. Griffin got a pitch to his running back, and Baylor picked up a first down on the play, but, Richardson made a big hit. Griffin gestured to a referee following the play and indicated he thought the hit came a little late, but there was no flag.
In the second quarter, Baylor’s offense was back in the red zone. With a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Griffin kept the football, but he couldn’t go anywhere with it. Richardson was back in the backfield, and he tackled Griffin for a 4-yard loss.
In the third quarter, with Richardson threatening, Griffin had to heave the ball at the Missouri sideline before he hit the ground. Richardson’s pressure caused an intentional grounding penalty. Later in the quarter, it was Hamilton who reached Griffin in the backfield for a sack.
Missouri has been waiting for Richardson to become the dominating force it hoped he could be when they recruited him out of high school in 2009. Even though those expectations were tempered by academic eligibility questions and two years in junior college, the hype was still high when he finally joined the team at the beginning of this season. If there was a game in which Richardson showed he could still be that big-time player, it was Saturday.