Bears defense looks to atone for loss

WACO, Texas – It was a day that will always be remembered in the minds of the University of Baylor’s defense.

Senior quarterback Nick Florence passed for 581 yards and five scores, with a stadium-record 314 yards going to Terrance Williams. The Bears finished with 700 yards of total offense as Tevin Reese finished with 120 yards and Lanear Sampson had 109 as the visitors tacked 63 points on the Milan Puskar Stadium scoreboard.

Even that, however, was not enough as Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey ignited a Mountaineer offense that stuck 807 total yards and 70 points on the Bears’ prevent unit.

“We’ve talked about it, and looked at it and we realize we’re not that defense anymore,” nickleback Sam Holl said. “We saw mistakes and wonder how we did that. We have to make sure we don’t’ make the same mistakes this year. We have to tackle better, cover better and play smart.”

The unit is eager to show how much it has improved when Baylor opens Big 12 play against visiting West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.

“If you look at how Baylor played from that game (last year) on, they got better and better defensively as the year went on,” WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “And, they’ve got pretty much the same guys coming back, so it’s all of those guys that bought into what Coach Bennett was teaching them.

“The philosophy didn’t change a whole lot, they just kept getting good at what they were doing.”

Conversely, the 2013 edition of the Mountaineer offense has struggled for any kind of consistency. Florida State transfer Clint Trickett became the third different starting quarterback when the junior passed for 309 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s 30-21 victory over then-No. 11 Oklahoma State.

“Trickett gave them a spark, he was accurate and made some plays,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “But, we have to play assignment football regardless of who the quarterback is.

“We certainly have a lot of respect for West Virginia with the caliber of athletes and coaches they have.”

Words that could just as easily describe the offensive unit the old gold and blue’s defense will face on Saturday.

Baylor leads the Big 12 in nearly every offensive and defensive category following blowout wins over Wofford (69-3), Buffalo (70-13) and UL-Monroe (70-7).

The offense is averaging 69.7 points, 751.3 total yards, 307 rushing yards, 444.3 passing yards and has a league-leading 239.6 pass efficiency.

Defensively, the Bears leads the 10-team league, surrendering 7.7 yards, and 297 total yards per game and ranking second in rushing defense (110.3 ypg).

Individually, running back Lache Seastrunk leads the conference with 139 yards rushing per game while quarterback Bryce Petty tops the league with an average of 333.7 passing yards per outing. Most of those yards have been going to Antwan Goodley (123.3 ypg) and Reese (116.7).

Defensive end Shawn Oakman tops the league in tackles for losses (2.67 pg) while linebacker Eddie Lackey is 10th in tackling with an average of 7.7 per game.

“If you look at the two losses they’ve had (this season), they’re against Oklahoma and Maryland on the road,” Briles said. “West Virginia does a great job with home crowds and the environment, and do a great job protecting their house. The bottom line is we didn’t get out of there with a win, and we played extremely hard.”

  • Baylor has won six straight games at home and has not lost at ‘The Case’ since Oct. 13, 2012, vs. TCU.
  • Baylor’s defense has score more touchdowns (four) than it has allowed (three) this season.
  • Baylor is off to a 3-0 start for the third straight year, but for only the fourth time since 1997. BU hasn’t started a season at 4-0 since 1991.
  • Baylor is playing its 6hth and final season at historic Floyd Casey Stadium. BU moves to the $260 million dollar riverfront Baylor Stadium in 2014.
  • The Bears have posted at least 400 yards of offense in 30 straight games and is averaging 597.2 yards per game since 2011. Both marks lead the nation.
  • Baylor’s offense has topped 600 yards in five of the last six games (6-0 in that span).
  • The Bears’ defense has forced two or more turnovers in nine of their last 10 games (Baylor is 8-2 during that span). BU is 19-2 when forcing two or more turnovers per game.