2 key defensive linemen could return against Baylor

West Virginia nose guard Christian Brown lunges at Towson quarterback Connor Frazier. Brown was suspended for the Texas Tech game but may return against Baylor.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Defensive lineman Christian Brown, suspended for West Virginia’s 37-34 win at Texas Tech, could return for this week’s game against No. 4 Baylor, coach Dana Holgorsen revealed Monday.

“I anticipate him being back fairly quick,” said Holgorsen, categorizing Brown’s transgression as a violation of team rules.

A redshirt sophomore, Brown has played nose guard on passing downs and holds a key role in a thin defensive front. His absence forced coaches to override plans for redshirting Darrien Howard, who played about 10 snaps in Lubbock.

With Baylor (6-0, 3-0) topping the nation in scoring and total offense, West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) also hopes to regain defensive end Dontrill Hyman, who missed two games with a knee injury.

“He should probably be ready to go this week,” Holgorsen said.

But how ready is West Virginia’s defense? After being shredded by the Bears for 136 points in the past two meetings, coaches feel the defense has made strides, though it ranks only 75th nationally in points allowed per game (27.2). Removing the 54-0 shutout of Towson, the Mountaineers are surrendering 32.6 points against FBS opponents.

With this season’s return to the 3-3-5 defense, WVU sought to become more athletic in hopes of combating the Big 12’s spread attacks.

“Our defense is designed for this. We’re equipped for this,” Holgorsen said, noting that his offense provides a template for facing tempo and dynamic playmakers in practice. “I’d like to think that we pose some challenges offensively … and we’ve shown our defense that a good bit.

“We’ve got a lot of players that have seen Baylor the past two years. Whether they can hold up, time will tell.”

Team award winners: The coaching staff occasionally takes a spread-the-wealth approach to its weekly awards, and such was the case Monday with the selection of Michael Molinari as special teams champion.

He recorded touchbacks on four of seven kickoff and was the holder on Josh Lambert’s four field-goal attempts. A solid day, but it was Lambert who ended the game with a school-record 55-yard kick and earned Big 12 special teams player of the week.

The offensive champion was center Tyler Orlosky and the defensive award went to linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. Scout-team champions were receiver Ricky Rogers and walk-on cornerback Khairi Shariff.

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