By Greg DeVries
Let me throw some numbers at you: 9.2 yards allowed per play, 14.6 yards allowed per completion , eight passing touchdowns allowed and zero forced turnovers.
If these stats are the result of your defense’s play, do you really trust them to make a stop late in the fourth quarter? No.
That was the mistake made by Baylor head coach Art Briles with 3:08 to go against West Virginia. Baylor scored a touchdown to bring the score to 70-63.
If Baylor kicks off, then West Virginia is going to play to run the clock out.
The Baylor defense had only stopped the Mountaineer offense three times during the entire game, and one time was a missed field goal. So kick the onside kick.
If Baylor gets the ball, then it trusts its offense to drive and tie the game. After all, Baylor football hangs its hat on its offense.
At worst, West Virginia gets the ball in good field position, but at that point, the clock is what matters because West Virginia wants to run out the time, not get in the end zone.
The onside kick scenario gets you the same return as the kickoff, but everything is moved up 20 yards, but there is the possibility that Baylor recovers the football and gets in the end zone. All of the sudden, the score is 69-70 and Baylor can either go for the tie or the win.
Regardless, it’s a better scenario than watching Geno Smith easily matriculate the ball down the field until the clock was low enough for the Mountaineers to get into the victory formation. Obviously hindsight vision is always 20/20.
Reasonable arguments can be made for kicking the ball away and trusting the defense, especially with two timeouts.
Considering the way Baylor’s defense performed in Morgantown, I find it hard to justify giving the ball to Smith again.
He had a career day. His receivers had career days.
All the Mountaineers had to do was gain two first downs, and Briles still wanted to trust in his defense.
By Daniel Hill
In a game in which West Virginia scored 70 points, you had to think that at some point Baylor’s defense was going to make a play. After all, this is a Baylor defense that had averaged two interceptions per game before facing West Virginia this past Saturday. This is also a defense that has given up more yards than almost anyone else in college football, ranking No. 115 overall in the FBS.
Given that the Bears had two timeouts left and more than three minutes to go in the game, I understand why Briles decided to kick it deep. Playing field position football gave the Bears the best chance to win the game. In fact, the Bears had West Virginia right where they wanted them.
WVU faced third down and one at its own 47-yard line. On this crucial third down play, the Mountaineers rushed for 17 yards to essentially put the game away since Baylor no longer had any timeouts.
But, if the Bears were able to make one stop on third down, then the unstoppable Baylor offense would have had the ball with more than a minute to play.
It’s always easy to be an armchair fan and second-guess any coaching decision that didn’t turn out perfectly, but Briles’ decision to kick the ball deep put the Bears only one play away from having a chance to win the game. That is exactly what a head coach is supposed to do. Briles put the team in a position to win the game.
Some people say Baylor should have tried the onside kick; but, the chances of Baylor’s kicking team recovering an onside kick are in actuality probably lower than the chances of the Baylor defense making a play.
Plus, if WVU recovered the onside kick, then it would have already had the ball in prime field goal position and would have only needed to move the ball a few yards to make it a two-possession game.
Ultimately, Briles believed in his defense, and unfortunately it came up just one play short.
But had the defense made that single play on third down, Baylor fans would be singing a different tune today.