The Baylor Bears went to Morgantown, WV with one goal in mind, to upset the high scoring West Virginia Mountaineers and ruin their homecoming and their inaugural game in the Big 12. The Bears did not reach that goal, falling 70-63. The Bears matched the most points scored in regulation by a losing team.
The Bears racked up 700 yards of total offense. The 63 points would have won the Big East basketball conference final (Louisville 50 - Cincinnati- 44), it would have outscored two of the teams in the Final Four this year, and it would have been enough to earn the Baylor basketball team 19 wins last year. The offense was not the problem. The other side of the ball let the team down hard, and you can point to a whole different reasons for it. Lets take a look at some of them:
-Talent - Do the Bears have enough talent on the field to be even a bad defense. Honestly, that is the question that I am asking now. I believe we only have two and maybe as many as 4 players that are Big 12 caliber right now. The worse part is, most of the players getting beat are juniors and seniors, the players that you have to depend on to lead a defense. The Bears had no players on the defensive line that could create pressure and that made the Bears have to blitz 2 or even 3 players to create pressure. This left their defensive backfield in man coverage, and they could not answer the call either.
-Injuries - The Bears suffered several bad injuries leading up to and during this game. With Mike Hicks already out, the Bears were down to Josh Wilson on the depth chart. He went out for a few plays as well, and just played terribly after he came back. The bigger loss though was Demetri Goodson, who left the game with a broken arm. The starting corner had just started to find his rhythm in the defense, so this is a huge loss for the Bears. Even before the season started though, the Bears lost a big piece of the front seven in Kaeron Johnson.
-Scheme - The Bears on many downs simply rushed 3 players and asked Geno Smith to beat them. And boy did he. Baylor sat back in the 3rd quarter quite a bit, and it hurt them every time. Smith is too accurate of a passer to allow all day to find a receiver. Plus, his receivers are just too fast and talented to cover for 5-8 seconds every time. Baylor also tried several delayed blitzes, which just do not work against a team like WVU. We also tried to cover their slot receiver, the dangerous Tavon Austin with a linebacker or safety for quite a bit of the game. Again, you are putting their best player up against a guy that is not suppose to cover players of that caliber/speed.
-Awareness - Too many times, the Baylor defense would make the simple mistake of just leaving a player wide open. The offense did nothing special, and nothing tricky, the Baylor defender would just leave him and go double or triple team someone else. Or they would go attack the developing screen pass and leave the star receiver open 30 yards down the field. Our defense just does not seem to know what it is doing most of the time, especially in a zone coverage. Too many times were guys just wide open, with no defender in sight. Too me, that is either a lack of common understanding of the defense, or you just don't know what the heck you are doing.
-The other team? - Yes, the defense has been bad, but it is really THAT bad. I mean that was maybe the worst display of defense we have seen in a long time. However, WVU has a great offense, and on several of those TDs, their star QB just made a perfect throw. Last year, the TCU defense was maligned for what they did against Baylor in the opener. They bounced back, but they also had the pedigree of a great defense. Baylor does not.
I think the answer to this is pretty much all of the above. The West Virginia offense is elite, and will score on pretty much their entire schedule. They put up 70 on the ACC champion Clemson squad in the Orange Bowl last year. This is a very good defense. But the Bears either don't have the talent to run Phil Bennett's defense, or they just don't understand it yet. I don't believe that Coach Bennett has simply forgotten how to coach defense. He has WAY to many years of success to say he is not a good defensive mind.
Fun Stats of the Game:
Just look at the offensive scorecard for about 2 minutes and that would be pretty dang fun for either Baylor or West Virginia fans. Just throw away the defensive stats though.
Players of the Game:
Offense - Terrance Williams - 17 catches, 314 yards, 2 touchdowns
To say that Terrance Williams had a good game would be an insult to good games. His totals were just mind numbingly awesome, until you realize that West Virginia had a player with 13 catches for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns. But we are here to speak about Mr. Williams. Terrance did everything in this game (except play defense). He went up and got the ball, he ran past and through guys, and he converted tough 3rd downs all day.
Honorable Mention - Nick Florence, Jared Salubi, Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson, and well, pretty much everyone
Defense - The final whistle
I am not going to sugar coat this game and name a player that played great. The only good thing about this on the defensive side of the ball. A few players had some really good plays, but there was just no one to choose on here. You don't get a game ball for giving up 70 points,over 800 total yards, and 0 turnovers forced. You just don't. Consider it a new "Overreaction Rule".
Honorable Mention - Bryce Hager, Eddie Lackey, Nick Johnson
The Word of the Game:
The Baylor offense did not miss a beat in this game. This was their best game of the season. This was a special game for several players. Nick Florence set the all-time Baylor passing record, after losing it last year to Robert Griffin III. Terrance Williams, as we spoke about above set about every Baylor single-game receiving record imaginable. I was also impressed with Jarred Salubi, as he ran for 75 tough yards. His per carry rate was just 3.8, but it seemed to be MUCH higher than that. He ran tough and got some difficult yards. He left the game with an injured shoulder, but came back to help bring the Bears back from a 21 point deficit. The line also had its best day, as the interior three dominated the West Virginia lineman almost all day. This was just a special day for the Baylor Bear offense.
I think that is the best way to describe what our defense did today. It just looked confused. I don't think we had an idea of what we wanted to do. We did do a solid job of stopping the run, holding them to 151 yards rushing and just 4.1 yards per carry. However, why would you need to run if you can pass for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Bears were confused in coverage and didn't know how to guard the multiple threats West Virginia put on the field all day. Confused can also describe Bear fans as they watched what was going on.
I will have more on this game this week, but Bear fans have to keep in mind that we just lost by 7 points to the #9 team in the country at their place. We would have KILLED for that just 3 years ago. This was a competitive game all the way through and the Bears fought hard. However, it was still a loss, and the Bears will have 2 weeks to prepare for their conference home-opener against the TCU Horn Frogs. They will need it, especially for the defense.
Overreaction Central - Baylor Vs. WVU
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