WVU falls 38-62 to No. 2 Baylor on the road
We all knew that the October schedule for the Mountaineers would be a tough one, but coming off of three straight losses has Mountaineer fans asking, “what needs to be done?” WVU football conceded a win to the No. 2 Baylor Bears Saturday afternoon on the road. Baylor showed up for vengeance after their only regular season loss last year to the Mountaineers, the question is, did the Mountaineers show up?
The Mountaineer defense was forced to compete with Corey Coleman, who Head Coach Dana Holgorsen describes as “the best player in college football.” Coleman gave his home crowd a little-something extra to cheer about when he broke his single-season school record for TD catches, now totaling 16 on the season. Baylor’s Seth Russel is now the only QB for the Bears – other than RG III – to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in a single game.
Skyler Howard, who ended the game with 4 completed touchdown passes, made the first error after a pass intended for Shelton Gibson ended up int he hands of Baylor’s Ryan Reid in the end zone of what would have been 6-points on the board for West Virginia. Following Howard’s interception, WVU kicker Josh Lambert‘s field goal attempt of 45-yards went wide right and the Mountaineers were forced to enter halftime down by 10.
After halftime, the Mountaineers couldn’t seem to close the gap, and the third missed opportunity came at the end of the third quarter. Adam Pankey jumped too early as Howard was changing plays. What would have been a 1-yard attempt on the fourth down became fourth and six instead. Howard‘s fourth-down attempt to Jovon Durante didn’t connect and Baylor’s seventh touchdown came shortly after on a 52-yard run by Baylor’s Jay Lee.
Baylor hit West Virginia hard in the opening quarter of the game – scoring the first touchdown in under a minute. While the Mountaineers were able to match the Bears point-for-point in in the second quarter, the Bears blew them away again in the third. By the fourth quarter, nothing WVU could do would keep up with their opponent.
Finding the Silver Lining
It’s hard to imagine a bright side when looking at the loss-margin on the scoreboard Saturday night. However, there are some positives to the WVU performance against Baylor.
Positive #1: Skylar Howard performed well, despite the first half interception.
The junior QB completed 18 passes for nearly 300-yards Saturday night, and added 4 touchdowns to the WVU score. Howard, who Holgorsen says, “puts pressure on himself” has been the “fall-guy” in the media after the past WVU losses this season. Despite what the media says about him, Howard has fought through the criticism and begun to improve in high-pressure situations. Had the Mountaineers played Baylor in either of the first two Big 12 games this season, there may have been more than one interception. Though his pass completion remains similar to the game against OSU, he added significant yards to his throws – echoing his stats win against Maryland earlier this season.
Positive #2: The team finishes strong
The Mountaineers already know what they need to do – and there are glimmers of it in the loss to Baylor. The problem lies in their slow start. In the opening quarter, and coming out after the half, the Mountaineers struggled to put points on the board, which when facing top-ranked Big 12 teams is a guaranteed loss and WVU knows it. We can imagine that every player on the field knew after the quick touchdown scored in the opening minute of the game that the loss was inevitable – but they fought for what was almost a tied game going into the half.
Preparing for TCU
The Mountaineers face the same challenge preparing for TCU as they did Baylor – competing throughout the game. With 12 days to prepare against yet another top-ranked team, WVU needs to find a way to put pressure on the opposing defense for four quarters rather than two.
What do you think WVU needs to do to improve? Does the team stand a chance against No. 3 TCU on October 29th?
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