West Virginia University defensive coordinator Joe Deforest has recently come under criticism for the poor play of the Mountaineer defense up to this point in the college football season.
Many folks are already wishing Deforest out of Morgantown at the end of the season, and some think that is too generous, calling for him to be dismissed immediately.
WVU was faced with the decision of hiring Deforest as the new defensive coordinator after former WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel left to rejoin Arizona Wildcats Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, who coached the Mountaineers from 2001-2007, in Arizona for the 2012 season.
This change resulted in WVU switching defensive schemes from a 3-3-5 to a 3-4 defense. Generally, learning a new defense takes time, and a slight drop-off in production from previous years is expected. However, the struggles with the Mountaineer defense this season can be directly credited to coaching, and not necessarily learning a new system. Here’s proof:
1. Players are lazy.
During the Kansas State– West Virginia game this past weekend, Colin Klein, KSU QB, threw a pass that stayed in the air for, literally, five seconds. When the pass was caught, there wasn’t a single defensive player near the receiver. The play resulted in a KSU first down. A replay of the pass showed why. WVU DB Pat Miller was playing a zone near the line of scrimmage in a cover two. As the ball was lobbed over his head, he turned his back to the line of scrimmage and began to casually jog to the ball. If he would have sprinted to the play, he would have knocked the ball down, and possibly had an interception.
To me, this is inexcusable. I have never in my life seen a player walk or jog during a play he was directly involved with. Even more importantly it gave up an easy first down. The kid is on a full-ride scholarship to a prestigious Division I program. He is consistently being targeted through the air from opposing QBs and is consistently allowing easy catches.
The fact that players are not trying during a game, and are still guaranteed a starting spot for future games makes me think coaches, specifically Deforest, because he is the defensive coach, is ok with this. It is a consistent problem with WVUs defense. Many WVU fans left the game stating they weren’t going to sit and watch a team that isn’t trying.
2. The 3-4 is too predictable
When the WVU defense lines up, what you see is what you get. There are no pre-snap adjustments, no disguising coverage, etc. They simply line up and get beat. This screams one thing, coaching.
3. WVU is ranked dead last in passing defense
The Mountaineers have allowed 2521 passing yards this season, more than any other FBS school in the country. They are 80 points away from allowing more points in one season than any WVU team in the past. It’s only week nine, and WVU’s defense is averaging 39.9 points allowed per game. Now I’m no math major, but based on the number of games left to be played, and the inability to stop anyone who takes the field against them, the Mountaineer defense is well on its way to breaking that record.
While WVU lost defensive players last year, it still has athletes who were recruited to play D-I football for a top 25 program. They should be smart enough to learn a new system without completely forgetting how to tackle, intercept, guard receivers, etc. They aren’t a completely different defense from last year. They have several returning players, who have had a significant drop-off in production from former years.
Terence Garvin, WVU LB, has been a star at safety since 2010. In 2010, he started all 13 games, ranked 16th in the Big East in tackles per game with 76 total tackles, including 41 unassisted tackles, one sack, 4.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, all as a sophomore. In 2011, he ranked 13th in the Big East in tackles, 4th on the team in sacks, and 2nd on the team in interceptions. Now in 2012 as a Senior he has 0 interceptions, 4 sacks, and only 43 total tackles on the season. This lack of production can only be credited to coaching.
Only time will tell if Deforest will last at WVU, but rumors are floating around campus that he is already losing defensive responsibilities to Co-Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson.