Anymore questions about the Bears offensive abilities? No more doubts about their stats being inflated due to competition, or lack thereof. No more doubts about them being able to take it to a good team. Those were laid to rest Saturday early afternoon in Waco, TX as the Baylor Bears beat the West Virginia Mountaineers 62-38. Baylor was simply the better team, with possibly the best football player in the nation going for them. Corey Coleman, or as West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgerson called him "the best player in college football", dominated from the start. He finished off the Bears second drive with a 2-yard touchdown, then added an 11 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Things really started to click in the second half though as a 33-yard reception on 4th down gave the Bears a 34-17 lead and command of the game. Coleman would finish with a ridiculous 10 catches for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The junior receive wasn't the only player to really shine for the Bears, as Seth Russell had his finest day in a Baylor uniform. Russell displayed the speed and athleticism that give this offense a different dimension than the previous two years, as he ran for a career high 160 yards. With West Virginia keying on the Baylor running backs, the outside was wide open for Russell to exploit. The first score of the game was a 16-yard zone-read play that saw Russell score easily. He had a long 46 yard run to setup a Baylor score. He made the right reads, and ran the ball when given the opportunity. He also was careful with the ball, and slid when it was appropriate.
This game was not all about the Baylor offense, and the defense for the Bears did their job. They forced a turnover, had 3 three-and-outs, and stopped the Mountaineers three times on 4th down. They allowed 31 defensive points (a kick return for a touchdown on their last possession accounted for the rest of the points) on 14 possessions. Even 38 points on 15 possessions is strong. The Baylor defense gave up yards, and some big plays, but those are bound to happen. Add in 10 tackles for loss, and hlding West Virginia to just 4.1 yards per carry on the ground and this was a solid defensive effort.
Stats of the Game
- WR Corey Coleman broke the Baylor single-season record by grabbing his 14th, 15th and 16th TD receptions of the season, passing Kendall Wright's 14 receiving TDs in 2011.
- Baylor has the nation's longest active home winning streak (19 games) and has not lost in Waco since Oct. 13, 2012. BU has the nation's best home record since 2011 at 28-1.
- Baylor is 32-4 in its last 36 games; the 4 losses were all away from home and 3 were against top-15 teams.
- Baylor is the nation's only team to hold a lead to 16+ points in every game this season.
- Baylor (6 passing TDs) has thrown at least 4 TD passes in every game this season and is averaging 5.3 touchdown passes per game.
- Baylor's defense has forced at least one turnover in a nation-leading 22 straight games (19-3 in that stretch).
- Russell (380 passing yards, 160 rushing yards) posted the 2nd game in program history with 300+passing yards and 100+ rushing yards. RG3 had 312 passing yards and 103 rushing yards at Kansas in 2011.
Words of the Game
Offense - Adjustable
You want to put 6 players in the box and force the Bears to throw the ball? Okay. You want to play off on the Bears and take away the deep pass, making Baylor be more effecient and surgical than explosive? Sure thing. You want to key in on the Baylor running backs and limit their big play ability? Now, that is not a problem to. In the Bears two losses last year, the running game let them down. The running backs were stymied against West Virginia and Michigan State. This year is different, with a tremendous weapon in the running game sharing the backfield in quarterback Seth Russell. Consider this game the coming out party for Seth Russell's legs. With the West Virginia defense focused solely on stopping Shock Linwood and company, it left Seth Russell wide open on the zone-read, where he ate up big chunks of yardage and really carried the Baylor rushing attack. Even with Linwood averaging just 4.4 yards per carry, and the running back group as a whole averaging just 3.93 yards per carry, it was Russell who provided the firepower on the ground to the tune of 160 yards on 14 carries. This is just another wrinkle for defenses to worry,and another pillar that Briles and company, can build their offense upon.
Defense - Disruptive
With 10 tackles for loss, the Baylor defense caused problems for the West Virginia offense all game. After a combined 10 tackles for loss in their victories over Texas Tech and Kansas, the Bears recorded 10 against WVU. It was the defensive line that led the way for the Bears, with 7 of the 10 coming from a defensive linemen. The Baylor coaching staff showed a much more liberal rotation and substitution pattern against West Virginia, with Byron Bonds, Brian Nance, and KJ Smith playing quite a bit behind the four starters. Bonds received a bit more time due to Andrew Billings leaving the game for a while with an injured ankle, but it seemed that the coaching staff wanted to keep their big guys fresh. It worked, as the Bears slowed down the Mountaineer rushing attack. In fact, outside of two big plays near the end of the 2nd quarter, West Virginia's running game was pretty inneffective. They ran for 182 yards on 44 carries, but if you take away the two big plays to end the half, their average per rush falls from 4.1 yards to 2.95 yards per carry. That is incredible work by the front four. Add in WVU completing just 46.15% of their passes, and this was an all-around solid effort for the Baylor defense.
Tweets of the Game
Play of the Game
West Virginia Ball: 3rd and 4 from the Baylor-44
The Bears were up 24-14. West Virginia had a big kickoff return for 42 yards to give them great field position as they tried to keep pace with the Bears. After a dropped swing pass to Wendell Smallwood, the running back gained 6 yards to setup a 3rd and 4. The Mountaineers lined up with three recievers to one side in a pistol formation. Baylor showed its standard 4-man front, with two linebackers in the middle of the field. Xavien Howard moved over just outside the tackle box as he had no receivers on his side of the field. That left Travon Blanchard and Ryan Reid against three receivers, with Chance Waz over the top for help. Grant Campbell spread out wide to take the inside routes from any of those receivers as well.
As the snap, the Mountaineers motioned Smallwood out to the left, behind those three-receivers. West Virginia showed this look quite often throughout the game, at first hoping to have the linebackers vacate the middle of the field for QB draws. Later, theu threw the ball to the running back for minimal gains. This time, it was a distraction as Skylar Howard never even looked that way. He had his eyes down field as the the inside and outside receiver ran Go-routes, while the middle receiver ran a deep cross hoping to draw the attention of Orion Stewart. The Bears just rushed with their four-down linemen, but Howard felt some minimal pressure from Brian Nance, and rolled out of the pocket. At the 50-yard line he loaded up and heaved it deep to an open receiver in the endzone. However, Howard put too much arc on the ball, and it hung up just enough for Ryan Reid to recover on the play and cut in front of the Mountaineer receiver a few yards in the endzone. This was a touchdown saving play, and one that allowed the Bears to get a crucial stop.
Players of the Game
Offense - Seth Russell (20-33 passing, 380 yards, 5 touchdowns, 140 rushing yards, 1 touchdown)
This was the best game of Russell's young career. He did everything the Bears required of him. He made plays with his arm, his mind, and his legs. He carried the rushing attack when West Virginia paid too much attention to the Baylor running backs. He hit big plays down the field, and delivered the ball with authority throughout the game. He protected the ball, and limited mistakes from the Baylor offense. On the second play of the game, Russell throws a perfect ball to Corey Coleman for a gain of 50 yards. Two plays later, he kept the ball on the zone-read for an easy 16 yard touchdown run. That was just the beginning. 520 total yards and 6 touchdowns.
Honorable Mention - Corey Coleman (10 receptions, 199 yards, 3 touchdowns), Shock Linwood (84 yards, 1 TD), Trevor Clemons-Valdez (1 reception, 9 yards, 1 TD)
Defense - Andrew Billings (6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 QB Hurry)
Everytime you looked up when the Bears were on defense, there was Billings making a big play. Even with missing almost half the game with an injury, Billings dominated this game from his nose tackle position. West Virginia tried everything to slow down the Bears star tackle. Double teams, triple teams, running away from him. None of it worked. Billings beat them all, and shut down the running game of the Mountaineers.
Honorable Mention - Orion Stewart (9 tackles, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Pass B/U), Taylor Young (9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QB Hurry)
The Baylor offense made a statement today. 62 points against a very good defense is a BIG statement to the rest of the nation. West Virginia is a top-15 defense at this point of the season, and deserve to be up there. Baylor dominated them and did what they needed to do. Even with West Virginia holding the running backs to under 4 yards a carry, the Bears now have another dimension in their offense with Seth Russell under center. With Russell leading the attack, WVU didn't have a chance. Add in an effective Baylor defense, which forced a combined 7 turnovers/3-and-outs/failed 4th downs, and you have an all-around dominant team effort. Baylor even played a clean game in regards to penalties, with just 1 penalty for 15 yards in the first half.