You don't need me to tell you what happened on Saturday afternoon, but I'm going to do it anyway. West Virginia's win over the #4 ranked Baylor Bears was a long time coming for the Mountaineers and after several tries, Dana Holgorsen finally has a signature win of the post-Orange Bowl era at WVU.
But there's so much to cover and so much fun to be had so I'm not going to tarry. You didn't come here for my yappin', you came for the Tweets!!
I'd rather have my legs waxed while watching the world's supply of Pappy Van Winkle be dumped in the Mon than watch VT vs Pitt.— Fake Bob Huggins (@FakeBobHuggins) October 17, 2014
WVU / Baylor was a game a lot of people were genuinely excited for. We shouldn't take that for granted, because.....uh....well that's not always the case. It's good to be valued and appreciated, y'all. WVU is getting a heavier dose of that now than they ever did in the Big East.
We're on the back half of the season.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) October 18, 2014
That makes me a sad panda.
I've given Bob a little grief in this space before, so credit where it's due. This was a solid read, not to mention amazingly prescient. Well done, Bob. (I'm not even going to make a snarky 'broke clock' joke. I'm not - seriously, I'm just handing out praise - I'm not making the joke so you might as well move on. Not gonna do it. Nope.)
IN COMPLETELY UNIDEAL AUTUMN WEATHER THEY WILL MEET THE INVADERS— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) October 18, 2014
Oh, I think we're getting fired up....
YEP WE'RE FIRED UP!!!
LET'S BRING ON THE MOUNTAINEERS!!!!
Fashion corner: I like the blue on white. I don't love the blue on white, but I like it. White britches are sharp. Basically as long as we're blue shirts / blue hats I'm good (sweet-ass throwback white hats are exempt from this). What can I say, the older I get the more I like old things.
This is running away with the title for "Most Fascinating Subplot Of The Season That Nobody Cares About Because We're Living In The Awesome Now But We Are Going To Start Caring Very Much About At The End Of The Year When We Start Thinking Ahead." Dana's clearly angling for the medical redshirt for Crest, right? And it's going to be at best a dubious "injury" that he's going to attempt to qualify him with, right? I'm telling you, this is going to be a big deal. Not yet and it shouldn't be yet, but one day sooner than you think you're going to care.
Sure. Why the hell not. I'll get to punt returns, aka "the turd in WVU's awesome win punch bowl" later.
I'm nervous.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) October 18, 2014
We were all nervous. This was a team that had scored 63 and then 73 against WVU in the last 2 years. They embarrassed a Mountaineer defense last year in a way no Mountaineer defense had been embarrassed before. I kept thinking back to that scene in Jaws where Richard Dryfess's character is about to go down in the cage to face the shark and as he's prepping his goggles looks up at Chief Brody and admits "I got no spit." That was all of us as a collective fanbase. We had no spit.
OK new rule for the kick return crib sheet. If you should find yourself with possession of the ball in the end zone, look down at the front of your shirt. If you don't see a '5' then that means you're not Mario Alford human lightning bolt and you should probably just kneel the damn ball.
I really like Wendell Smallwood but he's just not a good kick returner. Takes too long to do things in a job where you don't have time to do things. I don't understand why not line up Mario in the middle so he can go to the ball wherever it's aimed or have he and Smallwood switch when the ball is kicked understandably away from Super Mario. Just get the ball in his hands on kick returns as often as possible. Don't make this harder than it has to be.
State of note: Baylor O has third-and-6 or less on 97 of 119 third downs this season. WVU D has forced third-and-7 or more on 50 of 97.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 18, 2014
Third downs loomed large as kryptonite for Baylor heading into this game. When we previewed things with our Q & A with Jed Drenning, he told us this:
Their 3rd down numbers are worse than you'd expect. Once you take away the cupcakes from their schedule and look just at Big 12 play, they're 32% on third down conversions. That's second to last in the conference. Far worse then their percentage in recent years. They could be more vulnerable there than folks expect. Also their road record isn't great. All five of their losses in the last 27 games have come outside of Waco.
So they weren't great on third downs against good competition. And when you look at Casazza's stats, the big question was going to be if WVU could keep Baylor facing 3rd and long. Fun fact, Bryce Petty's completion percentage on 3rd down this year going into the game was 47% (credit to Jed again for that one in his Hot Reads column).
Point of all this being when you started to take a closer look, Baylor became very, very mortal.
This was troublesome. A WVU team that spent the first couple games looking very sharp has been getting sloppy lately and an early self-destruction against the Bears was a good way to let things get out of hand. Having said that I've found that when big plays happen early like that, it seems the game inevitably equalizes. So although I was disheartened, I wasn't too torn up.
No. You can't do that.
Guy just makes difficult catches look easy. Over and over and over again. We are watching a special talent boys and girls.
Was good to see those guys back in action. We finally saw this line at full strength, and it was an impressive sight. I'm trying not to get too excited going forward.....but man, if this line plays like that WVU's going to be able to beat some teams.
Behold the value of depth at running back. Was a tough blow to lose Shell, but next man up. Hope he's back soon. Was good that it gave some other folks a chance to step up. Like....
Dreamius Smith with a pretty spin move, 10 yard gain on 1st down— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) October 18, 2014
OH MY GOD THAT'S DREAMIUS SMITH'S MUSIC!!!!
Had been awhile since we saw the big fella and his re-emergence was a welcome sight. Fact is Dreamius is physically different from those other guys in that backfield. He's got more size than Buie, Garrison or Smallwood, but he also has a speed in the open field that Shell can't match.
The one thing this offense is missing is an explosive play in the run game ...— John Antonik (@JohnAntonik) October 18, 2014
Refer to that last tweet. Dreamius has the ability to be a home-run hitter that nobody else on that squad, with the possible exception of Smallwood, has. I want more Dreamius in my life for the second half of the season.
3 offensive linemen 5 yards downfield on the Petty incompletion.— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) October 18, 2014
Worth noting that, as with most of what Baylor was doing on Saturday afternoon, that is against the rules. Fact is Baylor does a lot of things that are on the edge or against the rules. This wasn't an isolated event. They are the most penalized team in the nation this year. They were the most penalized team in the nation last year.
What is with these officials? Awful call after awful call with a terrible spot thrown in.— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) October 18, 2014
Again, MOST PENALIZED TEAM IN THE NATION THIS YEAR. MOST PENALIZED TEAM IN THE NATION LAST YEAR. Put pure and simple Baylor is an undisciplined team and once they've cemented themselves as such in the eyes of officials, it's only going to make the zebras more likely to throw flags. So quit crying, Baylor. You are what you are.
Nice to know that Baylor's response to everything is "throw punches."— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) October 18, 2014
Undisciplined and borderline dirty. Like most people, I thought of Baylor was a team as a loveable loser. Now I'm thinking maybe they're kinda assholes.
I had no idea this game would get so chippy.— OurDailyBears (@OurDailyBears) October 18, 2014
Nor I. But you called down the thunder so it's ON.
I think we have our rival in the Big 12.— Christopher Lambert (@theDudeofWV) October 18, 2014
I think we do. And it fits pretty well. We've built some compelling history with the insane 70-63 game, the coaches know each other. This is good. This feels good. I like the idea of not liking someone.
That might've been the single dumbest effort by a punt returner I've ever seen. Why dive forward to make a diving catch... of a punt?— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) October 18, 2014
Obscenely dumb. From a player that doesn't often do dumb things. And then he got hurt, so double whammy. Wonderful.
And before everyone blames DeForest, he's not out there catching the punt or making a decision. The player is.— JM2 (@TheDeuceWVU) October 18, 2014
Fair enough, but we now have multiple players making bad decisions. Players who don't seem to make a habit of being dumb in other parts of the game. To me, if everyone is making the same mistake, you need to look at the common denominator - that is the coach charged with "coordinating" the special teams, Mr. Joe DeForest.
I feel like I'm pretty rational and I don't make a habit of going after coaches. Hell I've defended DeForest several times in this space, lauding the performance of the coverage teams last year and for the first part of this year. But this is unacceptable. Time and time again I see other teams with players perfectly capable of fielding a punt. Hell, sometimes they return it for yards! Yet whenever I watch WVU play I see guys in bad position, backpedaling to catch a ball, rushing up to catch a ball, falling on their ass as they dangerously catch a ball and basically doing 10 different things that make the entire process much more complicated than it needs to be. Not the same guy, every guy who goes back there.
At best DeForest is simply unable to communicate to these players how to effectively field punts. The WVU defense rose to the challenge and kept Baylor out of the end zone this time, but eventually this is going to cost WVU a game. And when it does I'm not going to have a syllable of defense for DeForest. I just feel bad for Holgorsen, who's gone above and beyond to support the guy but isn't getting much help from the man himself.
This is really pissing me off because I honestly do think it will cost WVU a game and for a Mountaineer team that could be very good that's going to be a stupid damn reason to lose a game.
Oh don't leave us with that tease, Michael! Name names!!! Burn bridges!!! (This was funny, though. I'd love the details)
West Virginia is losing the turnover battle 3-0 and leads Baylor, 14-13. That's quite an accomplishment.— David Ubben (@davidubben) October 18, 2014
It was difficult to believe that was happening. Football is funny sometimes.
It was like Holgorsen polled every blogger / fan and finally said "you know what, eff it, I'll do exactly what you're asking me to do." And the crazy part is, it worked the first time. Count me part of #TeamNoReturnerRush11.
I think WVU will return punts in the second half -- probably something that will receive a locker-room fix/tutorial at halftime.— The Student Section (@TheStudentSect) October 18, 2014
I don't think you get it man. THAT WAS THE FIX.
I don't think Dana cares about the field position. Has confidence in his offense to move the ball, sick of seeing muffed punts.— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) October 18, 2014
Clint Trickett picks up the flag and is waving it off. He - and everyone else - is annoyed that refs are taking so long.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) October 18, 2014
I would be livid if I’m Art Briles because that is not a reviewable play.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 18, 2014
You have to respect an officiating crew that a) blows a call but then b) fixes it by overturning the call on review - on a play that isn't reviewable. And this was before they called a penalty at the end of the first half (leaping on the field goal) AND FORGOT TO ENFORCE IT IN THE SECOND HALF EVEN THOUGH THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID THEY'D DO.
This was a special performance y'all. I hope you appreciated that.
He's got to be on anybody's short list for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's best kicker. Combine that with Kevin White's status as the frontrunner for the Biletnikoff Award and we're staring down the barrel of a special football season, kids. Just so you know only once before has a Mountaineer brought home one of the major individual awards - Dan Mozes took the Rimington Trophy given to the nation's top center in 2006.
is someone going to foul out for baylor— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) October 18, 2014
We got jokes at the Musket, y'all!
THIS IS THE GREATEST DAY OF OUR LIVES!— Big 12 Refs (@Big12Refs) October 18, 2014
Bryce Petty is out. West Virginia called for late hit out of bounds. Incredibly chippy game.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) October 18, 2014
Yeah but they started it.
Guys we are a Big 12 bowl rookie and every time we think we have a handle on the conference y'all throw some games like this at us— RussellAthleticBowl (@RussellAthBowl) October 18, 2014
Welcome to WVU football!!
I have conversations like this with people all the time. "Man, you hate a lot of teams, dude." Yup. And when I was pulling for a piece of space trash to plummet to earth at Doak Walker stadium as Notre Dame was playing Florida State, I was 100% serious.
Baylor just set an all-time field and opponent record with 185 penalty yards. Old mark was 170 by Norfolk State in 2011.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) October 18, 2014
Baylor likes to set Milan Puskar Stadium records.
This was an insane play. Golson made that sack with a Baylor lineman essentially hanging off of him. And Bryce Petty isn't a small person. If Golson gets it rolling, and if this was a sign of things to come with Shaq Riddick......ohmygodIcan'teventhinkaboutit!!!!
I 100% did.
But man, how about that catch. I was watching this game in a room full of people who I didn't know terribly well and I was just giddy and probably freaking them out a little. Don't care. I'm watching the best season by a wide receiver in WVU history and I'm going to enjoy it. Judge me.
YES!!!! He looks just like you, Bruce.
Seven games in. 1,000 yards. SEVEN GAMES IN. 1,000 YARDS!!!
(new rule - we only talk about Kevin White in all caps)
Those Baylor defenders started out ahead of Mario Alford, and he still beat them to the goal line by five yards.— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) October 18, 2014
Knew he was gone as soon as he caught that ball in space. Alford may accelerate faster in a shorter amount of time than anyone I've seen. Went crazy again around people I don't know. They judged me again. I didn't care again. I THINK WE'RE GONNA BEAT BAYLOR, GUYS!!!!!
Hey y'all I'm gonna check out this link. See ya Tuesday or so.
I love WVU fans who clap while frowning like YEAH YOU SUMBITCHES THAT'S BETTER— MUSCHAMP-O-LANTERN (@edsbs) October 18, 2014
We love our guys.
Not sure about you but this felt a lot like Bruce Irvin's coming out party against Maryland in 2010. He was a heralded pass rusher who hadn't done much on the field.....and then BANG. He was changing every game when he was in. If Riddick can have something approaching that impact, this WVU team could get a lot better in a hurry. They're solid at the linebacker spot, the DBs have been good....but the pass rush has been weak. If Riddick can provide a jolt there......things get interesting.
West Virginia 41, Baylor 27 FINAL WVU 85 plays, 456 yds, 5.4 ypp, 6 of 15 on 3rd BU 79 plays, 318 yds, 4 ypp, 3 of 16 on 3rd— ESPN Big 12 (@ESPN_Big12) October 18, 2014
318 yards. That should have been every headline of every story by everybody everywhere. 318 yards. For a team that regularly bangs 600. For a team that probably put that up in the first quarter against WVU last year. 318 yards. That should be engraved on the class ring of every player on that defense. 318 yards.
And if there's room, let's engrave this drive chart as well.
SHOOT THAT MUSKET. BURN ANYTHING IN SIGHT. WE'RE BACK. AND IM A GOOD COACH AGAIN. LETS PARTY.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) October 18, 2014
Let's do it!!
DAMMIT RANDY BURNED THE POPCORN BUT WE CAN STILL HAVE A PARTY!!
My little girl was born just before that Fiesta Bowl game. She's in first grade now. It's been awhile. Good times.
Probably not going to see many "Big 12 made a mistake with WVU" columns now which shows how silly those columns always are.— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) October 18, 2014
They're just as stupid now as they were when they were written. So screw you, Pat Forde.
Oh, you wanna talk chaos??
This season is shaping up to be even more chaotic than 2007.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) October 18, 2014
LET'S TALK CHAOS!!!!!!
I debated whether or not to do this but one thing I'm learning is that fun seasons are not to be taken for granted so when they come along soak them up. With that said, screw it - I'm gonna go off the reservation here.
As of this moment WVU controls their own destiny in the Big 12. That means if they win out, they would capture the conference crown. The playoff selection committee has already said that conference championships matter. That's right - I said playoff selection committee. If the Mountaineers managed to win out, they'd hold victories over 4 or 5 ranked teams. Their losses would be very respectable - especially to Bama.
Listen, I'm not saying it's an easy path, and they'd certainly need lots of help, but crazy things can happen. The SEC West is making up 4 of the top 5 and all those teams have to play each other. Teams are going to lose and come back to the pack. If there are enough losses, you could pretty quickly run out of respectable 1 loss teams and WVU would have to be at the top of any list of 2 loss teams the committee would look at. Everybody keeps comparing this season to 2007, so I'll just remind you that the champion that year - LSU - was the only champion in recent memory with 2 losses.
So count me among #TeamChaos.
See! Shaq's with me!!
And I'll take a moment to also remind you that opposing kickers are 12 of 12 against WVU. Baylor's kicker was 0-2 from over 30 yards before Saturday. He was 2-2 against WVU.This and the fumble thing are driving me up the damn wall.
Despite its 5-2 start, WVU is minus 11 in turnovers...All 3 phases can improve here...Curbing that figure would make them almost unbeatable.— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) October 19, 2014
(Mr. Burns voice) "Indestructible."
I've rambled long enough here and I could ramble a while longer but I'd be remiss if I didn't give Gibby a shout-out. I came into this game worried because this is the time of year where the wheels have fallen off the WVU wagon for the last couple seasons. Then Daryl Worley and Terrell Chestnut got knocked out. Somehow he held it all together and shut down the most prolific offensive machine of the past couple years. Even better he seems like the type of guy who will stay around for a bit so the revolving door at defensive coordinator may have finally stopped spinning. All that to say the future looks pretty bright at WVU right now.
Using the same logic they used for beer sales (don't outlaw when you can control and regulate) maybe WVU should take a harder look at field storming. Let folks get some things out of their system and burn off some excitement and perhaps you don't get the ugly scenes we saw in Morgantown. It sure couldn't hurt.
I could go on but we've got a whole week to enjoy this one. So watch the replays, soak it in and puff that chest out a little all week. The path doesn't get any easier but there's a faint glow in the distance - we could be going somewhere special.
Keep tweeting and LET'S GOOOOOO!!!!!!