West Virginia: Poor defensive play exposed

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It was bound to happen.

West Virginia's defensive problems caught up to the Mountaineers Saturday at Texas Tech, sending them tumbling out of the Top 10 of the Associated Press poll from No. 5 to No. 17 with No. 3 Kansas State on deck.

Certainly, the offense was at its worst of the season, failing to get anywhere near the output of its first five games.

But it was the defense that gave up 438 yards and five first-half touchdowns that built a hole that quarterback Geno Smith and his offense could not counter.

And should they be expected to?

"It was a poor performance defensively, but we played better defensively in the second half and gave them no hope on offense and it's just a team loss," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest admitted his group has a long way to go.

"We are not ready for prime time yet, I can tell you that," DeForest said. "We got a long way to go in order to get back to playing good enough defense to winning this league."

Texas Tech had eight plays of 20 yards or more, 18 plays of 15 yards or more, gained 9.5 yards per play, and essentially took command by the nine-minute mark of the second quarter, going up, 20-7.

After giving up 63 points to Baylor, then 45 points to Texas a week earlier, the Red Raiders output should come as no surprise.

Coupled with the fact that Smith, simply put, had a bad performance, this team was Texas toast.

"We definitely felt like we needed to step up our game from a pressure standpoint," linebacker Isaiah Bruce said. "We gave up way too many points in the first half. We made some corrections and we were getting a couple of stops after we came out, but we just didn't play hard enough ..."

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege and his offense rolled up 658 total yards as he threw touchdown passes of 39, 19, 16, 2, 19 and 7 yards.

His receivers, via wheel routes and post patterns, routinely beat the West Virginia secondary, and Doege had plenty of time to make his throws.

"When you don't have a pass rush, it's a lot easier to make your reads," said Doege, who completed 32 of 42 passes.

While the most shocking part of the game was the inability of the offense to score at will like it has this season, the problems of the defense are the ones that are likely to continue creating problems.

The schedule gets no easier with No. 3 Kansas State coming to Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, followed by an off week, and a visit from TCU.

Texas Tech needed just 21 seconds to score one touchdown at the end of the first half, ending with a 53-yard rushing touchdown by SaDale Foster who just found a hole and flat-out beat the defense to the end zone.

NOTES -- The Mountaineers were 13th in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings that were released Sunday night.

wvusports


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