WVU Secondary will be tested vs. Baylor
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 07:09
The No. 7 West Virginia football team will experience a few firsts Saturday when it takes the field against No. 24 Baylor.
It will be the first time the team plays a league game as a member of the Big 12 Conference, it will be the first time the Mountaineers take on a ranked opponent, and it will be the first time they face an offense like Baylor.
Like a lot of teams in the Big 12, the Bears like to throw the ball around quite a bit. And so far this season, they’ve had plenty of success doing just that. Baylor is averaging more than 50 points per game through the first three games of the season, and a lot of that has been due to a passing attack led by quarterback Nick Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese.
But defending the pass has been something the Mountaineers have struggled with in the nonconference portion of the 2012 season.
The Mountaineer secondary has already allowed two quarterbacks to throw for more than 300 yards this season and is giving up more than 275 yards per game through the air.
This week will be the first time WVU faces an offense that spreads out the way Baylor does. It won’t be the last, either.
"In the Big 12, you’re facing eight teams that spread the field horizontally as well as vertically, where you’ve got to defend the entire field," said West Virginia co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. "They’ll have a receiver one yard from the sidelines, they’ll have another receiver on top of the numbers and then another receiver outside the hash. What they try to do is take your linebackers out of the run fit and defend, and they do a great job of that."
Of course, it helps that West Virginia gets to face its own offense every day in practice, but, of course, facing an offense in practice is a lot different than seeing one in a game.
The offense is going to do a great job of keeping the Mountaineers in games in Big 12 play. The Baylor game is going to be the first real test that this West Virginia defense is going to see.
If there’s not improvement from what we’ve seen through the first three games, the secondary could get torched by a Baylor offense that has the capability to put up big numbers.
The Bears are led by a solid quarterback in Nick Florence, who has done a great job filling in for Robert Griffin III this season, throwing for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns already.
Then the West Virginia cornerbacks, which is already not the deepest group on the Mountaineer defense, are going to have the tough task of defending one of the deepest groups of wide receivers in the Big 12 this season.
Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese are as good as any duo in the country, and the Bears have a total of four receivers who have caught more than 10 passes this season.
If the Mountaineers are able to find a way to limit what Baylor can do in the passing game, it’ll make things much easier for them to escape Saturday with a win.
Most likely, this game will be a shootout though, and whatever team can exploit the defense the most.
WVU just needs to hope that it doesn’t come out on the wrong side of that shootout.
"We talked as a defense and said that we want to be the defense that doesn’t allow those shootouts to happen," said WVU cornerback Pat Miller. "We want to let the defense win the game for us while the offense still scores a lot.
"(A shootout) is not even on our mind. We don’t want to allow any points."