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NCAA Football Big 12 FootballWest Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia Focuses on Defense During Bye Week

Charles LeClaire- US PRESSWIRE

I’ve read multiple sources saying that the West Virginia Mountaineers spent a heavy chunk of time from the bye week working with their defense.

West Virginia Illustrated reported that Co-Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson said the team was working on going back to basics, getting back to square one.

WV Metro news reported that Co-Defensive Coordinator Joe Deforest wants the defense to “start over”, trying to get freshman more reps in practice, and forget about the mistakes made in the past.

…if only that were possible. I think we all want to forget about what the defense has done this season.

Everyone already knows the atrocious stats associated with the Mountaineer defense this season, so I wont go too much into that. If you don’t, check out my previous article about the Mountaineer defense (HERE).

It’s nice to see a focus on the defensive side of the ball during the bye week, as there is a clear need for it, but frankly I really don’t like either explanation of what the defense is doing with its week off. It doesn’t sound to me like either co-coordinator has a solid plan to improve.

Speaking of co-coordinators, I’m going to take a brief moment to talk about how much I hate the idea of having two separate coaches to do a one-person job. How can you expect a defense to respond when they are supposed to report to two different coaches with their own personalities and beliefs on how to run a defense?

The coaches can be as similar as possible, but unless they’re the same person there are going to be differences. I say either choose Deforest or Patterson and stick with it. Give the defense someone to respond to and let him do his job.

Fundamentals need to be worked on. That makes the most since to me, considering WVU players couldn’t tackle anything in the open field the past few weeks. However, why are we just getting to fundamentals in week 10? That’s something that needed to be addressed in the summer during training camp. Better late than never, I suppose.

Another issue the WV Illustrated article brings up is the pace at which Big 12 teams run their offense. WVU LB Doug Rigg said when compared to the Big East, and the teams WVU is used to playing every season, the Big 12 teams run a much faster pace.

This supposedly creates a communication issue, as defensive players do not have time to communicate prior to the snap. I can see how this is an issue, but again, why didn’t anyone see this coming and plan ahead?

It’s not really a secret that the Big 12 is a much faster paced conference than the Big East. Why weren’t the defensive coordinators preparing for this in August? They’re just now finding out that the Big 12 plays fast football, in week 10? I don’t really buy this excuse.

I think the player communication problems stem from more from poor coaching than fast offense. If players were taught how to communicate quickly in no-huddle situations from the beginning of the season, I would think they’d be a little bit better than they are.

Now please understand that I don’t know for sure that they weren’t working on all of these things in training camp, I’m just presenting the possibilities.

I’m sure they practiced fundamentals in training camp. I just wonder how much time they spent on them, and whether they continued practicing them during the season.

I’m interested in seeing how much of an improvement the defense shows in the game this weekend against Texas Christian University.

Call me a doubter, but I just don’t think a defense can go from dead last to average in one week. Honestly, I’m expecting TCU’s backup QB to throw for at least 400 yards. I hope I’m wrong, but only time will tell, right?


Follow Mike Atkinson on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS or visit his author page.