WVU Defense Using Poor 2012 Season As Motivation - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Defense Using Poor 2012 Season As Motivation

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MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia University defense was one of the worst in school history in 2012. That fact is not lost on the players who took the field on that side of the ball.

The numbers do not lie. The Mountaineers allowed 34 points or more in nine of their 13 games. They allowed 45 points or more in six games and 50 points or more in four games. Bottom line, West Virginia gave up 493 points or an average of 38 points per game.

West Virginia ranked in the bottom 10 in the entire country in four different categories. Out of 120 FBS schools, WVU was No. 119 in Pass Efficiency Defense, No. 118 in Pass Defense (312.5 pass yards allowed per game), No. 114 in Scoring Defense (38.08 points per game) and No. 110 in Net Punt Yards (33.82 yards per punt).

Even when the team was winning earlier in the season, defensive players had a hard time dealing with their lack of success on defense.

"It was real tough," Safety Darwin Cook said. "I wasn't even watching TV. After the second game, I didn't want to watch TV and have them talk about the offense all the time and how bad the defense was. Then we hit the dry spell and slump and didn't want to watch TV then. It was a real bad experience. It was terrible. I didn't even watch SportsCenter for three months."

"It was real rough," Cornerback Ishmael Banks stated. "This town is big on Mountaineer Saturday's. It hurt us as much as it hurt them to let them down and not be able to fulfill those wins and sing Country Roads at the end of games. "

The players, as well as the fans, missed out on singing Country Roads more than they have in any season since 2003. West Virginia was 4-3 at home in 2012 and had not had a worse home record since going 3-3 nine years earlier.

Defensive players are focused on net letting that happen again. They speak of the defensive tradition at West Virginia and returning to that prominence. Embracing last season for what it was rather than pushing it out of their minds could be the key to finding success this fall.

"I haven't talked to anybody on the team about keeping it in the back of their mind, but it is in the back of my mind every day, every second," Cook stated. "In class, coming to the stadium, I think about it all of the time. It has to be in the back of your head as motivation."

"We don't have seasons like that," Linebacker Isaiah Bruce said. "West Virginia is known for winning. For us to have a season like that we felt like we let West Virginia fans down. We are excited to bring it back up and have a better season next year."

Changes were made in the offseason. Brian Mitchell is the new Cornerbacks Coach replacing Daron Roberts. Tony Gibson has returned to WVU to serve as the Safeties Coach and Keith Patterson is the Defensive Coordinator.

Patterson is bringing a slight change in the scheme. It will still be a 3-4 with different looks and attempt to use different ways of disguising blitzes and coverages.

"They are keeping it simple so we can just play ball," Banks said. "We can attack the ball from different ways, show different coverages and keep it simple at the same time."

"It's basically the same concept, but we will have different people in better position to make the play," Bruce stated.

Of course, the players said virtually all the same things last spring. However, there is a surprising sense of confidence when talking to these defensive players. Surprising because hardly anything went right defensively a year ago.

"Everybody says around this time that this is comfortable, this is new, this is fresh, but honestly being here for five years, I know when things are going in the right direction and when they are going in the wrong direction," Cook said. "I feel we are going in the right direction this year."

"After realizing what we could have done and the season we were supposed to have, we are never trying to go back to that," Bruce explained. "Especially after seeing how much we mean to West Virginia and our fans. We don't want to let them down. That gives us a chip on our shoulder. We are definitely trying to prove to everybody that we are a winning program and we will continue to be."

The time to show they are serious will be in the season opener on August 31 against William & Mary. Until then, they will continue to work through the spring and summer on understanding Patterson's defensive scheme.

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