Pre-Game Run Thru: Baylor Edition
By Brandon Priddy
You may have noticed we switched up the title. Well we noticed there were a lot of things out there called "walk-throughs." You don't have time for that and Coach Holgorsen doesn't have time for that! It's game day and we're hitting you with info as fast as you can take it........we want TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO! Let's get it rolling!
Game of the Week!!
Man I am so excited to see Chris, Kirk and Lee back for the second time in as many years! Boy they may have ignored Morgantown for a while, but they’re certainly making up for it now. This is going to be awesome!!
What’s that you say?
What do you mean they’re not coming?! Have you seen the slate of games this week, it’s a joke! This is a top 10 WVU team taking on a newly ranked and undefeated Baylor team in the conference opener that will be the culmination of the most publicized realignment move from all of last year! This is huge! The only other game even remotely interesting has one team that got clocked by Notre Dame and then didn’t put away Eastern Michigan until near the end of the fourth quarter and another that is on probation, not even ranked in one poll (because they’re on probation) and won’t even be able to challenge for the conference title (BECAUSE THEY’RE ON PROBATION!!!). This is Big 12 football – the over/under is in the eighties! If I wanted to watch the B1G bang around I’d just take my TV off the wall, apply a nice new coat of wet paint and settle in for the show!
THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!
We made it 18 years without them anyway……..we can make it a few more weeks.
Let’s do this thing.
Know Your Enemy (brought to you by Rage Against the Machine)
Here are some fun facts about the Baylor Bears and one even funner (yes I know that's not a word) fact that I made up (see if you can figure out which one).
- The University of Baylor predates the State of Texas, having been founded on February 1st, 1845 mere months before Texas was granted statehood on December 29th of that same year.
- In 1906 the school actually banned football out of concern for the brutality of the sport. It was reinstated the next year due to public opinion and rule changes.
- Women were not allowed to wear shorts on campus until April, 1969. Evidently those coed legs didn’t cause much of a fuss because the school didn’t hold its first dance until 27 years later in 1996.
- As a result of a campus-wide ban on females behind the wheel until 1972, the University of Baylor didn’t have it’s first traffic accident until – well – 1972. As there were no tow trucks in the area the accident caught the campus security completely off guard and a 4 hour traffic jam ensued.
Passing is Fun but the ‘eers Gotta Run
OK, that was fun but let’s get down to brass tacks. There’s one thing that will make this game the runaway that so many WVU fans would like to see and that some in the national media will frankly expect – running the football. WVU started fast out of the gate against a porous Marshall D but has seen their ground total decline in the two games since: 331 (9.5 a carry) vs. the Herd, 121 (4.7 a carry) vs. James Madison, and finally a dismal 25 yards (1.0 per carry) against Maryland. Given that it’s difficult to extrapolate a lot of information from such a small sample of games and that Shawne Alston sat out the Maryland game it’s not quite time to be concerned – but a lackluster ground effort against the Bears will raise some official red flags.
Baylor’s defense is giving up 4.59 yards per carry having gone up against the likes of SMU, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe. All teams with plenty of offensive talent (especially ULM) but certainly no more than what WVU will put on the field. It’s also worth noting that the Bears have given up big days to each of the FBS teams they’ve faced so far. SMU’s Zach Line went for 135 on 25 carries (5.4 avg.) and ULM’s Jyruss Edwards had 120 on 21 attempts (5.7). If the Mountaineer offensive line can’t open up the type of gaping holes we saw against Marshall it will be cause for worry because things certainly don’t get any easier from here on out.
Why is it so important for WVU to move the ball on the ground – here’s why. WVU’s offensive performance has waned every game and if you look at their drive charts you’ll see why. Against Marshall of the 5 touchdown drives in the first half, 4 began with successful running plays. Against JMU 2 of the first 3 touchdown drives (all in the first quarter) began with successful runs. Against Maryland WVU hit a couple big plays early but the ground game sputtered and as a result the offense never got into a rhythm that let them move up and down the field at will. Moving the ball on the ground – specifically early in the game and on 1st or 2nd down – is what makes this offense go. Keep your eye on that early and you should get a good indication of how many highlights you’ll be watching on SportsCenter that night.
What TheSignalCaller (Jed) Will Be Watching For
Who will handle the pressure better? A pair of ranked teams, national attention, conference opener, a pair of win streaks (WVU-7, Baylor-9)……when the bullets start flying who will blink first? This is a question at both the macro and micro level. Which team will flinch and more importantly which quarterback will flinch. Given that a single split-second lapse of judgment could give the ball back to one of a pair of explosive offenses, the way these signal callers deal with heat will be a determining factor in who walks away a winner.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Baylor has a great one in Nick Florence. Aside from leading the nation in total yardage, he’s a fighter and not afraid to put the ball in harm’s way. This has lead to 4 interceptions but a gunslinger must have a short memory – he’s twice this season led his team back from double-digit deficits to win.
How resilient is Baylor? – they’ve scored 62% of their points in the second half. Memo to WVU: this is not Marshall and this is not Clemson. Even if you’re fortunate enough to jump out on these guys early, they’ve got the offense to know they have a chance. Step on the throat, apply pressure and DON’T MOVE. Seriously. Have someone bring you a cold beverage, have someone else answer the door…..DO NOT MOVE.
WVU fans know they have a talented receiving corps, but while Baylor might not be able to match the top two of Steadman Bailey and Tavon Austin, they make up for it with depth. Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese and Lamar Sampson each have over 100 receptions in their career and Darryl Stonum demonstrated an aptitude for big plays in his time at Michigan. This is a quality corps that will test this WVU secondary much more than anyone has thus far.
One more quick point on quarterback Nick Florence: he’s averaging a little over 50 yards running per game (but that stat is skewed high by a 60 yard run against Sam Houston State). They’re not eye-popping stats but dangerous: he’s not good enough to focus on but plenty good enough to hurt you on a couple key third and 4s.
A few Tweets from around the Mountaineer universe that I found thoughtful, interesting or otherwise……and keep your eye out at the end of this section for a way to get your own tweets included as part of THE WATER COOLER on Monday morning!
I bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t know that and I’m a dork who reads this stuff all the time. Make no mistake, this is a very, very good Baylor team who is going to put up some points. Which gets us to our next tweet….
Mmmmmm…..points. Enjoy your 3 yards and a cloud of mediocrity GameDay.
As this is my first game at Mountaineer Field in 8 years, this made me very happy. See I’m an old school fellas. Hated the grays, could do without the golds and if you gave me nothing but WVU teams in blue or white shirts and gold pants until I pushed up daisies I’d die a happy man. So this was nice. It’s the little things.
Just because after this week I thought I’d toss in some random ref info.
so…..uh…….Baylor sucks on the road. Those are the kind of tidbits I snuggle up with to get a good night’s sleep before game day.
Think your tweets are more insightful, clever or just plain perceptive than those above? Here’s your chance to show us what you got. Use the hashtag #WVUSignal and we’ll post our favorites on Monday AM.
Thanks for reading, enjoy the game and enjoy this amazing moment in Mountaineer history!
If you have any suggestions or comments on how we can make these posts better please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always follow me on Twitter at @abpriddy for in-game analysis, observations or simple wisecracks and follow Jed at @TheSignalCaller for the best WVU stats and info out there.