"We have to get turnovers" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

"We have to get turnovers"

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Michael Ploger, MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia defense will not be dealt many easy opportunities to force turnovers in the Big 12.  The Mountaineers must create the chances themselves, and there could be several opportunities against Texas Tech.

Red Raiders quarterback, Seth Doege, has thrown five interceptions throughout the past two games.  Two against Iowa State, and three more at home last weekend when Texas Tech fell to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Perhaps the biggest statistic from Doege is two of those interceptions have been returned for touchdowns, one each game.  However, this doesn't mean players need to overlook this quarterback.

"As a player overall, he's a good quarterback, period," says cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts.  "Has he thrown some interceptions?  Yes.  But he's completed a heck of a lot of balls to a lot of different receivers and he's made some difficult throws at difficult times, so he's a good one for us to play."

It should be noted that Doege is still completing nearly 70% of his passes.  He has 1,392 yards through the air coming in to this game, and 15 touchdowns to go along with that.  He isn't a competitor to take lightly.

One way of forcing turnovers is getting pressure in the backfield.  The WVU front-seven on defense ranks second in the Big 12, and No. 13 nationally in tackles for loss.

John Francis leads the team in the category with 9.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  For him, it's all about attacking the ball carrier.

"I always say 'see ball get ball' so when a coach tells me a play, if all else fails I got it," he says.  We want it, so just go get it."

A strong presence up front can lead to more opportunities.  When a defensive front is able to collapse on the quarterback quickly, that quarterback may be forced to throw the ball into some sticky situations.

Creating turnovers is rarely an individual effort.  Whether it's two players converging on a runner and ripping out the ball, or tipped pass for an interception, the entire Mountaineer defense should have their eye on the prize.

According to several players and coaches on the team, it is important for defensive backs to have short-term memory.  Safeties and cornerbacks shouldn't be focused on giving up a big play earlier in the game, or else they could be trapped again.

Pat Miller has seen this first hand.  The senior cornerback has struggled at various times throughout the season.  But when it mattered most, he came up with two of the biggest plays at the end of the Texas game.

By batting down a fourth down throw, and sacking David Ash for a 16-yard sack, he created excitement along the WVU sideline, and changed the game.  He understands it's not about what's happened before, but what's happening next.

"That's just a part of being a cornerback.  You have to have a short memory," says Miller.  "One play you can make a good play, next play you get beat, or vice versa.  So you really can't remember the last play, you have to move on to the next play and that's what makes a good cornerback."

Playing the Red Raiders will not guarantee turnovers, but this defense understands it is time to accomplish their goal.  Wanting at least two, but really three turnovers a game, these Mountaineers could be flying all over the field come Saturday evening.

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