Each week, MetroNews will hear from a beat writer who covers West Virginia’s opponent. Today we’re joined by John Werner of The Waco Tribune-Herald, where he reports on Baylor football.
GAME INFO: No. 25 Baylor (3-0) at No. 9 West Virginia (3-0), Saturday at noon, [FX]
METRONEWS: After a mild scare against Sam Houston State and a severe one at Louisiana-Monroe, how certain are you that this is indeed a Top 25 team?
WERNER: Louisiana-Monroe is a good team, so getting a road win there was pretty big for Baylor. But we’ll see if the Bears belong in the Top 25 since their next three games are against No. 9 West Virginia, No. 15 TCU and No. 12 Texas.
METRONEWS: Life after Grant Teaff was rough on Baylor football coaches until Art Briles authored a turnaround in his third season. Beyond signing Robert Griffin III, how has Briles done it?
WERNER: Coach Briles was a Texas high school coach for a long time and has great associations with the high school coaches across the state. He has brought in a lot of good offensive talent, which is evident since Baylor’s offensive production hasn’t dropped off from last year so far. The defense still needs a lot of work, but defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has a proven track record.
METRONEWS: Does the Bears defense look improved from last season’s 112th national ranking?
WERNER: They’re still giving up a lot of yards, but have forced 10 turnovers. That was pretty much their forte last year. They’ve gained more experience, depth and athleticism this year, but still have a lot to prove.
METRONEWS: What’s the perception of West Virginia’s football program down in Texas? And is the fan base adjusting to the idea of traveling 1,300 miles for a league game?
WERNER: I think most people around here believe the Big 12 upgraded by bringing in a strong West Virginia program. It’s great to have a school that’s excited to join the Big 12 after the defections the league has had. While it’s definitely a long trip for a conference game, it’s great to have a program with such a fervent fan base.
METRONEWS: Any thoughts on names for the Bears’ soon-to-be-constructed 45,000-seat football facility? And do you detect any sentimentality for Floyd Casey Stadium?
WERNER: Baylor fans can’t wait to move into the new stadium. It’s going to be a beautiful place on the Brazos River overlooking the campus. While Floyd Casey Stadium has served the community well for 62 years, I think most fans are excited about the move to campus.