West Virginia Baylor Football

Baylor cornerback Jameson Houston (11) breaks up the pass intended for West Virginia wide receiver Sam James (13) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. Baylor won 17=14. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

MORGANTOWN – All eyes last Thursday evening in Waco, Texas, focused on the events surrounding Casey Legg’s first collegiate field goal attempt to tie Baylor was blocked after West Virginia coach Neal Brown lost track of time and failed to call time out as the play clock ran out just before Legg launched a good field goal try that would have tied the game.

But, perhaps, far more intriguing that the gaffe Brown admitted to was the play call on third and 2 that led to having to try a long field goal.

One might think, with the regular field goal kicker out of the game with a groin strain, the approach Brown might take would be to try and pick up the 72 inches on two runs.

Brown instead, perhaps with the World Series on his mind, went for a winner take all “home run” to a back up wide receiver.


Brown explained it all on Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call and, as you can guess, it begins with a total lack of confidence in the league’s most pathetic running attack.

For the night, WVU ran for just 14 yards on 26 carries. True, they had lost 46 yards on a pair of errant snaps, but there was no guarantee another one was waiting in the wings.

“They whipped us up front,” Brown said Thursday night. “They had their way with us.”

What’s more, an admittedly weak offensive line was even weaker with its right guard out with a shoulder injury.

So, the decision was made to go with some trickery. Brown came up with a play that had been set up earlier with a couple of middle screens to a wide receiver that Baylor was ready for.

“We’ve thrown that screen to Sam James a bunch [in previous games], and we’d already thrown that screen twice earlier in the game to Ali Jennings and they sat on it. Neither one of those screens was really productive,” Brown said.

So, this play is made to look like that middle screen but was, in reality, a play looking toward the end zone.

“When you get short yardage with them, you get man coverage,” Brown said. “That’s a play that normally we run with T.J. Simmons in the game. He was out. But that’s something we’ve been working on really during the bye week, and it was a screen-and-go.

“We felt like we had the screen-and-go and had exactly what we wanted,” Brown said. “We just didn’t execute.”

Kendall got a good snap, faked the throw toward James while Isaiah Ersdale, playing for the injured T.J. Simmons, ran a deep route.

But, he never got free because there was double coverage and Austin’s pass had no chance.


Brown gave no updates on his injured players – who are many – but said he will give an injury report at his Tuesday press conference.

“It was a unique game,” Brown said. “We were down to the last man we brought on the trip. We are down to our last safety and I think we had one running back. We had a couple of receivers dinged, too.”


With four games left in the season Brown is beginning to look at getting some playing time for the few players he hasn’t used this year. Players can play up to four games without burning their redshirt season.

Among those is highly regarded freshman running back Tony Mathis, whom Brown believes can help the team, former star defensive tackle John Thornton’s son Jalen Thornton and Bowling Green transfer quarterback Jarret Doege, who is expected to compete for the starting job next season.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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