MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Waylay in Waco was mere minutes complete when the recoil chatter started from the West Virginia side, traumatic cope-speak about forgetting such a miserable night and moving on to the next game.

But even the most resilient players don’t forget final scores like 73-42. They don’t block out games in which the opponent accumulates a ridiculous 864 yards (the most in Big 12 history).

And nor should they forget it.

As linebacker Isaiah Bruce acknowledged after Tuesday night’s practice, some 10 days removed from the emasculating beatdown at Baylor: “That game definitely put in perspective where we’re at as a team.”

With No. 16 Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0) coming to Morgantown on Saturday, the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2) are in desperate need of a bounce-back.

“It’s more about us proving it to ourselves. We’ve got to go out there and prove that we’re way better than we showed against Baylor.” — WVU safety Karl Joseph

Bruce saw West Virginia’s defense wilt repeatedly last season, yet this fall’s performance seemed entirely more reliable—at least until Baylor strung up 56 first-half points. That blitzkrieg siphoned swagger and shook confidence. A defense that through five games presumed itself brawny enough to carry the Mountaineers to a 12th consecutive bowl berth suddenly had to re-evaluate.

“I felt like we took two steps backward two weeks ago,” said West Virginia defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, whose unit needed only four blistering hours to fall from third to ninth in Big 12 scoring defense.

His therapeutic retort during the ensuing bye week? “We just hit the restart button.”

Restart for a defensive front that was shoved off the line of scrimmage. Restart for linebackers who were slow to shed blocks. Restart for a secondary that failed to jam Baylor’s receivers and were unable to disrupt the timing of the nation’s most productive offense.

“You can’t let these games turn into seven-on-seven and that’s exactly what happened at Baylor,” Patterson said. “We let people run through the creases in our coverage and had busted coverages. I think we got shocked a little bit.”

Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell couldn’t imagine being so disappointed after a game in which the secondary intercepted three passes (although two of those came at the expense of backup quarterback Seth Russell in fourth-quarter garbage time).

“We were just flat-out undisciplined,” Mitchell said. “We went away from the framework of the defense. We were not sound. We reverted back to something that wasn’t productive.

“(Baylor) exposed us in an adverse situation because of the tempo, the speed and the matchups.”

Cornerback Icky Banks admitted the barrage of Baylor touchdowns left him wondering, “What’s going on?” As the Bears’ first-string offense encountered no resistance in piling up eight scores on nine drives, Banks sensed “everything was kind of falling apart around us.”

But upon watching game film, coaches like Mitchell and Patterson reiterated how West Virginia essentially gift-wrapped numerous big plays with panicky technique and misalignments.

“All the past games we had been getting away with the little (mistakes),” Banks said. “Coaches told us these little things would catch up to us, and it finally did.

“We were telling each other to stay calm, but we never really linked up and got back together. We let it get to us.”

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Bryce Petty led the Bears to eight touchdowns on their first nine drives in a 73-42 whipping of West Virginia.
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Comments

  • Greg

    This could have easily been a 100+ point loss. Baylor pulled most of starting offense and defense in the second half after they already ran up 56 points at halftime. Holgerson should be sending Baylor coach a big thank you for saving him even more humiliation.

    • Don

      You are absolutely right about that, Greg. We were totally out matched as we are in the big 12. I'm nearing 70 years as a proud West Virginian and have never took a back seat to anybody, but the last couple of years in BB and now FB have caused me to put away my WV t-shirts. These teams have brought down a load of shame and humility on our great state. And all alledgedly to pick up extra money to support wv sports. Go rifle team and girls BB.

  • Alex

    I remember the game with LSU at there place, ...Bill Stewart was the H C coach ,had them beat could not call any right plays lost that game .... The Colorado game at their place lost that game could not run the clock right never call timeouts blowed that game...When Stewart was recruiting for the 3 years as a HC would only have a total of 75 signed scholarship players per year NCAA Will allow 85.. So when Holgersen took over his first year coaching was the recruits from Bill Stewart...which leaves our Juniors and seniors from the Stewart years now.....which we do not have any upper class and senior leadership, they are not there. Stewart didn't win the Fiesta Bowl RR coaches coached won that game over Oklahoma and then Pat White said should give HC job to Stewart or he probably would never gotten it .Holgersen will be ok when he can fill the roster with his players.

  • Tom

    Note to Holgerson: Character still counts in West Virginia. "You cannot dance on the tables on Saturday night and teach young men moral values on Monday."

  • don

    Don't overlook the fact that all 3 qbacks and (dare I say) running backs were recruited with great fanfare by holg. Just like huggins he apparently has a hard time recruiting scorers.

  • William

    WHAT A MESS WVU FOOTBALL IS!
    It is only a matter of time till Holgerson is gone
    He is not a Mountaineer and never will be
    He was hire with no experience
    He a given an out outrages salary
    He had character issues
    He can't stop saying 'YOU KNOW'
    He can care less about West Virginia, he is only here for the MONEY and he will be run out of Morgantown
    Why would anyone hire this guy as a Head Coach?
    He looks terrible in press conf. in all black!
    How many business in WV was he thrown out of?
    WVU has no leadership, he said that himself
    He was left some great players(Bill Stewarts) last year and look what happened
    IF YOU HIRE A LEADER THAT DOESN'T HAVE GREAT CHARACTER YOU MIGHT END UP IN A BIG MESS!
    How many great things can WVU fans say about Holgerson, compared to Bill Stewart?
    Are there any WVU fans that are PROUD to have Holgerson Head Coach at WVU?

  • wow

    These are all good posts. Nice to see people putting some thought, not panic into their posts. This is going to be a learning year for our team. We have some good players, just need some time to learn. I think we will win some more games this year that no one thinks we willbut we may lose one or two we should not. The young men on the team have my support win or lose.

  • doug

    These are young kids. Most have never played with each other before. I have been in games where within minutes your down by 20 and it hits you. It shakes you up. I remember teamates saying they hope its over soon. Their will was ripped right out. They had never been down by so much so fast and they just wanted it to be over.

  • William101

    It was one of those games. I recall when WVU beat Florida in the Peach Bowl. Florida was shut out, and we scored only a handful of points, 20?, and Charlie Pell, said afterward: "I burned the tape". IOW, he pushed the restart button. Clemson fired its defensive coordinator after we hung 70 points on the Tigers in the Orange Bowl. A little dramatic in my opinion.

    Offensive football is quickly becoming video game like. Good coaches are learning to press each mismatch they have and to do it it again and again until it stops working.

    It's also done at warplike speed, so the rule changes of a few years ago which were intended to shorten the collegiate game have had no effect. In fact, with the number of scores and first downs, the games are trending toward four hours instead of three hours.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the day is coming when we someday see a NC crowned who has one loss, a blow out loss in its past record. This is especially possible as we trend toward more of a playoff format.

  • J M

    As I seen it, the Baylor game, I don't think anybody in the country could have stopped them that day. They was rested up full of rocket fuel. one of the fastest teams I ever saying.. That's why I feel they win the Big 12 Championship..

    • tw eagle

      you're right on one count JM, the bears were full of "fuel" ... there are a few things in the world that can aid in the precision of play exhibited that night in Waco . . .I spent part of Saturday watching the bears play at KSt ... if not for a roughing penalty and two blown coverages down field KSt wins that game outright . . .with the national eye on the bears after the perfect game they had against the Mounties , I doubt they will "feuling" up their players again to the extent they used that night . . .where I think you are wrong is I don't think the bears will win the XII title ... you and I would almost be fast enough to qualify for the Olympics if we were running on the Baylor "fuel" ...

      • Maxxajay

        @TW .. Like your post and agree.. Like to add I seen that game with K S too.. For some reason a lot of teams and Baylor is one of them don't play on the road that well....