The West Virginia Mountaineers watched the wheels come off during their Big 12 season in 2012 thanks to a porous defense that crumbled down the stretch. Their secondary may have been the worst offender, getting burned time after time and burying the defense with blown assignments. New cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell doesn’t care about any of that, though, as he’s giving his corners a “clean slate” for 2013.
Mitchell wants his defensive backs to be fearless when they step onto the field, and he knows they can’t do that if they are stuck thinking about what happened last year. While he says he’ll take a look at last year’s tape to gauge strengths and weaknesses of his players, he isn’t going to pull out every mistake they made because “It doesn’t matter now.”
It’s quite a bit to just sweep away from memory, however. West Virginia gave up 312.8 yards passing per game last season, ranking No. 118 in the country. They allowed 99 pass plays of more than 15 yards, more than anyone else in college football, and 45 pass plays of 20 yards or more, the second highest total in FBS last season.
Still, Mitchell is optimistic that he can work with the group and mold them into a solid coverage unit next season. To do that, he is stressing to his players the value of having a short-term memory as a defensive back. Whether in a game or over an offseason, Mitchell doesn’t want the WVU corners to get down on themselves for their past mistakes.
The philosophy Mitchell is adopting with his corners is simply to move on from the dreadful performance of 2012. He wants his players to “put last year’s experience in the rearview mirror.” He won’t hold their mistakes over their head as a reminder of their failure and he doesn’t want them holding onto the memory as motivation, either.
For Mitchell, the struggles of 2012 never happened and the only thing that matters is the players’ commitment to the practices this spring and the offseason workout program over the summer. Will the Mountaineers’ cornerbacks benefit from their second chance in 2013?