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2015 West Virginia Football Season Review: The Defense - Part 3 - The Games

There are many ways to review stats but when you look at the box scores for each individual game, the stats do not lie. In Part 3 of the Review, we're going to look at how the defense fared in each game plus how it affected the opponents per average.

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Stats are nice. Stats do not lie. People can interpret statistics differently but the stats do not lie. In Parts 1 and 2, we've looked at season stats and the advanced stats, so in Part 3, we're going to look at each individual game and see how much the defense held the opponents down or the opponent beat the defenses' average.

2015 Season Review: Defense: Part I - Standard Stats Part II - Advanced Stats

A lot of this premise goes back to what is called The Baylor Effect. The writers at have a term called The Baylor Effect, which is the measure of how much Baylor directly affects the opponents defensive average. Baylor has been one of the most prolific offenses over the past few years and when you play Baylor, you can expect your defense to give up around 25% more yards/points/plays, etc. I think this is a great premise. An elite offense or defense is going to effect an opponents average and measuring this effect is something that speaks volumes about your team.

The Games

Rush Yards Per Game 352.5 187.9 235 128.8 290 218.5 207.6 224.8 97.3 191.5 161.5
Rush Yards vs WVU 195 173 107 134 304 227 179 277 82 93 98
Difference -157.5 -14-9 -128 +5.2 +14 +8.5 -28.6 +52.2 -15.3 -98.5 -63.5
Yards Per Carry (Season) 6.4 5.2 5.2 3.6 5.6 5.1 5.6 5.1 2.7 4.5 3.8
Yards Per Carry vs WVU 3.4 6 3.2 3.5 6.1 5.8 4.3 5.1 2.7 2.3 2
Difference -3.0 +0.8 -2.0 -0.1 +0.5 +0.7 -1.3 0 0 -2.2 -1.8
Pass Yards Per Game (Season) 58.3 177.6 307.9 352.2 298.2 340.2 385.4 145.9 212 225.7 179.8
Pass Yards vs WVU 29 153 320 228 389 389 199 162 127 191 206
Difference -29.3 -24.6 +12.1 -124.2 +90.8 +48.8 -186.4 +16.1 -85 -34.7 +26.2
Yards Per Pass (Season) 5.8 5.3 9.3 8.9 9.8 8.7 8.4 6.9 5.7 6.5 6.5
Yards Per Pass vs WVU 2.2 4.3 12.8 5.3 11.4 7.9 5.5 8.5 3.4 4.9 6.6
Difference -3.6 -1 +3.5 -3.6 +1.6 -0.8 -2.9 +1.6 -2.3 -1.6 +0.1
Completion Percentage (Season) 39.1% 46.7% 67.2% 63.1% 58.0% 62.3% 64.5% 55.2% 52.9% 56.5% 46.7%
Completion Percentage vs WVU 15.3% 38.8% 56.0% 51.1% 61.7% 67.3% 61.1% 57.8% 35.1% 48.7% 27.0%
Difference -23.8% -7.9% -11.2% -12.0% +3.7% +5.0% -3.4% +2.6% -17.8% -7.8% -19.7%
Total Yards Per Game 410.8 365.5 542.9 481 588.2 558.6 593 370.8 309.3 417.3 341.4
Total Yards vs WVU 224 326 427 362 693 616 378 439 209 284 304
Difference -186.8 -39.5 -115.9 -119 +104.8 +57.4 -215 +68.2 -100.3 -133.3 -37.4
Points Per Game 33.5 22.4 45.8 42 46.4 39.1 45.5 26.4 13.2 24.5 30.2
Points vs WVU 0 6 44 33 62 40 26 20 0 6 24
Difference -33.5 -16.4 -1.8 -9 +15.6 +0.9 -19.5 -6.4 -13.2 -18.5 -6.2

Georgia Southern

The season opener against Georgia Southern set the tone for the defense. Against a quirky option offense, Tony Gibson and his defense staff devised a plan to play physical, play fast, play mean and play hard. West Virginia held GSU under 200 yards rushing, something only 3 teams accomplished this year. The Georgia Bulldogs can't say that. Karl Joseph announced his presence in this game, intercepting 3 passes in one quarter and firmly supplanting himself as the Mountaineers best player. This win was one of four where the Mountaineers held a team below their season average in every category.


After a FCS game against Liberty, WVU took on Maryland in Morgantown. This game has typically been viewed as a measuring stick game. If this game was a measuring stick, it must have been short. The Mountaineers held a second straight FBS opponent to under 40% completion percentage. This game offered the first sign that perhaps the defense could be broken with the big play. WVU allowed Maryland to gain 6 yards per rush.


The crack in the dam that signaled fan uneasiness, inept offense and even worse, that the defense was incapable of simply carrying this team. Oklahoma used a 17 point outburst in the 2nd quarter to quickly deflate the defense. This game showed flashes of greatness; WVU held the #16 rushing offense to 128 yards below their season average. Samaje Perine only had 65 yards and Karl Joseph waffle ironed Samaje when he tried to knock Karl over. Karl - 1, Samaje - down.

The one take away I had from this game was that despite 44 points on the scoreboard, the defense did a great job of stiffening up when put in a position where OU was all but guaranteed to score. The offense would give the ball away in WVU territory and the defense stood tall, forcing a 3-and-out, and only allowing a field goal.

Oklahoma State

The first of two "What-If" games. The Mountaineer defense, playing their first game without Karl Joseph since the Orange Bowl victory over Clemson, played inspired football. For the fourth time this season, the defense held an FBS opponent under 60% passing and for the 3rd time held a team to 100 yards less than their season total. It was also the fourth time this season that WVU held an opponent to under their season scoring average. If Jared Barber isn't washed away on a fourth down play in overtime, this is a game the fanbase is talking about the resiliency and determination of this Mountaineer squad.


The dam broke. There is no other way to say it other than Baylor, playing at home in front of a rowdy, pumped up crowd, looking for revenge for their only loss in 2014, was the better, more physical team. Baylor outdid every single one of their season averages against West Virginia. Baylor scored more points, more total yards, more rushing yards and more passing yards against West Virginia. This is quite possibly the best Baylor looked all season. It was also one of the last games that junior Seth Russel would play. Many of Baylor's averages are brought down by the two replacement quarterbacks Baylor was forced to field in the wake of Russel's injury.

This game specifically highlighted WVU's struggle against mobile quarterbacks who can pass. If you want to know why the pocket passer might be dead, watch Seth Russel in this game.


The final game in a 4-game death march. Once again playing on the road, this time at night, against a top 5, undefeated opponent, West Virginia succumbed to another mobile quarterback who is able to make every throw. Much has been made comparing TCU and WVU in their four years in the Big 12 together. WVU thrived early while TCU has thrived most recently. The difference can be traced to their quarterbacks. Trevone Boykin juked, dodged, cut and hurdled defenders, playing this game the way many college seniors would play Madden Football. TCU jumped out to a 17-0 lead. Boykin played like a Heisman candidate and had an injury not cut his season short, he may have won the award.

Texas Tech

After spending a month getting beaten, Tony Gibson once again devised a gameplan that took a high powered offense, cut their tires and made them look inept. In 2014, that offense was Baylor. This year it was Texas Tech. Entering the game with the #3 offense in college, the defense held the Red Raiders below their season average in every statistic. The defense held Kliff Kingsbury's team to nearly 20 points below their season average, nearly 200 yards below their passing average and over 200 yards below their season total. This was the most impressive the defense looked when you take into account opponent and previous games. Coming off a four-game losing streak, many had questions if WVU could rebound or if they would simply fall apart. This game answered those questions definitively.


If the Texas Tech game was the most impressive the defense looked, Texas was the least impressive. Texas finished the season without bowl eligibility but WVU allowed the Longhorns to break nearly every single one of their season averages in this game. The defense allowed a team who averaged under 150 yards passing to throw for over 160. The defense gave up nearly 300 yards rushing. The defense was able to force 5 turnovers which turned out to be the deciding factor in this game but the defense was not their usual self.


Kansas just completed the first winless season in Big 12 history. WVU still accomplished something no other team, Big 12 or otherwise, did against Kansas. The Mountaineers did not allow Kansas to score. It may not seem impressive because Kansas was so bad in so many areas but the Mountaineers still were the only school to not allow any points against Kansas. Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma State allowed Kansas to score.

The defense set the tone early in this game with a Terrel Chestnut pick-6. This game marked the third time in 2015 that the Mountaineers were able to keep an opponent below every single statistical measure.

Iowa State

The Mountaineers were not done dominating opponents. Playing a down but extremely dangerous Iowa State team, WVU notched their fourth statistical domination. The Cyclones were held below all of their statistical averages. Iowa State averaged nearly 200 yards a game on the ground and for the second straight week, WVU held the opponent to under 100 yards rushing. This game also marked the sixth time WVU held a team under 200 yards passing. Half of the games played, WVU was able to hold a team under 200 yards  passing. Absolutely incredible.

Kansas State

The second "what-if" game. WVU absolutely dominated the first half, going into half time with a 10-point lead. The aggressive and hard-hitting defense knocked out Kansas State quarterback Joe Hubener early in the third quarter. Wide receiver turned quarterback Kody Cook led back to back scoring drives. Statistically WVU dominated this game. The defense played well enough to win but was unable to stop the Kansas State offense early in the third quarter before making adjustments. This game marked three consecutive games that WVU held an opponent under 100 yards rushing. It also marked the fifth time this season that WVU held an opponent under 50% passing, the fourth time WVU held a team under 40% passing and the second time WVU held someone under 30% passing.

WVU vs Season Averages

Average Difference
Rushing Yards -38.7
Yards Per Carry -0.75
Passing Yards -26.3
Yards Per Pass -0.82
Completion Percentage -8.37%
Total Yards -65.1
Points Scored -9.8

The above table highlights how West Virginia did against a team's seasonal average. WVU was able to hold teams to 38 yards below their season rushing average and 0.75 yards below their yards per carry average. The defense held strong against the pass, allowing 26 fewer yards through the air and 0.82 yards fewer per pass. Teams completed passes 8% less often against WVU than on their season average while totaling 65 fewer yards. Most importantly, WVU held teams to nearly 10 points below their scoring average.