MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Shaq Riddick wasn’t part of West Virginia’s 2013 defense that was annihilated at Baylor, yet it only took a couple of film sessions this week for him to commiserate.
“Baylor almost scored 100 points,” he said, only slightly exaggerating what transpired in Baylor’s 73-42 runaway. The Bears piled up 864 yards (the most ever by a Big 12 offense), reeled off 38 first downs and breezed through nine touchdown drives of 72 yards or longer.
No West Virginia defense has ever been whipped so thoroughly or flattened so emotionally. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson referred to it this week as “the most embarrassing game I’ve ever been a part of.”
While Baylor’s game-breaking speed and offensive precision were on point, West Virginia left gaping windows through busted assignments. The Bears capitalized by scoring on a 61-yard pass to Antwan Goodley, a 47-yarder to Tevin Reese and an 80-yard run by Lache Seastrunk—all within the game’s opening 10 minutes.
“I came out after halftime and they had like 600 or 700 yards and 50 points,” said Gibson.
Specifically, it was 617 yards and 56 points—totals that obliterated a defense already lacking confidence. Coaches were incapable of repairing players’ psyches and stopping the slide as WVU lost six of its final seven games.
“We never got back on track defensively after that game,” Gibson said. “It lingered the rest of the year for us.”
“It was the most embarrassing game I’ve ever been a part of. … We never got back on track defensively after that.” — Tony Gibson on WVU’s 73-42 loss at Baylor last season
While Baylor averaged 63 points through its first six games in 2013, it isn’t matching that figure this year. That’s actually small consolation, however, considering the Bears (6-0, 3-0) still top the nation at 52.7 points per game.
They’re also at the top in total offense (622 per game), with the yardage split between 371 passing and 251 rushing. The dynamic potential was on full display last week when Baylor ran off 24 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes to defeat TCU 61-58.
“There’s not going to be many situations worse than that, being 21 points down that late in the fourth quarter,” said quarterback Bryce Petty. “You can’t really teach experience or read it in a book. You just have to live it. So for us, that was living proof that we can come back literally from anything.”
And in a sense, West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) is still trying to come back from that soul-crushing night 12 months ago. Because of injuries, attrition and graduation, Riddick is among six new starters on West Virginia’s defense since that blowout.
“The defense is taking it personal when it comes to this game,” said Riddick, who joined the Mountaineers this summer as a graduate transfer from Gardner Webb. “We’re not going to let that happen again.”