TSM: The line right now is 28. Does that seem legitimate to you? Clearly your offense is humming right along at a scary pace. How much has your defense improved and who/what has triggered that improvement?
ODB: I'd never try to get into the business of guessing Vegas lines, but 28 points sounds right. Not too low, like our previous games have clearly been, but about right. If the goal is to get relatively equal money on both sides, that's probably a good number, considering the expectations about the Baylor team right now. It's important to remember that the spread isn't a prediction so much as a view of where the public thinks the two teams are.
As far as the defense goes, I'd say the improvement has been significant. Our depth on the defensive line, in particular, is night and day from just two years ago. The secondary is still a relative weakness, but I could type that sentence every single year, probably.
TSM: Why did you have so much trouble scoring against us last year? Only put up 63. But averaging 70 this year.
ODB: That early turnover really put the offense on the wrong path the rest of the game.
TSM: Will your hoops team average 70 ppg? Any thoughts about letting Art work with them on the offensive end?
ODB: I'm guessing they will, but it might be close. I think they were right around 74 last season, and that was with Pierre Jackson leading the charge. I heard they wouldn't let Briles bring the chrome helmets over, so he's out.
TSM: What makes Briles' offense so potent? Is it the system? Personnel? Or perhaps a perfect mesh of both lately?
ODB: It's both. I thought the article(s) quoting Todd Berry (ULM) coach after that game were particularly informative about what makes the Baylor offense go. First and foremost, they put speed everywhere. Everybody not wearing a OL number can run. Second, they spread things out further than any team in the country on purpose, to make you make a difficult decision. Do you keep your safeties and linebackers close to stop the run, or do you spread them wide to help with receivers outside the numbers? Add to that a steadily-improving offensive line that can open holes and keep the pocket clean, and it's dangerous.
TSM: Is Art the leading candidate for the Texas job? Too soon?
ODB: After the team itself, probably the thing that comes up first in any conversation even tangentially involving Baylor at this point, so definitely not too soon. I think he should be the leading candidate, but I'm not sure he will be. I'm confident Baylor keeps him, regardless.
TSM: Who or what part (if any) on WVU's team worries you the most?
ODB: Your defensive line, probably. Baylor will attempt, at least, to establish Seastrunk in the running game. That means we have to move Shaq Rowell and friends around, or the standard downs become passing downs and your secondary gets to tee off.
TSM: WVU was the shiny new thing in the Big 12 last year and didn't deal with it so well. Baylor seems the early season darling this year. Does the potential of a drop-off scare you at all? What do you think Briles is doing to sidestep the landmines?
ODB: Certainly, it does. Baylor fans are confident about how good we think our team is, but there's always the chance we/everyone else are wrong. The biggest potential problem is still the defense, without a doubt. As fun as shootouts are, I'd really like to avoid them, if possible.
TSM: So you guys are pretty good. What do Baylor fans feel is the ceiling on this Baylor team? Big 12 champs? Crystal football?
ODB: Big 12 Champs has been the goal throughout for the team itself. For the fans, who aren't always constrained by rationality, you might hear talk of the crystal football. But it's not a done deal that an undefeated Big 12 Champ would even get there, though I think enough things would happen, eventually, to make it so.
TSM: Yes, we make fun of the Tarp. Nothing personal (and I saw where you're taking it off for the last game). What kind of crowd/atmosphere can WVU expect to walk into Saturday night?
ODB: Probably not as raucous as Morgantown was last season, from what I've heard, though I've also been told your fans were great to the Bears that made the trip. Our crowds have improved with our team, and I'm hoping they all got the memo to wear gold.
TSM: Speaking of the last game at the Floyd, how excited is everyone for the new place? How much sentiment is being held for the Floyd and is there a faction who would have liked to save it?
ODB: It's insane, and very little. At this point, if they announced that we needed an additional $50 million but could have the stadium done tomorrow, I think they'd get it. People are so ready for the new stadium, it's almost insane.
TSM: You seem like a school in the B12 everybody liked because you kept your heads down and got beat on a lot. Have you noticed attitudes of fans of other schools within the conference changing since you started regularly kicking their teeth in?
ODB: People generally see things the way they want to, so we still get a lot of "You're Baylor," "Still Baylor," things like that. It's fine. I've noticed an uptick in the amount of trolling from other fanbases on ODB, but not necessarily the quality. I will say Mountaineer fans have been by far the most vocal on twitter that I can remember, and it's been mostly in good fun.
TSM: Do you think 3 tune up games and 2 bye weeks better prepared you for the Big 12 gauntlet or do you think WVU is in a better position having already played 3 ranked teams 2 of those on the road?
ODB: I really don't know about the quality of competition. Part of me wishes we had more reps for our first teamers, since none of them have seen the second half of the third quarter yet. I question more whether the general lack of games (3 for us, 5 for you) will play a role since teams typically get better as they go. At least good ones, anyway.
TSM: Baylor is an institution with deep religious roots. Don't you think the founders would frown on one group of men doing to another group of men what you guys did to Wofford, Buffalo and ULM?
ODB: I think the founders would have enjoyed watching the green and gold flung so successfully afar.
Thanks again to Mark for playing along and providing some insight. Go visit Our Daily Bears for more excellent Baylor coverage.