MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Charlie Brewer appeared locked in as Baylor’s starting quarterback spot, until he was locked down by West Virginia’s defense Thursday night.
Brewer completed two more passes to Mountaineers than he did his own team, finishing 1-of-8 for 22 yards and three interceptions.
His receivers were accomplices by letting two picks slip through their hands, but that may have been attributable to the West Virginia safeties setting the tone early.
That was key for defensive coordinator Tony Gibson:
“We had those three quick turnovers and that got the momentum on our side,” he said. “Our guys played really, really well.”
Gibson had reminded his defense that the effort against Iowa State two weeks ago was not acceptable — missing 31 tackles he deemed “ridiculous.”
No remnants of that performance lingered against Baylor, and coach Dana Holgorsen said that it may have been the defense’s best game to date. the The Bears were limited to 287 yards, only 82 on the ground.
“It’s hard to argue with what they did,” Holgorsen said. “They created turnovers and won the battle 4-0. We dominated field position with turnovers and with making them punt quick. We tackled better and that’s one of the things that we came out of the game with last week. We missed 31 tackles and I knew that’s not who we were.”
When Baylor coach Matt Rhule inserted Jalen McClendon for Brewer in the third quarter, the decision appeared to be performance-related. But Brewer might have been a little foggy.
“He came off, and I was talking to him,” Rhule said. “He looked a little bit out of it on that pick. I said ‘Are you OK?’ I called the trainer over, and I know that is an evaluation process. They haven’t diagnosed anything to me yet, so they just said ‘Hey, we are evaluating him, and he is done for now.'”
WVU dominated despite being absent five scholarship players at linebacker. Dylan Tonkery missed his second straight game with a groin injury and Adam Hensley tore his ACL in practice.
Because of those injuries, substituting can be a problem, but the way Baylor tempoed the Mountaineers early, it ended up working in Gibson’s favor.
“They went into a 10-personnel on second down almost every time and then didn’t come out of it, which made it nearly impossible for me to sub,” Gibson said. “We had a lot of success with that so it was kind of like it helped us not being able to put others in. We had the guys we wanted out there on pretty much every possession, especially early on.”