Baylor’s 100-MPH Offense Awaits West Virginia
MORGANTOWN – Dana Holgorsen might have said it best.
”When you get right down to Baylor, obviously it’s about some offense,” the West Virginia coach said.
There’s no getting around the fact the No. 17-ranked Bears lead the country in both total offense, averaging 751 yards per game, and scoring offense with 70 points per game.
”It’s pretty impressive what they’re doing,” Holgorsen said. ”They’re going to be confident and ready to go. They’re coming off of a bye week, and they’re fresh and energetic. It will be a very dynamic place to play on Saturday night.”
Not only is Baylor coming off a bye, its only played one game in the past 27 days.
”That’s a lot of days off,” Bears quarterback Bryce Petty said.
When you look at it even closer, Petty and the rest of the offensive starters have only been on the field for 26 drives during Baylor’s first three victories.
Of those drives, 22 resulted in scores.
When the Bears score, they score fast.
Twenty-four of Baylor’s 25 offensive touchdowns this season have taken less than two minutes, including 11 in under one.
The Bears’ longest touchdown drive lasted 2:07.
Petty not only leads Baylor’s offense, he also leads the nation in passing efficiency (239.5), yards per completion (20.02) and is tops in the Big 12 with 334 passing yards per game.
In each of his three starts, the junior has thrown for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns.
While the Bears’ aerial attack may get the headlines, the ground game does its fair share and is currently ranked fifth in the country with 307 yards per game.
Baylor is the only team in the nation to be ranked in the Top 10 for both passing offense and rushing offense.
Lache Seastrunk, who is being mentioned in the Heisman conversation, has rushed for 100 or more yards in a school-record seven straight contests and is averaging 9.8 yards per carry in that stretch. He ranks ninth nationally and first in the Big 12 with 139 yards per game and also leads the conference with an average of 12 points per game.
The Bears’ offensive arsenal continues with its receivers, junior Antwan Goodley and senior Tevin Reese, both of whom are on the Biletnikoff watch list.
Baylor is the only school in the country with two receivers in the Top 10 for receiving yards per game as Goodley averages 123 and Reese at 117.
Reese has scored 17 of his 19 career touchdown receptions from 40 or more yards, while Goodley had five grabs for 156 yards and two scores in the Bears’ last game against the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Even Baylor’s defense likes to get into the end zone. The unit has scored more touchdowns (4) than it has allowed (3).
When the Bears’ D isn’t trying to score, its forcing three-and-outs on 54 percent of opponents drives or it’s bringing down the opposing quarterback, which it has done 16 times in the past four games dating back to Baylor’s victory against UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.
”Defensively, they’ve shown a whole lot of improvement,” Holgorsen said. ”It is about the same guys that we faced when they were here last year. They have seven or eight starters who have taken a bunch of snaps.”
There is a chance one of Baylor’s top defensive players could miss the Bears’ matchup with the Mountaineers.
Safety Ahmad Dixon, a Thorpe Award candidate, was arrested and charged with assault last week. Dixon has been a crucial part of the Bears’ defense as he has appeared in 37 games since his freshman season in 2010. It’s still unclear if Dixon will miss any playing time.
Uncertainty also spills over to the West Virginia sideline, too.
Injuries to quarterbacks Ford Childress and Clint Trickett have left Holgorsen scratching his head on who to start on Saturday.
”If they’re both 100 percent right now we would probably go with Clint, because he did a pretty good job keeping the plays alive and had some savvy to him,” Holgorsen said. ”If he’s half-speed and Ford is 100 percent, it would make more sense to go with Ford. That being said, if they’re both 50 percent, it would make more sense to go with (junior quarterback) Paul (Millard).”
All three quarterbacks have won their first starts, respectively, but Millard and Childress both came up short on the road in their second starts.
The Mountaineers quarterback situation is something Baylor coach Art Briles has thought about as well.
”They’re all different and they’ve all had their ups and downs,” Briles said.
”I thought that Trickett the other day gave them a spark, and I thought he was accurate in his plays. Our job is to do what our job is and that’s what our defense will do.”