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West Virginia’s defense dominated Baylor

MORGANTOWN — Charlie Brewer looked locked into the Baylor starting quarterback spot — until facing the West Virginia defense in the first half.

Brewer completed two more passes to Mountaineers than he did his own team, finishing 1-of-8 for 22 yards and three interceptions.

His receivers didn’t help him, letting the first two picks slip out of their hands, but that may be because of how the WVU safeties set the tone early.

And that’s what was key for defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and what he will hang his hat on during his unit’s effort against the Bears on Thursday night — starting and playing fast.

“We had those three quick turnovers and that got the momentum on our side,” he said. “Our guys played really, really well.”

Gibson also made no bones about the fact that the defense’s effort against Iowa State two weeks ago was not what he’s come to accept — missing 31 tackles and deemed “ridiculous.”

No remnants of that performance lingered against Baylor and coach Dana Holgorsen said that it may have been the defense’s best game of the season, holding the Bears to 287 yards and only 82 on the ground.

“It’s hard to argue with what they did,” Holgorsen said. “They created turnovers and won the battle 4-0. We dominated field position with turnovers and with making them punt quick. We tackled better and that’s one of the things that we came out of the game with last week. We missed 31 tackles and I knew that’s not who we were.”

Depth issues continue to grow at linebacker, missing five scholarship players at the position with Dylan Tonkery missing his second-straight game with a groin injury and Adam Hensley tearing his ACL in practice.

Because of those problems, substituting can be a problem, but with the way Baylor tempoed the Mountaineers early, it ended up working in their favor.

“They went into a 10-personnel on second down almost every time and then didn’t come out of it, which made it nearly impossible for me to sub,” Gibson said. “We had a lot of success with that so it was kind of like it helped us not being able to put others in. We had the guys we wanted out there on pretty much every possession, especially early on.”

Follow on twitter: @SeanManning_DP