WACO, Texas -- It's easy to say a lot has changed for West Virginia since last year's outrageous Big 12 opener against Baylor, but it's hard to really understand the totality of the transformation.
The Mountaineers scored 10 touchdowns and had 807 yards in 88 snaps, but only one person who contributed 16 total yards to the win against the Bears played in last week's win against Oklahoma State.
That'd be sophomore Jordan Thompson and that was especially good news in upsetting the Cowboys.
His leaping 17-yard reception on a third down in the fourth quarter kept the kicker from trying a 48-yard field goal and instead moved the chains. That preceded a much more makeable 27-yard attempt that was good and gave the Mountaineers a six-point lead with 3:54 remaining in the 30-21 win.
"I think it's something that will continue to happen," Thompson said. "As a receiver, we're expected to make big plays in crucial situations."
Those are interesting words from the team's 5-foot-7 inside receiver, but it's more interesting that he was allowed to talk at all before WVU (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) plays No. 17 Baylor (3-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday. The game at Floyd Casey Stadium will be televised by Fox Sports 1. The Mountaineers also will go with Clint Trickett as its starting quarterback.
The topic of making plays - and simple ones, never mind big ones - had surrounded him like a double team for the past seven months. He spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time since the end of the 2012 season.
He'd been requested repeatedly through spring football, preseason practice and the beginning of this season, but the coaching staff was just as consistent in saying Thompson wouldn't be speaking to the media until he did something worth discussing.
It wasn't merely the catch against Oklahoma State. In fact, he'd submitted as many forgettable moments as he did memorable ones in the game. A quarter before his catch, he was back to return a punt and chose to call for a fair catch at his 3-yard line.
"As soon as I caught the ball, I knew what I did was wrong," he said. "There was no question about it. I knew it was wrong, and as soon as I caught it I was mad at myself."
Thompson, though, had been good enough in practices and with his teammates to earn a start, which is a long way from where he'd been.
"I guess you could say it was probation," he said.
Thompson enrolled in January 2012. By the end of spring practice, he and safety Karl Joseph had undoubtedly earned the right to start. Joseph led the team in tackles and was the only defensive player to make an all-conference team. Thompson caught 13 passes for 85 yards.