With a tip from foes, WVU has plenty to fix

We’re all left wondering just what WVU will do on defense in 2014. We have our opinions and our (conspiratorial) theories and we won’t know for sure until Aug. 30.

Remember all that one-down-lineman stuff we were promised in the spring? Remember no-down-linemen in the spring game? Never saw any of it, never heard any of it in the summer. Remember the Buck linebacker? Gone. Remember Anthony Leonard? He’s coaching linebackers, and you can safely presume he’s coaching what he knows at this stage of the season.

And the weekend was, shall we say, interesting for WVU. It started with a scrimmage situation Friday in which the defense missed 22 tackles.

Ickey Banks is away from the team, and while the Mountaineers are hopeful they can fix this Thing, they nevertheless know there’s a good chance they won’t. Dravon Henry dressed in green and didn’t scrimmage Saturday. That’s 40 percent of a starting secondary that took some lumps last season, but there are question marks elsewhere.

Brandon Golson still isn’t practicing. The defensive line was jumbled Saturday with Christian Brown as a backup nose guard, though that may have been just to get a look there and to see what Noble Nwachukwu, Shaw Riddick, Dontrill Hyman and Eric Kinsey could do at defensive end. Quite likely, Brown will play a bunch of nose this season in one role or another.

So while the talk of improvement is probably true and fairly based on the wealth of experienced players, it’s important to remember this thing isn’t fully fixed. Far from it, in fact.

The 2013 season wasn’t statistically as bad as 2012, but it wasn’t good. Not even close. Some of it was out of WVU’s hands because of injuries and youth, to say nothing of good offenses in the Big 12, but the Mountaineers contributed to their problems.

We’ve been over many of those problems before, so how about a new voice? Big 12 opponents remembered many of the things they they did well and many of the things WVU did not do well in 2013 as a way to better explain what has to be better in 2014.

“When they went Cover 2, it worked a lot for us,” Oklahoma State receiver Jhajuan Seales said. “We saw their Cover 2 was always open in the middle of field.”

Quarterback J.W. Walsh passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns against WVU and the Cowboys had success in the middle with screens and short and longer throws into the middle.

The Cover 2 defense WVU played quite a bit last season is a common tactic where the two safeties play the deepest part of the secondary and each take half of the field. The cornerbacks and linebackers underneath play man-to-man or zone defense to protect their area.

“I’d say we were faster than them in those areas,” said TCU receiver David Porter, who caught eight passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns against WVU.

11 Responses to “With a tip from foes, WVU has plenty to fix”

  1. avb31 says:

    I just can’t see this defense being much better than last year. Pass rush will probably still be a major problem, given the loss of Will Clarke up front. He was a relatively high NFL draft pick and I’d say that nobody on this DLine has NFL caliber talent.

    If we can’t pressure the QB it will be another long season. Hopefully the return of the 3-3-5 will help make up for what we are lacking up front and help us get pressure on the QB.

  2. tls62pa says:

    I just hear so many contradictory statements from players and coaches. Simplicity, complexity, guys playing here, guys playing there. To me, it’s all rah rah now til they roll it all out come gametime.

  3. Rugger says:

    We have players, more than we’ve had in recent years in terms of quality….the first year DC is my concern. I love Gibby and I hope he does well, I just cant think of any instances where a new DC comes in, changes the defense and knocks it out of the park year one. Can Bradley help in that regard? Sure but he’s learning too.

  4. anxiouseer97 says:

    Recently, our defensive philosophy has been completely at odds with our offensive philosophy. Under Rod and Holgorsen, the offense is supposed to perfect a few set plays. The plays are pretty basic. Repitition and execution = perfection (theoretically). On the defensive side of the ball, however, we something completely different. Different schemes every year. Linebackers posing at lineman. DB posing as linebackers. I consider myself modestly educated and enlightened. I can’t figure out what the heck our defense is supposed to be doing, and I’m beginning to wonder the same holds true for the players.

  5. Gordon says:

    The old saying could be true of this years team…You can train a mule 363 days a year, but when its’s Derby Day, he’s still a mule..Caliber, with a little quantity, is the main factor is a winning football team

  6. JC says:

    If every other team noticed the defensive issues then certainly WVU coaches noticed them too. Was the continued issues more of the inability to change schemes due to player depth/development? I believe so and that issue appears to be on the mend this season. I look for marked improvement from the defense, especially against the run, since we have a solid two-deep to sub in and out. I see corner as being the main issue, along with pressure on the QB from the line.

  7. Dann White says:

    Well, this is the first article I have read that puts some realistic expectations on the table for us to see. Its true enough, we have gotten a lot of new talent on defense, several out of prep, a couple of jc, and at least 1 transfer from fcs, still this is a new crew and they have new leadership.
    One bright spot; the 3-3-5 odd stack is tailored to getting the most out of your defense in a hurry, it is often used at the prep level where there is little time to fine tune positions and no redshirting. Very often there’s not even enough players to platoon the O and D – what do you do? Get back to basics, what could be more basic than the 3-3-5??
    I do however, believe this will be a better team; but not based on better defense; better offense will be key. The defensive and special teams improvement we saw last year never really came to fruition because the offensive team constantly sputtered and stalled. It was to the the point that DH was leaving the offense on the field for 4th and whatever, just hoping for a miracle. Last years squad was the first time since Mike Timko and John Talley that I was embarrassed about discussing our quarterbacking personnel, actually thinking that a fine tradition of great QBs was finally over.
    While I am not convinced that Clint Trickett is the absolute answer, his film tells me he has a shot at being servicable. I don’t believe that Holgorsen’s offense needs a Eugene Smith to be very good, instead it works very well when someone with a command of good basic skills is at the helm. If we find ourselves racking up a string of 3 and outs, get worried, if we can move the ball reasonably well and not skid to a stop every time we hit the red zone, we going to have a chance. Sound obvious? Of course it does, that’s football. Its about blocking tackling, not turning the ball over, its about EXECUTION!! Without it there will be another lonnnnggggg season in Touchdown (we hope) City.
    Eleven mfds to go.


  8. smeer says:

    sobered up from the PPK purple preseason koolaid

    thanks Mike

  9. Spatial Angel says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words.

  10. SheikYbuti says:

    Also, I’ve noticed that Quinton Spain tips whether the play is a run or a pass, depending on how he positions his left foot before the snap.

  11. ph kelley says:

    The cover 2 or 2 deep is a defense used widely by Penn State and Michigan to allow the receivers to catch the ball in the middle and then quickly adjust and hit them hard immediately afterward which causes them to fumble or “hear footsteps” and drop the ball. For this defense to be effective the defense must be fast enough to adjust and know how to tackle hard – two areas WVU is lacking. Considering WVU’s talent, they will be well served and more effective to adopt Bowden’s blitz and stunt defense which confuses the opposing qb into mistakes.