WVU football: Records fall in historic loss to Baylor
WACO, Texas - Three plays.
That was all Baylor's offense needed to score against West Virginia's defense and that was all the Mountaineers needed to make the first of many critical errors they'd worked so hard to avoid in the season's first five games.
Added up, the sum of WVU's flaws was a 73-42 loss to No. 17 Baylor, a school record for touchdowns and yards allowed and the most points allowed since a 130-0 loss to Michigan in 1904. That's the only time the Mountaineers ever allowed more points than they did Saturday.
"We didn't do anything we set out to do," West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "We couldn't stop the run. We couldn't stop the vertical shots. That was the key to the game.
"We hammered home all week long we had to be sound in vertical coverage, and right off the bat we're playing a zone concept and we have a bust that put us on our heels. Then all of a sudden we have people trying to do things outside the framework of the defense. I don't know what it was."
It was a demolition from the outset. The Bears scored the first of their 10 touchdowns just 40 seconds into the game as quarterback Bryce Petty completed a touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley for 61 of Baylor's school-record 864 yards.
The Mountaineers were playing a Cover 3 where three defensive backs play a zone in thirds of the field. Goodley found open space on the right side where there should have been a defender, and he encountered no resistance on the way to the end zone.
"I don't know how to explain why certain things happen the way they do, but from that point on, it was just like we were on the ropes and dodging and we weren't able to attack," Patterson said. "We weren't able to do anything."
In the first quarter, WVU surrendered 28 points and 369 yards, which is the most by any team in any quarter in any game in at least the past 10 years.
The same defense allowed fewer yards in three of their first five games, when opponents were averaging just 345 yards per game.
Baylor scored on three straight snaps in the first quarter, lead 35-7 two plays into the second quarter and 56-14 at halftime.
The Mountaineers, who a week earlier won at home against then-No. 11 Oklahoma State and held its formidable offense to 21 points, let Baylor set the Big 12 record for total offense and erase the 807-yard mark WVU set last year in a 70-63 win against the Bears.
That 2012 game set the tone for the worst defensive season in school history. This game at least made WVU wonder what was real.
"The reality is we just came out and laid an egg," said safety Darwin Cook, who had an interception and scored a touchdown off teammate Travis Bell's interception and lateral in the fourth quarter. "I didn't think we were too high on ourselves. There was nothing like that in the way we practiced and the way we prepared. There wasn't a hangover from the Oklahoma State game."
There was instead a humbling and honest explanation that was probably harder for the Mountaineers to admit than it was to experience. Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) happens to be very good on offense and continues to lead the nation in total offense and scoring offense.
"I would recommend giving Baylor some credit," WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I've never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did. We've been pretty proud of how we've been playing defense around here the last five games. You can't play defense when the line of scrimmage is five yards backward every single time."
The Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2) had been ranked No. 36 in scoring defense and No. 37 in total defense and began the game with two goals: they wanted to stop the run and they had to prevent long pass plays.
Baylor ran for 468 yards, the most against WVU since Maryland had 523 yards in 1951, and averaged 7.5 yards per carry. The total yardage and the average was boosted by Lache Seastrunk's 80-yard touchdown run, when Seastrunk started inside and should have been tackled by linebacker Jared Barber, but zipped outside and raced away from everyone.
The Bears did most of their damage on one simple zone play that WVU ran quite a bit, though with much different results. What the Mountaineers couldn't execute on offense they couldn't stop on defense.
Baylor also had pass plays cover 61, 47, 30, 24, 34 and 42 yards, and four of those were deep routes along a sideline. Those six plays accounted for 238 of Baylor's 396 yards passing.
WVU is now No. 89 in total defense and scoring defense.
Patterson said he tried everything and nothing worked. WVU was handled up front, which led to huge gaps for the running backs and allowed the Mountaineers no easy path to the quarterback. Receivers had ample time to work with defensive backs and get open or get down the field.
"There was no magical call," Patterson said. "We were calling the same things we called the first five weeks of the season."
The outcomes were the difference, but Patterson said different behaviors contributed to the results.
"There were a lot of things that were uncharacteristic from what I've seen all the way from fall camp through the first five games," Patterson said. "Just absolutely uncharacteristic."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.