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Loss to West Virginia Leaves Questions for Baylor's Offense

Art Briles

Art Briles

Art Briles has brought Baylor to new territory for most of his tenure. On Saturday, he’ll be in another place he’s rarely been.

He’ll field questions asking what’s wrong with the Baylor offense.

The Bears’ College Football Playoff hopes were derailed Saturday with a 41-27 loss at West Virginia in a game in which Baylor did something that has been rare in recent years. The Bears struggled to move the ball.

Baylor averaged only four yards per play against West Virginia on Saturday, the Bears’ lowest average since a loss to Texas in 2009. The quarterback for Baylor that day was Nick Florence.

The stakes then, of course, were much lower. Baylor entered Saturday as a legitimate playoff contender and the de facto Big 12 favorite.

The Bears’ schedule had been lacking, but they remained one of the six undefeated teams still standing. Bryce Petty entered the week back in the Heisman race after a comeback effort against TCU a week earlier. 

Against West Virginia, Baylor’s offense was as pedestrian as it has been since Robert Griffin arrived on campus.

Penalties didn’t help. Baylor was flagged 18 times for 215 yards. Only five of those calls came against the offense, including two offensive pass interference calls. West Virginia was flagged 14 times.

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Penalties derailed the offense, but not nearly as much as West Virginia’s 3-3-5 scheme.

Petty completed only 16-of-36 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns. A year ago, the raw numbers would have been halftime statistics for the Bears.

Petty completed nine of his passes to Antwan Goodley and five to Corey Coleman. In a deep receiver group, those were the only players with multiple catches.

And at a critical juncture in the second half, K.D. Cannon dropped a key deep pass play in West Virginia territory.

Baylor’s run game was even more ineffective. The Bears rushed for 95 yards on 42 carries and didn’t break a run of longer than 10 yards until the fourth quarter.

Most troubling, this may be part of a trend.

Petty is two weeks removed from a 7-of-22 performance against Texas and a week removed from a two-interception day against TCU. Petty threw three interceptions all of last season.

The Bears have time to assess the damage with an off week and then a home date with Kansas. Baylor’s next major test will be Nov. 8 at Oklahoma.

If Baylor remains a Big 12 and playoff contender, the Bears will have two weeks to figure it out.