Breaking Down the Game: Baylor


September 29, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) drops back to pass in the first quarter in the game against the Baylor Bears at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

Today, in men’s college basketball, the West Virginia Mountaineers defeated the Baylor Bears by a final score of 70-63. What is that you say? This wasn’t a round ball game? My mistake. You see a score that high, you instantly  think that it is either basketball or arena football.

Everyone knew that this game would feature a lot of offensive fireworks, but I don’t think many people thought that it would be a total shootout. Neither defense is what you would call ‘marquee,’ but you would have thought that there would have been a few more defensive stops in this game. Got to give credit to both offenses for putting together impressive schemes and executing them to perfection.

For the Mountaineers today, you can look at the game as being an incredible, dominating offensive performance. You can also look at it as a laughably awful defensive effort. We’ll take a look at this game as being both glass half full (offensively) and glass half empty (defensively).

Let’s start with the bad news: the defensive secondary is weak. Baylor’s receivers exposed the secondary for 581 yards through the air. Now, Nick Florence is a good up-and-coming passer, but he is not an elite quarterback like Geno Smith. The Mountaineer secondary practices daily against the top arm in the country and against a very similar offensive scheme. The secondary should have been able to defend this kind of attack. The secondary looks lost at times in their coverage schemes and just did not come up with the tackles they needed to keep the Bears out of the endzone.

The secondary, curtousy of Darwin Cook, did come up with an interception on the first drive of the game. After that, it was bombs away. Baylor converted 9 of their 14 drives for touchdowns. The defensive front seven did what they could to put pressure on Florence, sacking him 3 times. As the game progressed, Baylor’s offense settled into a nice rhythm, and the defense could not get the Bears out of sync.

In total, the offense gave up 700 yards of offense and 9 touchdowns. Yes, Baylor has one of the more impressive offenses in the country. But no, the Mountaineers defense should not be giving up that many points. The Mountaineers defense needs some major adjustments if WVU is going to win the Big XII this season.

Now that we’ve covered the doom and gloom of the defense, let’s take a look at the phenomenal offensive performance put on by the Mountaineers. If Geno Smith was not #1 on everyone’s Heisman trophy list coming into this game, he most certainly is #1 now. Smith followed up a down performance against Maryland with yet another lights out performance. Geno completed 45 of 51 passes (88.2% completions) for 656 yards (no, that is not typo) for 8, I repeat, 8 touchdowns. That is NCAA 13-type numbers. Many pundits want to compare Geno’s numbers to RGIII’s numbers from a year ago, but let’s face it, Geno is better than RGIII. Geno is putting up insane passing totals with astronomical completion percentages.

Geno’s success would not be possible if it were not for his NFL caliber wide receivers Bailey and Austin. Tavon Austin put up impressive totals again this week, snagging 14 passes for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the 215 yards, Austin has moved into first place on WVU’s all-time receiving yards list with 2,684 yards.

Stedman Bailey would not be out done by his star teammate. Bailey turned in the performance of his career today with 13 receptions for 303 yards and 5 touchdowns. The 5 touchdown grabs moved Bailey past Austin to take over first place on WVU’s all-time receiving touchdowns list.

Of course, West Virginia’s offensive performance would not have been possible had it not been for the stellar performance of the offensive line. After getting pushed around by Maryland defensive front, the Mountaineers line looks to have made some major improvements in just a week’s worth of practice. The offensive line kept the Bears defense off of Geno all day, only allowing one sack. When it came to running the ball, the offensive line did a great job of opening up creases  for Buie to run through. The Mountaineers were able to dash the Bears defense for 151 yards on the ground, a testament to how well the line blocked down field.

In all, the offense went off on the Bears for 807 yards of total offense and 10 touchdowns. You can’t really get much better than that.

One last note on the game: today’s game marks the third time in the last five games (going back to the 2012 Orange Bowl) that the Mountaineers have scored 10 touchdowns in a game. That is just ridiculous! The Mountaineers offense just might be the most prolific offense in the country. Good thing, given the play of our defense.

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