DeForest Mostly Beside Himself About Defense

MORGANTOWN – The officials called it an “unnecessary throwdown” but after going through what he and his teammates were, Pat Miller’s out-of-bounds, third-quarter takedown of Baylor receiver Terrance Williams at least showed the West Virginia defenders had some life in them.

The Savannah State-like numbers they gave up during Saturday’s 70-63 triumph will forever suggest otherwise.

They boggle the mind. After all, it takes a rare effort to score 70 points and not cover a spread, but that’s just what happened on an eye-opening day at Milan Puskar.

“We’ll look at the tape and say this is what went wrong, this is what we did good, this is what we did bad and just keep going,” WVU defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said, who was mostly beside himself after this one.

That DVD of the good probably won’t be very long, specifically for a defense that was hanging its hat, primarily, on the fact that it lined up correctly for each snap.

After that, watch out.

Baylor had 92 plays, totaled 700 yards and its quarterback broke a single-game passing record a year after the Heisman Trophy winner set it.

Williams, who was seemingly stopped by Miller only after he was out of bounds, caught 17 passes for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was one of three receivers to top 100 yards as quarterback Nick Florence, the heir apparent to RGIII, completed 29 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns.

The Bears had 34 first downs and were an astounding 11 of 16 on third downs and 1 of 1 on fourth downs. They scored touchdowns on nine of their 14 drives and punted only twice. Of all the egregious actions, the Mountaineers gave up a two-play, 65-yard scoring drive in the last 25 seconds of the first half.

“You’ve got to create an opportunity for them to make a mistake,” DeForest said. “The plays they hit on in the first half, every one of them were caused by us making a mistake, not by them executing. They did exactly what we thought they were going to do. They ran four routes, and they ran four runs. And that’s it. We did a poor job as a coaching staff of being able to stop those four passes and those four runs. If we plan on contending in this league, we have to fix it.”

Had the WVU offense not bettered each of these numbers (with the exception of the top receiver; WVU’s best receiver, Stedman Bailey, was limited to 13 catches for 303 yards), we might be talking about one of the most lop-sided losses in school history.

It was so bad, a sometimes speechless DeForest, who spent 10 minutes with the media after the game, began turning around and asking his own questions.

(Sorry Joe, we think we know, but we don’t know).

Of course, DeForest wasn’t asking for advice. He was trying to make a point.

“You guys ask me questions, I’m going to ask you questions. Do you look at the No. 1 offenses in the country? Can you list them? It’s Baylor, West Virginia, it’s Oklahoma State. What do they run? It’s the exact same thing. You have to measure success differently in this league. It’s not how many yards you give up, it’s not how many points. Obviously it’s not acceptable to do what we did (Saturday), neither one of those, but it’s the way of life versus those offenses. Ultimately, you have to make one more stop than they do, one more turnover than they do, and you’ll win the game. That’s what we did. It’s still not acceptable, but that’s what we did to win the game.”

DeForest had a heckuva point in there. This wasn’t Syracuse’s offense. Baylor offense, the last year and change, has been among the most unstoppable forces in the game.

The Bears have posted at least 500 yards in 10 straight games. They’ve scored 45 or more in eight straight games. They had won nine straight dating back to last season, doing it mostly the way WVU did Saturday.

By scoring at will.

“It’s hard to take as a defensive coach,” DeForest said. “It’s very, very hard. Maybe this will us better. We’re going to make some corrections.”