SAN DIEGO — Baylor quarterback Nick Florence has enjoyed tremendous success this season as he has thrown with great accuracy to pile up big passing numbers.
But his accuracy with dolphins leaves something to be desired.
As part of Baylor’s visit to SeaWorld on Tuesday afternoon, Florence was asked to throw a football to a dolphin. Not a Miami Dolphin, the real kind.
Florence tried several throws but failed to connect with the leaping dolphin.
“I didn’t know what route he was going to run,” Florence said. “I’ve got to make a better throw.”
Florence has much better rapport with Baylor receivers Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lanear Sampson.
“I practice all spring and summer with my guys,” Florence laughed.
Though many of the Baylor players spent Christmas away from their families, they enjoyed being together with their teammates.
Baylor coach Art Briles was pleased with the energy his squad had at its Christmas morning practice at Mesa College in preparation for Thursday night’s game against UCLA at the Holiday Bowl.
After practicing through steady rain Monday morning, Tuesday’s weather was sunny and cool.
“We had a great workout,” Briles said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to practice this time of year. It’s a good time to be with our extended family and enjoy our time here and be with Baylor in a great bowl game.”
With three straight bowl appearances, the Baylor veterans have grown used to being together for the holidays.
“We expect to spend Christmas practicing for a bowl game,” Baylor senior guard Cameron Kaufhold said. “That’s what you shoot for, and it has been good. I woke up this morning with a bunch of text messages and phone calls. Other than that it’s been just like every other day.”
Briles believes it’s important for the Bears to beat UCLA to keep their momentum rolling into the offseason.
The Bears ended the regular season with three straight victories, and would finish with an 8-5 record with another win against the UCLA Bruins.
“You want to have a good taste in your mouth through all spring and summer,” Briles said. “We feel we finished strongly the last five weeks of the season, and we certainly don’t feel we’ll have any falloff Thursday night. I think it will certainly carry over judging by the practices we’ve had.”
The key for the Baylor defense against UCLA will likely be stopping running back Johnathan Franklin, who ranks second in the Pac-12 with 1,700 yards rushing.
Franklin combines both speed and power, and has been a workhourse for UCLA with 268 carries.
“We’ve got to stop their running back,” Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey said. “He’s very good, shifty and explosive. If he hits the hole and no one’s there, he’s very dangerous. We’ve got to make plays and tackle.”