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West Virginia wary of Baylor multitasker Ebner and the Bears

Baylor running back Trestan Ebner, left, scores past Kansas safety Nate Betts in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer

Neal Brown watched Trestan Ebner zig, zag and bull his way to four touchdowns in Baylor’s opener, leaving West Virginia’s coach with the task of devising a plan to slow him down.

Ebner became the first player in the Big 12’s 25-year history to score three different types of touchdowns in a 47-14 win over Kansas last week.

The senior returned a kickoff and a free kick after a safety for touchdowns, rushed for a 1-yard score and caught a pass for an 18-yard TD.

“That’s impressive,” Brown said as the Mountaineers prepare to host the Bears on Saturday. “He’s fast. Fast and elusive.”

Ebner has almost as many touchdowns as he did all of last year (five), when he attempted just one kickoff return and none on punts.

“I’m just thankful that I was able to put my name in the Baylor record books, and I’m thankful for the chance to play with these great guys,” Ebner said.

Ebner has given the Mountaineers problems before. As a freshman in 2017, he scored on a 40-yard run and had TD catches of 52 and 9 yards, all in the fourth quarter.

Against Kansas, Ebner and two other running backs helped Baylor (1-0, 1-0 Big 12) amass 203 yards on the ground, the same number that West Virginia allowed last week at No. 17 Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers (1-1, 0-1) are coming off a 27-13 loss that was rife with penalties and missed assignments and opportunities, including failing to recover any of the Cowboys’ four fumbles.

“We hurt ourselves a bunch,” Brown said.

Some other things to know about Baylor and West Virginia:

DON’T OVERLOOK DEFENSE

West Virginia’s defense has been spotty but has seen success against Baylor with a combined 13 sacks the past two seasons. This year’s unit has been helped significantly with a pair of transfers. Cornerback Alonzo Addae from New Hampshire and Arizona graduate transfer Tony Fields at linebacker lead the Mountaineers in tackles and each has an interception.

Linebacker Terrel Bernard led Baylor by far in tackles a year ago and is off to another solid start. The junior had 2.5 sacks, including a safety, among his eight tackles last week.

“He made about every play against us last year,” Neal Brown said.

STEADY LEDDIE

About the only consistency on offense for the Mountaineers has come from another Brown — Leddie.

The 210-pound junior is looking to become the first West Virginia running back to start a season with three consecutive 100-yard performances since 2017. He had a career-high 26 carries last week and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry.

SOUR TASTE

Ask Baylor coach Dave Aranda about Neal Brown and he’ll immediately bring up Brown’s time as Troy’s head coach when Aranda was LSU’s defensive coordinator in 2017. The Trojans beat LSU 24-21 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“First of all, he whooped us when I was at LSU, so that’s a pretty vivid memory there,” Aranda said.

FAMILIAR FACES

Joe Wickline, Baylor’s offensive line coach, was an assistant at West Virginia from 2016 to 2018. His son, Kelby, started all 12 games at right tackle for the Mountaineers last season.

Joe Wickline’s 37-year career also included coaching the Bears’ offensive line in 1997 and 1998.

Former North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is Baylor’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also served as a Baylor assistant from 1991 to 1996.

BREWER BROTHERS

Neal Brown was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas Tech in 2011-12 when Michael Brewer was the backup quarterback. Brown got to know the Brewer family during the recruiting process, including Michael’s younger brother, Charlie.

Charlie Brewer, now Baylor’s quarterback, threw a pair of touchdown passes against the Mountaineers in a 17-14 win last year in Waco, Texas. In 2019 he led the Bears on a pair of game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and two others that tied games which Baylor won in overtime.

“The kid wins,” Brown said. “I don’t know what else you can say that’s better than that. He’s a winner. Comes from a winning family. It’s bred into him.”

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