Holgorsen talks WVU matchup vs. Baylor

The matchup between West Virginia and Baylor has been among some of the highest-scoring games in college football each of the last two seasons.

Last year, the Bears triumphed with a 73-42 victory against the Mountaineers, while WVU outlasted the Bears in a 70-63 shootout at Milan Puskar Stadium two years ago in West Virginia's first Big 12 Conference game ever.

With Baylor preparing to make its first return trip to Morgantown this weekend for a noon kickoff against the Mountaineers, head coach Dana Holgorsen's answer was simple when he was asked how many points it would take to come away with a victory.

"One more than them," he said. "They're deeper on offense, they've got more weapons than they've had, and they're more athletic on defense.

"Obviously the last two years, there have been a ton of points scored. They're playing well on offense, they're playing well on defense and they're playing well on special teams. We're going to have to manufacture points on all three sides of the ball."

By saying the Bears have been playing well, especially on the offensive side of the ball, this season appears to be quite an understatement, as Baylor has emerged as one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Last week's 21-point comeback against then-No. 9 TCU was evidence that no lead is safe against an explosive Baylor offense that is led by what Holgorsen believes could quite possibly be the deepest group of receivers his teams have ever gone up against. The Bears are averaging more than 52 points and 622.5 yards of total offense per game, including the passing game led by quarterback Bryce Petty and his pack of receivers. Petty, who missed one game due to injury, has thrown for 1,534 yards and 15 touchdowns through the first half of the season and the Bears have five receivers who have at least 200 yards receiving.

And Baylor is able to set up the pass with a dangerous running game, that is also first in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game by 60 yards.

"What they do is pound you up front and run the ball, and then when you put too many people down there, they're going to go over the top of you with extremely good skill guys," Holgorsen said. "They're the deepest receiving corps in the country. They've got numerous guys that can run fast and make plays downfield. We've got to do a great job of stopping the run, they're going to try to do that first. They've got good, quality backs and a physical offensive line. We've got to do our best at stopping the run, and then when they take shots we have to be able to cover."

Holgorsen feels good about his defense heading into the game, believing that the fact that it has to go up against a dangerous Mountaineer offense in practice could help prepare them for what they will see against Baylor.

"They pose challenges, no question," Holgorsen said. "Our defense is designed for this. They're equipped for this. Whether they hold up or not, time will tell. The way we are defensively, the way we're built defensively, the guys we've got, we're equipped. We're in a good spot. It's easy to say, but it's hard to do."

But the Mountaineers are entering the game 4-2, with as many wins as they had all of last season, and are taking the confidence they built from last week's 37-34 win against Texas Tech - in which West Virginia rallied back from a 17-point deficit with seven minutes to play - into the important showdown against the Bears.

Even though they were able to make the plays offensively to win the game, they weren't happy with their performance. But at the end of the day, it was enough to finish the victory.

"Our guys are doing a better job of finishing and finding ways to win," Holgorsen said. "We've set the bar pretty high. We didn't play great, but finished the game good and figured out a way to score 17 points in the last seven minutes. Other than that, we stalled a bunch and didn't do a great job for half the possessions we had. I just think these guys have set the bar pretty high and they expect to play at a high level all the time."


Holgorsen announced during the teleconference Monday that defensive lineman Christian Brown did not make the trip to Lubbock because he was suspended for a violation of team rules. With Brown and defensive end Dontrill Hyman, who is out with a knee injury, sidelined for the game, the Mountaineers decided to give Darrien Howard his first action of the season.

"The depth will be better but, with that said, without those guys we needed to play Darrien Howard. If we could have afforded to redshirt him, we were going to, but you know how things go," he said. "He went in for about 10 snaps and did a good job, so we will continue to rep him and continue to play as many guys up front as we need to. That's a spot where everyone needs to rotate and we will continue to rotate and get guys in there that are fresh."


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