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Thinking Out Loud: How Good Is This #1 Defense?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Baylor at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Undoubtedly, you saw the tweets or the headlines or someone talking about the fact that through four games, the Mountaineers have the countries best defense, allowing only 240 yards per game. No shade here. That is impressive. But let’s take a good dive to see just how good that is.

Eastern Kentucky

Against the Colonels in the first game of the season, the Mountaineers held EKU to 206 total yards, their second fewest total yardage of the 2020 season. The Colonels average 345 yards per game, meaning the Mountaineers have held the Colonels to 140 yards less than their current season average.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The only loss on the season, the Mountaineers held the Cowboys to 342 total yards. The Cowboys have typically had an explosive offense under Mike Gundy and this year they are averaging 402 yards per game. The Mountaineers held the Cowboys to 60 yards fewer than their current season average.

Baylor Bears

When the Mountaineers welcomed the Bears to Morgantown, they won a low scoring game where they held the Bears to less than 300 total yards (256 to be exact), while the Bears are currently averaging 304 yards per game. The Bears gained 50 fewer yards than their current season average.

Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks really helped the Mountaineers defensive numbers since they only gained 157 total yards last Saturday. The Jayhawks are typically a bit better, averaging 261 yards per game. The Mountaineers held the Jayhawks to about 100 yards less than their current season average.

The good news is that the Mountaineers are currently holding teams to almost 90 yards fewer than they average per game. That is at least worth one touchdown per game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas represent the three of the four worst offenses in the Big 12. Is that because those teams played the Mountaineers? Maybe. Is it because they are bad offenses? Also yes.

The big test is going to come when the Mountaineers need to play Texas and Oklahoma. If they can hold those teams to 100 fewer yards and one fewer score that may be enough if they can control the game and get the offense going, can they steal a win where they shouldn’t?

This is the best defense the Mountaineers have had since 2010 and given the level of competition they will face and the types of programs they will face, this may be the best defense the team has had in the past 30 years or more. They have playmakers at positions that make a difference. They have a defensive line that can control a run game and then rush the passer. They have playmakers on the backend that can steal a possession or two. Keep limiting the amount of yards and possessions teams get, this could be a special defense.